Another New Release

July 4, 2012

My life is chaos. In addition to my very challenging and fun day job, I continue to pound out books, get in some quality time with family, exercise, and spend a little time sleeping. Still, I shouldn’t have forgotten to post the release of my third book in the Prison Earth series.

Prison Earth – The Resurrection and the Lie is the third and final book in the initial Prison Earth trilogy. It is available on Amazon.com, and brings an end to the intra-galactic war that was in full force at the end of book two. The Kindle version is coming soon.

However, my small and dedicated readers need not despair. There will be a fourth book. However, I am two books into a new paranormal series and need to get them edited and out before I get back to the Prison Earth series.

Oh yeah. And I also need to get my web site updated.

Chaos rules. Life would simply be too boring without it.

Clifford M. Scovell
www.prisonearth.com

The Virtue of Books

June 29, 2012

I was recently approached by a firm that wanted to turn my digital books into multimedia presentations. The presenter talked about adding pictures, video and sound to my stories to ramp up the experience, just like they do in the movies. I am open to new ideas, but I didn’t have to think for long to realize this wasn’t a good one.

I am not against multimedia presentations, but studies have shown that with almost all forms of multimedia one thing is seriously diminished, or even lost: reader creativity. What, you say, you thought that writing was a representation of the writer’s creativity? It is, but if properly written, a book also stimulates the reader’s creativity in a way no other media does. Looking at pictures, watching a movie, or listening to music is a fairly passive activity. No matter how much the creators try to ramp up the action, drama, or intensity of their work, they are playing to a mostly passive audience.

Think about it. Count the number of times you’ve watched a movie or TV show and almost completely forgotten about it the next day. While listening to a song on the radio, try to remember the one that played before it. Can you? In our current world of almost constant visual and audio stimulation, we really tune much of it out. In order to stimulate their audience, audio/visual producers must ramp up the action, noise, or drama: louder, more elaborate explosions, more dramatic music, and more shouting. More, more, more to the point the story no longer matters because the audience loses focus if the gaps between the different action sequences are too long. (Think of the number of commercials you remember but can’t recall what they were selling.)

That doesn’t happen with a well-written book, because all of the action takes place in the reader’s mind. It is the writer’s job to stimulate them, but from that point on, the reader visualizes the explosions, rhythms, drama, and the characters to suit their own selves. While reading is physically passive, it stimulates the mind more than all other media combined. Why? Because rather than it being the actor’s action, or the singer’s emotions, or the photographer’s creation, the adventure becomes the reader’s story.

 If you turn printed or electronic books into multi-media extravaganzas, all of that is lost.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – The series
www.prisonearth.com

A Matter of Image

February 19, 2012

What will aliens think during their first visit to our planet?

 When I go to someone’s home, my first impression of them is what I see when I get out of my car. If this is a person I don’t know, then a tidy yard, well maintained home and bright and inviting entryway gives me the impression that this person has it together, and is probably well organized, and successful. On the other hand, a cluttered yard, rundown house, and dark entryway gives the exact opposite impression. Worse yet, if you add in the risk that an occasional car might zip by and crash into your vehicle, you probably won’t even want to stop long enough to say hello.

 So what would aliens think about us when our front yard, the space around our planet, is cluttered with thousands of city-bus-size-or-larger derelicts zipping along at up to 17,000 miles-per-hour? Would they really want to park their interstellar spaceship near our planet when there’s a chance a wayward piece of junk the size of a satellite might plow into them at any moment?

 It’s not like people aren’t working on the problem.

 The Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne has created a small $11 Million prototype satellite called CleanSpace One. In terms of space projects, $11 Mill is cheap. This mini-satellite basically gloms onto a large object and changes it trajectory until it burns up in our atmosphere.

 Even better, Star Technology and Research recently received $1.9 million from NASA to work on the ElectroDynamic Debris Eliminator. The contraption would reportedly “de-orbit” a piece of space junk by capturing it with a net. Unlike the CleanSpace One, which is destroyed along with its objective, the ElectroDynamic Debris Eliminator, would not reenter the atmosphere with its prey, but continue on to pursue the next piece of space junk.

 The term “prey” is key to a major problem with this technology because you have to consider the paranoia of most governments capable of launching such a device. After all, any satellite capable to de-orbiting space junk, can also do the same to an active satellite. Will we, or any Earthly government be comfortable with another country launching a handful of these predators and attacking their sovereign property, even if it is junk? Trust is needed here, and it will be hard to come by. After all, which of our planet’s countries have promised one thing, but done another? Maybe a third, neutral party needs to be assigned this task.

 If there is intelligent life out there, we have to assume they are also looking for us. If they manage interplanetary travel before we do and drop by for a visit, will they think we are a forward thinking people, capable of contributing to the galactic community, or see us as trailer trash?

 Take a look at our front yard.

Defense or No Defense

February 18, 2012

Scientists recently discovered a way to manipulate the DNA (or more specifically RNA) of a virus to make it even more dangerous. Though both many scientists and many of the general public demanded that the results be banned from publication, the smart move may be to do just the opposite.

What is the biggest argument against making this discovery public? Well, duh, some of you may be saying, some crazy terrorist group will undoubtedly use this knowlege to create a super virus and wipe out civilization as we know it.

That is something to consider, but let us look at it logically.

First, could an Osama Bin Laden-style maniac with unlimited financial resources build a lab capable of doing this? I’m going to turn this question on its head and ask: When they do, what are we going to do about it?

I ask this, because I will tell you right now, it is possible, but not probable, for anyone with enough funding and the right scientists, to do this. How can I say this? If you have to ask this last question, you have not been paying close attention to the news reports. Let me refresh your memory. Two groups of scientists, (The Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.) working independently, came up with this process at the same time. Could a third group of scientists, whether afunded wittingly or unwittingly by a crazy person, come up with a way to do this? Yep. In fact, even if the Erasmus Medical and U of Wisconsin scientists hadn’t done what they did, it is obvious that someone, somewhere would have eventually done so. Even worse, the world’s most effective terrorist (and I use that term loosely here) is Mother Nature herself.

Think about it. Where did the H1N1 virus come from, or the influenza epidemic of 1918, the bubonic plague, small pox, malaria, or cholera epidemics? I can assure you, it wasn’t a mad scientist, bent on humanity’s destruction. Up to this point in history, all of the deadly plagues came not from some sterile lab, with groups of scientists working around the clock to create it, but in fact they were produced in the messy, uncontrolled bellies and blood streams of our own bodies. (or inside animals with physiologies similar enough to ours.).

So back to my original question: what are we going to do about this dangerous situation? The beauty of genetic research is that if you modify the genome of a virus to make it deadly, you know how to destroy it. By continuing and expanding the research, we allow the scientific community to develop a defense against this stuff, whether natural or manmade. If something deadly pops up, whether naturally or artificially created, we stand a better chance of building a defense quickly. Without this research, the next pandemic might well kill millions or even tens of millions before someone stumbles on a defense. The rate of death is exacerbated by our ever increasing level of mobility, where an infected individual can travel between states, across our country, or around the world before the person even knows he/she is ill.

In my mind, this is the issue: do we hide this information and pretend that no one else will succeed in doing this again, or should we be proactive, using this research to develop a way to defeat these killers before they spread around the world.

The Trials of Life

July 17, 2011

I’ve been absent from this blog due to illness. We all have goals in life, and I always strive to achieve mine, but sometimes fate throws us a curve we can’t negotiate. Though I have been ill for some time, my doctors couldn’t find a cause, and summarily dismissed my suggestion that it might be related to my long history of prostate inflammation. In April, after my PSA (a first-line indicator of prostate cancer risk.) spiked, I was sent in for a biopsy and the diagnosis came back with the “bad” news that I indeed had cancer.

You’ll notice I put “bad” in quotes. In fact, the urologist was surprised when I smiled as he was giving me the news. He might have thought me demented, but I had only recently learned of several small studies showing that people with persistent prostate inflammation were entirely cured when their prostates were removed. Could I be? My doctors definitely didn’t think so, and would never have authorized the expensive operation on the chance it might help me. Now that I had cancer, they would authorize the surgery, and my insurance would help pay for its removal.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but the result was a post-surgery surge in energy, and nearly immediate disappearance of all my previous symptoms. One day after surgery, I had so much energy, I was ready to go home and get back to work. The constant and irritating sickly feeling I’ve been putting up with for years was completely gone. I knew from the first day I’d never again have to wonder when my energy would simply vanish, leaving me struggling to gracefully find a place to sit before I collapsed onto the floor. During the nearly three weeks since, that belief has proven true. Yes, there have been ups and downs, as anyone would experience after a major operation, but nothing as immediate as what I had been experiencing.

This isn’t the end of this story. Though the surgeon was very confident he got all the cancer, the final word doesn’t come for two more months when they do another PSA test. PSA is only produced by prostate cells, or their cancer cells that might have escaped before the prostate was removed. We’re all hoping that number is zero, which means none remain in my body.

I’ll keep you posted.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – the series

A New Release

May 12, 2011

It is finally here!

The second book in my Prison Earth series has finally arrived in both print and digital formats for Kindle and all other formats.

This new book picks up where my first book, Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged, left off.

For more details, check out my newly updated web site, at www.prisonearth.com.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – the series
www.prisonearth.com

Prison Earth Promo

March 7, 2011


I’ve entered both Prison Earth books into a Smashwords.com promo. Order one or both of the Prison Earth books and get them at 1/2 off. This offer is only good through Sunday, March 13th.

Check it out now by clicking this link.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth Series
www.prisonearth.com

Release Announcement

March 6, 2011

Prison Earth - A Loss of Face
I am happy to announce the release of my newest book, Prison Earth – A Loss of Face in digital format. It can be viewed on all the popular digital readers, and even computers.

This book is the second in a trilogy that follows both humans and aliens in their pursuit of peace in a decidedly un-peaceful galaxy. It gives you insight into the trials and tribulations of:

Mobia: an Antrakan soldier who is kidnapped while on leave and forced to face a two-headed giant in a fight-to-the-death battle.

Bouche Perpatton: though human, she came from another planet to help free Earth from alien domination, only to find herself titled the Madonna Returned from Heaven. She is forced to go along with the ruse to help unite Earth’s people in their fight against the aliens controlling our planet.

Pana Khephra: desperately searching for a way to help the Antrakan people win their war against Maatiirani pirates, he is trapped inside a sentient planet and must help it and its siblings stop their mother from enslaving everyone Pana loves.

Due to some technical issues, the printed version of this book is not yet available, but I hope to have it in stores soon.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth
www.prisonearth.com

An Announcement

February 27, 2011

I make my living as a computer support consultant for small businesses. Computers are complex “organisms” with a variety of interconnected relationships between hardware and software. Each element stands on its own, but also has an influence on the whole system. I do well as a consultant because I love dealing with the intricate details required to make a networking environment work. That probably explains why my novels are also complex. Multiple threads that weave through the story, intersecting and moving apart, or splitting into two more threads that carry different sides of the same drama.

Some readers complained about this complexity in my first book, Prison Earth – Not Guilty as Charged. Most loved the fast-paced adventure. Those who didn’t like my first book, probably won’t care for the next one, Prison Earth – A Loss of Face, due to be released very soon. (The proof is “in the mail.”) Those who did enjoy my first offering will be very happy with the complex, interwoven story that throws humans into the convoluted and dramatic world of alien cultures. All sides will be dealing with an intra-galactic war, and that is never pretty.

Humans are part of this story, and yes, for those who absolutely must know, they do some serious alien butt kicking. Of course, the aliens get their own licks in, so it’s not all one-sided. Check out my web site for an updated status on releases. In this complex world of publishing, things are going to be a bit staggered. Electronic releases will be coming out at different times, due to the way the process works.

Happy reading!

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – The Series
www.prisonearth.com

Prison Earth 2 cover

There Are Worse Things than Dying

January 4, 2011

I read an article in the NY Times today about Tolstoy’s excommunication by the Russian Orthodox Church. In his time, getting kicked out of your church was a big deal. Today, probably not so much.

What is excommunication but an expression of power. In times past, it was the church’s way to control a person through his/her friends, relatives and even children. Religions can’t stop us from thinking, so they take the easy alternative of depriving us of those we love. The loss of connection and the fear of dying alone are strong motivations for giving into those in power. Not surprising, it is even more effective than the threat of death. Why do convicts have such a fear of solitary? Better to be locked in a room with murders and thieves than to be alone with yourself.

There are worse things than dying.

We are a gregarious species. As much as some people complain about their families, they stay with them. Why? Probably because having a family, even a dysfunctional or abusive one, is better than not having one. The fear of growing old alone drives us to put up with abusive parents, demanding siblings, and disrespectful children.

There are worse things than dying.

I’m not suggesting that we all gather together and commit mass suicide. Even if I were, 99.9999% of the population would reject the suggestion. In addition to being gregarious, we humans are distinctly pro life. We want to live. Despite the many plagues haunting our lives, we will more often than not remember the pleasures. A dozen negatives are immediately forgotten when one good positive brightens our day.

It’s kind of like playing golf. Most times I’m a duffer, simply churning up the sod, sending helpless worms on an unintended vacation to a distant part of the fairway while my ball dribbles to a stop a few yards away. Then I happen to luck out and slug one a country mile, and it feels like I really can play this darned game. It doesn’t matter how many strokes over par it took to get me through nine holes. When I get back to the club house, it’s that one hit my friends hear about.

Yes. There are worse things than dying, but dying means an end to all the possibilities of good times, loving people, roaring successes, and hole-in-ones. And even failures are often simply successes in drab clothing. It’s all in how you see it.

Death is inevitable, but life is only what you make it.

I’m still investigating the possibilities.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – the series


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