Karl Schmieder M.S./M.F.A.

Three by Five by Eleven.4

William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy is credited with launching cyberpunk

Netflix just started airing Altered Carbon. It’s a rad take Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 cyberpunk novel. One of my favorite genres, cyberpunk typically explores how the street repurposes tech, life in cyberspace and off-planet.

Last fall, I reread William Gibson’s Sprawl TrilogyNeuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive. (Neuromancer, BTW, is credited with “launching” the cyberpunk genre, though purists will cite British New Wave authors and Philip K. Dick as originators.)

I was searching for biotech references. And man, did I find them, from the neurotoxin sacs that are surgically implanted in Neuromancer main character Case’s body, to a Mitsubishi-Genentech merger (that never happened), and hackers trying to bring back by-then extinct horses.

In many ways, Gibson already riding the biotech wave years before synthetic biology was re-defined.

Three by Five by Eleven. 3

Posted in 3x5, book notes, Book Reviews, Influences, Science Fiction, synthetic biology, Writing by Karl S. on February 1, 2018

I’m a story nerd.

I enjoy re-reading books, re-watching movies. I like figuring out how the authors or film makers put the story together. What hints did they place at the beginning of the story, and resolve at the end?

I’ve read plenty of books on writing screenplays, plotting, and character development.

Last year, I enjoyed The Story Grid, which is Shawn Coyne’s master work on story analysis.
Right now, I’m reading Larry Brooks Story Engineering. Only half way through but I’d recommend it.

Pedro Paramo is the one book I’ve given away the most.

Mexican Juan Rulfo’s thin, 1955 novel launched magical realism. It’s a story about a son looking for his father, and a father longing for his son. The book drips death on every single page.

The novel is a fragmented, post-modern masterpiece that is highly relevant today.

Paramo influenced Nobel-prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude. It’s said Marquez had memorized long passages of the book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Three by Five by Eleven.1

Posted in 3x5, biotechnology, book notes, Influences, interviews, Observations, Science Fiction, Writing by Karl S. on January 19, 2018

I’m starting a new weekly feature. Not to clutter your life –  you can opt out if you’d like – but to document and share the things that influence me during a week.

To keep myself focused and brief, I promise to only share what fits on one side of a 3×5 filecard.

Why?

The file card. The notecard. A small piece of lined paper. Blank white, or colored.

Three inches by five inches. They’re typically printed with eleven lines.

Highly useful. I consider them an essential tool for a writer.

Easy enough to carry anywhere, they’re old school. Like a pencil.  They can be anti-technology. Turn off your phone, your computer, and focus your effort on the little card in front of you.

I usually carry around a stack but if I’m pressed for time or room, I’ll fold a couple, put them in my pocket, grab a pencil or pen.

Here’s this week’s file card:

Christopher Payne takes pictures of General Pencil, in New Jersey.

Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories – A New York Times Magazine photo essay on General Pencil Company. “Pencils eschew digital jujitsu. They are pure analog, absolute presence. They help to rescue us from oblivion.”

Genemapper – This near-future novel follows a “leaf and flower color” designer as he solves the mysterious collapse of a crop he designed. Full of ideas, especially around from-scratch genetic design.

The Chaco Quarterly because “one must distinguish between Information, knowledge, and wisdom.” Wisdom distilled into 90 seconds because there’s not enough wisdom in the world.

That wraps this first issue. What do you think?

 

2017 Media Consumed: Highlights

Posted in book notes, Book Reviews, Influences, Movie Reviews, Science Fiction, Writing by Karl S. on December 31, 2017

Here’s a link to my Pinterest board of media consumed during 2017.

It’s always fun to go back and review what I read, listened to and watched.

In many ways, it was a year for cyberpunk because I was anticipating Blade Runner 2049 and I wanted to reread Snowcrash. But overall, I didn’t read as much as I usually do because I was working on What’s Your Bio Strategy?

Rereading William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy was definitely a highlight. I realized how much those books influenced my own writing and how I approach telling biotech company stories.

William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy is credited with launching cyberpunk

Annalee Newitz’ Autonomous might not be cyberpunk but was my favorite book of the year. I’ll write about it later.

Watching-wise, I really enjoyed seeing It Follows again – that’s a brilliant horror movie.

The last season of Black Mirror was as disturbing as previous seasons though there was one uplifting episodes that even had a happy ending.

I enjoyed the second season of Stranger Things (though will admit I loved the first better), and A Series of Unfortunate Events was brilliant.

 

I did enjoy Blade Runner 2049 but it was long and hard to write a sequel to such a great movie.

My all-time favorite movie of the year was Dope. I watched it more than a couple of times to figure out what director Rick Famuyiwa was doing. It was super smart. I can’t recommend it enough.

What’s Your Bio Strategy? First Review from Life Science Leader

Life Science Leader reviews What's Your Bio Strategy

Life Science Leader’s editor Rob Wright posted a very positive review of What’s Your Bio Strategy?

Says Rob:

Today we stand on the precipice overlooking a new frontier — the century of biology, and businesses of all kinds need to be prepared to not only embrace what is coming, but have a strategy for how to leverage biology for the betterment of their businesses and the good of the planet.

He continues:

When I finally had the opportunity to sit down and read it, my … mind … was … blown. Because though the authors interview 25 innovators about how biology is presently impacting a variety of industries, as well as what they think could happen in the very near future, it is even more telling to ponder what they haven’t thought of as being possible, which I found myself doing while reading. As I came across company names (pay attention to highlights) I pondered which might soon rival one of the three “As” of internet commerce (i.e., Alibaba, Alphabet [formerly Google], and Amazon) which have a combined value of about $1.6 trillion. The book discusses concepts such as using DNA for data storage or how the future of fashion may reside in garments being grown in vats (i.e., biofabrication) not woven on looms.

To read the full review, click here.

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Book Review: The Dog Stars

Posted in 100 Days of Writing, 50-Word Epics, book notes, Book Reviews, Writing by Karl S. on August 21, 2015

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

I’m not a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction though I’ve read more than a lifetime’s worth and I get why it is popular: We live in a world of uncertainty and great post-apocalyptic stories give us the hope that we can survive the worse of times.

Peter Heller’s brilliant The Dog Stars gives us the story of loss, survival, and love in a United States decimated by a pandemic flu. The main character, Hig, shares his life with his dog Jasper, and Bangley, his gun-loving misanthropic neighbor. Hig spends days flying above their little outpost in Northern Colorado in a Cessna, patrolling their small expanse of land. He hikes into the Rockies to hunt and fish. While Hig and Bangley kill intruders with ease, their losses are significant because their world is empty and silent, and survival forces them to keep their guard up.

Heller’s writing is a treat and he has real talent for describing nature, ratcheting up the tension, and delivering a very satisfying story.

(18.100)