Friday, March 27, 2009

Defining Diana by Hayden Trenholm

Defining Diana will grab you on the first page and won’t let you go,” says Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Hominids.

Defining Diana (Bundoran Press) is a fast paced science fiction police mystery by Canadian writer, Hayden Trenholm. But the page turning arises more from Trenholm’s gift for building compelling character tension interwoven with rich setting than from unique plot and premise.

While interesting, Trenholm’s overall storyline is not dramatically new or original: biotechnology straying into the hands of corporate moguls and fundamentalist cults. What makes it original and interesting is how and where Trenholm tells the story.

Frank Steele and his eclectic SDU unit follow a dark journey through a very different Calgary Alberta—a Canadian city transformed in 2043 by nuclear war, pervasive corporate intrigue, biotechnology and rising fundamentalism. By this time, biomedical research has taken DNA manipulation to both thrilling and terrifying levels. Steele’s SDU, an elite police unit given all the bizarre and baffling cases no one else can or wants to solve, find Diana “Doe”, a young woman without a past found naked and alone in a locked apartment, in perfect health—except she’s dead. Steele soon connects the girl’s bizarre and inexplicable death to a spate of murders, stolen money, missing persons and gruesome body shops.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dreams and Perceptions…The Stuff of Science Fiction

It was several days ago, as I was driving home from a friend’s place in the sultry dark of night that I noticed the change…

Perhaps it was the rain and the winding road that nudged my psyche to wander into that other realm. Or was it the motion picture The Fountain that I’d seen the evening before—a surrealistic journey of the mind and the soul through crisis and toward enlightenment, true love and “ever-lasting life”? Or had it more to do with the fact that I’d been, for various reasons, without sleep for over forty hours, that I glimpsed the ordinary in an extra-ordinary light?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Venus Project: Bombastic Dream or Realizable Future?

Truth is born into this world only with pangs and tribulations, and every fresh truth is received unwillingly. To expect the world to receive a new truth, or even an old truth, without challenging it, is to look for one of those miracles which do not occur—Alfred Russel Wallace
In my last post about circles and circular design, I suggested that environment can play a major role in determining a culture. I recently ran across a site on a new social design by Jacque Fresco and the Venus Project, which originates in Venus, Florida. Yes, his city is in the shape of a circle. And yes, his suggested social design involves a change in “culture” and zeitgeist.

Upon entering the site, you are instantly greeted by spectacular images, portraying streamlined houses, futuristic skyscrapers, flying vehicles and cybernetic cities. The home page begins with this proclamation: “The Venus Project is an organization that proposes a feasible plan of action for social change, one that works towards a peaceful and sustainable global civilization. It outlines an alternative to strive toward where human rights are no longer paper proclamations but a way of life.”

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Does the University of Victoria and the Mandala have in Common?

My son is considering going to the University of Victoria next fall. He’d looked at some of the universities and colleges in the Lower Mainland (e.g., the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and Burnaby) but he then decided on UVic on Vancouver Island. It had a reputation among students of being “friendly”. It had me pondering old days there, when I used to teach biology courses in the Cunningham and Elliot Buildings. And it made me feel all warm with wonderful memories of an attractive campus. I had great memories of my other university days in Montreal and Sherbrook, Quebec, but there was something about UVic that I couldn’t put my finger on that made that campus particularly enjoyable for me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Story and Metaphor in Art Form: How Writing and Painting Whisper or Shout Their Truths

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world—C.S. Lewis
A few days ago I painted on a canvas for the first time in over twenty years…okay, thirty years. It was a thrilling experience but also refreshing and freeing to use a different medium to express myself and tap into that place—that force—that resides inside us and speaks to us: God in Art and Art in God.

Part of the thrill was that I was being coached by one of the coolest painters I know: Teresa Young, master painter (see my previous post on her “emotional landscapes”). What’s interesting is that while she instructed me on some of the painting methods, it struck us both how many similarities existed in composition, technique and structure between visual art and storytelling.

Take direction, for instance.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Travelling Rays of Golden Light

Resembling a bed of autumn leaves stirred by the wind, a massive school of Cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) gathers off the coast of Mexico. Often measuring over 2 meters from wingtip to wingtip, thousands of these blunt-faced gliders migrate in groups called “fevers” of up to 10,000 rays in a clockwise direction from the Yucatan Peninsula through the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal bays, “chasing warm water, daylight and prey,” says Jennifer S. Holland in the February 2009 issue of National Geographic Magazine. They migrate twice yearly, north in late spring and south in late autumn according to Marcus Dunk of the UK Daily Mail.