Allow me to kick off today’s entry with the announcement of our next Book of the Month Club Pick. This one sounds delightfully unique, has received a lot of good buzz, and is written by an author whose work (Four and Twenty Blackbirds) I’ve enjoyed in the past. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our next Book of the Month Club selection…
Publisher’s Synopsis: “In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.
But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.”
Says Publisher’s Weekly: “Intelligent, exceptionally well written and showcasing a phenomenal strong female protagonist who embodies the complexities inherent in motherhood, this yarn is a must-read for the discerning steampunk fan.”
Discussion the week of March 1st with author Cherie Priest.
Honestly! With all of the recent advancements in science and technology, I can’t help but wonder what’s taking them so long to get around to the no-brainers, those obvious little adjustments and upgrades that would make our lives so much easier. Instead of focusing on new weapon systems, solving global warming, and finding a cure for restless leg syndrome, have the eggheads divert some of their intellect and resources to a achieving the following:
1. Speedier Dryers: Why does it take nearly an hour for my comforter cover to tumble dry? I’ll tell you why! It’s because research teams have gotten lazy and self-satisfied, luxuriating in the accolades heaped upon them for the most minor developments in washer technology. Washers offer a cornucopia of choices when it comes to the various water levels, temperature settings, timers, and speeds whereas my dryer choices are limited to the choices my grandparents enjoyed. We can put a man on the moon yet it still takes me up to fifteen minutes to dry a pair of socks! Where’s the sense in that?
2. Flying Cars: Okay, maybe “flying” is a misnomer. I’m thinking more along the lines of hover cars with built in guidance and collision-avoidance systems. Stop thinking in terms of flat two dimensional space and start imagining in glorious 3D. Travel would take to the skies, traffic would be a thing of the past, and our only concern would be occasional vertigo and commuters emptying their ashtrays onto your backyard barbecue.
3. Tastier Vegetables: If the Japanese can make square watermelons, then surely broccoli that tastes more like spumoni shouldn’t be out of the question. I guarantee that nothing would quell the debate on bio-engineered produce faster than root beer-flavored brussel sprouts
4. Home medical and dental check-ups: You know what I hate about visiting the doctor? Visiting the doctor. Short of scaling the outside of an office tower to escape pursuing corporate mercenaries, nothing fills me with such dread. And I’m not alone. Apparently there’s even a term for it: White Coat Syndrome. So why not create a home check-up kit that offers a convenient, stress-free way of scanning for cavities, irregular heartbeats, and iffy blood sugar levels, thereby freeing up medical professionals for more important things like surgeries or offering expert witness testimonies at high-profile murder trials.
5. Fast food menu items that actually look like they do in the commercials: Okay, granted, I may be asking for a miracle breakthrough in food preparation here, but I’d love to, say go to McDonalds and enjoy a Big Mac that actually looks like the magnificent burger the guy on t.v. is enjoying. On the rare occasions I actually go to a fast food restaurant, my menu items resemble not so much actual food as they do props in a sad clown painting.
6. A neural interface for home entertainment systems: When I want to watch a movie in my home theater, I simply press the ON button on my universal remote, then press the DVD button, then watch a movie. Ideally that’s how it works but if Keeping Up with the Kardashians has taught us anything, it’s that life is far from ideal. More often than not, something won’t turn on, be it the dvd player or the satellite or the scaler or the projector, and I’ll be forced to go to the back-up remotes or the hands-on approach or, failing that, something I call “the manual override” that involves me flipping the circuit breaker and starting from scratch. With the power of mind control, all those inconveniences would be a thing of the past. In a perfect world, I could also order Chinese take-out as well.
7. Personal tracking chips: Peace of mind for anyone with pets, kids, loved ones, and/or soldiers in action on foreign soil. I know, I know. Shades of 1984! Well, I hate to break it to you, but the government aint all that interested in how many trips you make to your local grocery store for fancy mustard. Still, the chips would be voluntary. At the end of the day, if you don’t want the police violating your civil rights by tracking down the van in which the serial killer has you locked up, then you could simply do without.
8. Personal attraction meters: Dispense with the noisy clubs, pricey drinks, and interminable small talk. Ideally, everyone would be fitted with one of these that could be worn as emblems not unlike those old Star Trek insignias. Whenever two individuals with a mutual attraction to one another would pass within close proximity, their personal attraction meters would buzz, alerting them to a match. More advanced meters can be programmed to seek out prospective matches with similar interests or weed out those with unappealing traits such as opposing political leanings, extreme religious views, or living situations in which find them still sharing a bunk bed with their little brother.
9. Mechanical pencils in which the lead doesn’t snap off whenever the slightest amount of pressure is applied to the tip: I’m convinced that the only thing holding this back is the small but powerful graphite lobby.
10. Self-generating blog entries: I don’t believe this one requires an explanation.
If anyone is going to move forward on any of the above, don’t forget to credit me with the idea. And forward me 50% of all gross earnings.
Well, I’m off to dinner with Tomomi. I’ll save you all a bite of dessert.
P.S. Was that early enough for you, Das?