Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: crisis

Global Issues ~ Notes from an Alien


I spend a significant amount of time in a virtual world, Second Life. I’m the Events Manager for a place called Book Island and I’ve been having live readings every Thursday of chapters from my soon-to-be-published book, Notes from An Alien (get a free copy with the link over there in the side-panel).

Well, I finished reading the chapters and will be changing the format of my weekly event next Thursday, the 28th of April.

We’ll be having consultations about the various issues the book raises.

On a recent read-through of the manuscript, to assure myself that I actually had a final manuscript, I made a listing of the major issues.

If this is your first exposure to what my book is about, here’s my elevator-pitch:

Notes from An Alien is a Documentary Novel about an alien civilization’s rise from

greed, corruption, and war to enduring peace.

If you’re not the kind of person who can appreciate having a discussion in a virtual world, I also have a forum where the issues raised in the book can be discussed.

Here’s a listing (by no means complete) of various issues the novel raises, along with the chapters having significant action related to the issue:

Corporate Greed – 1, 2
Corporate Control of Populace – 1, 2, 4
Religious Wars – 1, 2, 3
Prophetic Predictions – 1, 3, 5
War-Just/Unjust – 1, 10
Constant Expansion As A Solution – 1, 2, 11
Non-Religious Religions – 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 13
Military Control of Populations – 2
Rational Religion – 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11
Corporate Ecological Damage – 2, 4, 5
Material Realm/Spiritual Realm – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 19
Science and Faith – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15
Spiritual Practice – 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11
Costs of War – 3, 4, 5, 10, 11
Governance – 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14
Oneness of All People – 6, 7, 8, 14, 16, 19
Economic Issues – 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13
Altruism and Sacrifice – 7, 9, 11, 17
True Peace – 11, 12, 17, 18, 19

I’m sure I’ll learn one heck of a lot about how to facilitate discussions and keep them from turning into arguments :-)
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World Crises And Fiction Writers ~ Can They Help Humanity?


Here I go again, inching out on that limb I keep bending with the weight of speculation

The title of today’s post could seem useless as a question since folks can point to a multitude of works of fiction that have aided humanity, to varying degrees, in its seemingly never-ending struggle.

To another type of person, the question of writers helping humanity could seem like a ludicrous proposition. Writers of fiction create stories that have characters going through crises but solving the world’s problems is for the philosophers and scientists.

Some may feel that showing various characters facing challenges and reaching successful resolutions is of definite aid to humanity since humanity is a large group of individuals and solutions of world crises begin in each of our hearts.

Other people will feel other sentiments

O.K., since my posts are rarely written to push a certain agenda but to foster thought and creativity, let’s consider a few questions:

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* Is humanity just a bunch of individuals?

* Should we count on science and technology to solve world crises?

* Does religion have any role to play?

* Is it necessary to even think about humanity as some kind of “entity” that has requirements that people need to fulfill?

* Is fiction a proper tool for purposely proposing solutions to world crises?

* Does it go against some “law” of creativity to ask writers to make their fiction conform to some response to world conditions?

* What is the role in society of the fiction writer?

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The book I’ll be publishing in May does happen to be a work that hopes to spark a sense of “mission” in the reader, to hopefully induce people to take an active interest in discovering ways in which they can contribute to lessening the burden of humanity’s ills, to make a contribution to the possible attainment of world peace and tranquility.

That all said, I certainly don’t feel that writers as a group need to be changing their own ideas about what they want their fiction to accomplish. Even though my book is attempting to facilitate some rather huge goals, I still want to read books that entertain me or divert me from the strains of current culture or make me forget about everything but a fantastic tale that has no bearing on political or humanitarian or scientific or religious agendas…

Still, can writers be more aware of how their work could include elements of plot or character or theme that, even if in a small way, contribute to a saner, healthier, more tranquil world?
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Can You Trust An Alien; You Know, The Kind From Outer Space?


Alert: Stay turned to this channel for a special broadcast, Monday, 28 Feb.
Irina Avtsin will tell us all about the power of the word, “No!”.
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If you’re new to this blog, you may think its title, Notes from An Alien, refers to either me, Alexander M Zoltai, or writers in general being aliens…

Let’s see: The roots of the word “alien” come from “strange” or “foreign”…

O.K., I’m strange and most folks find writers, as a group, strange. We writers also have strange and often foreign places as the spaces we create within–our minds, our settings, our being alone so much…

But, when I asked if you could trust an alien, I meant one from a strange and very foreign planet.

Being the writer I am and writing the book I’ll publish in May made me have to trust such an alien. I’m her co-author. I’ll let her explain:

My name is Sena Quaren and this book is a story of my People—a story told in notes; and, even though some readers may think it is a novel or a history, its form is difficult to classify in what are called genres.

This is a tale that spans a large tract of time: from the horrific 500-year war to the immaculate peace—a peace we feel will never falter since we so often stumbled, fell, and rose again on the road we had to create to find that peace.

What I say next may or may not be believed but, either way, this story is true—true as fact or true in the way fiction can rise to heights unattainable by mere facts.

I am a woman from a star system about twelve light-years from Earth. If you choose to believe me, my story might be considered a history lesson—how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs. If you choose to not believe I’m real, my tale might be considered a science fiction story about how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs…

I’ll proceed on the premise that I am real…. My star system’s plasma distribution caused a natural and powerful enhancement of mental/emotional connection between two of our Worlds—Anga-Param, the corporate World, and Anla-Purum, the religious World. Luckily, this only happened during a short period every five years when the two planets were closest to each other.

It should be noted that this mental/emotional planetary connection was used extensively as a weapon in our 500-year InterWorld War. There are even some who claim plasma is the primary conduit for spiritual experiences.

Before we learned to use this power productively many people were doomed to a miserable life in mental institutions. A small percentage of us not only escaped the confusion of the interpenetration of other minds and hearts but could train ourselves to use the plasma even when the planets were not close. An even smaller percentage could reach out beyond our planets and explore alien minds. This is how I found Alexander, the co-author of this book.

Alexander is my transducer—my way of communicating with Earth’s people. We have an intimate mental/spiritual bond—not “conversation” but something much deeper and higher—a conceptual bonding. A simplistic example would be to say that we share things like the idea of dog and cat but not the knowledge of beagles and tabbies. A more accurate example would be that we easily share an idea like four-footed, domesticated animal but not ideas like dog or cat or lizard. Those differences take much more conceptual exploration and sharing.

The sharing we do is rich and meaningful and Meaning is what is most important. Even though trees and flowers and bodies in the Angi system are significantly different than on Earth and even though the way Angians think and feel and act has its peculiarities, there are sufficient similarities that make all the Angian jargon unnecessary. The only times I worked hard to give Alexander specific words to use was when reference was made to names of people and places.

I’ve come to completely trust Alexander to take the meanings I give him and share them with you in meaningful ways. I’ve had significant culture-shock learning about your World and you would feel the same thing if you truly experienced our Worlds. Yet, understanding is the goal—unity of thought and feeling. Even though the specific history of our Worlds is different than yours, I’m sure you’ll find valuable information in this story—information that can help Earth.

Alexander and I have worked together to interact with hundreds of humans before we ever sat down to write this book—worked to help me understand humanity so I could make my story of real help in the efforts to stem the tide of the multiple, global crises Earth is suffering. I’ve communicated, with Alexander’s help, through forums on the Web as well as through the avatar he created for me in the virtual world, Second Life. As this book was being written, we interacted with many reviewers on our publisher’s web site, FastPencil. At the end of this book you’ll find a listing of the people who helped me prepare for and accomplish the incredibly complex task of writing a book.

Does Sena sound like a person you can trust?

Do you think she’s real or just a literary device?

Is it believable, with what most folks think when you mention aliens, that Sena is so reasonable and seems to truly want to help Earth?

Would you like a free copy of the pre-publication edition of the book?

Would you be the kind of person to give a bit of feedback and get your name (or, alias) in the back of the book?

Why do humans, so often, cast aliens as sneaky, manipulative, or downright evil?
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A Virtual World, A Writer’s Mind, And Serious Business That’s Always Fun!


I just got back from Book Island in Second Life.

Yep, a virtual world I visit for play and work. I wrote about virtual worlds in a previous post. Here’s a bit of what I said:

“All virtual worlds have virtues that make them valuable whether we’re talking about your mind, a book you read or wrote, or a computer-created world.”

Yes, I called our minds and books “virtual worlds”. Check out that post for more about what I’ve done as a writer in Second Life.

This post is for talking about what I’m doing as a promoter (of my writing) in that virtual world.

Just like a book’s virtuality can become quite real to us, walking around in a computer virtuality can make you wonder why this “real”, consensual, physical reality puts so many demands on we weak humans :-)

My latest book will be coming out in May and I’m doing all the necessary promotional tasks I can squeeze into my day–writing this blog, visiting the blogs on my Blogroll and commenting there, planning a BlogTour for the book launch, making final revisions, preparing for online reviews of the book, using Twitter and Facebook, etc…

Most of those activities are me relating to other people and that’s what I consider Promotion to be–Relationships.

Would you rather be bombarded with TV or online ads for books, movies, or your favorite things, or would you like to have a friend recommend one to you?

Relationships have always been the most effective form of promotion, in spite of the mega-budgets of the marketing firms. Sure, you may have seen a movie that got mega-hyped and liked it but, imho, most of what’s sold through the traditional channels of promotion is either quite useless or actually harmful.

So, I take a break from the sometimes sweet, often harsh, conditions of Real reality and move my relationship-forming brand of promotion into Second Life.

I’m the events manager on Book Island, I help host the weekly Open Mic on Sundays, I take part in the Wednesday Writer’s Chat Support Group, I’m organizing the new Happy Hours at the Writer’s Block Cafe, and I read chapters from my forthcoming book on Thursdays.

Apart from the live reading of book chapters, most of the “work” is hanging out with people and forming relationships. I’m not running around shouting out my agenda. I talk with folks from all over the world. I bond with them. They often wonder what I do in Real Life. I tell them about my book…

What I do in real life takes many hours of every day. I make time for virtual relationship-building, carve it out of my diurnal allocation, find it often more satisfying then this war-torn, global crisis-ridden, greedy and dangerous “real” world…

Like yesterday: I sat with five people from various parts of the United States, one man from Finland, and two others from the UK. Some were writers, some artists, and one was a pole dancer. We all had a great time. We shared information, experiences, laughter, and good will

I think it’s time to wrap this post up. I’ll do it with some questions from that previous post:

Have you ever wondered if your mind is truly registering our physical world with fidelity?

How lost can you get in a good book?

Has a book you’ve read ever made you want to abandon our consensual reality?

Have you ever visited a virtual world?
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What Is A Genre & Should You Try To Write In One?


“Genre” simply means a kind or type of writing.

Some folks have even criticized the whole concept of genre.

If you look the word up in Wikipedia, you’ll see a questioning of the genre of the very article about genre:

“This article is written like a personal reflection or essay and may require cleanup. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style.”

Wikipedia supplies a list of genres and there’s a much more extensive one here.

So, do writers sit down and think about all the genres and choose a particular one to create within?

Some do and some do it well. Still, some “genre writers” get stuck in the form and fill it with less than original content.

Many writers say they first meet or create their characters and that helps determine the genre. Yet, a book can begin to be written in one genre and end up turning itself into quite a different genre.

And, to include an edit of this post after it was written and published, one could explore mash-ups, where an idea from one genre gets recreated in a potentially jarring genre. Take a gander at Roz Morris’ post on literary mash-ups!

Sometimes a writer finds a plot first but almost any specific plot can happen in a number of different genres.

Also, you don’t have to look far for arguments against genre-writing by folks who try to compare it with “literary” writing–as if a book written in a particular genre automatically becomes non-literary…

You can also find arguments like:

“…even good genre…is by definition a constrained form of writing. There are conventions and these limit the material…If you are following conventions, then a significant percentage of the thinking and imagining has been taken out of the exercise. Lots of decisions are already made.  So it follows that genre tends to rely on a simpler reader psychology.”

But the article that contains that quote goes on and extols good genre writing.

So the question of whether a writer should try to write in a particular genre could become completely moot.

What matters most is good writing, creative writing; even writing that pushes hard against genres and rules and conventions–steps up to the literary plate and belts one out of the authorial park :-)
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