M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Tales of a 6th-Grade Nothing (Apologies to Judy Blume)

November 26, 2021
MThomas

I started writing stories when I was in 5th grade. Our teacher gave us a list of vocabulary each week — about 10 to 12 words, I think — and said we had two choices: 1) write down all their definitions along with a sample sentence, or 2) work them into a short story to show that we understood the meaning of the words.

I chose the 2nd option. In fact, I was the only one who did out of a class of about 25.

The thing is, the teacher wanted us to read them at the front of the room.

Man, that was not something I was looking forward to. But somehow I managed.

I wrote nothing but detective stories, all in the first person. At some point, I borrowed my mother’s old manual typewriter (originally my grandfather’s, from the 1950s) and typed them all out. I still have most of them.

But my peak as an elementary school age creative writer came part-way 6th grade, when I attempted to write my first horror story.

Continue Reading

Automated killer machines? Here already, but not what you think

June 5, 2021
MThomas

Diving into the topic doesn’t reveal that the world quietly experienced the opening salvos of the Terminator timeline in 2020. But it does point to a more prosaic and perhaps much more depressing truth: that no one can agree on what a killer robot is, and if we wait for this to happen, their presence in war will have long been normalized. It’s cheery stuff, isn’t it? It’ll take your mind off the global pandemic at least.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/3/22462840/killer-robot-autonomous-drone-attack-libya-un-report-context

Actually, the truly scary “killer robots” would be much less like Terminator and more like the self-replicating ones in PDK’s “Second Variety” (or Screamers for those who haven’t read the original short…my recommendation? forget the B movie, read the story).

But there are already plenty of “semi-automated” machines that kill. It’s relatively easy to program a device to wait until someone approaches, and then shoot/radiate/explode. Strictly speaking, even basic landmines fit this definition.

What would help is the media stopping sensationalistic yellow journalism that throws around fear-mongering hyped-up headlines to sell copy.

Yeah, right. Like that’ll happen any time soon.

Machines killing without a human operator? Already here.

Machines seeking out and killing humans without pre-programmed responses and of their own accord?

We’re a long way away from that.

For now.

Maybe we just need to take away their control stones…

75 years and counting

August 9, 2020
MThomas

DSC01148.jpg

14 years ago, my wife and I went to Hiroshima by high-speed ferry boat, on our way back from visiting her parents in Kyushu. Her father’s family comes from Hiroshima (although her father was actually born in Dairen/Dalian (大連), China) and her uncle and his family still live about an hour’s drive north of the city.

It was my first time to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. We arrived about a week after the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony and Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony, but the museum was a very sharp reminder of the horror that my country visited upon Japan.

August 6th, 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima.

August 9th, 11:02 a.m. Nagasaki. Continue Reading

Max von Sydow, Legend

March 9, 2020
MThomas

IMG_1495

Another classic actor, gone.

I still remember my favorite line, from The Greatest Story Ever Told:

“Don’t vory, Mary.”

Ah, classic Swedish Jesus.

And the scifi-fantasy list…

  • Flash Gordon
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Dune
  • Minority Report
  • Game of Thrones

What’s your favorite Max von Sydow movie/TV series?

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/mar/09/max-von-sydow-star-of-the-exorcist-and-the-seventh-seal-dies-aged-90

The Halloween “Shat-Attack”

October 23, 2019
MThomas

It had been rumored for decades that the mask the killer Michael Myers wore in the Halloween films was in fact based on Shatner’s face. Not just his face, but specifically a Captain Kirk death mask created for Star Trek. As it turns out, the anecdote is very true.

😳

Yup. In an interview, Shatner even talked about wearing a mask of his own face for trick or treating.

(It’s in the linked article.)

Pleasant dreams 💤🎶🕸🕷🦇🧟‍♀️🧛‍♀️🧟‍♂️🎃

https://intl.startrek.com/article/the-shatner-halloween-connection?amp&__twitter_impression=true

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