Review: Don’t worry. Everything will be fixed by 2037. Or will it?


Art by Saiful Haque from

In the year 2037, all the uber-wealthy will be Canadian. Because they will have all the NiceCoin.

In 2037, you earn NiceCoin by being nice. For example, you open the door to let a lady through before you, instead of hitting her up for sex. Canadians, by reputation at least, are the nicest people on earth. Therefore, they will snatch up NiceCoin as if it were poutine.

NiceCoin is a fantasy, one of nearly two dozen visions of the future at, a project of the XPrize Foundation, best known for its high-tech contests. In 2004, the foundation awarded its inaugural prize to SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded craft to make a suborbital flight.

XPrize wants to encourage ideas, not just firsts, and sci-fi writers love to speculate.

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Review: Futurecoast is crowd-sourced science fiction

Storytelling has changed little since the advent of the printing press, despite the technological revolutions of the 20th and 21st centuries. The product is still linear, that is, one damn thing after another, to paraphrase Elbert Hubbard. And stories are largely the product of a single individual, though that person may head a team, such as film director. But artists and designers haven’t given up on non-linear storytelling. One example is Futurecoast, a project by game designer Ken Eklund.

Climate change is at the center of Futurecoast. It assumes a warmed world with rising sea levels that modify the world’s coasts. The world exists in a infinite array of possible futures which appear in the present as “chronofacts” that rain down as “chronofalls.” The facts manifest themselves as elegant, transparent forms that resemble the Spirograph disks I used to play with. The forms are themselves coded messages that one character describes as “leaks in the voice mail system of the future.” In the context of fiction, they are snippets of dialog between future lives that the audience eavesdrops. Individual voice mails are compelling, such as one from a woman in Alaska in 2050 discussing a new house built on a man-made island, or one from 2055 Seattle about a scientist hearing stories from his grandfather describing salmon runs that have gone extinct. Continue reading Is Dead; Long Live Fyddeye


Image courtesy has gone to that great internet in the sky. I euthanized it yesterday, after my web host provider, Rochen, threatened to kill it. Last week, the techies at Rochen placed the site in what they call an “abuse queue,” a kind of digital woodshed, and told me that was taking up too many resources on a shared server. (I found tech support at Rochen officious, rude, and unhelpful, but that’s water under the bridge now.) Shared servers are like apartment buildings for cheapskate webmasters such as myself. The service costs only $12 a month, but if the site takes up too much water or electricity, in a manner of speaking, the landlord can demand more money. That’s what Rochen did with me, and I moved out rather than pay $150 a month for a dedicated server. I don’t have that kind of money.

In truth, lives on my laptop in suspended animation as a zip file. I have no plans to revive it, because it was getting in my way. For months, I’d been considered a change in strategy for marketing my books. was intended to help me market the Fyddeye Guides (see links to the right), and it worked. But the site was growing stale, and I was stuck in the maritime history genre, which isn’t going to make anyone rich, let me tell you. So I decided to focus on my author persona as my “brand,” rather than Fyddeye itself. That’s the way most independent authors such as myself present their products.

I still have plans for Fyddeye. I’d like to publish a second edition of The Fyddeye Guide to America’s Maritime History, and the Fyddeye Guide to America’s Lighthouses. Maybe in 2014. But the Fyddeye brand will not have its own web presence. I’m already feeling that marketing my books under the “Joe Follansbee” brand will be easier and more flexible. And I can incorporate other projects, such as my science fiction.

What do you think about my strategy change?