Viral Times

A viral novel to inject hearts with hope and health

Archive for the ‘Viral Times: Novel’ Category

Brain mapping gives us a path to understanding love

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A new book from Judith Horstman on how brain activity affects love includes a message about how much fMRI scans have taught us about the neuron dances that our minds do when we’re in love. From an article and interview with Horstman in the Marin Independent Journal:

We know more about the brain in love than ever before, thanks to technology such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that maps brain activity in real time. And it’s shed light on how taking the Pill might affect the men that a woman’s attracted to (which could possibly be the reason behind some divorces); how love can be addictive (especially for women); how meditation might make you a better lover (who wouldn’t want to be?); and how taking acetaminophen just might relieve some of the often devastating pain of being jilted.

Horstman’s book “The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex and the Brain: The Neuroscience of How, When, Why, and Who We Love” examines how our biggest sex organ builds the emotion we all need. In Viral Times, Jenny Nation wins a Nobel Prize for her research into mapping brain activity in 2017. The discoveries lead her to develop a new drug that will impart love to all who take it — a most holy kind of love.

 

Written by Ron Seybold

February 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Media reporting, Viral Times: Novel

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Herbs and oils can inhibit viruses

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Natural herbal remedies are on the medical list Angie uses in my novel Viral Times. I mention echinacea in chapters where this naturopath’s healing and protecting those with the New Flu, or even HIVE-5. It’s not a cure, but it can make it harder for viruses to replicate in a body where there’s a steady dosage level of echinacea. This herbal is taken internally, as a tincture, a tea, or even as capsules. Although we can’t know how effective the herb will become when it’s grown in 2020, the demand for a stronger echinacea is bound to spark some fresh breeding. It’s a lot like a Z-Pack of antibacterials — you need to stop using it for awhile once you’ve been on it, or its healing effects will be reduced.

Our world of the present is infused with these ancient remedies, ones we will come to rely upon as the insurance complex reduces the range of the populace that can afford traditional medicine. Lemongrass, witch hazel, slippery elm root, licorice, lavender — all these can boost the body’s ability to heal and repel viral effects. Look for them in a healing tea together. It’s okay, adding honey won’t inhibit the healing effects.

St. John’s Wort has antiviral properties as well, but it doesn’t play a role in Viral Times. The plant can suppress viral growth in cells. It’s applied as an oil when it’s most effective, and that’s going to trigger some fear in a society of 2020 that’s under siege from a touch-transmitted virus like HIVE-5. But we don’t have that struggle today. It’s got side-effects at high dosages that include extra sensitivity to the sun; sunburns are more likely. As an anti-viral, scientists have tried to separate the active ingredient hypericum out and put it in capsule form. But for the moment it’s only offered as a homeopathic remedy, meaning that a minute amount of the substance is used. And there’s tea, too, since it comes from a plant that grows throughout the US. St. John’s Wort has an classic history as a natural anti-depressant — and that’s also a state that will raise your immunity in Viral Times.

Written by Ron Seybold

February 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Press time arrives for Viral Times

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My novel Viral Times has gone to the printing press at last. Eight years of hope, rewriting, workshopping and research has delivered a 276-page saga that was born after an epic gestation. A release party is on tap in Austin, at the Writer’s Workshop, on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 — since the novel’s story ends on a Sunday. Printed copies of the book will be available on Amazon and from this website, as well as in readings around Texas. An ebook is on its way to Barnes & Noble and Amazon as well.

There are many people to thank for their energy and patience over the years it took to finish this first novel. It almost feels like the close of a movie, when those many minutes of credits roll over the screen. Writing the acknowledgements turned out to be a joyful trek down the lane of history. Now the new life of the book begins, as I work — like every author — to share my newborn with the world of readers.

Written by Ron Seybold

January 26, 2012 at 11:59 am

Posted in Viral Times: Novel

The future is here. Are you wearing anti-viral gear?

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Sex. Disease. Love. Fear. Faith. Grief. Star reporter Dayton Winstead juggles all these in Viral Times, when a viral pandemic of HIVE-5 and AIDS Ultra drives out full-contact sex. After millions die in less than a year, new SimSuits on a network give the world the technology to experience SafeSex’s passion, lust and climax in simulations as real as any forbidden embrace. But love takes a beating in Viral Times. Casualties of loved ones mount in a pandemic that spreads through touch. Dayton’s lost wife haunts his heart and drives his work through a losing battle.

Although SimSuits keep the virus at bay, they also open the door for attack. Nobel-winner Jenny Nation’s evangelistic faith sparks the geneticist’s mission to erase the SexNet, the Suits’ lure, plus any sinner who wears one. On the seventh day after her ultimatum, Nation’s engineered virus Mighty Hand will sweep through the net and into the Suits to infect the millions who believe they are safe. She places her faith in a God that kills any who love outside His laws.

Humiliated and broken by a counter-attack against his investigations, Dayton meets Angie, a naturopath with her own losses in love and sex to bear. Spreading the medicine of natural immunity through ageless practices and cures, she finds herself on a head-on course with Mighty Hand’s death and Dayton’s love. Mighty Hand threatens to change their world forever, unless Angie and Dayton can find and forestall the first biological virus to attack through a network. Only if they can touch upon acts of faith—and believe that their past might heal the future—will they hope to recover love during Viral Times.

Viral Times: Going viral on 2-12-12 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple’s iBookstore and more.

Written by Ron Seybold

January 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Viral Times: Novel

The future of naturopathic medicine

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Tabitha Parker

Utne Reader has posted an article about medicine that plays a major role in defense of viruses in my novel Viral Times. Dr. Tabatha Parker’s skill set is similar to Delta’s, as well as my co-protagonist Angie Consoli. They are naturopaths, 10 years into the future.

The global health care system is in crisis, says Dr. Tabatha Parker, founder of Natural Doctors International (NDI). It relies on the exportation of a Western model—one that doesn’t even work in the countries it’s coming from—to developing countries that can’t afford it.

Parker, a naturopathic doctor, sees NDI as a bridge between exported conventional medicine and centuries-old indigenous healing techniques, such as the use of herbal medicine, which in some places in the world is the dominant type of health care. “That has to be a part of the system if you’re going to actually reach people,” Parker says. Naturopathic doctors “are trained in a way that no one else in the world is trained: to be [that] bridge.”

Read more: http://www.utne.com/Mind-Body/Utne-Reader-Visionaries-Dr-Tabatha-Parker-Natural-Doctors-International.aspx#ixzz1dPVANRIL

Written by Ron Seybold

November 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

Novelist’s workbench: Viral Times revision, Chapter 6

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Welcome to the next installment in my novel Viral Times. I’m sharing the “behind the scenes” notes about revising in this Ultimate Version of my long-crafted book. The storytelling has been built and rebuilt over many years.

As I said last time, this revision process is guided by taking the storytelling that was in first person and shifting it to “close third,” the kind that lets a writer deliver the POV character’s feelings and sometimes internal dialogue. All to serve the Man vs. Self conflict. Jennifer Nation, the evangelistic neuro-scientist, is the story’s main antagonist, taking her role as the person who stands in the way of my hero Dayton’s wish — to live in a world safe from the viruses that make biological touch-sex deadly. He strives to find love again after losing his wife to the pandemic.

But in a way, Dayton is also does antagonist work in the story. He helps Angie (introduced in Chapter 3) to erase the threat of the new man-made virus Jennifer desires to build.

These pages were a pleasure to revise because I liked the tension that was already there. I do wonder about how seamless they appear, since the scenes happen in different locales but the same time-frame. They felt heavy with scene, but the sequel was in there, embedded and concise.

In our entry this time, we learn more about , who’s Jennifer, who earned a Nobel for her work in brain mapping — the evolution of fMRI brain scan sciences of our current day. She’s left her post at PharmAlliance (see the First Four chapters for details). Now she’s on a road trip to recover her faith.

Chapter 6
Pilgrim’s Progress

Jennifer
October 2021, Outer Banks, North Carolina

She missed her parents most on Sundays. It was the day they would picnic together, take photos and read aloud to each other. Sunday was also the only day of the week they prayed.  Ten years later they were both gone, taken by God’s plan on that fiery day. He left her prayers for their survival of that crash in the woods unanswered.

In return, Jennifer believed God owed her an answered prayer. She prayed for resources to keep building drugs, this time the kind no company could hijack: biological pharmaceuticals. God could find her an HP Gross-spectral Epigenome Navigator. They didn’t look down her bra at that final PharmAlliance exit search when she was starting her sabbatical, so she snuck out her code for the GEN interface. That was a sign. The security team was usually anything but chaste. In exchange for her parents, the Almighty would have to get her a heads-up display for a GEN. She brushed her hair and felt the inputs for her brain’s neuron backplane. God didn’t build any of that, but it was like divine intuition to gene combinations and RNA derivatives. She played the GEN like Paderewsky on a Steinway. An investor angel, yes. She had faith she could find one to deliver such an instrument again.

So she started her pilgrimage on a Sunday with a road trip to search out fresh promise. She filled her heart with hunger and her passenger seat with her assistant Frieda. Jennifer was surprised that the woman felt a calling to follow her. She didn’t know if an acolyte or a friend was sitting in the Cooper beside her. When they arrived in the morning sun of the vacation town of Duck, the Pentacostal Wave Evangelical church was starting to fill. It stood alongside the steady surf of the Outer Banks, a windswept wooden building no larger than a nave and only a dozen pews deep. But when Jennifer walked in, it felt as big as the eager pounding in her chest.

From the pulpit, Thurungian Brother Ignacio spoke the words that galvanized her desire. The man with sandy hair and a well-freckled tan shouted a sermon to inspire hope. He spelled out the challenges to fidelity, but he had few answers.

“Sex is everywhere, spread across anonymous networks.” He paused to stare upward and wave his hand. “In game shows hosted by fornicating film stars. In the promises of lust that drain all the way down to web ads for Dry-Day Senior Diapers and Retro Flush antiviral toilet cleansers.” He called out most pernicious sin, lurid pornography, a word now out of vogue in favor of “passion.” Men and women who taught lessons over these nets about how to go down on each other, techniques to practice while inside the virtual sex networks.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ron Seybold

November 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm

A novelist’s workbench: Viral Times work, exposed

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The object of the writing over the next three weeks is to show how the work of revision challenges me as I finish the final draft of Viral Times. This log will show how I’ve tried to respond. I believe it’s a novel about important topics. Public health and alternatives to quell viral pandemics, a part of our lives for generations to come. Plus, how it feels when the worst happens in any medical crisis — the damage to a heart from losing a soulmate to untimely death, through any disease. And how you might repair that damage to your life.

But no matter how that work succeeds, there are lessons for me, and for my workshop writers, about how to break the ice of revisions.

So here goes: My work on Chapter 5, Love’s Hurts. The first four chapters’ story are available in the sidebar link, a revision that benefits from my editor Jill Dearman’s pen on a wooly 350 pages of a book. That entire earlier draft was in five first-person points of view. A real challenge, Jill said.

You gave yourself a very tricky challenge by putting all your protagonists in first person. Early on Jennifer’s voice and Dayton’s don’t sound so different. You could still change back to 3d person if you want. But if you are committed to all 1st person, your job is to make everyone’s voice as distinct as say Crawford’s or Zeke’s. Or their point of view as incredibly vivid and unmistakable as Angie’s. Dayton and Jennifer –because they both take themselves so seriously!—are sometimes hard to tell apart voice-wise.

I revised Love’s Hurts back into third person this morning — and I found myself crying while I slid back into the moments of Delta’s finale. I’ve never been at a bedside while someone I loved died, so this is all imagining my own loved one’s final days to come somewhere in the future, or the memory of tending to her after illness.

But the important thing is that I was crying, so it felt real enough to me. And maybe it might to someone else, too. I also did the revision after reading a chapter of Donna’s Johnson’s “Holy Ghost Girl” — so the prayer aspect of Delta’s healing rose up. I can see how Donna’s book is going to seep into this final version of mine.

Chapter 5
Love’s Hurts

Angie Consoli
Assateague Island, Spring 2021

She couldn’t recall a time she slept so much. When she opened her eyes, the mornings were already lit up. That dog — what a name, Sherlock — once he heard her stir in the deep-down comforter, he’d pad over from the doorway where he slept. He’d put his snout on the edge of the rough oaken sleigh bed and wag his tail. Angie knew dogs that barked at people in the morning. Sherlock was as quiet as Delta, who would bring Angie herbal teas and massage her meridians. Then she’d shuffle back to the kitchen, or hum to herself on the porch at her workbench, reclaiming whatever junk the surf threw up onto what she called her beach.

The sounds from her house felt different to Angie, noises distinct from Philly or the Hamptons, the places where the music never stopped and somebody was always wheedling or snorting or uncapping a moan in closed room. Angie was starting to think of those sounds as the soundtrack of a former life. In the mornings she drifted in and out of sleep while the sound of the waves boomed loudest, the hours when Delta said the sea was at high tide.

     Delta was none of the things that Aurora or Tiffany or Alexandra had been on Angie’s sex video sets: no swagger or panache, no buffed skin or enhanced parts or perfect painted smiles. Delta had looks to drive away anyone but devoted nieces, parents or siblings. No one would ever start a family with a woman so coarse. But something made Angie drink in the sight of her caretaker. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ron Seybold

October 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Many massage points in today’s haptics chair

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The Consumer Electronics Show for 2010 kicked off last night, and the expo illuminated a few technologies that could play a role in Viral Times. The Inada Doctor’s Choice Massage Chair offers a vast range of massage points for its $5,799 retail price tag.

It’s a chair that mimics human touch. Inada says it’s shaped for 106 different human body types. If the programming could be transferred to a suit, like those in Viral Times, this touch could be used for immunotherapy while people are isolated during a viral storm. The same SimSuit that offers Secure Sex could serve as a naturopath’s healing tool.

During pre-programmed massages, kneading speeds automatically vary between 10 and 32 strokes per minute while tapping varies between 180 to 500 taps per minute. Proprietary 3-D rollers thrust forward and relax backward up to 2.8 inches, creating highly desirable movements of the spine. All these actions and many others are carefully managed by the chair’s electronics.

Over at VentureBeat, the reporter there was calling it a “glove chair.” Just drop the first letter off of that name and you’ll get another sensual purpose for the technology of today. Give a society a roadblock to physical contact like the New Flu and you’ll create a market demand for a love chair, or suit, that can be sold for a lot less than $5,799.

Written by Ron Seybold

January 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Viral Times: Novel

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Haptics shows the steps to SafeSex

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One of the crucial concepts for Viral Times shows up early in the novel. In the first chapter of my novel the science of haptics, already well-developed today, has started to fill the gap that people create between themselves and communicable disease caused by viruses.

Given enough years and enough desire, haptics will offer the engine to drive the most serious home electronics device: The SimSuit. You only need to look at the Wikipedia definition of haptics to see how a well-built, broadband suit could help us reach out and touch.

Haptics is the study of touching as nonverbal communication. Touches that can be defined as communication include handshakes, holding hands, kissing (cheek, lips, hand), back slapping, high fives, a pat on the shoulder, and brushing an arm. Touching of oneself may include licking, picking, holding, and scratching. These behaviors are referred to as “adaptor” and may send messages that reveal the intentions or feelings of a communicator. The meaning conveyed from touch is highly dependent upon the context of the situation, the relationship between communicators, and the manner of touch.

In 1992 I worked as a computer tech journalist and followed an emerging video game experience that let players fight in role-play onscreen, their movements tracked by a sensory ring on the floor, surrounding them. Less than 17 years later we have the Nintendo Wii — so popular it was sold out for stretches of 2008 — and advanced enough to let us play sports with one another. Or Just Dance.

An article today in Fast Company tracks the fun quotient and sweat rating of Wii games. By 2019, an emerging crisis of viral times can create a very different, haptic kind of sweat.

Written by Ron Seybold

January 5, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Viral Times Prologue: Heat in the Night

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Dayton Winstead
Austin, November 29, 2020

While the rains fall, we fall back in retreat from disease.

I type those words into my ScribePad and wipe sweat off my brow. I’m sweltering in my apartment while my Condo Cooler is forced to idle. I’m not supposed to be home now, a journalist writing in his private journal while the sun sets on a Texas hot with climate and viruses. Government clocks cycle our energy to restrain the temperature. But in these times, nothing we’ve tried controls the viruses.

They fall on us from the skies in rainstorms and leap between us in casual touch. These times have caused love to fail. A half-century ago people had sex–dad would say make love in one of his editorials–with no fears if they used simple precaution. Even when I grew up, sexual disease needed blood to cross between bodies. But HIV-5 is more aggressive than its viral ancestors. It enters the body while you battle the Blue Flu, a disease with an airborne range of 10 feet that’s soared into a 19-month pandemic. Nobody gets close now without the Hugo Boss masks, antiviral clothes, the viro-screen gel. In the ultimate of social distancing, the lucky ones can suit up and go virtual for sex. Secure Sex, they call it, breeding faster than mosquitoes in a holding pond.

I write to disinfect myself from my mission tomorrow and leave behind this record.

First the Flu, then HIV, and at the last, AIDS Ultra. Can love survive the terrors of touch? Nobody has an answer yet, although the new Simulation Suits mimic touch to make sex safe again. General Connectrics owns the field of haptics, game touch technology grown up to serve sex. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ron Seybold

October 16, 2009 at 6:56 pm