D avid  B oultbee
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Artificial Ovaries - Life Imitating Art?

In my novel, The Gender Divide, women live four times as long as men by shutting down menstruation. There are a number of ramifications of this but one of them is a dramatic decline in the birth rate, especially male birthrates. In order to compensate for this, I postulated an artificial embryogenesis machine that used artificial ova.

Now it appears that the first artificial ovary has been created.  The ova were created to

“…study how ovarian cells develop and interact… “

Now the method used isn’t exactly how I envisioned the process but then again, I had a different goal in mind when I ‘created’ artificial ova.

The hero of The Gender Divide, Ryan Peters, has been treated to have the same kind of extended life as women do but the formula for how to do this has been lost. Ryan poses as his own son in order to try and retrieve the formula and so one of the side effects of using artificial ova that I postulated was the lack of the nucleotides that determined hereditary characteristics. As a result, the men who use these artificial ova to have sons (they aren’t allowed to have daughters) that either closely resemble them or in some cases are even identical in appearance.

Of course this research is still in the early stages and relies on donated material as the starting point, something that wouldn’t be feasible in the world I envisioned. However it is exciting to see research in this area, particularly since

“…it could also be used clinically to bring immature eggs to term outside the bodies of women facing cancer treatments or other fertility-hindering treatments.”

posted by David at 1:32 pm  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Life Imitates Art

In my novel The Gender Divide the protagonist Ryan Peters is hired as the VP of Security for a biotech firm. One of the first things that he does is centralize security by combining a number of disparate systems into one.  There are a number of high tech twists involved in the process, given that The Gender Divide is a science fiction novel, but the overarching goal is to make the process of security simpler for both employees and those responsible for it.

The premise behind The Gender Divide is that women live four times as long as men and resultantly women dominate the executive ranks. The raison d’être for centralization of security in the novel is to legitimize Ryan as a viable choice for the position of VP of Security, a position previously held by a woman.

However as an author this was driven by my real life experiences at the time. The company I worked for had a security system using mag cards but the cards were generic cards embossed with the logo of the security company. The head office, on the other hand, used personalized badges with the employees picture on it. As a result I needed two sets of security badges, one for office where I worked and one for the head office. Admittedly this wasn’t very onerous as I didn’t travel to the head office that frequently but it was irritating.

Consequently I was both amused and delighted to come across this article about security:

It’s the crowning achievement in a security evolution for Telus, which has spent the past five years developing its key cards. They eliminate a gaggle of distinct security systems, inherited in a series of acquisitions, that required Telus employees who visited multiple locations across Canada to carry a stack of access cards.

In the novel Ryan’s transformation only took a month but such is the beauty of writing fiction. Of course the environment that Ryan was working under was different as the company had just experienced a rather costly security breach. It is always much easier to make modifications in a time of crisis, when objections to changes to the status quo are notably absent. Also the change was only made at the head office and not at other locations.

One could argue that Ryan’s accomplishment in the novel was also his crowning achievement - at least in terms of his role as VP of Security - but the real crowning achievement was the change in culture at the company. This change enabled Ryan to position himself as a credible male in a female dominated world and like any change at the top it had a trickle down effect. It also cemented his role as a leader and his ability to rally the beleaguered and disillusioned security staff. As Olivia, one of the other main characters in the novel, says:

Ryan hadn’t just built up the security infrastructure in the last month—he had built himself a team, too.

As interesting as this is, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Exploring the premise of The Gender Divide is even more interesting. I just checked out Amazon.com and noticed a new 5 star reader review which sums it up nicely - Scary Wow!. There is an Excerpt of Chapter 1 available and for those of you interested in more here are places to buy.

posted by David at 2:18 pm  

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Review for The Gender Divide

Just got a new review for The Gender Divide from The Scattering.

Review is in 3 parts - Now Reading, Meet the New Boss (hysterical - made me laugh out loud when I read it), and Verdict.

Now Reading - http://thescattering.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/now-reading-the-gender-divide-by-david-boultbee/

Meet the New Boss - http://thescattering.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/meet-the-new-boss-review-the-gender-divide/

Verdict - http://thescattering.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/verdict-the-gender-divide-by-david-boultbee/

Some quotable lines

In the tradition of other socially-conscious science fiction, Boultbee’s novel incorporates contemporary issues of gender disparities into a future world, without (thank god) getting too preachy.

Descriptions of biological enhancements and Ryan Peters’s weaponized “nanites” are detailed and believable, but just as believable are the portrayals of social and psychological changes in a radically different world.

and my favorite

The result is a novel with the appeal of both a unique concept and a cast of characters embroiled in the classic drama of a love triangle.  David Boultbee’s The Gender Divide is, first and foremost, an engaging story, but does an excellent job as well in following in the tradition of science fiction as a mirror—not for the future—but for the present.

As a reminder, an excerpt of Chapter 1 is available on the website for The Gender Divide at http://www.thegenderdivide.com/?excerpt . Chapter 2 is also available for those interested - just email me and I’ll sent you the ’secret’ link ;)

posted by David at 10:26 am  

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Male Birth Control Pill

When I first came across this article on the male birth control pill I wasn’t sure what to think of it.

Birth control is a tricky subject, even leaving aside any ethical or religious issues. Regardless of who is responsible for birth control, it is the woman who is the most impacted by a pregnancy.

She is the one who has to suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortunes known as pregnancy and childbirth. Oft times she is accompanied and supported by a partner but in many cases she is all alone. Sometimes she is the one who is left to make that most difficult of all decisions regarding whether to allow the pregnancy to continue or not.

So it is hard to argue for a male birth control pill when it is the woman who is affected. Harder still to imagine a woman relinquishing control of her body to someone else. A condom is a tangible form of birth control, something that a woman will know if a man is using or not. A pill? Not so much.

Admittedly men are put in this position every day but the impact of a mistake or worse, a calculated deception, isn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very real consequences for men in situations like this but nothing like those faced by women.

So I can’t see this becoming casually common, not like the female birth control pill is. The consequences of a mistake, not the mention the risk of unprotected sex, are too great.

However there is a place for the male birth control for couples in a committed relationship.

The article states that during animal test (mice),

“…all their sex behavior was retained, which is a very important consideration for human men. A man who takes this pill could also be sexually active later on and have children.”

“Rather than undergo an irreversible vasectomy, a man could sterilize himself for short periods…

It also provides another option for Jewish couples.

“…it should be well received by religiously observant Jews. According to Jewish law, castration of any animal - human or non-human - is forbidden; not to mention that ’spilling seed’ or ejaculating outside the female body is not permitted. “

Despite it’s inherent limitations, it will be interesting to see what role this pill plays and how it affects the dynamics of a relationship.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Monday, June 28, 2010

Something Stinks

Originally posted on The Writers Vineyard

Last month I mentioned how much I enjoy spending time on my deck writing and enjoying the view.

Well there is a downside to all that nature and I discovered it a few weeks ago. I came downstairs one morning to take the dog for a walk and noticed that the new sod I had laid under the deck had been rolled up. From the lingering odor I guessed that a skunk had been our nocturnal visitor. It was probably looking for food and rolling up our sod to eat the grubs underneath seemed like easy pickings - pun intended.

Over the next few nights I tried numerous tactics that I found while searching on the internet. Unlike the time when we lost my son’s hamster, these didn’t work. Every night I tried something new - cayenne pepper, hot chili pepper flakes, and finally moth balls. Needless to say my wife was not impressed by the resultant mess. Our lawn was a mishmash of red, green and white. And the shunk was still enjoying eating at Chez Boultbee.

Finally I went ‘high tech’. I headed to Canadian Tire and picked up ‘The Scarecrow’. No, this is not an actual scarecrow but a motion activated sprinkler. You hook it up to the hose, add a 9-volt battery, set the sensitivity and stand back. Literally. If you don’t stay out of sensor range, you are liable to get soaked, as has happened to me numerous times, including last night.

The end result? Success. Now when I go down in the morning the lawn is wet but intact. Occasionally we’ll still smell that distinct scent so the skunk is still around but as long as it stays off my lawn I’m a happy man.

This little ‘war’ and a busy month slowed down my writing a little but I still made some progress. Here is my last stat.

62000 / 80000

Next month I’ll probably be posting about my new release, a novella called Venus Inferno. It should be released mid-July and I’m expecting edits and cover art any day now.

Until then.


Posted by David Boultbee

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Monday, June 21, 2010

Women Overtake Men

During my recent speaking engagement at the Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT) one of the topics discussed was how the premise of The Gender Divide - the fact that women live four times longer than men -affected society. The short answer was that since women lived longer, they were able to amass more assets and control more wealth. This great economic power enabled them to take control in other areas such as business and politics as well.

I also referenced a post that I’d made last year (Womenomics) regarding the financial crisis, wherein I referred to an article that stated that none of the central bankers and regulators at fault were women.

I found it oddly coincidental to come across an article in the Globe & Mail last week entitled U.K.’s rich: Women overtake the men. The article states that

The number of rich women outnumbered men in Britain for the first time last year, their numbers and wealth boosted by longer lifespans and an aversion to risky investments (emphasis added)

The shift in relative wealth mostly reflects the fact that wealthy women have the longest life expectancy of any group in the U.K

… a more aggressive approach to investment by men that left them exposed to riskier assets during the financial crisis, also boosted the relative wealth of women

As I mentioned during the speaking engagement, one of the the things that I’ve found fascinating since writing The Gender Divide was the information that I come across that supports many of the concepts and theories postulated in the novel, particularly the stabilizing effect that women can have. Women seem less prone to take unwarranted risks and perhaps might even be more inclined to take a longer term view.

That’s not to say that men are to blame for the ills of the world. After all Canada managed to weather the financial crisis just fine despite having two men - Prime Minister Stephan Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty - at the helm.

However Canada seems to be the exception rather than the rule so perhaps business and society would benefit from the inclusion of more women at the higher level. Something to think about.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wearing my speaking HAT*

This weekend I spoke to the Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT*) - a very enjoyable experience.

I sold two books and received an honorarium but more importantly I got to speak to some wonderful people about a topic near and dear to my heart - naming writing.

I had prepared some notes as I wasn’t sure of how many people would be there - I wanted to have something on hand in case I was placed behind a podium. As it turned out the gathering was just the right size for a round table forum, so my notes weren’t needed. However the process of preparing them ensured that I was prepared, which was the whole idea anyway.

There were probably somewhere between fifteen and twenty people and most of them stayed the entire time. The meeting was an hour and an half but I was supposed to speak for about forty-five minutes. I really didn’t have any idea what time it was or how long I’d been speaking until I called home from the parking lot and realized that I’d been speaking for close to two hours!

Of course I wasn’t the only one talking, although I did more than my fair share. I spent a substantial amount of time talking about The Gender Divide, and how I came up with the idea for it, and this sparked some very interesting discussion. There were some excellent questions asked and even some ideas that I may try to incorporate into a sequel.

The only sour note was the traffic in Toronto. Bletch. It took me just as much time to travel three city blocks as it did for me to get all the way downtown - and that was including driving through a torrential downpour on the 404 and even taking the notorious DVP (Don Valley Parkway for those of you not familiar with the GTA or the Don Valley Parking-lot as it is better known). I made better time on the way home by taking a different route out of the city, although I did get caught on the DVP this time around.

Despite that I had a really good afternoon and I would just like to say thank you to Tanya Long, the program coordinator for HAT, as well as to HAT, for inviting me. And of course a big thank you to everyone who attended. I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Monday, June 7, 2010

Contest: Seeking reader reviews on Amazon.com

The Gender Divide is now available on Amazon.com in paperback, which is very exciting. A lot of people I know still prefer a paperback to an eBook. Readers have been able to purchase paperbacks at the Publishers website for some time now but going through Amazon allows you to take advantage of their FREE Super Saving Shipping offer.

The paperback is also part of Amazon’s ‘Search inside the Book’ program where you can click to look inside. The preview is fairly paltry, especially considering that all of Chapter 1 is available on the website for The Gender Divide. There is also the option to get a link to Chapter 2 just by emailing me. However I’m sure that Amazon.com gets more traffic than my website does so I’m not complaining.

I also noticed that I received my first reader review on Amazon.com and that got me thinking. For those of you who have read The Gender Divide I have the following contest. I will be awarding 3 free copies (eBooks only) of my new novella Venus Inferno once it is released in mid-July. Here is what you have to do to qualify.

  1. Write a review for The Gender Divide. I’d obviously love more 5 star reviews but I really do want to hear what readers think of the book.
  2. Send me an email (david|@|davidboultbee.com) with the name you wrote the review under.
  3. When Venus Inferno is released, I’ll randomly select 3 winners and send them the eBook.

I’m really looking forward to reading some more reviews from my readers so good luck.

posted by David at 1:00 am  

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review of The Gender Divide

I received this wonderful review from Trevas of eBookguru.org for The Gender Divide a while ago and I’ve been remiss about posting it, especially given some of the good things it has to say about the book.

A couple of my favorite lines:

With it’s completely original story line, it’s draw-you-in-and-keep-you style, and it’s fast paced storyline, this is one book that Sci-Fi readers are going to want to grab a copy of.

The storyline stands on it’s own in a genre plagued by copycat types of books, and The Gender Divide is an engaging read right from start to finish.

If you enjoy Sci-Fi, you won’t want to miss out on this one.

If you want to learn more about The Gender Divide visit the website and click on the Excerpt for a free read of Chapter 1. If you like it or even if you aren’t sure, you can email me (david|@|davidboultbee.com) for a link to Chapter 2.

posted by David at 7:52 am  

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to…

Originally posted on The Writers Vineyard


Not quite what Tennyson had in mind when he penned that famous phrase but as I was mentioning to fellow author KS Augustin last weekend, the warmer weather is turning my ‘fancy’ to writing.

I find that I write best when I am not sitting at my desk. The Gender Divide was partially written on plane trips but mostly written at a cottage that we had rented from friends of ours. During the day I’d sit on the deck or the dock and write but my favorite time to write was early in the morning or late at night, when it was quiet and cool. I’d sit in the living room on the sofa, with my feet up on the coffee table, and let my characters take me away into their world.

We haven’t gone to the cottage in a while but last year we took advantage of the Home Renovation Tax Credit and had a deck built off the back of our house. We back onto storm water ponds and despite the traffic from the nearby road, the view is quite soothing. When the traffic dies down the sounds of birds, crickets, and the rubber-band twang of frogs can be heard quite clearly.

When I was let go from my old job last summer, my focus became a) obtaining a new job and b) keeping said new job. As a result my writing got put on the back burner. Being able to spend time on the deck again has inspired me to start writing once more. I have an as-yet-untitled manuscript that I am working on and I recently reached the 70% mark, based on a target of 80,000 words.

In order to keep me on the path of righteousness (or at least on the path towards publication) I found a simple progress Bar that I will be including in future posts. If it proves to be counter-productive then I’ll drop it but in the meantime it will prove to be an interesting experiment.

56000 / 80000

Hopefully my post next month will show the progress that I’ve made. Until then, the deck is beckoning me.

posted by David at 7:01 am  
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