One of the dangers of reading sci-fi while writing sci-fi is the “contamination” of original ideas. When I first started writing, I sheltered myself from all contact with sci-fi books and movies. I even gave away dozens of my classic paperbacks to a member of the younger generation to avoid being tempted to reread them. My self-imposed exile has eroded over time, but recently I read two books that make me wonder if I should run off and hide again. The first was Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis. I wanted to know more about the man, and his writing techniques. What I discovered were many similarities in ideas; hopefully not in his mental difficulties. He was interested in what I was interested in, the nature of reality. The second book is The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons, a space opera series jam packed with cool ideas. So many ideas, in fact, that only because I take notes on what I read did the similar ones jump out and bite me. Otherwise, I would simply have lost myself in the story. I won’t share with you exactly which things that he mentions that are fundamental to my new novel, Perturbations In The Reality Field, but will share a quote from Simmons’ blog: “How do you break it to someone that ideas are a dime a dozen? That every writer has more ideas than he or she will be able to write about in a long lifetime? And, finally, that their idea (almost certainly) has not only been explored in fiction about 10,000 times” His description of Zen Gnostics however, no churches, no priests, no holy books, no concept of sin, seems to fit in quite well with my Family of Man.