Posts about my writing
Galactum Year 143
*Where did you find this guy? He’s a complete nil.* She was using the node far more easily now, and though it, ey could tell that the thought of having a bioware link to Know-It-All embedded in her brain no longer made her skin crawl. Still, it made it easier for them to communicate until ey decided the time was right to reveal es true nature.
*Now, now, Meat. You weren’t much better yourself the first time you walked through that hatch. Give him a chance.*
The subject of their scrutiny, completely unaware of their opinions of his skills and personality, lay on the deck, his torso and head buried deep in the access panel.
*I can’t believe you’re letting some stranger root around in your insides like that.* A shudder run through her and Vrick felt it through the node and an eerie echo of the rebounding reaction travelled back to her.
*Speaking from experience there?* The scar looked much better now, fading from the livid pinkness to a neat white line that divided the socket of her left eye. Ey had encouraged her to have it removed, insisting that there were funds enough to pay for the procedure, but she had been adamant that it stay. And ey had known her long enough to see her latent stubborn streak surge to the fore. When ey questioned her on the choice of prosthetic, black as a starless night, her only comment had been, “The specs are better.”
Ey recalled the agony of being able to do nothing but watch, drowning in impotent rage, unable to do anything to help her other than summon emergency medics from the nearest settlement. Ey knew ey had saved her life, but it was a cold and pale comfort.
“Who does your diagnostics?” muttered a voice deep within the maintenance port, heavy with contempt. “You are so far off spec, I’m amazed this ship even flies.”
*Are you going to let him talk about you like that?* (more…)
Galactum Year 139
She didn’t reach the landing pad until almost dusk, having had to wait at the placement office all day or risk losing her spot in the rota for a new temp assignment. As much as she hoped this new ship would be the one, she couldn’t risk missing out on further short term placements if it didn’t work out. Thankfully, the captain had understood and accommodated her schedule.
Despite the late hour, the day’s heat still lay heavy over her as she stepped down from the tram onto the landing pad’s apron. In the distance, the sun dipped low toward the horizon, lighting the sky with the colours of flame. She felt a tickle of sweat down her back under the starched, formal shirt, but she knew it had nothing to do with the heat. The back of her neck itched where her hair had been freshly shorn down to the skin. She fought the urge to touch the place where the braid she had grown since childhood no longer lay.
As the shuttle tram moved off behind her, she saw the ship in the centre of the landing pad. She felt a whiff of disappointment and made an effort to push it away.
It seemed small to her, not much noteworthy about it. But even as the thought came to her, she knew that, compared to the ship where she had been born and raised, anything would have seemed so. The clanship would have dwarfed most of the port, far too massive to ever have made planetfall. She knew she would likely never see a ship like that again, let alone serve on one. She didn’t want to settle into any of the barges she had been temp-crewing on, but this one might very well be her future. (more…)
Galactum Year 138
Jaim Somro’s life ended in the burnt, angry glare of a dying star, the ship his only companion.
The Maverick Heart hung in the fading light of the aged sun, as close to the raging shockwaves and radiation as ey could without risk, held there by constant adjustments to es drive field. Waiting for the end to finally come.
Meanwhile, the human lay small and frail on one of the couches, wrapped in a well-worn blanket, waxen skin bathed in ruddy light. Each breath the man took ever more laboured.
The ship remembered that blanket and the world it had come from in perfect detail. Ey remembered the moment the human had picked it up in the shop, remembered knowing the moment he had decided to buy it.
In the end, nothing more than time had killed the vibrant, vital man who had joined the ship a few months past his fiftieth birthday. They would spend another six decades together, until the latest advances in anti-senescence treatments could do no more. And the man had wanted to die where he had lived, in the black, lit by the light of a million stars. (more…)
So, you’ve built a world. You might not know all the details yet, but you have the basics down, and have begun to answer the questions of why the story is taking place when and where it does. Now, you have to get down to telling the story, putting together the elements that make up your narrative structure.
People often ask about the how of writing, the nuts and bolts of the process of coming up with an idea and following it through to a final form, be it short story, novel, essay, or memoir. But the thing is, ask a dozen writers and you’ll get a dozen answers, all different and all specific to writer and the genre and the stage of that writer’s career. So, I figured I’d throw my two cents, or my three ideas, into the ring along with all the others
I’ve talked in previous posts about how I’ve arrived at specific ideas or decisions in my own writing, even talked about the process of world-building. Where world-building is more about creating the back drop for the story, and the conditions where it can occur, this is more about the story telling process, the business of creating a plot and crafting a narrative that makes use of the world you’ve built. (more…)
I write science fiction (no, DUH), space opera specifically. And it’s either a case of choosing a genre to match my skill set, or developing skills over the years that served my genre choice, but I’ve been told I am skilled at world building, which is a fundamental skill when writing spec fic of any kind.
I’ve never really written stories set in the real world. Writing in the real world means research. If I’m writing a story based in London, I’d better have lived there, spent a lot of time there, or spent a lot of time in a library. If I decided to write in Toronto, it would be easier, but, honestly, I don’t want to be constrained by the fact that the CN Tower is beside the Rogers Centre. Maybe I’m just a control freak.
I’m honestly a little hesitant to talk about this, because when I’m making decisions about the settings I put my characters in, I make a lot of decisions based on what feels right, without actually quantifying they why of the decision. This piece is me trying to get at those reasons.
When I’m writing, I start with addressing the basic needs of the story. If the story requires your characters to travel from planet to planet, then you have to have some kind of system for that. Is it FTL? Wormhole? Some kind of long distance teleportation? Each will give your story a specific feeling and tell you something about your society. Some kind of interplanetary teleportation means that your society is extremely advanced, and that means you have to deal with a lot more. How have humans changed? How does the economy work? What other comparable advancements have been made? When I was working on Soul’s Blood, I wanted travel to take time, because I wanted to write scenes with the characters filling time. I wanted it there to be an element of challenge for them. Humans could travel between the stars, but it took them some time. So I settled on a form of hyperspace FTL tech that shortened the massive interplanetary distances. (more…)
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
If you know your Science Fiction, and maybe even if you don’t, you recognize the iconic line from the HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL was the artificial intelligence who, while incredibly smart, was driven to violence by the directives provided by his human creators.
Artificial intelligence is a staple of science fiction, and it’s a trope that enables writers to examine what it means to be human, what it means to create life and what our responsibility to that life we create actually is. And further, it enables us to tell stories about what that life might want to do to us in return.
There have been brilliant examples of stories in the AI genre. Colossus: The Forbin Project is a terrifying vision of what could happen if the tools of war are handed over to a machine intelligence designed to make war more efficient. The Terminator, with all it’s lean savagery, is another take on what happens when the machines come online and want control. (more…)
Other than in my first attempt at novel writing, which we shall speak of no more, for it is legendary in its awfulness, I write queer characters. They aren’t all queer, but my heroes are. The whole raison d’etre of both my standalone novel, Chasing Cold, and my Maverick Heart series is to write the kind of heroes I loved growing up, but make them unapologetic in whatever flavour of queerness they called their own.
In the early days of what would eventually become Soul’s Blood, I submitted to a press in Edmonton run by Candas Jane Dorsey. As it turned out, I was going to be in town, and she very graciously took me to lunch and gave me feedback on my very early efforts. And one of her comments formed a cornerstone of how the novel and series would grow.
In the initial incarnations, Keene and Daevin were initially forced apart because Daevin’s father was bothered by Daevin being in love with a man. It was the late eighties/early nineties when the novel was first conceived and I was living in a city where there were no Pride celebrations, no businesses that specifically targeted the queer community, other than the one gay bar. In many ways, we still lived our lives in shadow. (more…)
I have loved Space Opera since I was three.
That was when the original Star Trek series aired on one of the only two channels that were available in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1966, and it was something we, as a family watched. I remember my mother being certain that the sight of one alien in the closing credits (Balok from The Corbomite Maneuver) would scare me too much, so she charged my sisters with distracting me so I wouldn’t see it.
Of course, when I finally did, I wasn’t bothered at all.
Star Trek truly entered my consciousness in the Seventies during first run syndication after school. When I rediscovered it, I would race home and hope it was one I hadn’t seen yet. Not that it mattered. I watched them over and over, poring over every detail, memorizing the look, the ideas, the performances. I tried over and over to build the Enterprise with my Lego. And this was back in the day when there weren’t any specially shaped blocks, just flat bits, rectangles and squares. My love for the show just continued to grow. (more…)