Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


When does the family document the thunder? With each and every crack. The four of them--mother, father, sister, brother--sit in silence at the dining table, each with a candle in a glass enclosure before them, a small scratch pad covered in hash marks, and a new blue Bic pen.
The lightning does not faze them. Neither the static crackle as it blasts the trees around the house, nor the wind that whips through the open window and flickers the flames about the room as it musses their hair, even slows down their thundercounting.
 If they wanted to talk to each other, they would have to shout over the wind and the hail that pelts the roof and the torrents of rain that pour from the sky in a constant waterfall. But they do not talk, and show no signs of wanting to.
The water comes in with the wind but none of them are wet. None of their paper is wet. Indeed, it seems as though the water affects nothing, although it begins to pool up in the corners of the room.
The dog sits in his puddle, counting the water droplets as they roll towards him, each one meeting with a tail flick. The cat does nothing but lick its paw in an unceasing pattern.
There is neither sign of the storm's abatement nor indication that the family is aware of anything but the incessant thunder.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Once James accepted that he had no choice but to burn the books, the question became which to burn first. It wasn't that he didn't want to set flames to the collected bunch of shit that mounded up in front of him. Quite the opposite in fact, but the books were among his favorite possessions.
When the aliens had first come they had been shot at and missed by every nation on Earth. Since no one had really developed surface-to-air nukes, that's about the only thing that the collected nations of the world hadn't thrown at the large ships that had hovered over the major world capitals. When the first response to all those attacks had been a worldwide communications flood of gibberish, the first reaction was that maybe the world had won. That the alien communication systems had simply shattered under the onslaught of missile after missile.
How wrong they'd been.
A few days after the initial communications onslaught, the ships were still hovering. Then the second comms blitz, this time legible in whatever native language the reader/listener/recipient understood. It was an ultimatum. Destroy everything you own now or die.
James valued life more than his accumulated crap, so it hadn't been a tough decision, but he couldn't say the same for his next door neighbor, who was currently hanging from a tree in his front yard. James shuddered when he thought about the gunshots he'd heard, and he could only assume that Sam had killed his wife and kids before taking to the public suicide. James hadn't had the courage or emotional strength to find out for sure.
He bent down and picked up the only copy of the Bible he'd ever owned. It was a Gideon number that he'd mistakenly taken from some hotel back when he was in the Navy, and it had gone everywhere with him, even though he had never really cared for religion. It was just a collection of stories, some good, most not, that had entertained him through all these years. But this was it. He squirted the lighter fluid on it and tossed it on top of the rest of the books. He struck the match and dropped it. His entire life roared to flames and James just stood there watching, wondering.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

First Draft of Outline

Here is the first draft of my outline. It is rough, but most of the elements are there and in the correct order. I will be shuffling this around as I go, but any early input is appreciated.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Roger's personal history

Since I kept opening holes in Roger's life, and some events seemed like they should overlap or outright contradicted others, I've spent the last few hours rewriting certain little bits in all three stories, and trying to consolidate his history. The timeline presented below is based on that, and hopefully structures my stories a bit better without quite so many holes.

Note - you'll see "failed to recover chalice". It's not a typo, as I've decided that there is more story to tell, but mostly action. Roger will get back to Bargaintown, where a bounty-hunting group led by Ace (a character from the first story I ever wrote) will waylay Roger, and take the chalice, but not before Roger does some permanent damage to Ace or his infrastructure.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Roger Ray: Time for a New Story

Well, I finished up one (if that's what you can call it legitimately. It's not great as far as endings go.), and started a new one. What has become abundantly obvious to me is that my action sequences are the most polished bits, with the suspense--including the ending--needing the most work.

In any case, I think after this next Roger Ray story, I'll try to move into a different character/storyline/universe. Reading a collection of 2005 greatest scifi has me excited to try something different now.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Astor: Origins and Overview

Cameron's post about pictures that inspired him to create Roger Ray got me thinking about where Astor came from.

I was alarmed when nothing immediately came to mind. I could post a number of fantastic, evocative landscape paintings that I found via Google Image, but I didn't look for them until the world was completely formed in my mind, and nothing quite fits what I picture in my mind.

Astor isn't similar to any sci-fi/fantasy universe that I am familiar with. It bears a superficial resemblance to Terry Pratchett's Discworld which ends after "Astor is disc-shaped". Hell, Astor isn't really even disc-shaped; after I explained what the place looked like to Cam, he came up with the 'badly frayed blanket' analogy which works much better.

Bits and pieces of the story I have in mind are similar to other stories I've read. In my next post, I will publish my 'cloud of plot points' OneNote page for dissection, and we can see what is original and what is derivative.

The characters, fortunately, don't bear more than passing resemblance to any existing characters that I am familiar with. We'll see if that holds true as they develop.

So, where does Astor come from? It officially started when Becca and I were on our way home from the grocery store, talking about how there aren't any new ideas anymore, only creative (or uncreative) rehashes of old ideas. Then she started thinking out loud about a world that grows organically, like roots from an impossibly large tree. It captured my imagination immediately, and as soon as I got home I jotted down everything we had talked about after that initial concept. I still have those notes somewhere. Maybe I should scan them and stick them here.

Astor was originally very much like a system of roots, with some rather mind-bending geography that allowed its denizens to look up and see other 'branches' of the world floating above them. Unfortunately, this was a bit too mind-bending, and I was having a lot of trouble mapping it out. I took things down a notch by having Astor be more like a wagon wheel, with a central point (the Core) and numerous 'spokes' jutting out from it every direction. The world was flat, however, which cause a number of new problems, not the least of which that this concept bored me. Becca stepped in at this point, because I was getting a bit frustrated, and suggested that an organic, growing world could easily have a large, usable landmass surrounding the Core, where the oldest roots have twined together so thoroughly that they basically look like solid terrain. Furthermore, this gave me an excellent way to explain the existence of mountains (where the roots dipped above average altitude) and valleys/bodies of water (where the roots dipped below average altitude). At the edges of Astor, bare roots are visible (and in some instances traversable, though laws of reality like gravity become thinner at the Edge) as they snake across the Void, searching hungrily for second worlds to devour.

Here is a horrible MS Paint picture of Astor. It looks like a black sun with measles, but it gets the point across (maybe?).

Note that the place where this story takes place (the Azrim Empire) is considered vast by any historical standard, and it only takes up one little corner of Astor.