Some of the Options


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My current options for November are:

  1. Arres. According to my records, his story first appeared in April 2011, in a dream I had. It was subsequently built on a little while listening to music in my parents’ car (Uriah Heep: Circle of Hands), and was the brief subject of a collaboration in an attempt to figure out how the heck he gets from his home village to, well, anywhere interesting, really. The biggest roadblock with Arres is that his motivations start out relatively small (find his father, find out why he left him this crazy scabbard tattoo thing) and have to be dragged somehow to something larger.
  2. Dayna, and how she ended up in the future. Dayna has been around since… hmm, actually, since the original Hero Machine, a character creator I once found on the Interwebs. I created her there and she promptly grew a story, personality, and so on, and I don’t think I even have records for when she began, beyond that a couple of my image files for her were last modified in May 2003. She’s a Martian-born space cop in the late 2100s, the era of humanity’s First Contact in my Galactic Federation timeline. When a horrible plague breaks out on Mars, she’s eventually infected. The Galactic Federation offer their aid, but one of their hospital ships goes astray and is lost in deep space for several hundred years… until it’s found by a particularly hostile and remorseless species, who wake the stasis-preserved passengers for bioweapons research.
  3. Cleris, and what it really means to have wild, imagination-limited magic in the world. I may be happy with Mysteries Unite as a piece of writing, but I was never quite happy with myself for writing it. It did its job — it won me a writing competition in 2007 (for which I never did get my prize: the prize was 2kg of chocolate and the exec ate it before the meeting in which I would have got it!) — and it was an interesting way to write, and it worked very well. But as the short story stands, it’s antithetical to everything I am and everything I stand for. It says this world, this wonderful, incredible world, isn’t beautiful. It says the fathomless mystery and majesty of the universe is worthless. And so I determined to fix it, somehow. In the end, I realised, it would take a book. A book for which the original Mysteries Unite was just a prologue. A book that would end in a truly heart-wrenching choice…
  4. Tsien, and how she and Siris won the war. At the other end of humanity’s part in the Federation’s timeline (it goes back to long before our First Contact!), the galaxy has been plunged into cataclysmic war. Tsien and her siblings are the culmination of three hundred years (Earth time) of research by the brightest minds in the Federation. If they can’t win the war, civilisation as we know it will die.
  5. Kirai, and the half of his story that doesn’t exist yet, a tale actually born out of a Waterstones competition to fit a short story on a large postcard in 2008. He’s the one who’s since got the furthest without participating in any writing challenges, and much of his tale already exists, at least up to the point where there’s a rather unfortunately fateful family encounter. The second half, however, doesn’t, and could really use my going on with it – I got to the point where all the truly huge conflicts were set up and poised to snowball, and then got distracted.^^’

So there you have it. There are more, lots more, but I think a shortlist of five is more than enough for me to choose from. (There is a sixth option, which is “whatever I dream in between now and then”, but that’s quite beside the point.)

Questions or suggestions? Sling them at me in the comments! I’m happy to expand on any and all of the above!

Writing Month Approaches


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On one level, that seems a little silly to say. After all, every month is a writing month now! On the other hand, the rather specific challenge of November is, at this point, a long-running tradition. It’s how the first draft of BtSF got finished. It’s the time in the year when something like 80% of any given book of mine was first written. And, of course, I’m going to keep doing it — which means something else is going to suddenly get a rocket boost.

The question is, what?

I have a lot of stories to write, a lot of tales to tell. I seem to add to the mountain ahead faster than I can climb it, which I don’t really mind considering it is a mountain of piled-up awesomeness. Or at least, it is to me. Opinions may vary. In any case, it’s now definitely time to be thinking about what I’m going to do over November. And that’s a harder decision.

I was going to write Arres’ story, one I’ve had kicking around for a long time and never done anything with. But that story has slammed straight into another one and the second one will overrule it without ever meaning to. Because of structure, because of shape, because of the characters — Arres is going to have to work very, very hard to become someone who can stay afloat at all. So, maybe I should go watch him work, throw rocks at him and see if he makes it, because Book 2 will be the handover point if he does, where he meets… well.

Or maybe I should just do what I’ve been meaning to for over a year and write the story of Dayna Kingsley of the Solar Police, but last time I meant to do that I got totally sidetracked by a very detailed dream and ended up writing AIN instead. That happens a lot, actually. Dreams that become books, I mean. For all I know it will happen again in the upcoming month, and I’ll find myself writing something completely different.

But it would be nice to get Arres to a point where he could hold his own in that other tale. After all, it was his world to begin with, born of yet another dream I had. That second story could go elsewhere, its heart comes from elsewhere, and though it fits very, very well in his world, rooting it properly will be complex.

And I really must stop forgetting that I absolutely have to second-draft the first part of Reclamation, as well as find a good spot for it to end… (There will be a sequel: Reclamation is getting awfully long and looks likely to need to be two books.)

So: writing! Let’s get busy!

(Stalk my November progress over here on, when the site’s yearly update goes live sometime in October. Right now it’s still showing last year’s novel.)

Forgotten Words



They came to me this morning, a simple, almost nonsensical pair of sentences. I couldn’t remember where I’d heard them, only hear them in my mind covered in the feathery dust of memory. Old words, forgotten words, no reason to recall them, yet there they were. Tracking down that old familiarity by watching it only from the corner of my eye, I found their origin with an echo of surprise. From there, after so long, I had expected no more, a past that is over with and that rests softly amidst the silent dust motes in memory’s attic.

Yet there they were. No brave declaration, no grim prophecy, no defiance of fate — no, nothing but a moment of implausible humour in a tale turning dark, four captives mocking their captor as if their lives were not at any moment forfeit. All the words on either side are lost, only these words, and their cause, such as it was.

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Star Trek: Now and Then


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When the latest Star Trek was still showing in the local cinema, I went to see it with a friend of mine. We enjoyed it so much that we went twice, the second time in 3D! And I’ll definitely be picking up the DVD from a non-second-hand shop as soon as I catch it on sale. (I don’t have much income right now…)

There were many good things about the film, and it really did feel like Star Trek this time, and I absolutely loved Victory Through Classical Music, which has got to be just the most awesome way to win a fight if you can’t get out of having one. Weapons and power are not and never will be a match for intelligence, and even when sometimes it seems like it’s all we know, ultimately conflict won’t save us; we’re stronger together than apart, though trust can be the hardest thing of all to give.

I might write more about it later, or perhaps when I have access to the DVD and can see it all again, but for now, what’s really on my mind is the strangest, most tangential thing.

(There follows an account of the author practically having flashbacks.)

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Convergence: Black and Silver Seas


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Convergence the RPG now ran two weekends ago, and with many thanks to my wonderful players, who put up with my generalised panic at suddenly running a game entirely solo for more than twice the number of players I’ve ever handled alone before, it went great! Set a year or two after the book’s base timeframe, we followed the newly graduated chrononauts of 2368 as they were sent “back through time” to the Silversea Moonbase in 2149 to find out why disaster so nearly befell it on that 50th anniversary of its permanent habitation.

And there, they found what at least appeared to them to be evidence of a renegade time traveller… but this time, one who had no record whatsoever in Chronos’ vast temporal extent.

Now, Chronos is the incredibly complex supercomputer that permits the “time travel” of the chrononauts of the Temporal Institute. It has its own dedicated power plant, which is routinely taxed almost to its limits simply to send these intrepid adventurers “through” time. Chronos’ complex memory systems are also the only known way of preserving information from one timestate to another — and this is where all those quote marks come in, because they aren’t just air quotes or scare quotes, but reflect something much more fundamental.

(There follows a digression into the temporal mechanics of Convergence.)

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Code White

Today, the weather is beautiful, the breeze is cool, I will be doing outdoor work as well as indoor work and may even be able to take my indoor work outdoors if I can see the screen… and I was decidedly irritated by something the other day, hence the minor degree of hexadecimal.

But, I just realised while typing this post that #C0FFEE is a colour. And that is wonderful. (It’s a nice light blue, actually!) Since I am, by choice, easily pleased, that will do nicely, and also I shall give another of my short stories a happier ending by writing it a sequel in my breaks. Working from home certainly has its advantages!

Hard Vacuum


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It’s finally happened! Though it took some time, and I was away running a Convergence RPG over the weekend, which worked out better than I hoped! It was amazing fun to run, although that’s the first full-weekend game I’ve ever done, but I’d love to do it again once I’ve prepared the next jaunt for my chrononauts.

But to go back to what I started to say, the next chapter of The Fused is up! Chapter 28: Hard Vacuum is here… and Lindsi is in very deep trouble indeed.