Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Prom

As promised The Prom is now up. How you enjoy it. Please click here.

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Darlings on the Firing Line

I’ve said it before and hope never to say it again. This time my novel will be finished. I’m moving stuff around. Several of the chapters, that will be in the final novel, have been chapter one.

The upshot of this is that a chapter might have been written to introduce a character but now they’ve been in the book for a while. In other words it is a mess! The mess will be sorted though! For my next novel, I’m going to plan it to within an inch of its life.

There will be some casualties of this novel. One of the original ideas was a talking Guinea Pig – he is gone. That is no great loss. However, as any author will know, there are also the darlings.

Darlings are a way that some authors describe passages of their work that they like but that don’t belong. It might be irrelevant, out of character, or a fundamental change in the story renders it unworkable.

You see my main character, Stacy Tanner, used to be 18. I was 18 when I started writing it. So I have a chapter about her high school prom. I decided to make her older, as I am older, as it fitted better with the story. The prom therefore is now back story and no longer belongs in the novel.

I’m sure I will find other darlings for the chop. I will put them here. I’ve almost finished looking over the prom chapter and it will be on this site by the end of next week.

Those of you in the UK I hope you enjoy the Bank Holiday tomorrow – I have to work. Damn it.

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Predicting Technological Growth

In Star Trek: The Original Series the characters used large rectangular microtaps. With today’s technology a card that size might have a capacity of over six terabytes. Given the rate that Mr Spock sometimes switched disks it is clear the creators of the show didn’t have that capacity in mind.

This isn’t surprising. The first floppy disk wasn’t commercially available until 1971. It was impossible for someone in the 1960s to predict how data storage, and compression, might work in the future. For us today it is a little easier. I have used floppy discs, CDs, CF cards and, the various sizes of SD cards. Just in my life time I have seen technology change.

I like the technology, in the science fiction I write, to look as plausible as possible. This works but only to a point. If you asked an inventor, living two thousand years ago, to imagine a speed boat – what might they come up with? They might look into the best shape of sail or having a huge deck space for hundreds of oarsmen. They would have no concept of electricity or anything else that makes a speed boat work. My point is that one day we may discover something new. The microprocessor was a huge change from how computers worked before. What if their is some other change? That would throw any prediction off.

It’s not just computers. In Peter F. Hamilton‘s: Commonwealth Saga the characters enjoy virtual immortality. They can go through this process, rejuvenation, and basically become young again. Might we have this in the future? Given my limited, non-existent, knowledge of science it isn’t all that ridiculous. Cells in the body already replace themselves so what if you could do away with the degradation of that process?

Should I have immortality in my science fiction?

Ultimately science fiction seems to go down one of two paths.

  1. In the case of Star Trek we are ahead of them – with the notable exception of warp drive, phasers, artificial gravity, deflector shields, and… okay this is getting silly. Much of today’s household technology is ahead of Star Trek’s. Even in TNG the away team would describe stuff for Picard. Today most of us carry a camera where ever we go.
  2. On the other hand 2001: A Space Odyssey was set thirteen years ago and we still don’t have a moon base… damn it.

There are no real answers here. Perhaps all science fiction is destined to eventually be damned with this sentence: ‘Its of its time.’

Perhaps warp drive will be invented one day. Maybe a student studying at a university, somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, – will one day wonder why the USS Voyage is so slow. In his universe a trip of 75,000 light years can be considered as a weekend get away.

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He’s Dead Gym

I only went to the gym once this week. Ironic as I was telling you, only two weeks ago, about how I’d been keeping up with it. Once in the week is not too bad. Let me explain why I didn’t go again. No, there is too much, let me sum up. It was a combination of wanting to write a couple of chapters beforehand and, on the other days, late shifts.

And yes there was one other thing…

Yes I discovered a new you tuber Anna Akana. She’s funny and, yes I admit it, attractive. When writing is dragging a bit its easy to get sucked into something else! Anything else. I wonder what the displacement of HMS Victory is….

So maybe I’m wasting my life. What do you care? You’re not my mother! Well one of you is.

I shall now precede with a awkward segue.

A mother is the person who takes care of you when you’re young. In other words they are a guardian.

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy on Monday. Here’s seven thoughts about it. Why seven? Wouldn’t you like to know.

  1.  It was an enjoyable film. There was good action, it was well acted, and the 3D was great. I saw Avatar in 3D and was disappointed, both by the tech of 3D and Avatar, but here the 3D was good. Even in a simple scene of characters gathered around a bed it looked like some of them were closer to you than others.
  2. Not enough Karen Gillan. I’m bound to make this observation, being British, but I think it is a real shame. She didn’t have much to do in the film as Nebula. She wasn’t even at the level of a henchman from a Bond film. There was some attempt to giver her back story with Gamora – but it wasn’t fully developed. Confused Mathew, in his review, doesn’t even mention Nebula. She was hardly needed – Is it wrong that I was attracted to her even as a sci-Borg?
  3. The back story to Star Lord is that he was abducted as a child from Earth. He listens to eighties music but, other than that, there is little to differentiate him from the human looking aliens. The film gave no explanation of why a young boy was abducted. To me there was no point in this plot point. I know there are comics but I have to approach this just from the film. The film gave no explanation and I haven’t read the comics.
  4. Cliche plot – bad guy wants to destroy stuff. There is a muguffin that will help him do this and the good guys have to stop him getting it. However his full motivations aren’t satisfactorily explored.
  5. Helpless guards. This isn’t a nitpick and isn’t really worth mentioning but I want to. During the escape the good guys attack the prison guards. These guards are innocents. They don’t know what’s going on they’re just doing their jobs. It seems ridiculous, when we’re supposed to be rooting for the guardians, that they are indiscriminately killing the guards.
  6. Groot only says ‘I am Groot’ I got the impression they were trying to make him into a Chewbacca-ish character. Although he only said three words his friend, Rocket, understood what he meant and that really worked.
  7. While this film won’t win any awards for the story it was enjoyable. I look forward to seeing the next one but its not a desperate can’t wait feeling. Its more like ‘Whenever you’re ready. I have time.’

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Fiction Within Fiction

In Star Trek we never, well hardly ever, see examples of contemporary fiction. Contemporary to the people in the show that is. Captain Picard likes Shakespeare, Captain Sisko likes baseball (which in Star Trek’s time is a defunct game) , and the concerts are always classical music.

Even in today’s would Picard could be considered old fashioned. He still reads paper books. Of course the Kindle would have been to difficult to believe back in 1987. He could still have been old fashioned by reading Stephen King. Remember King would be as long ago from Picard as¬†Shakespeare is from us.

TNG and DS9 are set in the 24th century. We know TV doesn’t exist but there are holo-novels – and I imagine there would be books. The book has existed for thousands of years. It has survived cinema, radio, TV, and, the internet. Reading is still one of the best ways to absorb a story.

So given the setting there would be 22nd, 23rd, and 24th century authors for the characters to read. They don’t of course for one obvious reason – it would be too difficult.

In a novel or TV series you don’t want to include too many irrelevancies. You can’t have Geordi and Troi talking about The Only Way is Vulcan, I.n.t.e.r.c.o.n.n.e.c.t.e.d, Time Trek, or Bones (A TV series based on the life of Dr McCoy). As it would detract from the story.

However it is nice to see little titbits of information about the fictional world. In an episode of Babylon 5 there is a reference to an upcoming match. It could be American football or football I don’t remember. Go sports! The match is between Mars and Earth. So one of the factors is the gravity. When each team plays at each others venues there is a physical home advantage.

Deep Space Nine did pay lip-service to this idea with Jake Sisko. He wrote fiction but fiction from the POV of his universe. So he wrote a story about the Maquis – a group of freedom fighters/terrorists depending on your view point.

All this got me thinking. Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up.

When writing you create a fictional world. A lot of effort goes into that. Eventually you have to make choices about characters and races. My idea is you could create a complex web of stories each of which is another’s fiction. You’d have to be careful not to confuse the reader. Coloured spins could achieve this.

So say I write a novel set in the 25th century. Its about a brash Private Detective, James Sachs, who travels the universe with his alien companion, Hol, solving crimes.

In another novel, Hyper Star, we follow the story of Stephanie McKnight. She is training to be an officer in the Earth Confederation navy. In her free time she watches TV and follows the adventures of Sachs and Hol. For her its not science fiction its a contemporaneity series. Hol is a played by a real alien actor.

And being clear this is not me being narcissistic. I’m not saying that my novels will survive hundreds of years from now. – Hell I might never finish anything – I’m saying these are contemporaneity fiction.

So while you might pick up The Warehouse by Daniel O’Donovan – Stephannie McKnight would pick up the Warehouse by Cynthia Cline.

Cynthia Cline was born on Ganymede in….

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