Thursday, May 31, 2012

Skyrim vs Dragon Age

So while I’m recovering from some minor surgery I had a day to play my “alternate” game of Skyrim. I broke down a few weeks ago and picked up a copy and started a play-through as a spell caster. This week I started up a sword and board character focusing on heavy armor and direct combat. My magic user on the other hand is all stealth and cloth robes. As an aside, why is it that the super powerful Archmage Robes have to have this dorky hood attached? My mage is rocking out this home enchanted circlet of magicka recovery and it’s hidden in this silly hood.

But as I’m playing through a second time with my warrior (who I have decided looks far better without a helmet than with so screw the armor bonuses for now; if I get in a fight where I think I need that 20% I’ll put one on) I’m left thinking about how these two characters are different.

And I realize why it is that Dragon Age is a superior game in many ways.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dangerous Democracy

A common trope in future sci fi is that Mankind will evolve into a perfect democratic state. There will be a grand Imperial Senate that decides all things in great democratic fashion, or that all the planets of the galaxy will unite to a common pursuit of peace and justice and the Federation Way.

The bad guys in all of these scenarios are the totalitarians, the monarchs, the emperors. When power rests all in the hand of a single Supreme Chancellor they are evil, wicked, corrupt or some combination therein. It is the role of the heroes to fight against this tyranny and prove that the individual with his democratic ideals is the true way forward.

Even Firefly, great speculative fiction that was, presented the unifying force as “the black hats” and the rebellious Outer Rim Browncoats as holding true to this democratic ideal. We really don’t know what passed for law and order on these border planets, only that the Alliance wanted to bring them all under one government, presumably a repressive evil one. Never very well pursued on the show, we really don’t know what kind of government the Alliance had. It could have been a democratic republic just like the Union of the 1860’s, forcing its repressive will on the slave states of the South.

But this is where current events start to show the cracks in this ideal, the marks of tarnish at the borders of the otherwise shiny exterior.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Lanister always pays his... writers?

One of the challenges with not knowing if I'll be able to find an agent (given how many people are trying to find agents and how few are accepting new submissions) also leaves me with the great debate of how to monetize my writing. I've been doing quite a bit of it in the form of shorts (and the occasional chapter), some for the Queen's Fury series* and just some modern fiction for the practice.

I do plan to publish my shorts in a collection this summer as I finish up a few more stories to round the it out. Ideally I'd like to have 4-6 good modern shorts, and 2-3 short stories set in the Queen's Fury world.

But where I'm a little stuck is on the issue of this website and making these stories available for free.

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's on the To Read List

Okay, so I know I haven't put out a proper post today. I owe you guys one.

But then this came in the mail today:
It's a little hard to read, I know. Let me clarify:

Thank you so much for the nice letter and the book.

I look forward to reading it as soon as I can.

I am swamped right now, but it is on the "To Read" list.



I dub this moment Squee-worthy.

Short Story: The Next Best Thing

As I work on my next novel I've been doing a lot of short stories to help flesh out the world and the characters. I've debated a lot about posting them here on the website and come down on the "share them" side of the debate."

So here we have a chance to meet the novel's protagonist Mercy Lyons when she was still at the Naval Academy and still just a first year Midshipman. This was originally written for the Good Reads website Weekly Short Story Contest Group.

"The Next Best Thing"
1600 Words

I was in my second year at the Academy.

Alexandria, this beautiful thing from Tyson 4, dumped me that morning because she said she knew her cat better than knew me.

Commander LeGrange had just lit me up in front of my entire Terraforming seminar for missing two equations in my draft term paper.

My roommate was back in our bunk with the Hanover twins, and he let me know that I was not to come home that night.

So there I was, at the junior officer bar, two beers into my charted course to complete inebriation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

TV Review: Smash

So what is Smash?

For those who missed this midseason gem, I've described it (I think best) as Glee for Grown Ups. The show follows the Producer, Director, Writers, and Cast as they begin production on a musical about Marilyn Monroe's life (and death). We start with the initial conception, go through the casting, and finally into the off-Broadway previews.

We get treated to the insights of a horrifically narcissistic director, a divorcing producer, and two actresses vying for the staring role as Marilyn herself.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where's Chapter 2?

For the weekly short story contest over on Goodreads last week I wrote a story about Mercy Lyons called "The London Kiss." In this story I establish that it's a military tradition with the Royal Space Navy for crew to be drawn at random to go "ashore" first and kiss their sweetheart after a tour of duty. (Because I'm also thinking about having it published it's not posted here, yet.) It's a fun story that shows some character background, allows me to engage in some world building, and see what happens.

But a friend read it for me and then immediately lamented "But I want to read chapter 2! I like the vignettes, and the back story, but when do we see more of the novel? Do you know how hard it is to sleep at night not knowing what happens now that the ship is all but adrift in space with only a handful of officers remaining and no active guns? I wasn't this sleep deprived since I babysat my sisters quintuplets who were all at the age of 2 months."

Okay, so I kind of paraphrased a little there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Curse you Joss Whedon, Curse you!

This post contains spoilers for the following movies and TV Shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, Firefly, The Hunger Games, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along-Blog and The Avengers. If you have not seen any of these and do not wish to be spoiled, then please move along. Otherwise, everything from those is open season.

So, we saw the Avengers this weekend. Going in we were excited because it's a Joss Whedon movie, written and directed, and we've been fans of his writing since Buffy (for which he got an Emmy nomination for the one episode, oddly, that had almost no dialogue).

Of course as we sit down, the wife looks at me and says, "you know that since this is a Whedon movie, everyone's gonna die."

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers: A Review

This review is Spoiler Free! Though to really comment on some issues I kind of need some spoilers but I'm going save them for another post and another time.

But this weekend we got a sitter, gave Kaylee another bottle, and trekked out to see the 11 AM matinee. This is relevant because my thought was "Who on earth is going to get their backsides out of bed on a Sunday morning to go see a movie?"

Apparently an entire theater of people. For the first time in a long time there were ushers leaning in to ask "are you saving those seats for someone in the theater?" and "Can you please all move in a seat?" What we did not get was the "Okay, this is a full house, so NO SAVING!" announcement. But still every seat got used.

Let's start with expectations:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Star Wars Day

How do you know you're watching Star Wars with a group of Catholics?

When Obi Wan says "May the force be with you" half the audience calls back in unison:

"And also with you".

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Creating a "Real" subculture

For the Weekly Short Story Contest over on Goodreads I decided to take a stab at doing a story for the Queen's Fury universe in which my novel is going to take place. I want to keep developing the world and force myself to think about the various ways the races interact, as well as some back story on Mercy Lyons, how she interacts with others and what kinds of events would have landed her a place on the bridge of the HMS Diamondback where she finds herself thrust into the role of captain.

But rather than really focusing on Mercy I've been instead putting a lot of creative energy into the development of one of the races of the Royal Commonwealth of Worlds, the Hartishians.

Hartishi Prime is a jungle covered world and home to what are known in less polite slang as "space elves". They feature green skin, white hair and rows of sharp meat-rending teeth. Yes, these elves are strict carnivores. So much so, in fact that they cannot digest plant matter.

They are also intended to be a compliment to the Oresmen, dwarf-like men and women who have, for generations, populated the high gravity mining colonies. I admit that I like the play of elves and dwarves in fantasy and I don't see any reason to exclude them from science fiction. After all, isn't Spok really just Elrond in pants?

But where I'm getting stuck is coming up with a believable culture for the Hartishians.