Lord Of The Rings and The Chosen One

June 22nd, 2011  |  Published in Comedy, Fantasy, writing

I don’t know how I never noticed it before, but in Lord of the Rings, the hero is not the Chosen One. That is to say that Frodo is not so special as to make me unable to relate to him. He is not part of a prophecy, he is not the rare person born with a one in a million special ability, he is simply a better than average example of his people. How is it that modern fantasy has emulated everything else about Tolkien (trilogies, worldbuilding, obsession with description) but has managed to forget about this one key aspect?

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Let’s Make May National Short Story Writing Month (NaShoStoWriMo)

March 18th, 2011  |  Published in NaShoStoWriMo, writing

May is National Short Story Month, and what better way to celebrate short stories than by writing some? I think that the goal should be to complete a polished short story, and so the schedule would go something like:

Week 1 – Write a rough draft of a short story 2,500 – 7,500 words in length.

Week 2 – Read and critique a bunch of other people’s short stories.

Weeks 3 and 4 – Successive drafts, more critiquing, celebration.

What do you think?

UPDATE: ShoStoWriMo went great, and will happen again next year, but until then, the site has been temporarily shut down (It will be back up in April of 2012). See you next year!

The Disturbing Convergence of Science Fiction and Reality

March 18th, 2011  |  Published in Politics, Science Fiction, writing

Anyone wanting to write about a postapocalyptic future need to look no further than the Middle East for inspiration, where an unending supply of oppression has resulted in an unending supply of resistance. The lopsided technological capabilities, in particular, lend themselves to a rather depressing metaphor to tyrannical alien overlords, as is pointed out in a recent TomDispatch article. From the article:

Whatever the Taliban may be, they remain part of Afghan society.  They are there on the ground.  They kill and they commit barbarities, but they suffer, too.  In our version of air “war,” however, the killing and the dying are perfectly and precisely, even surgically, separated.  We kill, they die.  It’s that simple.  Sometimes the ones we target to die do so; sometimes others stand in their stead.  But no matter.  We then deny, argue, investigate, apologize, and continue.  We are, in that sense, implacable.

Some Thoughts Regarding Opposing Worldviews

January 20th, 2011  |  Published in commentary, writing

A few months ago, it occurred to me that much of Science Fiction subscribes to a worldview which holds that the technology of tomorrow will always be able to overcome the problems today.  Similarly, much of Fantasy holds that knowledge which has been lost is superior to knowledge which has yet to be gained (2012?).  I don’t think that either worldview is totally wrong, as some problems of today will be solveable with the technology of tomorrow, and I also have little doubt that we have lost things which would be of great value to us now.  What I disagree with is that these two views are mutually exclusive.  We should be searching for that which has been lost as well as expanding our understanding of the world around us through novel means (science).

In other news, I want to write a story about there being a series of civilizations that came before us which we know nothing about because they each invented time travel and then wiped themselves out.  Of course, this discovery would have to come right on the cusp of developing time travel technology.

Slavepunk: A Steampunk Parody

December 2nd, 2010  |  Published in writing

So after reading Charlie Stross’s excellent essays on the subject, I have decided to write a very short (500 words) story parodying the Steampunk genre. Thus was born Slavepunk: A Steampunk Parody. Of course, its still in a rough state, but squint a little, and I imagine that it could be sort of fun.

Mecha Shorts?

October 20th, 2010  |  Published in writing

This morning I got an itch to read some mecha short fiction. A couple of google searches later, and no luck. Sometimes I feel like anything I want to read, I will have to write myself. And that is how my to-write list grows.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Review

October 9th, 2010  |  Published in review, writing

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a Young Adult novel by Lish McBride (who appears to have a temporary site up at lishmcbride.com). At first it seems like it might fall too well into the oversaturated subgenre of teen-paranormal-romance, but fortunately she takes it in a different direction (much like the fun Dust of 100 Dogs).

The story follows Sam, a college dropout who begins the book working in fast food, and appropriately snarky about it. Then he learns that there is something special about him, something special that draws the attention of a very scary man (as you might guess from the title, the book has a strong supernatural element to it). Action, drama, comedy, and romance all ensue.

The short version is that this is an extremely entertaining book. It was well written, and would appeal to anyone with a sense of humor. It is clearly intended as the first book in a series, and I look forward to the next one. The very short version is this: go read it.

All of that being said, there are a couple of rough edges that I want to point out. I am doing this primarily for my own benefit (as a writer it is important to be able to critique), but I thought that the wider world might benefit from this too. If the author happens to read this post, I don’t mean to be overly harsh, and I would hope that she in no way took this as a sign that she shouldn’t go on producing awesome fiction (and heck if she’s just totally pissed off at what I say, she (or anyone else (yes, I know I’m nesting parentheses, sue me)) can drop me a line and tell me so (if it makes them feel better)).

Here There Be Spoilers

My first issue with the book was the inclusion of Douglas Montgomery’s backstory early on. Basically, chapter three was a flashback to his childhood. The chapter was well written, but it really didn’t serve much purpose. Douglas’s actions throughout the book did a great job of showing what an asshole he was. The only real bit of information that we gained was that he was able to suck the power out of other necromancers, and that is what he was planning on doing to Sam, which could have been worked in just about anywhere else. And normally this sort of thing wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but the story basically stopped moving forward for a chapter, squandering momentum (sure, it showed him planning on killing Brooke, but the reader would have figured it out by the end of the next chapter anyway, at the latest). Since this is a novel, it does have to have a minimum length, so the argument could be made that this chapter couldn’t be cut. The flashback could be moved to a more appropriate spot or more time could have been spent developing Brid’s character, which brings me to my second point.

Brid first shows up in chapter five, which takes the reader away from Sam’s story again, but it wouldn’t have been so bad if chapter three hadn’t been spent with Douglas (after chapter five, the reader has spent about 40% of the book so far with characters who are not the primary viewpoint character). My issue with Brid, though, is her lack of development. She is shown only in the context of her relationship to the pack, she has no life outside of it, there is no tension between the two worlds in which she lives. I would much preferred to learn more about her than Douglas. Second, her character felt a bit like fanservice, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but bothered me nonetheless. Were-hound or no, I just don’t buy her being ok with being naked, especially while being held prisoner in a cage.

Finally, the sex. It was tastefully done, which is more than many books can say, but I felt that it wasn’t used to its fullest effect. I understand the whole “it’s the end of the world, let’s get it on” thing, but again, it felt a bit like fanservice. I would have been much happier if the author had played it for more tension at the end, when Sam was in the hospital. If he had done more second guessing their relationship, when he didn’t hear from her immediately, it would have totally been worth it, but to me there was no tension in it, no worry that she had only jumped his bones out of desperation or that her father was going to tear his throat out.

All in all, the main issues wasn’t that anything was wrong, but rather that there were missed opportunities, all of which amounted to little more than annoyances for me. The author didn’t seem hesitant or timid, and I especially appreciated that she was willing to kill off likeable characters (Brooke’s death was a surprise, and used to great effect). The characterizations, description, dialogue, were all great, and the storytelling never felt heavy handed. I’m looking forward to him dealing with his uncle, the pack, Ramon, his half-siblings, the big-ass raven, and the fact that he might have a darkness at the very core of his being.

All in all, a great read.

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October Update

October 5th, 2010  |  Published in writing

September was a mildly productive month. I went  through a draft each of Bound and Induction, as well as doing a first draft of The Source, which has garnered some positive feedback. I hope that October will be more productive, though. Here is what I want to get done:

  1. Finish Induction, Bound, and The Ash Tree – All three of these stories need an edit or two, but I’m confident that I will be able to get it done in the next few weeks.
  2. Launch brokenshores.com – I’ve purchased the domain and installed WordPress, but I still need to figure out how I want it to look and upload it.
  3. Finish Fractal – I really want to get Fractal (the latest of the Horizon stories) off my desk, and I hope to do so in the next two weeks. Another draft should do it.
  4. Finish and Retitle The Source – As such a short story, it should be fairly easy to revise it and start sending it out.
  5. Begin a new Caldera story and/or Just Lucky, I Guess – If I have time, I have a couple of stories that I could write before starting the second wave of Broken Shores stuff.

And that’s it. With any luck, you should see a bunch of new stuff before the month is out.


September 23rd, 2010  |  Published in writing

The excitement possible from an action sequence is inversely proportional to its length.  Just saying.

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First Review

September 21st, 2010  |  Published in writing

Try Not To Panic has just recieved its first review.  You might have guessed that I wouldn’t mention it here unless it was positive, and you’d be right.  Four stars out of five.  OK, enough self congratulation, back to writing.

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