Life imitating my art, etc.

Another news story referencing something I have already covered. Always makes me smile.

From “Worlds Without End“:

“When,” he asked, “are we arriving at our destination?  The South China Sea was mentioned.”

“Allowing for positive and negative acceleration for my passengers, a tiny bit under two hours.”

“That’s something around fifteen thousand miles in two hours, Mister Rigó,” Gary observed with his traditional deadpan.  “That is remarkable.”

“The raw idea for reactionless thrusters was developed in America just before the Breakup, nearly fifteen years ago,” Rigó said, watching closely how the boy raised Tracy to a sitting position against the wall and systematically checking that she was well.  He was convinced that for less than a second her eyes tracked to him before returning to her blank stare.

“That research was picked up by both China and Japan, and, from what I learned in Vienna, very closely held!” He laughed a little.  “There is a new space race on, and we whites are kept out of it!”

Writing. It’s a mental illness.

The group blog of Liberty’s Torch is well worth your time and well worth your follow. I think I may have wandered in there via Gab but I drink much and recall little. Anyway. The lead blogger there, Francis W. Porretto, had a post today about writing. Many of my heart-cockles were warmed by it. Rather than hijack his comment section, I hope to take excerpts of his essay, Post Partum, and add my observations.

“It’s a difficult period in any novelist’s life: he can’t go forward while his thoughts are wrapped around the book he just finished, and he can’t go backward with the revisions he’s already thought of until the others involved have registered their various contributions.”

That only briefly happened to me once, at the conclusion of “Echoes of Family Lost.” It was a follow-on to “The Fourth Law” and once complete I had no idea what to do next. Was I a writer? Did I have more stories to tell? Five years ago, I carved out a space here on WordPress and started throwing 800-1500 word-salad at the screen. Some stuck. I kept going. By the time I got a cover design for EoFL, I had met Chris and Kat, from “Cursed Hearts.” A romance/horror? WTF? I hate both of those! I shut up and wrote what they told me to.

“The first requirement of any storyteller is a mating between characters and crises: people upon whom to impose problems they must solve, or at least cope with. I developed a bunch of attractive character sketches almost by accident – I still wonder from time to time where those fictional figures really came from – and immediately found ways to cast them into conflict with one another.”

I take exception to almost every word in this. The first requirement of a storyteller is to tell stories. It is the height of arrogance to think you really know what the characters’ problems really are. As to where these people come from? Well, if you’ve read along these few years, you know how I have addressed that. Further, I’ve never made a single ‘character sketch;’ they walk onto the stage/screen and act. I just write what they show me.

“But characters don’t struggle with their problems and one another in some sort of white space separate from all else; at least, mine don’t. They need a place to be. I had to pick a place, or conceive of one, that would provide a suitable stage on which to act out their destinies.”

My parents married unemployed with no money. I didn’t grow up poor, but summer vacations were KOA’s and the grandparent’s place in Los Alamos, NM. I saw a lot of the US Mountain West. Later, I learned some of the Kentucky/Tennessee regions. All of that curled up in the back of my mind… and waited. When I needed to put ‘boots on the ground,’ I had scores of places to choose, right behind my eyes.

“Of the sixteen full-length novels I’ve written to date, only four have stayed completely outside Onteora County: three far-future science fiction novels and one magic-based high fantasy. The others have wound up there regardless of where they started or where I wanted to put them. Worse, the characters from my other Onteora Canon novels keep insinuating themselves into my new fictions.”

Knoxville, Tennessee is my game park as Onteora County is for him. I’m thinking about moving there in 5-10 years; Knoxville, that is. It will be easier for me than, say, St. Petersburg, Russia… Osaka, Japan… or Mars.

“And by jingo, it happened again! Characters from just about every other Onteora Canon novel started insisting that they belonged in this new one. I managed to fit a few new faces into the tale, but the “old Onteora crew” is there in force.”

This is where I decided to write this huge response. One character leading to another… As I mentioned, “Echoes…” was a natural continuation of “The Fourth Law.” “Cursed Hearts” lead to an unpublishable novella (I set it in someone else’s sandbox). But the two books of The Saga of Nichole 5? That main character shows up in many more books. Three year old Gary, holding little Henge’s hand at the end of “Echoes…” announces they want to be married. Ten years later, they have their own novel, “Worlds Without End.” Writing that, I met Gary’s kid sister, Faustina. Nine years later she puts together a private army and decided to attack the Chicom PLA garrison in Savannah, former Georgia. To-date, I’m finishing a damn trilogy about her, starting to come out in November. The father of the young women from “The Fourth Law” and “Echoes…”? He’s got a book. I’ve dozens of people like this, scattered all over my stories. Just because they do not have their own book today means nothing for next week.

“I don’t feel an urge to go back and “straighten it out.” I plan to publish it essentially as it is. There are a few elements I’ve decided need buttressing, but not to the extent of “de-hybridizing” the book as it stands. I look forward to hearing what its readers will think of it.”

While I cut my SF reading teeth as a kid on the hard science fiction of Niven and Pournelle, and my future history of Machine Civilization is bedrocked on sentient, sapient machines, I admit I take fantastical, Clarke’s-Third-Law leaps with the tech in my stories, so long as it tells the story. I read much, do research, make sure I’m talking about qubits in the right way… but if I need to use handwavium, that is what the story gets. I’m talking about people; some of whom are bags of bolts; some of whom are bags of blood. They are people.

“I can’t help but wonder how many more books I have in me. I’m old, and not in the best of health. But storytelling is an addiction, a tough one to shake. And I imagine that those damned Onteora characters, settings, and institutions will continue to have their way with me. At least, they have so far.”

I am a semi-professional alcoholic with chronic hypertension just turned fifty-four. Once the trilogy of Faustina’s “American Imperium” is released to the wild, I’m spending Winter 2021 recording audiobooks. I’ve no idea how long I have, either, but we have been given a priceless gift: to touch other’s minds with our ideas. I will keep at it until I die, later or sooner.

Having said all that to say this: thank you for your inspiration and your hard work, Mr. Porretto. As Empress Faustina cries to her legions, Deus vult!

The World Imitating my books…

“In March, Chinese researchers predicted that the nation’s HL-2M tokamak — a device designed to replicate nuclear fusion, the same reaction that powers the Sun — would be built before the end of 2019.” – Link

From Worlds Without End, Chapter 10:

 

Hefei City, Anhui Province, China

EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak) Fusion Reactor

 

The Chief Technician observed both his men following the shutdown procedures after this latest test and the two motes of white light weaving about the toroid core.  Cooling from its 80 million degrees.  What he and his men were doing was rather unorthodox but the ria that went into the Research Facility – and their own personal accounts – dissuaded them from too many questions.

 

That didn’t work, either, Dorina.

We did get the nervous system to function, Henge!

For less than a second.  Not a marker of success.

Just a waypoint, little niece, just a waypoint!

We’re going to need more nanomaterials.

Already in Shanghai.  By train here in two of their days.

Thank you, Dorina.

Hah!  Do you think they know what we’re up to?

Here?  No.  In Oak Ridge?  I’d guess one of them does.

You would take the side of your pet’s family!

Not remotely funny, Dorina.

What will you do, hit me?  Did you inherit your father’s predilection for violence?

[***]

I said too much.  I apologize, Henge.  Here:  consider this for the nervous system.

We cannot do it alone.  We’ve shown we’re fast enough but we are not old enough.

Not again…

We must have his help, Dorina.

Shandor has not interacted with us since Pavel!

Perhaps he did not have enough reason.

And your selfishness is a reason?

Yes.

So bold!

I shall ask –

You will not!  He doesn’t like your father and suspects what you are!  I shall.

Thank you.

He said he would help.

Just like that?

It felt as if he wants us to fail.  Here.

Oh.  So much uncertainty.

He said it was due to your belief in your soul.

I know; I just don’t understand.  Will he help?  Much of this is beyond me.

Me too.  But, yes, he will.

He wants us to fail but is willing to help?

Perhaps he has an agenda?  Perhaps he’s just bored?

He’d not be if he and the other two would open themselves to the Fourth Law.

You know why they do not.

Yes:  my father and aunt Ai.

Give them time, Henge.

Something our family has a surfeit of while I watch another’s fly away.

From what you told me, I thought you people of the Way have nothing but time!

Yes.  But we must make the best of what we’ve been gifted!

You really do love him, that young human man?

I love the Lord with my whole heart, mind, and strength.  But yes, Dorina:  I agape Gary Hartmann.

So much you’re willing to do all this?

Yes.

My headstrong little niece!  Here!  Let’s simulate how Shandor has made us older!

Deus Volt

Ever since I met her in “Worlds Without End,” I knew that Faustina, Gary Hartmann’s slightly younger sister, would have her own novel.

I just didn’t expect to have her showing me things so soon.

Like all of my stories, as I learned from Jerry Pournelle, this is starting in the middle:  set maybe five or eight years after WWE, Faustina has led her personal army from Knoxville over the mountains and down the river to take the important port city of Savannah.  At great cost to herself.

I confess that, as always, I’ve no idea at all where this is going and am interested as you are…

Continue reading “Deus Volt”

“First Among Equals”

I went almost two weeks without writing more than a paragraph.  I needed at least one more short story for my January collection and thought to tell a story about Henge and her and Gary’s daughter, Aurelia.  One paragraph and some notes.

And nothing.

Admittedly things were hectic at DayJob and much time was spent formatting “Worlds Without End” into a format acceptable to Smashwords, but I would sit at my laptop and wait to see what they would show me… which was precisely nothing.

A week ago a fellow I work with asked how the writing was coming.  I replied the technical side was fine but I was currently stuck.  Still stuck a few days later, I recalled his question.  I based the coder Dmitri, Reina’s father, on him, I thought.  There are no such things as coincidences… he was meant to ask that question!  And that means…

I saw Reina standing in the snow.  Twelve hours later I heard her talking to a visitor.  I wrote this in four hours.  What these people do with me sometimes…

Continue reading ““First Among Equals””

“Flight”

I wanted a short story that involved Gary Hartmann, the protagonist of my latest novel “Worlds Without End,” piloting an airplane, as I mention that in the story.  I lay down about half of this yesterday but was at a total standstill for most of today.  Finally saw what happened to John Carell and wrote the rest down.

Continue reading ““Flight””

Worlds Without End

Going into a lovely early Fall weekend with little to do?  Need something to while away time with the cool breeze and falling leaves?  If you have not yet, download and read “The Fourth Law” and “Echoes of Family Lost” FOR FREE (while you can!) then go on to read the latest addition to my future history of Machine Civilization just now released!  Cheers!

Worlds Without End 

 

WWE FOR REVIEW - STANDARD 8 SEPT VERS 3

Getting Graphic

With my copyeditor seeming to have some issues right now, I’m falling back on Grammarly and some proofreaders for the first edit of “Worlds Without End.”  We’ll see how that pans out once I’ve a physical proof copy in my hands.  Shame, really; Monica has been a source of strength to my works for four years now.

In the mean time, here’s the penultimate cover, from Jacoby Alley Designs.  Professional, nimble, responsive.  If any of my readers are self-publishing, please reach out to them for a talk and/or a quote.  I’ve much to do:  my deadline of 30 September is upon me.

 

WWE FOR REVIEW - STANDARD 8 SEPT VERS 3

Pro-prologue

I’m sure there’s a word for something like that.  I’ll shoehorn this intro-short into the front of WWE somehow…

I’ll have a little banner across the top front cover that says “A sequel to Echoes of Family Lost” and include the same in the descriptor of the Amazon page.  If someone wants to buy it anyway – and Lord knows I bought dozens of SF/F books as a kid, not knowing they were halfway through a series – then what’s below the fold should give them enough traxion to get into the story.

Need a good copyeditor?  Monica is your gal.

Continue reading “Pro-prologue”

Life Imitates My (upcoming) Works, Part Etc.

A planned real-world test of a reactionless thruster.  These loomed large in Larry Niven’s Known Space series.  If this technology proves true we’ll have the solar system at our feet.

Below the fold an excerpt from my forthcoming novel “Worlds Without End”…

Continue reading “Life Imitates My (upcoming) Works, Part Etc.”