Monday, July 23, 2012

'Star Trek: Russian Roulette'

'Russian Roulette' is a second story that I wrote and submitted for the "Strange New Worlds" anthology that wasn't selected, I can pretty well guess why this one wasn't picked: it's not very good.  While I've been a fan of this premise for a few years, and have tried to work it into several different projects, I've never really managed to make it work.  My execution hasn't caught up with the idea yet.

In this story, which is a much more traditional 'Star Trek' story than my last post, the Enterprise is damaged in orbit of an alien world.  The engines could overload at any minute, wiping out half the planet below.  To Captain Kirk's horror, the alien denizens try to use the ship's threat of destruction in some kind of sick game of worldwide, political Russian roulette - whichever half of the planet isn't decimated by the explosion wins. Even worse, military units from one of these nations manages to board the ship to try and force it to explode over enemy territory.

Again, I really like this premise.  I'm glad I wrote the story, but in rereading it years later, something about it doesn't click for me.  The ending feels kind of rushed, and I think my characterization of Kirk is... off.  He spends a good deal of the story being something of a bystander, and I think I push his fear of losing the Enterprise a bit too far.

I tried to 'hang a lantern' on the old 'transfer-power-to-the-deflector-to-solve-all-our-problems' trick, but I'm not sure that really works, either.  In the end, all I did was... well... transfer power to the deflector.

Still, on a technical level, I think I did pretty well with this story.  I like my descriptions and a good deal of the dialogue.  And, again, I really like this premise.  One day, I'd like to really do it the justice I think it deserves.  Until then, enjoy.

View PDF

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Infinite Perfectionist"

My first professional publication was a short story in the anthology "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, vol 9".  I submitted only one story, and I submitted the first draft of that story because I had run up against the deadline.

The next year, I submitted four stories.  None of them were accepted, which was too bad because I thought a couple of them were actually quite good.  The other two... not so much.  But, I've decided to share them here with you.

The first, "The Infinite Perfectionist," may be downloaded in PDF format here.  I think it's a pretty good story, though I can surmise the reasons why it wasn't accepted.  It draws upon a number of concepts and ideas from various eras of the franchise, and concocts a perhaps too complicated idea of a shattered, fractured timeline.

In it, a severely weakened Q finds Christopher Pike, who was to be captain of the Enterprise, but is in this new reality a New York City bar owner, and takes him and his wife on a wild adventure through time and space.  They meet a mutated version of Guinan, who helps send them to the Guardian of Forever.  There, Pike learns how time was fractured and figures out how to put things right.

The idea I had in my mind when I was constructing this story was to explore what would happen if something awful happened to the Guardian of Forever - like, say, having it be assimilated by the Borg.  Ultimately, I thought having it being assimilated wasn't right.  But if the Borg Queen were to step through it, the trillions of minds connected to her own would be too much for the Guardian to handle, and an overload would pretty much break time.

How, then, were our heroes supposed to put things back right?  Q and Guinan were natural choices.  Guinan has shown to be sensitive to changes in the timeline, and Q is, well, an omnipotent being.  But of course, I couldn't just let Q snap his fingers and put everything right, so I just said that surviving the time fracture had weakened him greatly.

Anyway, I thought the story was intriguing enough, and I even think it's fairly well-written.  But, like its premise, it's maybe a little too jumbled.  Maybe Pike was the wrong character to pick?  Perhaps it should have been Kirk, or even Picard - who, of course, has a much heftier emotional connection with the Borg Queen.  Pike would have never even heard of the Borg in the original timeline.  But I thought that was the fun of the story.

Ultimately, I can only guess why the story wasn't accepted.  It just wasn't.  Oh well.  If you get some enjoyment out of it all these years later, then, well, mission accomplished.  Sound off with your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Announcement: Weirdo Company

I'm very close to releasing my next story.  The story itself is finished, and I'm making progress on the second.  This is the beginning of a pretty massive project.  Work on other things, like the novel, are still progressing, but this is going to be one avenue that I'm exploring.

It's called "Weirdo Company."  A series of 10 short stories about a military unit that handles weird, screwed up missions involving monsters and other scary creatures.  It's not designed to be very serious, sort of like the "Call of Duty" games that feature zombies.  It has lots of violence and foul language, but it's also very silly and ridiculous. I hope people like it.

The first adventure is called "Zombies vs Unicorns" and I thought I would share some of the work I've been doing on the cover for it, the last step before release.

This is the first design I sort of slapped together quickly.  It's pretty lame, though I kind of like the treatment of the text:

You an see it's very plain, and the zombie and unicorn are sort of oddly off-center, which doesn't quite work very well.  And that 'blood spatter' looks more like bad spraypaint (which, I'm pretty sure it actually is).

This is what I've settled on for an overall template for the cover:

I think it looks much nicer, though I may play with the text a bit before I'm done.  The gray area in the middle will feature some artwork of a zombie and a unicorn.

Here's the beginning of it, in the form of a rough pencil sketch:

The picture is of poor quality because I took it with my phone rather than scanning the actual sketch.  But I think you get the idea.

Anyhow, I'm pretty excited about this project.  It's almost ready to be unleashed upon the ebook world, and I hope people enjoy it.

Current Soundtrack
"King Kong" - James Newton Howard