Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Excerpt: Burnt Worlds

I have received the last feedback for Burnt Worlds from the last beta reader.  Some technical details, a few minor continuity cockups whoopsies, and some stylistic thingies.  All in all, it's excellent feedback, and with one final edit I'll incorporate it and That Will Be That.

In the meantime, here's a tiny excerpt.  Several readers have mentioned this bit:  Chief Black explaining how a jump drive works:

The Chief smirked.  "Want to know my theory?  I don't think anyone has the faintest clue how it works.  I think someone was trying to invent, I don't know, a new dishwasher or something, and accidentally made a jump drive.  Wrote up a hundred pages of bullshit, collected their Nobel Prize, and retired.  Everyone else just makes copies of the failed dishwasher, and as long as it keeps working, no one asks any questions."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Procambarus zonangulus

One of the things I enjoyed about writing Burnt Worlds was having the opportunity to research stuff.  I'm a great lover of random & pointless trivia, and my obsession mild interest in creating a plausible science-fiction setting drove me to fits of Looking Stuff Up.

For instance, the main armament on HMCS Borealis is a pair of 6-inch (152mm) railguns that use magnetism to accelerate projectiles to ludicrous speeds.  Naturally I needed to know how much kaboom would be exerted per shot (many kilotons) as well as a reasonable expectation of engagement range (thousands of kilometres).

I also wanted one of the alien races to be cold-blooded.  They come from a cold planet, and their body temperature is near freezing.  Would it be possible for such a race to exist?  Could they be warmed up, so they could make bouncy interact with humans?

This started as an idle Googling at 8pm, and one thing led to another and it was 3am and I was reading a fascinating article about our friend the humble cuttlefish.  It lives quite successfully in near-freezing water, with copper-based hemocyanin in its blue blood in the place of iron-based mammalian hemoglobin.  It can even be warmed up to human body temperature, if done carefully.

Another such Googling-Gone-Wrong evening found me reading about the sex lives of Tetrahymena thermophilia.  This curious species of bacteria has not two, but seven distinct sexes.  Each of them can successfully mate with any sex other than their own, with the offspring having various probabilities of being each of the sexes.

That's one of the awesome things about science and science fiction.  You can dream up whatever strange alien lifeform you want; chances are, something a lot like them is already here on Earth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


There's another human writer who is of particular personal interest to me. I'd like to introduce you to Jaye McKenna.

Lia was very kind to bring Jaye and I into each others' orbits, and she's very much one of our tribe. By 'tribe', of course, I mean that circle of humans who are like us, but not necessarily related to us. In this case, I refer specifically to humans with the previously mentioned "twisted, messed-up [and] morally-out-of-the-mainstream" sense of humour.

She's a prolific writer.  Good lord, how prolific.  She's published more than Lia and I put together. Which, seeing as how I haven't published anything yet, sounds pretty stupid. But when I read this again in ten years, it'll be hilarious.

Plus, she's smart. I mean, to the extent that she, Lia and I constitute an 'operation', she is definitely the 'brains of' said operation. She's been to school and everything. I especially like that she's particular about the science in her science fiction. Getting the science right has been a fetish obsession interest of mine.  The reader probably doesn't know how a jump drive works.  I figure they should feel comfortable leaving the driving to a character who does it all the time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Like I mentioned before, I think it's vital for any creative person to have access to one honest opinion, to one person who can challenge you to do better. 

I have been fortunate to have such a person come into my universe:  Lia Black.  She's a writer as well, and though she writes in a quite a different genre than I do, she's very good at it.

She's one of my all-time favourite humans, and I love her to bits.  We made an agreement early on to provide feedback on each others' stories, and to do so constructively, without taking any of it personally.  That's made all the difference for me.  If you're in any sort of creative endeavour, I hope you find someone who can do the same for you. 

The title of this post is an in-joke sort of reference to her unique ability to create the most spectacularly fucked-up pairings of characters, and still create a romance that brings them together in a believable, rewarding way.  It's truly remarkable to see it happen; it's like a superpower.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What? No herald?

Good morning.  Afternoon?  Evening.

Always best to start with an introduction, I figure.  I don't have a herald to announce me, so I'll have to introduce myself.

Name's Steve.  I'm one of those people who has always talked about writing a book, but never got around to finishing one.  Maybe you're the same.

In my case, I was fortunate to meet another like-minded human.  Just when I was going to give it up, she inspired me to keep at it.  Now I've got one book in the final stages of editing, and the first draft of a second book waiting its turn with the red pen.

Every creative person needs that one honest voice who will say, "You can do better.  Keep at it".

If they happen to share your twisted, messed-up, morally-out-of-the-mainstream sense of humour, then so much the better.

No looking back.  Onwards!

- Steve.