The Stone Soup Novelist

I have a great idea for a novel. You know what would make it even better?…

Back to Life

After having gone dark for, I dunno, feels like a year, the Stone Soup Novelist is struggling back to life. Here’s what’s happened in the interim: I’ve mothballed my original, galaxy-spanning epic science fiction blockbuster. It turns out that creating your own universe, complete with civilizations, histories, and cultures across many planets, is a lot of work, and doing that while learning how to write a novel and hold down a full time job was just too much. So, I’ve dialed it back and decided to tackle something a little more familiar. The new idea is a mystery set in present-day North Carolina. The first chapter is here:  More to come later.

Putting 2 and 2 Together

So, there’s an old Looney Tunes cartoon, Porky in Wackyland, that’s notable for its use of surrealism. At one point in the cartoon, a three-headed creature speaks unintelligibly, and another creature explains “He says his mother was frighted by a Pawn Broker’s sign.”  We were just watching an early Charlie Chaplin short, “The Pawn Shop,” and at one point Charlie is climbing a ladder outside the shop, and hits his head against one of 3 brass spheres hanging over the entrance of the shop. The shop also has a sign with 3 spheres drawn on it.

So it hit me: Before literacy was as common as it is now, you would have needed symbols to advertise different types of businesses. The striped barber’s pole, and the doctors’ snakes survived until now. The pawn brokers’ 3 spheres must have died out in the early twentieth century (or maybe I’ve just never observed it?). I wonder what other symbols there were for other types of businesses?

Yes, this is the kind of thing that is running through my mind pretty much all the time.

Where in the galaxy is a good place to have an adventure?

In the story I’m writing, there are 2 planets, neither of them Earth, and a round trip between them takes about 5 years. Spaceships don’t have warp drives, just constant acceleration. Where in the Milky Way is a plausible location for my story? Or where else in our galaxy would you want to visit? What do you think the  night sky would be like there?

Free Jack Vance eBook at

Jack Vance is one of the undisputed masters of Science Fiction, and one of my favorite writers. At his official web site, you can purchase many of his best known books in eBook form – epub and kindle (i.e. mobipocket).

In exchange for registering at, you can get a free copy of The Chasch.

The Chasch is one of my favorite Vance  novels. It’s pure adventure, extremely well told. The hero, Adam Reith, crash-lands on a planet where humanity is subservient to alien races, and must use his wits to find a way back to Earth. It is the first of a series of four books, each one featuring Reith’s adventures among one of the four dominant races on Tschai. For my taste, the first book is by far the best of the 4, and can be read as a stand-alone story.

I’ve seen the series published as Planet of Adventure elsewhere, and book one published as City of the Chasch. In general, the eBooks on will have Vance’s preferred title, which in many cases was not the title used when the book was first published.

I particularly recommend the Dying Earth books.

New Sandman Story by Neil Gaiman Coming in 2013

I’m a few days late to this one. Wow! More here.

Sherlock Holmes joins the Enterprise. Somehow I did not know Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) was cast in Star Trek 2. Since he’s doing the voice of Smaug in the Hobbit, That’s 3 fanatical fan bases covered. Now if he could just get on to Doctor Who.

Sword-Wielding Victorian Lizard Women in Doctor Who Season 7

Looks like Madame Vastra, the Silurian adventuress from last season, is coming back. There’s also a Sontaran in a suit and tie, which could be Commander Strax. However, seeing as how that character died at the end of  ‘A Good Man Goes to War,’ I’d think that means they’re going to give the backstory for how the Doctor met some of the characters in that episode.

I’m speculating that this episode, or at least scenes from it, could be set in an earlier point in the Doctor’s timeline because they almost never have the Doctor go back and meet characters that have died when he was present. In fact, the only example of that I can remember, ever, is River Song. Say . . . when was he planning to mention any of that to Amy and Rory?

A scene: The Besjian in the Bar

landscapeExcept for the sign over the door and the crowd inside, the bar could have been one of the city’s ancient ruins.

A Besjian was talking to Duck in their own language. “Hey, how I’m supposed to eat looking at that flat-faced thing you bring in here, ah?”

“What is he saying?” asked Joshua.

“He’s never seen an alien. Heard how tall you are, doesn’t believe it. Just get up, he’ll go away.”

Joshua pushed his chair back and stood.

The Besjan looked up at Joshua’s chin. “Is he done standing?”


“Well, that’s good.”

“He says he never saw a sword like that. Wants to know what it looks like.”

This short scene is for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction meme. Every Friday a bunch of online writers write 100 words on a given topic. In this case, the picture above. Then we link and comment on each others’ posts. Check it out here. Links to other peoples’ fiction should start appearing in the Comments to this post as well.

Criticism is invited! Tell me what you think of my prose. How can it be tightened up? I . . . sort of blew out the 100 word limit on this one; sorry!

To read more about the novel in which this scene will be set, look under “The Story” tab at the top. If you’d like to contribute ideas for my book, just drop them into the Comments and I’ll work them in as best I can.

Mr. Higgs, I presume?

If you haven’t heard already, scientists at CERN have confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson. This is one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in the last 100 years.  In the video Peter Higgs, 83, is the one taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes.

A Recent Interview with David Tennant

Good interview with one of my favorite doctors.