The Stone Soup Novelist

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

Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Scene: Something on the Horizon

Smoke rose from the top of the icy mountain as Joshua and Clovis reached the ridge.
“I have seen strange things,” said Joshua. “And I’ve been away too long. Watching an airship come into port would set my heart right.”

Clovis pointed to the eastern horizon, and Joshua followed his gaze to a gray dot hovering over the Cloud Sea. The speck dipped suddenly into the clouds, and reappeared. “Ships don’t fly that way,” said Joshua, “but it’s too big for anything else.”

The distant shape came closer. Joshua shook his head and whispered “They died a long time ago.”

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?

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.


Government Employees on Starships: What Will Their Benefits Package Look Like?

Thanks to Cat over at Cat’s Liminal Space for a gracious link and for the notion that Government officials who spend their entire journey across the galaxy in suspended animation will probably want a crew (which I’ve taken to calling Employees) who stay awake for the long trip in case of trouble.

This is a cool story: An author who started self-publishing who is now in talks with Ridley Scott about the movie rights to one of his books.

The Weekend Writer

Sometime last month, I’d downloaded a sample of the popular Sci-Fi short story “WOOL” by Hugh Howey to my Kindle. It had been on my radar for a while, but I hadn’t gotten around to checking it out. The sample popped up on my Kindle in seconds, and I propped myself up in bed and thumbed the screen.

In just a few minutes, I was disappointed when the sample ended abruptly, just when things were getting good in the story. But it was a good kind of disappointment. I wanted MORE!

I purchased the WOOL omnibus that evening and am currently reading through the first 5 installments. It is rare that a sample hits me in that way, but exciting all the same. Author Hugh Howey’s method of storytelling is engaging, and draws the reader in early on (be on the lookout for more on this in a future post).

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The Light-Speed Barrier: It’s Hip

One of the first things that I decided when I sat down to write my own science fiction novel was that faster-than-light travel would be impossible. The book I’m writing isn’t “hard” science fiction, more planetary adventure, but the tropes used to get around the light speed barrier just seemed like magic wands to me, and I didn’t want to use them.

I became interested in having my characters traveling across the galaxy at near-light speed, and seeing civilizations rise and fall while they stayed more or less the same age (due to the time dilation effect). That gave rise to the notion of a galactic Government so vast that its bureaucrats take centuries to fly from one assignment to the next.

After a little thought and googling, however, I realized that even at ludicrous rates of acceleration – 5G, 10G – the subjective time for a trip across a significant portion of the galaxy could still take more than a human lifetime. More on this topic over at the World page.

So (here’s the funny part) I decided I would introduce some kind of suspended animation that allows the characters to “sleep” through the long journey in their starship. That is, of course, likely just as impossible as faster-than-light travel, for a whole host of reasons. It did not bother me one jot. I’m sure this says something about my psychology and nothing about science, but I’m glad to hear I’m not alone. Here’s an article on the trend toward obeying the light-speed barrier in SF.

Giant Man-Eating Jellyfish of the Air

Thanks to Michael P for the suggestion of deepstaria enigmatica as a real animal that should be an alien.  Over on the World page (choose The Story | World from the menu), it’s become a floating, carnivorous jellyfish that hides itself in clouds and attacks unwary air sailors. I’m picturing a desperate life-and-death struggle in the air somewhere in the third act.

(Note: I’ve come to the conclusion that my posts and post titles have been a little too understated up to now, so I’m unleashing my inner Stan Lee here.)

Novel Updates: Expanded the World Page Under “The Story”

Well, the three day weekend has been pretty productive. Most of my progress has been in notes and outlines that aren’t ready to be shared yet, but I did put up a decent description of the fictional universe where my novel is set on the World page. We’ve got airships, volcanoes, swamp creatures, alchemists, artificially intelligent million-year-old starships, giant jellyfish that float in the air rather than water.  It’s quite a show.

Many of the suggestions I’ve gotten from readers have gone into this page. Over the next few days I’ll post some more thoughts about where I am with the book and the contributions of readers.

Hey, maybe I jumped on this bandwagon just in time…

Open Geography

Latest New Yorker is a special issue on science fiction. Pieces by Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem, Anthony Burgess, Ursula LeGuin, and others.

And Part 3 of Simon Critchley’s series on Philip K. Dick is now available.

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Borg and Cybermen Team Up: It’s Assimilation Squared

Looks like it’s Doctor Who Sunday here at Stone Soup HQ: I’ve been out of the comics scene for a while, but here’s an interesting one: The 11th Doctor is teaming up with Captain Picard to defeat an alliance of Borg and Cybermen.  I’m a little surprised they could work out the licensing on this:

New Doctor Who Mini Episode Written by Schoolkids

This is neat: they had a contest to let schoolkids in the UK write their own Doctor Who mini-episode to advertise the 2012 Olympics.

It’s the return of the Weeping Angels!

Thanks to Josh Burns for the notion of an energy shortage as a plot point in my book. Josh is a graphic artist and writer. Here’s one of his; an ode to old school space opera that is right up my alley.

Flammable Things

After seeing a number of the great works that Ralph McQuarrie did in his career as a concept artist I thought of doing a little science fiction homage to the man.

In true human fashion, mankind continues to fight each other, even in the far reaches of space. With hundreds of other alien species to start trouble with, most of the time it’s still with each other.

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