Category Archives: Upcoming books and projects

Not a biblical scholar

I’m not a biblical scholar. Heck, I’m barely more than Biblically semi-literate.

So, of course, in my odd little corner of the universe, it makes perfect sense to write a SF book about the founding of a new order of monks, the Monks of St Possenti. This puts me in a bit of a quandary. I like the stories I read to be plausible, and require suspension of disbelief on only a few things, but not everything. If you want to stipulate FTL in violation of current known laws, great, run with it. But what I hate is when a story is purportedly in this universe’s future and it gets a lot of basic facts about physics or history or people totally fouled up. So when I’m writing it only seems reasonable to get what facts I can correct, so that others don’t have that same “oh, heck, not that silly and often-disproven trope again!”

So I need a little help here, by readers who are also familiar with the Bible, and hopefully a few that are specifically intimate with Catholic canon and monastic orders. Continue reading Not a biblical scholar

Young Adult beta-readers needed

The prototype dust-jacket description is “16 year old Skaffington White has problems – not understood at home, stifled at school – and he didn’t think things could get worse than being suspended for a fight he didn’t start. He was wrong. Very wrong. But the darkest thunderclouds throw the brightest lightning to illuminate the path… if he can survive the storm.”

I’ve pretty much finished another book, called Komenagen: Slog. It’s a “Young Adult” (YA) SF book targeted at boys 12-18, and it takes place in the same universe at The Stars Came Back. It’s somewhat in the same vein as Heinlein’s Tunnel in the sky.  I’d like to get some feedback about it from actual 12-18 yo boys. If any of you readers out there are such, or have such a beast in your household and would like to give it a read -on the condition that you give some substantive feedback and write a review when it’s finally published – I can email you a copy in MS Word format. You can convert it e-reader format with Calibri and provide feedback in paragraph form, or have the sprout read it as-is and provide feedback using the review feature in word and add comments or corrections in-line. If you want to read it, email me or make a comment to this post.

Also, a bleg from any YA readers: after reading this book, suggestions for other Komenagen challenges to write about in future books are most welcome.

Short-ish story

I set out to write a short story for a SF mil-fic anthology. I decided to write about one of Armadillo’s early missions, a traumatic one. I figured I could whip it out in short order. It’s totally self-contained, and now at more than 12k words, expecting it to hit ~15k or so. Let’s just say it has a cast of characters that are rather unlike those in TSCB.

Vox said 16k words is more suited to a stand-alone novella. I should finish it this week, then editing (should go fast) and cover art, but no telling how long that will take. I’m also trying to figure out a good title.

Anyone up for being an alpha reader?

Modeling an Armadillo

How many people out there have an interest in doing 3D modeling of an Armadillo-class ship? Specifically, if I posted the Python script that could be used in FreeCad to create models of the ship, how many people out there would be interested in playing with it to make graphics, videos, add details, create interior images (either for posting here or possible inclusion in future editions), game mods etc?

The way the current graphics (cover-art aside) were made was with this method.

Well, what do you know…

It looks like I made the final ballot for the Campbell Award for best new sci-fi writer. With only one published book (and one short story, also in the same universe) I figure I’m a long shot, even if I have a sequel, a prequel, and a children’s historical book scheduled for this year. In any case, even getting to the final ballot short-list is an honor… Well, interesting, anyway. No clue what the competition is like, but it should be fun to watch unfold. I can almost hear some brains exploding from here.

Also on the list: Wesley Chu*, Jason Cordova, Kary English*, Eric S. Raymond (*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.)

Mixed words on making the short list for the Prometheus. But as I hear the competition is strong this year, so I’m a long-shot there, too. But how many people manage to make both a “best new X” list at the same time they make the list for some other category in the field competing against long-time pros?

Just getting nominated for either award is proof the universe has a twisted sense of humor. If I happen to win, I know that my little corner of the cosmos is a very strange one. Not a bad one, mind you, just more than a little bit odd.

Editing

Not completed, but done enough to have an editor give it a first pass read-through to look at inconsistencies, plot holes, places that need fleshing out or alterations, etc. Roughly 122k words. There are a few places I’m not really happy with, but not sure exactly what to do about them. Paul thinks it’s fine, but then he doesn’t know what all has been rolling around in my brain (likely a good thing).  So, for the moment, it’s >95% done, and I’m letting someone that hasn’t a clue where it’s going or what I’ve cut or how I’ve switched it around thinks about it. No idea how soon I’ll hear back, but some people are very fast readers. Might be a day or two, might be a month. Then I can talk it over, see what I need to tweak, then we can do the serious nitty-gritty editing.

In unrelated but significant news, I got a long-term subbing job at a local middle school, teaching math and science. That is GREAT for income (I made about as much from TSCB, in total net, as I make from two months teaching), but it also means less time to write. So I’ll be rather busy, and not making huge leaps of progress. But I also plan to keep picking away at “Komenagen: Slog” for a while, and it might be finished by the end of summer.

Themes

One of the things that I keep realizing is that there are themes running though TSCB that I put in almost subconsciously, themes that I keep seeing popping up in various other places.

One theme is the risk/reward of technology. I came across one of Vox’s reprints of an article he wrote about the Unabomber’s Manifesto. The Unabomber was afraid of technology, or more specifically that it be used by government to enslave people, and by companies and people to take from them their ability to support themselves, to make them dependent on goods and services provided by others. He wanted to have us all return to something like an Amish tech level or lower, on the theory that when you are in tune with nature you can’t be tech-traped (or something along those lines). That has problems to say the least.

In TSCB, the Armadillo warships and their AIs scared the government so bad that they put the kibosh on it, and reverted to an effectively lower and inferior level of military technology. Taj saw that for humans to be the most useful, they had to know how things work. She is constantly teaching everyone on board everything she can (a bit more on this in the sequel). From the fundamentals of language and math and story-telling with Quinn (note she doesn’t just tell him stories, but has him tell them back to check for understanding and cement the knowledge), to how to operate sensors and coms and understand how they work to anyone that spends time on the bridge. She requires the use of checklists so that the crew know the function and condition of the ship’s systems.

In the classroom I encounter a specific dichotomy regularly. Kids think they don’t need to learn and know things because they can “just Google it.” but they struggle to find good web resources and evaluate what they do find because they know so little. Often they lack sufficient fluency with math fundamentals to easily see more advanced concepts. They have a difficult time differentiating wikipedia and The Onion from peer-review papers (if they can find them). Technology can be a tool, or a crutch. Taj is, in a way, the ultimate tool, but she refuses to be used as a crutch because she has learned by hard experience that by definition crutches are for the crippled, and a team where everyone is as strong as they can be will be the most effective.

Armadillo short

Castalia House is going to be publishing an anthology, a mix of military essays and military sci-fi, edited by Tom Kratman, to be titled Riding the Red Horse. The goal is something like Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War series. For those not familiar with the biblical reference, the “red horse” is one of the four horses of the Apocalypse. Specifically, the horse of WAR.  For what it’s worth, there is a lot more to that little phrase than I thought there was (and they are not war, pestilence, famine, and death  as I had always remembered them). The article is worth a read.

In any case, one of the stories to be included in it, assuming they like it, will be a short by me. The subject is Armadillo’s first operational mission. I believe they are targeting “this year” for a release, but I don’t know if that will mean this week or late December.

Next things

Working on getting the next things together.  The current plan is that the prose format will be release as two books. The series name will be “The Stars Came Back.” The first book will be “Back from the Dead,” and the second “War’s Edge.”

The next book will likely be titled “TSCB: Insanity’s Children.” With any luck and a bit of hard work, I’ll soon be far enough along in planning and writing that I can start posting it serially, like I did originally.