gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
OK, some changes and expansions of the setting for Task Force Singh. I'm still building the state my main protagonist comes from (there are actually two protagonists in opposition to each other, but this is the guy I thought up first.)

The Beta Hydi system was settled roughly 300 years before the book's starting date by way of a huge colonization effort headed by India. The effects of climate change and the ravages of the Warpox epidemic was leading to mass famine. Volunteers from across southern Asia begged to be included in the mission. All told, over 5 million refugees were packed into colony ships and sent out.

The rigorous conditions on their new home, named Arjuna after a mythical hero, led to the creation of a strict hierarchy and a strong work ethic. Shelters needed to be dug and fitted out, vast hydroponic farms put into operation, and a million other details worked out. The colony thrived with an isolated oligarchy running things. For the Traveller players reading this, it was a Feudal Technocracy.

Power has concentrated in the hands of the Jagirdar; landed nobles who ruled through sheer economic power. The Jagirdar were the captains of industry and operators of the vast warrens of worker housing. As the colony grew to exploit both the resources of Beta Hydri and those of nearby stars, conflict among the Jagir houses grew to near warfare. To end this, the houses agree to elect a dictator and form a constitutional monarchy.

Today, the Arjun Samarjy (Arjun Empire) controls eight star systems besides the home system. The ruler, the Samrat (Emperor) has full executive power. Technically, the assembly of Jagirdar elects the Samrat; in reality the ruling Samrat appoints his eldest child at birth and the nobles approve it.

The Jagirdar meets as an upper house of the government, known as the Gomed Hol (Oynx Hall) for the chamber they meet in. The Gomed Hol serves mainly as an advisory body, producing little legislation, as its members tend to be busy seeing to their own holdings.

The people are represented in the Samsad (Parliament) which is based on population. Currently the Samsad seats 573 voting members and numerous non-voting observers from the colonies. Members of the Samsad are elected from regional councils, which are elected by the people. One of the greatest issues on Arjuna is the growing demand for direct representation and more regional power. The Samsad is considered to remote, with each member speaking for an average of 3 million citizens. The Samsad is where legislation is introduced, debated, and passed. The state operates on a theory of implied royal assent. When a bill passes the Samsad, it is held for three days after the Samrat has been informed of the bill's passage. After that thime, the bill is law. The Samrat has the power to veto any bill. This power is almost never used.

The Samrat is the head of state. The head of the government is his Chancellor, a post selected by the Samrat himself. The Oynx Hall has the power to refuse to allow the Samrat's choice for office, but it takes a super-majority and has only been invoked twice. The Chancellor is charged with appointing officers to the various ministerial posts and running the day to day operations of the state and government. Chancellors are usually chosen by the party with the majority in the Samsad, or by coalition vote. The Samrat is usually quietly consulted as well. Chancellors remain in office at the pleasure of the Samrat or until his party falls out of the majority and a new Chancellor is called for.

There are several parties in the Empire. The major players are:

The Imperial Expansionists. They support a strong central government and expanding the Imperial holdings. Currently hold a slim majority in the Samsad.

The Traditionalists. A conservative, religious party dedicated to returning to old Hindu ways and promoting religious unification under one faith. The more radical members want a return to the caste system. They are partners with the Expansionists in the current government.

The Unionists. Their main platform is full membership in the empire and full citizenship for those living on the colony worlds.

The Democracy Now Party. They demand the dismantling of the imperial state and full suffrage and free elections under a new constitution. The hold a small number of seats, but are quite vocal and vote as a solid bloc.

The Consolidationists. Bitter foes of the Expansionists, they advocate spending precious Rupees on building infrastructure and improvements in the territories already controlled by the state, and improving the lot of the citizenry.

The Isolationists. The fight defense spending and expansion tooth and nail. Once the strongest voice in the Samsad, they've lost dozens of seats over the years and are now a distant third after the Imperial Expansionists and the Unionists. Natural allies of the Consolidation Party, they break on several issues so a true union seems impossible,

More to come.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Naming things, characters, places, even entire stories, has always been the bane of my creative existence. If I were an artist working in a visual medium, you'd see a lot of "Landscape No. 12" and "Unfinished Portrait of a Chihuahua No. 3" hanging on gallery walls. It's just part of my existence.

A big part of the problem is that I've always had trouble remembering names. For as long as I can remember this has been the case. Unless that name was presented to me daily over a period of months, it would slip away. This even goes for things like schools I attended. So, faced with the need to name things for the novel, I try to take the easy route so I can focus on the important things like the plot and the tension caused by the game of blind chess the two commanders will be playing over dozens of star systems.

There are several tools at my disposal. For example, there are dozens of great websites that generate names for you from any number of cultures and races, real and fictional. Using one geared to naming conventions of the Indian subcontinent has allowed me to name both my protagonist, his wife, and a few other characters of note. Other crew names are more generic Indian. I don't worry too much about mixing northern and southern names, as these people have been living on a different planet for centuries. Things have most likely gotten blurred and mixed in that time.

Other non-Indian names are needed. Both for the characters who are part of Task Force Singh and for the opposing forces. As the main opposing force is a UN flotilla, I can draw inspiration from pretty much the whole spectrum of human names. My main antagonist, for example, is a Zulu. I can use several generators to quickly name the critical characters and even the minor ones and the spear-carriers with ease. A few of my favorite name sites even allow you to select how odd you want the name to be. Very helpful.

The system Task Force Singh is going to be trying to reach is a failing set of Chinese-settled worlds, so I'll need to do research on Cantonese naming conventions. I'm trying to get it right. They are in a situation analogous to the threat faced by the Ottoman Empire in terms of the Russians, so I may make that threat a Manchurian interstellar state that is also facing instability, and wants the traditional shirt, victorious war to prop their government.

Finally, last year when we were fund-raising for the Istanbul trip, we promised to Tuckerize people who pledged at a certain level. I still have that list, and those names will be used, never fear.

Personal names are pretty easy, so long as you do the research to make sure you're getting the naming conventions for each language right. Things, however, open a whole new can of worms. Take ships.

Ships are kind of important in a military science-fiction novel about a tense set of fleet actions. Sadly, the Indian Navy doesn't really have the kind of names I could steal. More research is needed. Searching on Hindu legends and gods, I find Vajra. Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond. Additionally, it is a weapon worn in battle which is used as a ritual object to symbolize both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force). Perfect for the first of a new class of battleship! Which gives me the theme for the rest of the fleet, heroes and legends.

For the UN force, I've already identified the battleships as the Continent-class. Starting with Earth's continental masses, later builds would use land forms from UN-controlled worlds. I've also made it clear that a class of heavy missile cruiser is named for large cities. I can follow the naming conventions of the US and Royal Navy here for convenience.

Now worlds. Doing Beta Hydri was pretty easy. The first three worlds, small and unusable, I wanted to have whimsical names. So I cam up with Mongoose, Cobra, and Rat, all eternally chasing each other. For the others, I picked great leaders and martyrs of the Indian independence movement. So far, so good.

But I wanted something special for the main world. I picked the Hindi translation of "New Home" as a placeholder. I'm still mentally working out how this place was settled, so the name might reflect a challenge of or hardships. Given how I described it, I might look to see if there is a famous system of canals in India to name the planet after. But what ever happens, New Home is probably changing.

Lucky for me, most of the action will take place in systems with little or no population, so I'm good there. Fewer planets to name.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
We meet my hero, two brothers who will be a big part of the "below decks" plot, and a truly evil (to snot-nosed midshipmen, anyway) Crown Warrant Officer.

"The ship should be shaking."

The comment wasn't supposed to be overheard, Aman Singh realized. It had come in one of those rare moments on the Vajra's bridge where everyone had paused for breath at the same moment. Smiling, turned his command couch to face his very junior aide.

"Shaking as the guns roar out bolts of lightning to pummel the fierce space pirates? As the heroic captain -- that would be me I suppose -- rallies his crew with a stirring speech while waving his laser cutlass around?" Aman chuckled. "Sorry, Lieutenant Metz. I read those same books when I was younger. The reality is that if the Vajra is shaking, we have some very serious problems."

Aman glanced down at the repeater mounted on the left arm of his couch. Their target, an ancient freighter refitted as a target drone was on it's last legs after getting pounded by the big grasers for more than two hours. Time to finish this exercise. With a little change in plans he thought as he stroked his beard.

Aman touched the all-hands button on his display. "Attention. For the remainder of the exercise, Sublieutenant Metz has command. Captain Singh out." Unbuckling his restraints, Aman stood and offered the command position to the shocked young officer. Aman noted that whereas the lad had been pink with embarrassment a few seconds ago, he was now an alarming shade of white.

"There's nothing to it, Brendan," Aman said quietly as he helped with the straps, "pick one turret to finish the target off, listen to the targeting crews, and give the order to fire. You did this in the Academy simulators, you can do it now."

Even though Metz was taller than his captain by a double handful of centimeters, he seemed to shrink in the couch. Then, swallowing hard, he spoke up. "Turrets one and three, cease fire. Turret two, continuous fire until further notice." Confirmations quickly showed up on the command screens. "Helm, please keep turret two in optimal firing position. Guns, range to target?"

Commander Kapur, obviously amused by being addressed in such a familiar way by a man twenty years his junior, replied in a perfectly professional tone. "Captain, range is just over six light seconds. Targeting in the main tank." The holographic display in the center of the bridge went from showing the general tactical situation to a detailed look at the target, still driving to reach the hyper limit. Ahead of the target drone was a multi-hued teardrop showing where the ship was likely to be when the graser bursts reached the vicinity. At the center, stretching from the rear tip to near the middle was the cool green of highest probability. Around that as yellow fading to red as the targeting computer and the human operators evaluated what their opponent was capable of in terms of maneuver and acceleration.

Evidently pleased with what he had seen, Metz tried to nod knowingly before fumbling briefly with the communication panel. "Turret two, you may fire when ready." Aman shared a grin with his executive officer at the gunnery station. At least the boy's voice hadn't cracked.


"Well, did'ya hear that? Sounds like your brother has seized control of the ship!" Crown Warrant Officer Nigel Linnet cackled evilly. He always sounded evil, Midshipman Morgan Metz though gloomily. His Middie cruise was not nearly as fun as he hoped it would be. He continued staring at the Secondary Turret Control panel like it contained the secrets of the universe.

"Well now, since Captain Metz" another chuckle from the depths of hell "has given us the honor of blasting that junk pile into very small pieces, it seems only fair that I continue your education by giving you command." Linnet was now the model of formality. "Mr. Metz, what are your orders?"

Morgan sat speechless for a very long second. Before Linnet could begin one of his training speeches, Morgan remembered what to do. As he began to work, he remembered that he was supposed to explain what he was doing at every step.

"OK, targeting display is up. Based on previous data and range, I'm placing the shots here," he said, using a stylus to mark the desired target point, "and locking the guns on that." What next? Right! "Both chambers show good cans loaded, system primed, all boards green." He picked up the old fashioned hand microphone. "Clear the bay for firing." Down below, the gun crews moved to their shelters, signalling the control booth when everyone was clear.

Morgan reached up for the pistol-grip trigger above his head, pausing to look at the CWO. Linnett gave the bare hint of a nod. "Firing," Morgan said, and pulled the trigger hard.

Inside the turret, there was the slightest hint of a rumble as fusion explosions took place in both firing chambers. Inside each of the canisters, the tremendous energy released by the explosions was channeled and focused by precisely formed rods until most of the energy was in the form of gamma rays flying down the barrels, where the energy was compressed and focused even more by gravitic generators. An outside observer would have noticed a brief purple flash from the muzzles as the guns fired.

Six seconds later, the twin bolts reached the target hulk. Two blasts of 200 gigajoules each turned to heat when they impacted, ripping the already weakened ship apart even further. High temperature ceramics shattered, steel vaporized, and more of the ship's infrastructure was melted to slag.

"Good hit!" Linnett chortled. "Now we do it again, yes?" The gun crews were already making sure the next two cans were in place and safely sealed. Morgan ran through the procedure two more times, only needing to be reminded once to make sure the crews were clear, before getting the ceasefire from the bridge.

"You did good, Mr. Metz. We killed an enemy of the Coalition. Or at least pretended to do so." Morgan allowed himself a smile. "But next time," Linnett said thoughtfully, "next time I think I disable the targeting repeaters. Make you figure it by hand. That will be fun, yes?" Morgan groaned and buried his face in his hands. The man is evil. Pure evil. Over Linnett's laughter he could hear his brother standing the ship down from battle stations. Of course Brendan got to sit on the bridge and give orders. He was so lucky!


"Captain, we are secure from battle stations and have resumed Condition 3 cruising. No damage or injuries to report. Is there anything else, sir?" Brendan tried to keep from sounding like he was pleading. Thankfully, Captain Singh was in a merciful mood.

"That will be fine, Lieutenant. I have command. Good job, your first command and it was the Vajra! Now, if you will be so kind, I'm having a small dinner for senior staff, please make the arrangements and layout my undress uniform, Dismissed." Brendan acknowledged the orders and moved to the lift station as fast as he could without running. All he could think off as he pushed his way down the zero-g tube was his annoying little brother running Turret 2. Loading cans, pulling the trigger, and not having the entire command team plus the Captain staring at you while you worked. He was so lucky!
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
This is a possible prelude for Task Force Singh, and is based on something I read in one of the books recommended to me for my research. As part of her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria witnessed a parading of the fleet, including the new class of battleships, off Portsmouth. I'm taking that and using it to introduce my main antagonist, the UN officer who will command the fleet hunting down Task Force Singh.


The view for the tour ship was stunning. Arrayed in perfect formation to celebrate the 50th year of the Secretary-General's reign was the heart of the United Nation's Peacekeeper fleet, led by the eleven Continent-class battleships. Captain 1st Rank Kosan Gwazi gripped the polished teak railing tightly, knuckles turning white as he fumed. One of those ships should have been his.

Beside him a bland little man was prattling on and on. "Oh, yes, the Continents. Aren't they something? We had no end of trouble with them at the Bureau of Heraldry and Lineage, let me tell you! More ships than names! So many meetings and arguments, I expect every member of the Assembly marched through my door at some point or the other. But I was firm, and brokered a compromise!"

Wonderful, thought Gwazi, award yourself a medal. He made a show of using the viewing controls to get a magnified view of the City of Ravenna, an upgraded missile cruiser that was nearby. But the bureaucrat just kept babbling his tales of red-tape heroism.

"Asia was the hardest part, can't simply name a ship Asia, we'd have riots. I was the one who suggested the deal, you know. rammed it through in a marathon session. It's why we have the Great Russia, the Siberia, the India, and the Indochina. Quite proud of that one, I must say!"

Thankfully, at that moment the bosun at the viewing room blew his whistle. The piercing notes stopped all conversations dead. With everyone silenced, he announced "Ladies and Gentleman, Her Grace Nicole Martin, the Secretary-General of the United Nations!" Bows and curtsies as the Secretary-General strode in, trailing aides and security like debris from a wounded ship. She was wearing her naval uniform, showing that she was commander-in-chief of the Peacekeepers, her chest heavy with medals and orders.

After making some quick greetings, she crossed the room to where Gwazi was still standing by the transparent wall. She took in the view briefly, then turned to speak.

"Captain Gwazi, an honor to meet you." She glanced at the now sputtering bureaucrat. "Donald, a pleasure. May I have a moment with the Captain, please?" It was as polite an order as Gwazi had ever heard. Donald quickly backed away babbling pleasantries all the time.

The Secretary-General watched him go. "That man never shuts up, and now he's going to be bragging that I remembered his name for the next ten years."

"Well, Your Grace, it is something of an honor to have you recall who people are." Gwazi said, dipping in a semi-bow.

"Ha! Captain, if I walk into a room without being briefed on everyone who is inside, my staff has failed me. Information is as valuable to me as it is to you. Are you enjoy the fly-by, Kosan?

Her sudden change in subject and use of his first name threw Gwazi for a moment. "Of course, Your Grace. You've assembled a powerful force here, it's important to see it assembled. For everyone."

For several long seconds the Secretary-General stared out at the fleet slowly sliding by. A waiter brought two glasses of champagne, and Gwazi realized that the security staff had moved most of the crowd out of the room, creating a bubble in which only he, the Secretary-General, and a silent aide were standing.

"Peacekeeper," she finally said, reaching out and running her hand down the front of Gwazi's powder-blue dress jacket, "it's the oldest duty of the UN, even when it was toothless debating society. Keep the peace." She raised her head and looked Gwazi in the eyes. That stare was piercing. "Captain, I have dedicated my life to keeping humanity from tearing itself apart. Just as you have taken your oath, so I have sworn mine. We have both sacrificed much to serve, am I right?"

Gwazi could barely nod, his throat was dry. He took a sip of his champagne before speaking. "Of course, Your Grace. I cannot even begin to imagine the burdens you bear. Of course, Donald made sure I knew every detail of his battles."

The earned a surprisingly loud bout of laughter. She loses twenty years when she laughs, Gwazi thought. Then he remembered that this was a woman who had ordered her own father's execution. Tread carefully, for this chat was a minefield.

"God in Heaven, you have no idea. Kosan, the Secretariat is filled with the little gray mice, and they all pretend to be cats. Every so often, you find a cat disguised as a mouse, and they end up in charge. Donald is a mouse, a very loud mouse, but a mouse."

"I think I prefer grasers and attack drones, Your Grace, at least they are honest and do what they intend." I may have gone too far, he thought, as all the mirth drained from the Secretary-General's face. She took a serious tone.

"You were promised the Africa, yes? A Captain of the 1st Rank, worked on the development of the operational orders for the new fleet, ranked as 'recommended for early promotion and positions of authority' by almost every officer you ever served under. You were promised that command, and I took it from you myself. You wish honesty? There it is. On the advice of Peacekeeper Command and the Security Council, I personally changed your orders. Do you appreciate my honesty, Captain?"

Gwazi swallowed his first angry response, then the second. "I serve at Your Grace's pleasure, and will obey your orders. But may I ask why I was denied command? Did I offend someone?

"No, Captain, not at all." she turned to the still silent aide who handed her a small leather box. "I have spent my life working to maintain the peace, and in that time I've learned to read the tea leaves. It's falling apart. Ten years, maybe fifteen, and all of human space will be at war. It's coming and all we can do is prepare. So to that end . . ." She opened the case, inside were the insignia of a flag officer. "The paperwork will take a few days, but I'm promoting you to Contre-Admiral, and assigning you to head the War Plans office." Gwazi took the box with suddenly numb hands. He tried to say something, but the words caught in his throat. The Secretary-General smiled.

"Don't thank me, Admiral Gwazi, for I've just thrown you into the deep end. War is coming, and you will be in the heart of the fire." With that, she drained her glass and turned to leave, her aides and security forming a phalanx around her.

Holding the box with his new rank loosely in one hand, Gwazi looked again at the fleet still slowly passing by. That fleet will be needed, he thought, and sooner than we had hoped.
gridlore: One of the penguins from "Madagascar," captioned "It's all some kind of whacked-out conspiracy." (Penguin - Conspiracy)
I don't want to write today. I mean, I'm still siuck, I slept like a baby, eaning I woke up every hour and peed a lot (at least I make it to the bathroom for that.) My perpetually sore shoulder is telling me I might just have overdone it at the gym, and I just don't want to write!

Plus I have two huge library books to read, part of my research for Task Force Singh. These are monstrous tomes on both the race to develop the Imperial Germany and Royal Navies in the age of battleships, and the follow-on book about naval operations during WWI. I really should go back to bed and crack those.

I could even finish the three other books I'm reading. My Goodreads account mocks me daily which the static "what I'm reading" column. I really should update that . . . Or I could do the small pile of dishes. I could do a load of laundry, but I'm not really feeling that adventurous.

There's always Civilization VI, or Madden NFL. I haven't played the Grand Theft Auto game I got at Half-Price Books. But do I want to try a new game when my head feels this thick? I foresee rage quitting. I suppose I should clear off the coffee table, for Kirsten has said we're having pizza tonight.

Maybe later.

But I really dreaded opening my 750 words today. I'm watching the word count in the corner willing it to go higher. Just hit 250 words. 500 to go. Sigh. See, normally I have something to say, something for the book or some writing exercise or personal experience to share. I feel motivated to write, even if it's gibberish. I could go the Spider Jerusalem route and write "fuck" 750 times and claim it's a political article about the Trump administration. I could even cut and paste an older piece and just massage it a bit to fill my quota.

Because on March 1st I agreed to the site's monthly challenge. Write everyday. Even when you don't want to write. And anyone who knows me at all know how I am about living up to my pledges, even the silly ones. I won't even be winning anything, other than a couple of site badges. But it's the fact that I did agree to participate that is keeping me here at the keyboard when I'd rather be doing my part to lower the water level in Anderson Lake by taking a very long, very hot, shower. With the space heater blasting in the bathroom. I like things warm, OK?

436 words. Getting there!

I really should vacuum the filters on the air purifiers. But that's work, it can wait until I've have my live steam shower and a nap. Likewise, I could gather up the stray bits of recycling and corral it for a trip to the recycling place next week. But that involves moving. Later. Procrastination is something I'm always very prompt about.

Just had a sneezing fit. I own Sinuses of Holding. It's the only explanation for what just came out of my nose. Aren't all of you happy that I share these little details with you? Anything for my adoring audience. Send burritos.

The sad thing is that it's only when I'm this miserable that my broken brain decides to click on and show me all the things I've been avoiding in terms of house work. Since I am home almost all the time, I do what I can within my limitations. Dishes, laundry, taking the garbage out, whatever cleaning I can handle. But inevitably my brain gets overloaded with the sheer number of tasks needed to accomplish something as simple as vacuuming the living area that I burn out and need to stop. I really need to nuke this place of all the junk, call in a maid service for a one-time cleaning, and set a schedule for maintaining some order.

I also need to continue the purge of stuff that we just carry around with us. Half-Price Books is my new favorite place for losing unwanted clutter. And dear gods, do we have that.

696. Into the home stretch.

The good news is I do feel a bit better this morning, it's just the terrible night's sleep that has me dragging. I have eaten, and taken all my morning medications in the morning for a change. I think I will pull the two Great Tomes in to the bedroom, take a shower, then nap. Notice the word "read" never figured into that.

764 words. The streak continues.
gridlore: One of the "Madagascar" penguins with a checklist: [x] cute [x] cuddly [x] psychotic (Penguin - Checklist)
Perhaps I should go into some detail about the setting I'm going to be using for my novel, tentatively titled "Task Force Singh." As always, I encourage questions, comments, and donations of burritos to the Starving Writers Fund.

We're about 450 years into the future. Mankind has spread out from Earth in a series of diasporas after the invention of the hyperdrive in the late 21st century. The first wave was well-funded mass colonization efforts from the industrialized portions of the world. China and India were leaders in the effort to send excess population to the newly discovered worlds. Western Europe and North America lagged, but caught up.

The second wave came when the now-empty colonial transports were looking for work. This wave was made up of ideological groups that were no long welcome on Earth. Many of these colonies were poorly funded and supported, many have degraded over the years.

The final wave was in the last century and came as the UN government on Earth became more aggressive and controlling. This wave tended to settle in established colonies, while a few utopian groups grabbed space wherever they could.

There is no unified state controlling human worlds. There are a dozen multi-system states in existence, with many more single system states scattered through near-Sol space. Relations are not always peaceful.

The two biggest technological advancements involve fusion power and the ability to manipulate gravity. Fusion reactors use Helium-3 fusion; as He3 is easier to store and the fusion process is cleaner. He3 is found in the regolith of airless worlds, deposited there by solar wind, and in the atmosphere of gas giants. Of the two, it's easier to scoop He3 from the gas giants. Most systems with a gas giant will have a refinery in orbit around it. Control of these planets is an important strategic objective in war.

Gravitic control is the key to the stars. Along with the long-promised flying cars, gravity control is the key to both the reactionless drives that move ships in normal space and the hyperdrive that allows ships to get around the speed of light limitations. Ships enjoy artificial gravity and compensators that eliminate the effects of high acceleration. Losing either of these benefits can be devastating to a ship.

On planets, near-limitless power and negating gravity has resulted in cityscapes that have soaring, mile-high towers and wide open parks. Most people on Earth live in massive arcologies, huge single building cities that can house millions. Most of the people on Earth are on Basic Income, as there are nowhere near enough jobs. Make-work and public education keeps things mostly calm.

Key to the novel is the growing tensions between my as yet unnamed coalition, probably centered around Epsilon Eridani (because I like the name Eridani Coalition Navy) and the United Nations over economic issues. The situation will resemble the situation at the dawn of the First World War. The Eridani are the German, the UN is England, and I've yet to cast France and the other powers.

The actual plot is drawn from the pursuit of the SMS Goeben and Breslau, Imperial German warships sent to Constantinople to bolster the Turkish Navy. To get there, the two ships had to pass through the British-dominated Mediterranean pursued by the Royal Navy. War between Britain and Germany hadn't yet been declared, but both commanders knew it was coming.

I'm translating this to space. The commander of the Task Force has to escort a small group of ships to an allied system while dodging UN ships. Both sides are waiting for the word to start shooting. I'm aiming for a tense game of chess played out over many light years.

I'm world building now because I realized why my NaNoWrMo attempt failed last year: I wasn't ready. This time, I'm going to have all my world building, character development, and plot set. I'm using a program called Scrivener which serves as a great tool for organizing your writing and creating chapters and keeping track of your plots and subplots. I'm writing this on which is training me to write every day.

So come next November 1st, I'll be ready and armed for the task of writing 50,000 words in one month. I'm going to work on increasing my daily output from 750 or so words to around 1,400, which is the level you need to maintain to "win" NaNoWrMo. Along the way, I'll work on a few short stories and essays.

I'm ready to start writing. For real.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
Doing a little more world building for my eventual NaNoWrMo project. I plan to have everything ready to roll come November 1st. Setting, characters, plot and subplots laid out in Scrivener (a program I heartily endorse, by the way) so that I can start writing. That's part of the reason I'm doing 750 words, to get into that writing habit day after day. Get the word count up, work on my typing, and most of all cure myself of that insufferable urge to correct my mistakes as I go, as that always derails my train of thought.

So, today I'm going to look at the weaponry these ships will be carrying. Again, I'm going for a Golden Age of Battleships feel for the book. So recreating what a WWI battleship would be carrying is my main thrust, with a few exceptions for logic's sake.

The battle is going to be split into two "zones" in terms of weapons usage. Beyong about 10 light seconds (call it 3 million kilometers) combat will be carried out by Autonomous Attack Vehicles. These are the setting's equivalents of torpedo boats. An AAT is an unmanned carrier system for payloads attached to a big honking drive and guided both by internal programing and orders from the launching ship.

AATs are going to be fast, agile, and designed to get close enough to the target to launch attacks with nearly no time for response. The standard configuration is a "bus" system where the AAT carries smaller missiles with sprint engines and hyper-dense penetrators. These are the no-nonsense, kinetic kill weapons. They poke holes in things, and a AAT might carry twenty of them, all launched at once.

Other common packages are electronic warfare loads designed to degrade the enemy's sensors, senor platforms, packages that drop decoys that mimic AATs, and even big freaking fusion bombs to destroy large soft targets like space stations.

AATs are multi-use vehicles. It is expected that every attempt will be made to bring them back safely after an attack run. Any Captain who fritters away his AAT compliment will soon find himself flying a desk. Capital ships like battleships and dreadnoughts, won't carry many AAT tubes. Cruisers are the AAT-heavy ships, especially specialized missile cruisers flown by most navies.

Inside 10LS the battle shifts to energy weapons. The near univeral weapon is the gamma-ray laser, or graser. This is an extremely power burst of coherent gamma rays directed at a target. The weapons are rated by their effective output in Gigajoules (GJ). 1 GJ is equal in power to about 500 lbs of TNT. A typical main gun on a battle ship will put 200 GJ onto the target, or the equivalent of nearly 48 tons of TNT focused on a very small area. The grasers are fired in pairs from the same mounting, with the shots going out a fraction of a second apart, so the two blasts hit in close succession. Smaller mounts range from 5 to 40 GJ.

To power these shots, the guns are fed "shells" consisting of the lasing apparatus and and fusion power plant that consumes itself in creating the pulse of energy. The shots travel down a barrel that is a combination of wave guides and scattering protection to prevent damage to the firing battleship. These barrels would be 3 or 4 meters long for the big guns. The entire firing mechanism is in a turret that can rotate and track to place rounds where they are needed.

Which is exactly the feel I'm looking for. Because of the higher than normal reliance on human crews caused by the problems with hyperspace travel, the gun mounts are going to be hives of frantic activity in tight quarters as shells (I need a better word for those . . . cartridges? charges?) come up from the magazine, are placed into the firing chamber, all safety checks done, and fire! An outside observer wouldn't see anything, these beams are afar, far outside human vision. But I imagine that the impact would be spectacular to say the least.

There is a third many weapon system, rapid fire railguns that send streams of fire to destroy ATTs that get to close. These are mostly seen on smaller escort ships like destroyers and frigates, but a big ship will mount a few just in case. Generally, these are slaved to their own fire control systems and once given the clear by command, operate independently.

The one place you don't want to be in my book is between to flotillas slugging it out. Not at all healthy.

All comments and questions welcomed, as always.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
One of my favorite parts of writing is the world building phase. I love creating strange places and the people and things (and the things that are people) that inhabit those spaces. I steal gleefully from history for setting details and odd occurrences to throw in.

But I think my favorite thing is designing aliens. I'm using the word here to define anything other than a baseline human. Elves and dwarfs are aliens, as are those hyper-intelligent shades of green from Procyon. Because building these sort of things allows for great creativity.

One of the things I hate about most alien depictions is that they end up being humans in funny hats, to steal a line from TV Tropes. Oh, they might have weird heads or be CGI critters, but we can recognize their motivations and usually speak with them. Klingon honor is indistinguishable from human codes of honor. These are aliens! They should be, well, alien!

Take my favorite alien race from Traveller, as I was just talking about that yesterday. The K'kree. A hexapodal plains-dwelling race of militant vegans. The K'kree are gregarious to the point that just the thought of privacy makes them ill, claustrophobic as hell, and totally dedicated to the extermination or conversion of all meat-eaters in the galaxy.

You see, at the dawn of the K'kree's industrial age, a slower than light asteroid ship came to their world. Aboard were the G'naack (the K'kree name, means "carnivore" more or less) a species who saw Kiriur as an all you can eat BBQ. The war lasted centuries, and when it was over the K'kree were the survivors and they had a mission that had become beyond religious.

So tell me, would the K'kree trade with human kind? Exchange diplomatic pleasantries? Do anything other than send extermination fleet after extermination fleet towards the Third Imperium? Gateway Sector, where the Third Imperium and the 2,000 Words meet, should be a scene of near constant war, with smaller meeting engagements punctuated by horrific clashes of giant fleets. The worlds should be scoured of life as the K'kree fight to erase any human presence. A thriving trade in looting these shattered fleets and doomed world would attract adventurers willing to risk being stomped to death by K'kree military types in the hopes of striking it rich.

But instead we got a watered down version of this, where if you abstained from eating meat for several days, it was totally cool because the K'kree would ignore the existence of a few trillion meat-eating humans. That always bugged me no end.

Now when I do my own aliens, I look hard at what they are to begin to understand how they act. As an example, my race of sentient blimps (called Blimps by humans, their own language is a series of colors and shapes formed on their skin) evolved as grazers in swallow swamps and river deltas. They use long tentacles to grab both mooring points and food as they stride along. I decided that rather than having sex, Blimp females drop egg sacks in still waters, and males are attracted and fertilize them. Also, Blimps have distributed brain networks. Along with a large brain near the forward eye clusters, there are neural nodes all through the body. Blimps never sleep, completely. There's always some part of the brain that's awake. Which means that Blimps are awake and dreaming at the same time.

So here we have a race with no traditional family structure, as eggs and the spawn are community assets, a worldview that sees dreams and the waking world as one, and communicates by changing the patterns and colors of their skin. They are not going to have the same thoughts and goals as humans! Indeed, even once we figure out how to talk to them, it may be that we find them infuriatingly vague and other-worldly; while they find us to to be boring and rude. Artists would love the Blimps, and who knows, the Blimps might find some value in human visual arts.

Of course, Blimps use colors for mood enhancements. Since blue is the primary color of the swamps they live in, blue is the color a Blimp uses to hide, so it is associate with fear. Meaning they'd be quite confused by Picasso's Blue Period. Also, don't wear your red power tie to the meeting, Blimps use hydrogen to float, and they are a little touchy about fire-like colors. I love these guys, I just wish I could figure out how to write a book around them.
gridlore: The Imperial Sunburst from the Traveller role-playing game (Gaming - Sunburst)
Yesterday a man I was lucky to count as a friend and mentor passed away. I only ever met Loren Wiseman in the flesh once, and that was long before we had a professional relationship. But he was one of the architects of the role-playing games that I still love to this day, and as I told my mom on the phone, he was probably one of the guys she wanted to punch in the face when I was a teenager (I was just slightly obsessed with Traveller. Slightly.)

Ah, Traveller. When Craig came home from a local game convention with that iconic little black box and told me that he wanted to run a game for me, I was thrilled. It was the early summer of 1977. I wasn't quite 11 yet, and attention from my big brother that did not involve a pummeling was a good thing. I found out years later I was allowed to game only because his regular group wasn't interested in doing a science-fiction game.

But I rolled up a merchant named Beowulf Schaffer (yes, I was reading a lot of Larry Niven) and Craig had of course figured out a 3-D starmap based on the Known Worlds. I think that game lasted three or four sessions. But there were more to come, and eventually I rolled up the character who would stay with me for years, Captain Sir Arameth Gridlore, Master of the Free Trader Driver Carries No Cash. I played Gridlore in multiple games through the years, and I'm proud to say that the old ethically-challenged merchant has made it into several official Traveller publications.

Eventually, I had my own set of the rules, and used my weekly allowance to gather more and more Traveller stuff. This is where Loren comes back into the story. GDW, the publishers of Traveller and other fine games, started a magazine to support the game. The Journal of the Travellers Aid Society (JTAS) had short adventures, new aliens and equipment, and mostly articles that expanded the growing Third Imperium setting from a vague "there's an empire out there" to a living, breathing place. Loren was editing the magazine, and I didn't know it then, but his work honed my skills as a world builder.

Loren also was a great game designer in his own right. He did a series of war games set in Republican Rome, and was lead designer on a game called Twilight:2000. The setting of the game was central Europe in the aftermath of the Third World War and a limited nuclear exchange. The characters are soldiers in the US 5th Infantry Division who get a message from divisional command: "Good luck, you're on your own."

Needless to say this game was immensely popular at Fort Benning while I was stationed there. A game where all the officers are dead and we get all the cool stuff? Awesome! I still remember the day we were playing in the rec room at Delta, 3/7th Infantry. We had found an intact M109 self propelled artillery piece, and were having an argument over how fast it could shoot. Then we all remembered that right across from our barracks was the 2/10th Field Artillery. After confusing the staff Duty NCO, we eventually got a quick lecture on the vehicle and a spare Field Manual for it. All so we could blow up imaginary river pirates on the Vistula.

Fast forward several years. It is announced that Steve Jackson Games has gotten a license to produce a version of Traveller. Loren was going to be mostly in charge. The intial projects look great, and I'm checking the "writers wanted" section of the SJG website when I see a call for a GURPS Traveller book on the Imperial Army and Marines. With great trepidation I send in a proposed outline and writing sample. And wait. And wait. Finally, I summon the nerve to call SJG and speak to Loren, who remember is one of my idols, and ask him about it. "Oh, yeah, I'm giving you the contract." He may have said more words, but I had stopping having a functional brain.

Writing Ground Forces was a challenge. I had never tackled such a project before. Luckily, I was smart enough to ask for help from my fellow members of the Traveller Mailing List, and brave enough to pepper Loren with questions. Each one of which he answered fully. Ever written for publication? You send in your first draft and it comes back covered in red ink, possibly reeking of brimstone and charred at the edges. But mine also came with a note "You write like a pro! Fix these few problems, and we're all good!" Exactly what I needed to see.

I can never express how it felt to hold that first author's copy in my hands. It was a Traveller book with my name on it. It was a good book, and I'm proud to say that it's always been highly rated by Traveller fans. And it never would have happened without Loren Wiseman's guidance and patience. He'll be missed.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
Kirsten pointed me to 750 Words. This is my first try.

Testing one, two, three... I'm starting this as an exercise in getting words on the page, so to speak. Procrastination is my biggest foe. I find excuses to do anything but write. I need to check Facebook, I've got a good game of Civilization 6 going, whatever. The point is I want to write, and I want to get published.

One of the highlights of my life was writing GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces. It was a struggle, and Having someone like Steve Jackson, a legend in the gaming industry, write "STUPID, remove this" on your draft submission was not encouraging. But I soldiered on, pushing myself to make this book, the one I was destined to write, the best book I could.

And it paid off. Ground Forces was well received and I'm shocked at how people consistently rate it as one of the best Traveller products ever. I've had people come up to me and ask for autographs. At the 2014 Burning Man, I actually met a fan of my work in the plaza at the base of the Man. It's rather strange but satisfying.

That was 17 years ago. Oh, I have my excuses. I was working as a truck driver and was too tired to write. No gaming company wanted what I was offering. I was too sick to write, or had too much to do. The simple fact is that I was putting things off because as usual, my fear of failure was pushing me to not even try. This is a problem I've dealt with all my life. Rather than attempt something and accept failure, I've avoided the possibility of being embarrassed by my failures.

But now I'm running out of excuses. I'm also running out of time. In 2013 I suffered a stroke. That, and my other copious health problems, have made me aware of my own mortality. I need to do the work so I can say "I am a published science fiction/fantasy author" before I die. Just like holding that first copy of Ground Forces in my hands was magical, I expect that seeing my name on table of contents for a magazine like Analog or Strange Horizons would be equally amazing.

A Hugo Award wouldn't hurt, either. Just saying.

So, I'm going to write daily. Much of it will be gibberish. Much of it will suck rocks through a bendy straw. No matter. The stuff I like will be shared on my Dreamwidth. The other stuff . . . well, let's just say I'm happy that 750 words is private. This will also be useful for my writing group, as I'm expected to show up at each session with something to read. This will let me keep up with my amazing friend Rafael, a 93 year old USMC veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, who never fired a shot in anger in his career. The Marines found out he could type when he entered the service in 1943, and that sealed his fate. Rafael shows up every week with multiple pieces, sometimes as many as eight or nine, that he types out on an old typewriter. Surely I can keep up with him! Maybe.

What am I going to write about here? Some of it will be stuff like this, stream of consciousness thoughts and ideas. I'll be doing some world building for a setting I'm working on. I might review books and movies. Sometimes, I'll just rant about something. Most of the time I'll be trying to hone my story-telling skills. I need to work getting my words to paint a picture. I know I can do it. When Ground Forces came out there was one piece of art that made me squeal with joy. i had written a description of how prospective Imperial Marines began their combat training with spears and knives, to hone their awareness of their surroundings and build a hunter's instincts. One of the artist drew two marines pushing through thorny vines with spear, and the sheer look of exhaustion on their faces was *exactly* what I was going for. I believe I pointed at the picture and said "those are my words!"

This is the challenge I set for myself. A daily ritual of getting words out of my damaged brain through to my blazing two-fingered typing and onto the screen. I honestly don't know where this will lead. I do get badges for keeping up the work, and National Novel Writing Month is coming up again in November, so maybe this year I'll see it through.

As always, I'm thinking of it as an adventure.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
Doing a little thought as to how to recreate the tensions of a WWI era naval pursuit in an interstellar setting. Let's start with the drive and it's effects.

1. Drives can reach up to about 500c. However, maintenance and fuel requirements rise sharply in drives designed for the highest speeds.

2. Entering or exiting hyperspace requires a local gravity field of at least .000006g. Entry and exit can be pushed in high fields, but it's hard on the equipment. Ships trying to push deep past the hyper rim can be forced out of hyperspace without warning.

3. Hyperspace is damaging. Ships and people in transit begin to suffer effects of hyperspace after several days of travel. Early symptoms are headaches, numbness or tingling in extremities, nausea, and vision or hearing issues. The longer a trip continues, the more severe the issues become. Extended voyages can result in permanent brain damage or death. Electronic systems on ships are also disrupted, though they can be better shielded.

4. Additionally, ships exiting hyperspace are subject to "terminus shock." This is a sudden attack of hyperspace sickness, causing everyone on a ship emerging from hyperspace to be stunned or nauseated for as long as several minutes. Those already suffering from severe effects of travel can be killed by this shock. The deeper a ship goes past the hyper rim, the more severe the shock.

5. Speed increases the onset of negative effects of travel. The pilots of high-speed couriers tend to have short careers and amazing health care plans.

So, we have a set up where ships will need to plot courses that minimize their time in hyperspace. Which means controlling access to certain stars will be quite lucrative as trade will funnel through them.

Now, interstellar communications. FTL comms exist, but they are limited.

1. The power and plant requirements for a true FTL sending station are massive.

2. The systems that can afford them usually build them on asteroids or moons close to the hyper rim. These stations tend to be fortified.

3. The system has limited bandwidth. Messages tend to be telegraph-short.

4. Stations can broadcast or aim a message at another station.

5. Messages move at about 10,000c

6. Larger ships can carry receivers. This allows them to get messages even when moving in hyperspace.

7. Due to limitations, these tend to be three letter code groups, like used with ballistic missile subs. As an example:

RQD (All 3rd Fleet Units)
YYT (War Plan Case Ocher)
SNW (Rendezvous Wolf 359)

In which case every ship of the 3rd Fleet would open their safes, pull out Case Ocher, and plot courses to Wolf 359.

More to come.
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
This is the background story for my latest Dungeons & Dragons character. He is a Warlock, which is a magic-using character who gets his powers from a pact with a powerful eldritch entity that isn’t a god: A powerful fairy, a Lord of Hell, or something from a far plane of reality. All places are fictional, and taken from the Forgotten Realms setting.

It's also a bit of an experiment in writing style, going from 3rd to 1st person in telling the story.

Contracts Under Pressure )

And since I'm addicted to in-jokes, the characters full name is Porte u'Marinaio. Which is Corsican for Popeye the Sailor.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
I've given up on my NaNoWriMo project. Simple fact is I got derailed by some health issues and the election. Also, I keep trying to make myself write science fiction, and it's really not my genre for writing. I may try my hand at urban fantasy. Without the pressure of meeting a 50,000 words in a month.

For those of you who paid into the Istanbul fund with the promise of being Tuckerized, I'll be in contact about the new project.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
The novel I failed at last year is returning, only this time I'm actually planning things in advance.

For each character I'm writing a short description and synopsis of what their motivation is. I'm also going to be creating an "action grid" of sorts; so I can place each character and the two MacGuffins in each chapter. I'll be color-coding for main plot, background action, and things that happen off-stage but are important. This is going to be sort of a SF Noir thriller, so I'm going to be juggling several threads. I'll probably flowchart the plot as well.

No, here's a question. The plot concerns a plot by a corrupt corporation to turn over several dozen genetic samples to a rather nasty culture that has done bad things with genetic engineering. The bad guys want these samples to gain an edge in the constant internal feuding over who is the best. One faction gaining control and building better monsters means an eventual war. So our heroes need to infiltrate the site of the meeting, play a con game to become part of the bidding, and replace the actual samples with flawed ones. Stealing the payoff is a bonus.

So how big would a container holding say sixty isolated DNA samples be? Assume the need to keep them stable outside a lab for at least four days. Gym bag? Large dufflebag?
gridlore: (Burning_Man)
So, how was your summer? Mine was great right up until last Monday. And by “great” I mean I had unnecessary surgery, never really went anywhere, and mostly hid in my apartment. But there was one shining beacon on the horizon: Burning Man! Yes, ten days of glorious art and weirdness and. . . and. . . waiting in line for five hours to get in followed by daily dust storms with 45mph winds.

But even at that, I was at the Burn! Me and 70,000 other weirdos soaking up the goodness and fun. I was kissed by not one but two hot European young ladies (one from Rome, the other London), took part in restocking some of the 1,500 porta-potties in a howling dust storm, and despite an apocalyptic storm on Burn Night the Man Burn was a thing of beauty.

Yes, everything was fine until Monday, when we started tearing down our camp. This is where my troubles began. First of all, we brought far too much water. The suggested 1.5 gallons per person per day is aimed at the younger, more active set. As dancing ‘til dawn to crappy electronic dance music wasn’t on our agenda, we ended up with a lot of water. We gave away two 7-gallon containers - filled - to a campmate who just wanted the extra weight to balance his trailer for the trip home. The other two, which we like better ergonomically, were just loaded onto the truck full. That left our 5-gallon water cooler. It was about a quarter full, and kind of gritty (that dust gets everywhere!). So, being the helpful guy I am, I picked it up to carry it out to our greywater evaporator.

And promptly tripped on my hydration backpack. We had been discussing replacing the camelbacks with insulated bottles earlier, and I think the packs heard us. I go flying, and immediately lose proprioception in my right leg. I was a bit stressed. Left foot comes down fine, I drive my right foot into the densely-packed Playa. Hard.

Funny thing about peripheral neuropathy: when it comes to my legs, everything hurts. All the time. So I just shrugged it off and limped over to where Kirsten was sitting. We peeled my boot off to inspect the damage. No discoloration, no swelling. No way I’m getting my boot back on, so we switch to the shoes I’m supposed to wear in Reno. Hurts like a bitch, but with some help from campmates, we get out of Black Rock City and head for Reno!

Which is where I realize things are getting worse. Wednesday, Kirsten had an appointment for a facial, and then we were off to the local ER! I take her to the best places on vacation. After a set of X-rays, the doctor comes in and says “You really did a number on your foot.” Folks, I didn’t break a bone. I didn’t break two bones. No, friends and neighbors, I broke my 2, 3, & 4 metatarsals! Big time! Which is why I have this giant horking splint and a new silly way of getting around. 50 years old and this is the first time I’ve ever broken a bone.

But when I related this story to people, they seemed kind of let down. “Doug,” they said in one collective voice, “that’s so mundane. We expect more from you.”

Right. Buckle your seatbelts and read the back of your ticket.

Twas the night of the Man Burn, and all were drawn as close as we were allowed around the iconic figure of Man, brightly lit in red neon. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a monster dust storm blew up! The wrath of the Playa was upon us! That’s when I saw her: a little blind Girl Scout carrying a backpack of what I assumed were adulterated cookies, being led astray by her guide dog, who apparently broke the first rule of Burning Man: ask what’s in the food. Disregarding the storm, I lept from the truck, racing across the perimeter as gale force winds battered me.

Blinded by dust, I pressed on! But then, disaster! The static electricity from the storm ignited the fireworks on the Man, and the whole thing burst into flames! Now I wasn’t just fighting the wind and scourge of the dust, but fire tornadoes were now whipping across the desert floor. Clothing burned from (most of) my body, I swept the little girl (who turned out to be just 18, lucky me!) and her stoner dog up into my arms to race back to the now-cheering crowd. . .

That’s when the Paiute attacked. Upset about burners using Pyramid Lake without the proper permits, the entire reservation came at us on SUVs and ATVs and other Three Letter Acronyms. Having only Adventure Cane and an encyclopedic knowledge of Errol Flynn movies to guide me, I fought off the taco-selling tribe while forcing my way to the safety of the L3K line!

Where I tripped over some moron’s abandoned bike and broke my foot.

The End.
Brought to you by Vicodin and my clumsiness.

My video of Burn Night:
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Illuminati!)
Douglas E. Berry - Creative Writing
11 JAN 16

The Bar Story Every Science-Fiction Author Has To Write

I really don’t like large parts of the World Science Fiction Convention. Oh, the panels are always excellent, seeing internet friends in person is great, and you can find anything in the dealers room. . . but the sheer size of things puts me off. Just too many people in close quarters.

So I had decided to forego the human sardine tin that was the party floor in favor of relaxing at the hotel bar. Luckily, the bar in this hotel had non-alcoholic beer and really good nachos. Sitting in a comfy chair people-watching was a good way to kill a few hours.

I was enjoying my relative private time until this guy plops down in the chair across me. It’s a free country, and an open bar, so I couldn’t complain. I tried to go back to watching the parade of fans in the lobby, but this guy was staring at me.

“Can I help you with something?” I asked in my best ‘go away and leave me alone’ voice.

The guy gave me a really crazy smile. “You’re Douglas Berry!”

“Guilty as charged. . . do I know you?”

“No, no. But I’m very familiar with your body of work.”

My body of work? I’ve sold three short stories and some role-playing material. Unless this guy worked for one of the contractors I used to haul material to, I had no idea what he was talking about. I took a closer look. He looked like any other fan attending the con - smartphone, badge festooned with ribbons, old convention t-shirt. . . That’s when I did a double-take. The shirt was from MidAmeriCon, the 1976 Worldcon, and it was brand new. The stranger leaned forward, and I could see that his name badge read Demanu Meatempus. I took a swig of my O’Doul’s, wishing it was something harder. This guy was starting to weird me out. “Okay, who are you, and what do you mean my body of work?”

The strange guy laughed. “I’m gonna tell you a story, and you aren’t gonna believe me, but I swear to you every word is true. I’m from the future, and I have a gift for you.”

“Unless it’s a sports almanac so I can get rich betting on the World Series, I don’t know what you could possibly have for me.”

“Well, I could have financial information to help you invest; but no, I brought you something far more up your alley. Y’see, in my time, you are remembered as one of the Grandmasters of Science Fiction. A visionary. Possibly the greatest futurist ever to write.”

“Well, you’re full of shit, but I like your story. Please, tell me how great I am.”

Another laugh. “Oh, I could go on for hours, but I will tell you that I’m a recipient of the Douglas E. Berry Writers of the Future Award.”

“Isn’t that the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award?”


Now I was the one laughing. “OK, there is hope for the future. Let me buy you a beer.” Demanu peered at the menu as I waved over one of the servers. With some trepidation, he told the waiting server “I’ll have a. . . Heineken?” Except he pronounced it ‘He-in-ek-in.’ A fan who doesn’t know beer at all? This was beginning to get spooky. The server just rolled her eyes and left, returning quickly with a familiar green bottle. He took a sip and grimaced slightly.

“But back to it. You are a time traveller from some undetermined point in the future. . .”

“August 27th, 2568.”

“. . . right, and you’ve come here because I’m going to be a famous SF writer. Why not go see if Jesus really rose from the tomb? Or if Benjamin Bathurst really did walk around the horses?” I popped a nacho in mouth in triumph, only to have to slam the remains of my fake beer when it came loaded with a jalapeno. Demanu grinned.

“Time crashes. Think about it. We came up with time travel in the early 26th century, and based on evidence, we still have it three million years from now. Think about how many millions of people have tried to view or record the Resurrection. The entire era is a black hole. Same for Bathurst, except that time crashes seem to have caused him to vanish, possibly to a parallel timeline. Almost all the really interesting periods have been crashed, and the more attempts to look, the bigger the crash. I’m a historian. I’m researching the early phase of the Ideology Wars, and this is as close as I can get to the 11 September attacks! Being able to meet you, and help you, was just a bonus.”

He took another polite sip of his beer. “But my research time is up. This is for you.” He pulled a thumb drive out of a pocket and handed it to me. “Keep it chilled when you’re not using it. It has the complete political, economic, and military history of the next 400 years along with detailed explanations of the technological achievements we’ve made. There are major gaps - the Ideology Wars caused a lot of data to be lost - but there’s enough there to keep you going for years.”

Demanu glanced at the clunky watch on his wrist. “Whoops! Less time than I thought!” He stood and began to walk away before turning back. “To think I met the legend, Douglas Eugene Berry!” Then he sort of folded sideways and vanished.

“But my middle name is Edward!” I was speaking to an empty space. I looked at the thumb drive sitting in my hand with mounting horror. I write as Douglas E. Berry. He had found the wrong guy. Or had he? A lot of data had been lost, he said; maybe that included my correct name. Or was there a Douglas Eugene Berry somewhere who wasn’t going to be a Grandmaster of Science Fiction because this guy made the wrong connection?

Consequences be damned, I grabbed the departed Demanu’s barely-touched beer and drained it. Tomorrow, my pancreas might throw a hissy fit over the booze. Tomorrow was time to examine what was on the thumb drive and think about what to do. Tomorrow was a day to start writing about it.

After all, I am the Writer of the Future.
gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
Yes, another fundraising post.

I'm working on a novel for NaNoWriMo. Working title is The Prophet Principle and it's a SF thriller/caper novel. I will finish this and publish it through Createspace. But here's the thing. . .

I suck at names. I tend to use name generators, which are fine, but I would prefer to both do something fun and raise some money for the trip. So I'm selling naming rights. I have about ten characters who will be in most of the book. About half will die along the way. Here's the deal.

For $250 donation to the fund, I'll name my protagonist after you, or whoever you want. I'll take your description or photo, any mannerisms or quirks, and write them in. Note the character is a confidence artist and thief.

For a $100 donation to the fund, You get to name one of the supporting characters. Same as above. Some of these characters have roles established, so we might have to find a good fit.

For $50, your name gets mentioned. Somewhere. Random bartender, Krazy [name]'s Used Starships, mook who gets killed and his mate goes nuts screaming "They killed [name]!" As above, but details will be limited.

When you make your kind donation, comment with "character." Kirsten will send you my email so we can have some fun. When the book is published, I'll autograph a copy and mail to all the people who became part of it.

I'll be honest; this book is unlikely to win a Hugo, or sell more than a few dozen copies. But I think it will be fun and I am determined to be published.

So please consider making a donation! We are still a few hundred dollars way from maxing out the donation match challenge from Earth Baby, so your donation will count double!

We just found out there is a book and map marketplace next to the Grand Bazaar. We need the money.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Atheism - God)
Had a fun assignment for my writing group. Everyone was to write a short piece, not more than a page and a half, all using the title "Angels in Hell." As expected, about half changed the title or put their names on their work. The works were read at random and we had to guess who wrote what. I was surprised that so few people identified my work, I thought my style was distinctive. Anyway, here it is:

Angels in Hell

“I remember being killed. Is that weird? I was walking off stage at the Indiana State Fair. Posing for pictures, shaking hands. Then I get punched in the back, fall off the stage into the mud. All I remember after that is the press of people and all of them screaming for someone to call 9-1-1.”

The man behind the desk, the one who had greeted me when I woke up in this nice office, smiled. “Not at all, Colby! Those who die when awake usually remember their last moments in the flesh. It’s the people who die in their sleep that drive us here in Receiving and Orientation nuts; usually takes hours to convince them that they aren’t dreaming.”

Sam - he had told me his name when I showed up - laughed at some joke only he was getting. I pressed on. “Just to be clear here, and meaning no offense, did you say I’m in Hell? Not quite what I was expecting. I’m not sure if I should even be here! I led a life of public service!”

Sam was leafing through a thick file that hadn’t been there before. “Oh, you belong here. Colby Garrand, junior United States Senator for Michigan, former Governor of Michigan, former Deputy DA for Oakland County. At the time of your death, you were on your way to the Republican nomination for President. Seems you lied, backstabbed, and cheated your way to the top.” Sam peered at me over the top of the file folder. He had very dark eyes. “A man after my own heart, really. Know what you haven’t asked?”

I shook my head.

“You haven’t asked who shot you. It was Miles Matthews, nephew of Frank Matthews, the man you railroaded into prison and death.”

I shot to my feet. “Now you hold on one darn minute. . .”

Sam also lept out of his chair. He was very big. “No, YOU wait. You withheld evidence from the defense, you intimidated witnesses and you bribed a judge. Then, as Governor, you manipulated the parole board. Frank Matthews was innocent, and he died in an attack in a prison workshop. That alone gets you into Hell.” Suddenly this wasn’t funny. My mouth got very dry. I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat.

Sam noticed my distress and produced a couple of beers. “Now, let’s talk eternal punishment! Since both your exes are in Heaven, you’ll be assigned a bachelor pad. You’ll be close to the library - which has everything ever written - and a rec center. Oh, I’ve taken the liberty in enrolling you in the Infernal Bar Association. Lawyers in Hell, who knew, right?” Sam laughed at his joke. “Mostly it’s a debate forum and drinking society. Now what else do we have here. . .”

“Bar Association? Rec center? What kind of punishment is this?” I couldn’t help myself.
Sam looked up. “Oh, that. Excuse me for a moment.” He stood up and left the room.
Before I could wonder where he had gone, I was suddenly enveloped in a blanket of pure love and protection. Infinite love, freely given, as old as creation. Then it stopped. I fell to the floor as Sam reentered. “Please!” I babbled, “Please do that again! I’ll pay anything! Anything!”

Sam considered me from the edge of his desk. “No, that was your one shot. That was what you gave up; that was the presence of God. You could have had that for eternity.” He pulled me back into my chair. “Know why we Fallen hate you so much? You’ll get over this. You’ll heal. It’s the gift that we fought the Throne for, the Free Will denied to us. We won the war, did you know that? But in the peace we were exiled to watch you termites build a new nest. What you just felt is our birthright, and you cast it off in pursuit of temporal power and pleasure.” Behind me a door swung open. “This entry interview is over. Get out. Take your reception packet and leave.”

I hurried out the door, clutching the thick envelope of papers that had popped into my hands. Behind me, before the door could close, I could faintly hear Sam sobbing.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Bosch)
Trying to write this morning. This is what I got.

The lad fancies himself a poet )

gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)

This is a bit that was sparked by a discussion at my writing group. I'm not going to try to sell it, because I've read any number of similar stories in the past. I'm just trying to get into the habit of always writing when a story idea hits me. Comments and criticism welcome. As I was checking for typos I realized that the Shade itself was inspired by the Domination win video from Civilization IV.

The Shade )


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

April 2017

2 3456 78
91011 12 13 1415
1617 181920 2122


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated 24 Apr 2017 11:18
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios