Tag Archives: scifi

Friday Fiction: Editing My NaNo Attempt

Welcome to the first of my regular updates. That is, each Friday I will post fiction that I am working on, whether that be edits or something fresh, and invite you to share your own. Every Saturday will be about what I have been reading, from article suggestions to book reviews. Sunday will be for musings—anything that I’ve come up with during the week, or feel needs to be expressed. Think of them as opinion drafts.

For my first post I’ve gone back and edited the beginnings of my NaNo attempt (going strong, by the way). I would post my original splurge, but that would be annoying. Instead, please enjoy the first 600 or so words of my very first novel, The Solar Saloon (and maybe suggest a better title!). You can check up on my progress here.

 Zinc flew above the regolith, the stars at his back. He focused on an incoming pole, reached out with long arms in anticipation. He was good at this, judged it perfectly. Slender fingers crept quickly around it, and with the momentum he had, Zinc swung right around as a meteoroid does a planet.

With a gymnast’s kick he let go and flung himself towards the next obstacle. He could hear his sisters laughing ecstatically. Smiling stoically, he extended his body as much as he could. Three hoops were coming up, and he would have to adjust his flight perfectly in order to get through them all. The noise of his siblings stopped while they held their breath.

One hoop. A few spurts from the gas jets.

The second hoop. A few more in the other direction.

Then Zinc thought of a better idea.

As he passed through the last circle, he sprung open, latching his fingers around the top of the hoop and snapping his torso back. Spinning round and round he heard a gasp from one of his sisters. His vision flashed from the black of space to the grey-blue of home. Slowly he relaxed and came to a stop, perched daintily on the apex. Beryl and Vana clap silently. In zero-g the only sounds that carry have to jump from comm-unit to comm-unit. He opened a link with them.

“Good?” he said.

“Very good!” said Vana.

“No, very, very good!” said Beryl, pushing her sister. The younger sibling floated a few metres before managing to land back on firm ground.

“Careful you two,” Zinc said. He twitched.

“Sorry Z-” Zinc nodded his helmet towards Vana.

“I mean, sorry Vana.”

“That’s OK, I coulda got back anyway, even without my hook!” She put her hands on her hips and patted the little gun on her hip. Zinc doubted that, but he always admired Vana’s spirit. Sometimes he wished his sisters wouldn’t look up to him so much, but since they did he put on a bit of a show. He preferred watching them try to equate themselves with the playground. He knew it back to front.

“C’mon Zinc, show us something else!”

Zinc declined. Instead, he jumped down, regolith bursting up in slow motion where his feet landed. He swung both arms back and did a little bow, which was his way of saying, “Show me what you got.”

Taking a seat on top of a largish rock, Zinc watched his sisters leap clumsily on to the equipment. His creation. It was an odd mix of metallic frames and bright plastic shapes. Tubes and tunnels, poles and planks. He’d even managed to make some of it go under the surface; he was particularly proud of that little innovation.

Zinc stared up past the outlines and the squabbling girls, into the dotted dark that was the sky. Making patterns was one of his favourite ways of passing the time. There were so many dots, changing all the time. There, two little girls holding hands. To the left of that, a fork, no, a spanner. He often tried to connect the stars in a perfect circle, just to see if he could. That was a hard one, and he’d only managed once. But there was one symbol that kept coming up.

That of a man. It was distinct more than any other formation, and he always saw it. It was too perfect not to have been placed there.

A scream ripped into his ear, a high-pitched scream laced with fear.

Beryl.

Zinc immediately refocused.

There was Vana, barely holding on to a spinning stick. He jumped down, and within three long strides he had skipped to her side. Placing a hand on Vana, he turned her to look into his faceplate.

“She just let go!” Zinc could see the fear. Or maybe that was a reflection.

Spinning around, he spied Beryl’s whiteness against the great black. She was screaming and yelling and hollering and Zinc had to force her link closed. Without wasting a second he launched himself after her. He had the greater speed, and would definitely catch her–but could they get back?

If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month please link a part of your own story, something you’re particularly proud of.

With that, I’ll leave you with a quote from George Orwell:

In a time of universal deceit— telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

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To Greener Pastures

This blog isn’t only about writing; it’s also about what I’ve been reading. And the last book I’ve devoured (is it bad to admit that I chew on bookmarks?) is Green Mars.

The second in Kim Stanley Robinson‘s Mars trilogy, it focuses on the rebellious and quite literally underground lives of both settlers and natives of the Red Planet. There are none of the massive set-pieces that gave the first book such vivid and exciting hooks. Instead we focus on a planet that is both undergoing radical change by humans, and affecting change in the humans that inhabit it. It is a much more character driven novel (spoiler: unlike the first none of the protagonists are killed off!) with fantastic transitions that mirror a society in flux. After the horrendous uprising of 2061 that saw the majority of Martian cities destroyed and most of the original populace driven to hiding, we finally get to see the effects of terraforming en masse. But it is the heroes of this world that are the most enthralling.

Sax

The man behind the terraforming efforts, Sax sees the greatest character arc. From mild yet stringent supporter of the total transformation of Mars, he is moulded both physically and mentally by an array of challenges. Cooped up under the Southern Pole, he wants to continue his scientific forays. So, with the help of the Swedes (God bless ’em) he gets a new personality, and through plastic surgery becomes another persona all together. A much sexier persona. When on the surface again he gains the affections of Phyllis, another member of the First Hundred (the first 100 colonists of Mars). A devilish woman, they begin an affair, one that Sax finds both discomfortingly new, but satisfyingly exuberant. Eventually his cover is blown, and he is horribly tortured. Recovered by his friends, he begins life again at about the age of 110. Here he begins yet another metamorphosis—he becomes a bit of a bad ass. Having witnessed the blooming of life on Mars, he takes his studies and research to new levels. He both cultivates this blooming, and plans to defend it. He becomes accepting of other points of views, putting his vast knowledge to actual use. Sax is definitely the most interesting character in the whole series so far, actually growing to be a better, more influential person. I look forward to what becomes of him in Blue Mars.

Nirgal

A new character, born on the red soil, Nirgal is the son of Hiroko (self-proclaimed Mother Goddess of Mars). The book opens on his childhood, however short it ends up being. We get a good sense of the openness of this society through Nirgal. Sexuality is freely explored, relationships malleable and ever-changing (often used for political gain), and knowledge the keenest of pursuits. The images of these children of Mars are fantastic indeed. They are gangly beings due to both the gravity and genetics. Strong, sexual, and scheming, these are the young folks who will truly create a Free Mars. Moving on from a blustery beginning Nirgal becomes a powerful and much-loved man. We see a true leader born through other-worldliness. With the young there is hope.

Ann

Though we do not share much of Ann’s point of view, I found her fall into extremism fascinating. She is the polar opposite to Sax: vehemently against terraforming, and firm in the belief that the planet should have been left precisely as it had been found. But change is inevitable, as we see in Sax. Ann, however, changes little, only going further and further into her defensive shell. Perhaps it was the death of her husband that sent her over, much like it affects Nirgal (there are many, many threads through the books). Either way, we witness someone who refuses to change, to adapt, and in so doing may cause more harm than good.

And this is just the start. Robinson lets us spend time with the elusive Coyote (a terribly boisterous rogue), the firm, moody, and captivating Maya (a second favourite to Sax), and the solid Nadia. If there is anything that I will take away from this book (apart from the endlessly juicy discussions on global politics, economics, sociology and more) it’s how to write your characters. There are so many flaws, intertwined in so many relationships that nothing ‘cool’ has to happen. The people reflect the planet, and the planet reflects them.

To quote the natives:

There is no going back.

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Not an ebook in Sight

First up, my haul from the MWF. Couple of nice freebies; I may have to subscribe to Cosmos.

Sweet loot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then two books arrived in the mail today: Green and Blue Mars. The question is, can I resist them to finish what I’m already reading (UnLunDun)?

Temptation incarnate.

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