Tag Archives: short stories

Human Wave, Pushing the Boundaries, and Themes of Hope

Human Wave Science Fiction is an interesting group. I remember reading the original post by Sarah Hoyt (here) and going, well, duh. Some part of me wondered what other kinds of books were out there… I mean, I knew that people wrote wretched books and short stories designed to torment kids in English class, but I didn’t think anyone actually wrote those anymore.

Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, there’s been a lot of ruckus between the Hugos, the SFWA, and various other esoteric items in regards to the Science Fiction Community. Me, up until a few years ago, I hadn’t realized that there was such a thing as a “Science Fiction Community” I just read the books and authors I liked and looked for more. Occasionally I’d find one with a fancy award strapped to the cover, glance at the back, wonder why someone gave it an award and put it back.

I remember reading older books that had awards. Ender’s Game and a few Heinlein books for example. I thought they were pretty good. I didn’t really remember any newer books that were the same, but I didn’t really think much about it. What I knew was that I like books that were fun, exciting, that gave me a glimpse at a future that was, well, if not bright and shiny, at least full of possibilities.

That’s what Science Fiction is about, right? The endless possibilities? Exploring space, pushing the boundaries of human understanding in a way that science is supposed to do, just in a story format that leads the reader along and adventure while exploring the possibilities. The books I read growing up were all about the possibilities… where as now, I see a lot of books which are the opposite. Hope is dead… dystopian futures where war, plague, zombies, the internet, environmental disasters, evil corporations, evil governments, evil unicorn aliens, and all the rest have destroyed all that is good and happy in the universe, leaving the characters to struggle to survive. Victory, in many of these stories, is not about actually winning. Seldom do the heroes craft a better world or even better circumstances. Often these stories end in morally ambiguous conclusions where the reader is left to scramble at straws.

Where I see this the worst is in young adult books. The trend is a dark, depressing outlook on a world without a future, where the struggle to survival is littered with morally ambigious characters who teach us to lie, murder, and above all, don’t stand out, don’t attract attention, and most of all, that no one can change the course of history. Where comes this darkness that has so infested literature? I mean, I know there were books like these, but again, I thought it was all just some sort of sick joke played by English teachers, not that anyone actually wanted to read these sorts of things.

I can see why there is that trend in YA literature, especially. There’s some attraction to the dark, nihilistic tendencies, especially with kids going through those angsty years of ‘no one understands me.’ The thing is… maybe we shouldn’t encourage that. Growing out of that stage, coming to see that there is hope, that we can make something of ourselves, is part of growing up. Reading books that inspire and tell fun, exciting stories are part of that, in my opinion. If we allow our society to drown in the echoes of apocalypses without showing any light at the end of the tunnel, we basically tell them to stop looking up, that there is no hope… that all we build is for naught.

I’m of the opposite opinion. One of my favorite quotes is from Sir Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” What we build, now, is what the generations that follow can further build upon. There is hope for the future, that every year grows brighter and with more possibilities. We truly live in an age of wonders… and we need to tell stories that encourage that wonder. Not stories about crumbling empires and dystopian, tyranical futures. Stories where the characters face challenges, yes, but stories where the characters build and work towards a brighter future as well. Hope seems to be gone from a vast swath of fiction… we, as authors, need to bring that back.

Renegades: Compendium I

I’ve been doing a little thinking.  A dangerous pasttime, I know.  Still, from looking at sales over the past few months, I’m thinking about compiling my Renegades novellas into one omnibus and selling them in that form.  This would  be the first five novellas: Deserter’s Redemption, The Gentle One, Declaration, Ghost Story, and A Murder of Crowes.  It would also contain some exclusive short stories (Fool’s Gold a short story from Anubus’s perspective, Runner which is already available in my free fiction section, and a couple others).  I’ll probably do a compare and contrast and see reader’s preferences (judged by both comments and sales).  If this goes well, I’ll publish the future novellas this way as well.

Renegades: Compendium I would be released to coincide with Renegades: A Murder of Crowes.  Expect both in early April.

Renegades, Psychics, and Aliens, oh my…

The current series that has most of my attention is what I call the Mira universe. I’ve got one completed novel and six novellas as well as five or six short stories set in this universe. This is the universe in which the series Renegades is set. It is also the setting for the book The Fallen Race, coming soon to a Kindle near you. Additionally, I’ve got two more novels outlined and nearing completion in the same universe.

What is so interesting about this universe? I’m glad you asked. The Mira universe is set several hundred years in the future. I’ve set most of my stories in times of either great social upheaval or moments where military combat is common… and sometimes both. These are times where humanity, as a race, is at a cusp, the points where the actions of a few can turn the balance and change the fates of millions.

There’s some other fun things about this universe, both as a writer, and I hope, for those of you who read it. There are boundaries to explore, new worlds, distant space, and of course, the boundaries of the human mind and body. Some humans have developed psychic abilities, and they are a powerful minority. Dealing with the fear and uncertainty that normal people feel for those who can alter their perceptions or read their thoughts adds a layer of social dynamics. In addition, the psychics themselves deal with tough questions as they explore what it really is to be human… and if they really qualify. There are renegades and outcasts of all types: mutants, deserters, pirates and mercenaries. These men and women are often the dregs of society. However, the societal upheavals often put them in positions where they are given opportunities to redeem themselves… or to become scourges who write their names in blood across countless worlds.

And then there are the aliens. There are five highly advanced races that humans have encountered in this future. The Chxor are the emotionless and implacable invaders, who seek to supplant humanity as the reigning power. The Ghornath are friendly if temperamental, eight limbed and three meters tall, generous and honorable, and the most relatable to humans. The Wrethe are violent sociopaths, each a militantly individualistic carnivore that views even their own species as prey. The Iodans are alien and almost incomprehensible. And the Balor are the unknown menace, their advanced weapons and technology sweeps aside human defenses and seems determined to make humanity extinct. Exploring these alien races allows me, as a writer, to explore humans better. When confronted by the unknown and the alien, what responses do the characters have… and what similarities do we see in even the most alien of species?

In both the Renegades series and the upcoming novel The Fallen Race, humanity is pinched between two hostile alien races, both of which will bring about the extinction of our race. Human space is fractured, with the various nations embroiled in wars with one another. Technology is on the decline, as aliens and civil wars have destroyed key infrastructure. Piracy is common, indeed, the most powerful pirates are the Shadow Lords, human psychics whose fleets loot entire worlds and drag away the populations to be their thralls. Civilization is on the decline… the barbarians are at the gates.
The Renegades is a series that explores the efforts of a handful. In feudal Japan, they might be called ronin. In the American West, they would be desperadoes or gunslingers. These are men and women and a few aliens who have no home, no place. They are — with some exceptions — bad people who do bad things. Yet they also have the power to change history. They are people with nothing left to lose… and that makes them very dangerous.

The Fallen Race is similar in concept. It follows the crew of the battleship War Shrike, of the Nova Roma Empire. The ship is cut off after an ambush, heavily damaged and left without support. The ship’s captain is considered little better than a traitor by his own nation, despite numerous heroics, and his family’s history lays over his every accomplishment like a burial shroud. Yet they struggle to take a stand, to halt the steady grind of history before it churns everything they know and care about into the mud.

As a writer, both series allow me to explore the setting. The characters are products of their time, often flawed, sometimes tragically so, they are people, and their emotions and experiences feel as real and raw as those of real people. Everyone has a story; from the Pirate Tommy King, whose every good deed goes wrong, to the psychic Kandergain, whose own mother turned her into a weapon. There is a history here, which I love to explore, one that I hope to share with my readers… and I hope it is as fun to you as it is for me.

So, that’s what I’m working on now. Welcome, and feel free to look around. There will be a short story added to the free fiction section in the near future, something of a prequel to the events of Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.