Posts Categorized: Feature Article

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Intentions
(or, This is What I Meant)

What if I wrote an epic fantasy series that grounded readers first in the familiar, then took them to the stuff I’m doing that I feel is unique and new?

The journey to Trial of Intentions began in the year 2000. It started with a simple notion: What if I wrote an epic fantasy series that grounded readers first in the familiar, then took them to the stuff I’m doing that I feel is unique and new? That journey takes its next step on May 26th, when Trial of Intentions is released. But like any good story, there’s much more to it than that. And some of it is painful.

About the time I wrote the first book of the series, The Unremembered, I landed a literary agent. I won’t share his name. Suffice it to say he’s a noted agent in the field of science fiction and fantasy. He decided to represent me on the strength of a short story collection I’d had published by a small press. So, cool, right?

As we got to know one another, I shared with him my desire to write and publish books in horror, science fiction, thriller, and even (gasp) mainstream, in addition to fantasy. He nodded sagely to all this.

When I turned in the manuscript to book one of my epic fantasy series, he proceeded to tell me we should shelve it, and that I should focus on my thriller ideas, which he said he liked very much. I think my brow pinched in confusion. I’d just finished a book. He could go market it. Sell it. Make a commission. But I saluted and went off to write the thriller books that I was also eager to write. Read More »

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Have you ever seen an entertainment franchise, and thought to yourself, “I’d love to write a story in that world”?

Have you ever seen an entertainment franchise—be it Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, or Game of Thrones—and thought to yourself, “I’d love to write a story in that world”?

Well, some people do, post it online, and it’s called fan fiction (and there’s some awesome fanfic out there, don’t you doubt). At the same time, other people do, get paid for it, and it’s called tie-in writing. I fell into the latter category when I was contracted to write stories for Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales, a tie-in fiction line to the Pathfinder roleplaying game. So far, my work has included short stories such as “The Weeping Blade”, “Hunter’s Folly”, “The Price Paid”, and my novel, Forge of Ashes. Read More »

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Rayguns, spaceships,
and selfie-sticks

Ever noticed how the computers in Star Wars are so unbelievably dumb? C3PO, a being of pure logic and electrons, needs therapy more than anyone else in the galaxy. R2-D2 doesn’t have a method of communication that is, you know, intelligible to its owners without a peripheral. The Millennium Falcon doesn’t even have autopilot. It’s no mystery why, of course. Star Wars is a product of its time: a time when a computer behaving like a human being was as far advanced as we could imagine.

We loves our technology in science fiction. Time machines, cloning machines, robots. Space elevators and spaceships, ansibles and universal translators. A lot of the science in science fiction is machinery, and a lot of the fiction is tracing through the implications of those technologies.

You know what you don’t see a whole lot of, though? Text messages. Video games. Selfies. Dating sites. You know, the everyday stuff we have right now. Read More »

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From Up On High

I still remember the day I got my first sight of serious mountains. I was a student at Caltech, working at JPL as a summer intern, and one of the engineers on my project invited me along on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada. It’s a good thing I wasn’t the one driving to the trailhead. I probably would’ve crashed the car when we reached the Owens Valley and saw the Sierra’s stunning eastern escarpment. Jagged snowcapped peaks rise to 14,000 feet straight out of the sagebrush and alkali desert of the Owens Valley, which is one of the deepest in the world.

As it was, I craned my neck out the backseat window with my jaw hanging open and only one thought in my head: OH HELL YES. I yearned to climb those airy ridges and balance on those serrated pinnacles. But during my undergrad years I had to settle for occasional backpacking trips in the Sierra. As a student I had no money, no car, and most climbers I knew were rock jocks rather than mountaineers. Read More »

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“Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks. You walk on the little wooden ties, careful not to set your foot in the open spaces, or you cling to the hempen strands. Below there is nothing for hundreds and hundreds of feet: a few clouds glide past; farther down you can glimpse the chasm’s bed. …

Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia’s inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will only last so long.”  — Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

A few things to know before we set out:

First, we’re going up… and (maybe) down, so pack your chutes. Aidan asked me to write a post about worldbuilding in the air — a somewhat non-traditional fantasy setting — because of a few stories I have in the wind. I set both the short story, “A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed,”1 out this month in XIII: Stories of Transformation (Resurrection House, March 2015), and my upcoming novel Updraft above the clouds. Read More »