Phoenix Rising: Prologue and Chapter 1

  Sometime relatively soon, the E-ARC  (electronic advance reader's copy) of Phoenix Rising will become available. Thus, I am now beginning my "snippeting" of the novel; I expect the snippets to cover roughly half the book.   So let's begin!       Prologue.   Warm light spilled from the windows of the estate, windows that were set in solid stone, warded with spell and steel; comfort with protection. He gripped the hilt of his sword and swallowed; his mouth was dry, as though filled with sand. "I… I don't want [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Roleplaying Games (RPGs)

       1977 was the most transformational year ever in my life, with the possible exception of 1995 (the year I married Kathleen). 1977 saw the release of Star Wars, of the first Shannara book and the first Thomas Covenant novel. In 1977, I first began going by the name of "Sea Wasp" online.        And in 1977, I first encountered a game called "Dungeons and Dragons".        In a very real sense, I had been doing roleplaying games long before that, just as had children from the dawn of time: making up characters and [ Continue reading... ]

Sorry about the silence…

  ... my computer chose to die JUST before I was sent away on a business trip (that ended on Wednesday). This meant that I had to leave it in the shop all that time, which meant I couldn't even do any writing of any sort while gone, or post anything even if I had it. Now I must catch up! [ Continue reading... ]

Under The Influence: E. E. “DOC” Smith

    I deliberately waited for a while before posting this one. This essay is very similar to the one posted on my original website for Grand Central Arena, and I wanted to have time for other influences to be posted before returning to Doc Smith.   I first encountered the work of E.E. "Doc" Smith in sixth grade, in Shaker Junior High School. My homeroom and English teacher, Mr. Dickinson, knew I was a reader of science fiction, and was responsible for introducing me to two great SF writers of the old days. The first happened [ Continue reading... ]

Under The Influence: The Chronicles of Amber

       Roger Zelazny was one of the true masters of fantasy writing. At least one of his works is included in most people's lists of "best ever fantasy" -- and sometimes, people argue, science fiction, as he did very much like to bend the definitions and skewer them. Zelazny produced a number of top-notch books and short stories, but two of them consistently outpace the others in mentions: Lord of Light, and the Chronicles of Amber (especially the original five-book Amber sequence).        While Lord of Light is indeed an excellent [ Continue reading... ]

Under The Influence: A.E. Van Vogt

      Alfred Elton Van Vogt is much less well known today than he was in my youth, let alone in his heyday in the 40s-50s. However, he had an immense influence on my writing, or at least my writing design process, because he knew, perhaps better than anyone, how to create a sense of wonder and build it into an adventure – perhaps with only the most tenuous logic holding it together.        Van Vogt was the quintessential writer of, for lack of a better word, spectacle-based adventures. His characters were often fairly narrow in [ Continue reading... ]

Under The Influence: L. Frank Baum

  Under the Influence: L. Frank Baum Lyman Frank Baum was a man of weaknesses and brilliance in equal mixture, like many men. He bankrupted himself frequently, especially through his love of theater and lack of business acumen. He had prejudices which occasionally showed in print – or in a few instance were deliberately displayed, as they were part and parcel of the times.   But he was also the Wizard of Oz.   L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz exactly at the turn of the century, in 1900. Subsequently he [ Continue reading... ]

Under The Influence: D’Aulaires’ Mythology

       Those who read my stories know that I have a fondness for aspects of my ancestral Norse heritage, especially in the mythology of the Aesir, of wise and manipulative Odin, mighty Thor, fair Balder, and devious and ultimately treacherous Loki. I also have a similar fondness for the great stories of Greek Myth – the Labors of Heracles, Perseus and his defeat of Medusa, crippled yet indispensable Hephaestus, wise Athena, wandering-eyed Zeus, and the rest of the Olympians. The love of these two ancient mythologies began with two [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Chrono Trigger

       When my wife and I were married in 1995, one of our wedding gifts – partly as a joke – was a Super Nintendo gaming system. There were a few games we occasionally played but it was more an in-joke for the group than anything else.        At that time we were also heavily into Dragonball/DBZ fandom, with my wife specifically a fan of Akira Toriyama's art. So when, some months later, we heard about a new video game, a so-called "RPG", that Toriyama had done the design work on, we decided to get it, mostly for the neat character [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Saint Seiya

     Back in the primitive days before the World Wide Web, before E-mail was standard and cellphones common, there was also the time in which anime and manga (Japanese animation and their equivalent of comics/comic books) were as fringe an interest as science fiction itself was many years before. It was an American fandom consisting of small groups of true fans, fanatics in many ways, with connections as secretive and torturous as those of drug smugglers to get second or third generation VHS tapes of these peculiar and exotic animated shows – [ Continue reading... ]