On Writing: The Problem of Series, OR Why Isn’t This As AWESOME As The Last One?

It's happened to all of us: we find the first book in a new series and it's awesome – it's filled to bursting with cool imagery and characters and concepts, and we race through the book and then come to the end, saying "what? But I want MORE!". And then we get the sequel, and that's … a good book. I mean, maybe it's a really good book. But somehow there seems to be something missing, it's just not quite the slam-bang awesome you remember from the first book. But hey, authors can have off days, right, and this was still pretty good. So you [ Continue reading... ]

On Writing: The Danger of Metawriting, OR, How I Wrote A Book That Did Exactly What I Wanted And Screwed It Up Anyway

The Arenaverse novels – Grand Central Arena, Spheres of Influence, and now Challenges of the Deeps – are inarguably my most successful solo novels. Grand Central Arena itself has continued to bring in significant amounts of money for me even now, seven years after release. I'm also very proud of the Arenaverse itself; developing it was, and continues to be, a huge challenge. One of the Arenaverse's key aspects from a writer's and reader's point of view, of course, is that it is not merely a story but a salute to, and occasional commentary [ Continue reading... ]

Lying About the Future, OR Reality is Unrealistic

I've written, to this point, five hard-SF novels, with two more on the way – the Boundary Series (Boundary, Threshold, Portal), the Castaway Planet novels (Castaway Planet, Castaway Odyssey, and forthcoming Castaway Peril), and one tentatively titled Fenrir. As hard-SF novels, I worked hard to make these stories as accurate-to-known-science as I could, within the limits of dramatic necessity and the need to not bore my readers with calculations and details that they didn't really want. But even within hard-SF, the author has to make a lot of [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Holst’s _The Planets_

There are a few classical pieces known to almost everyone; Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance (from graduations everywhere), Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor. Many more are known, but not always immediately recognized by name, as they get played in part or in whole in many different settings. But in the world of SF geeks, there are some with special significance, and of these, few could compete with Gustav Holst's The Planets, a suite of seven pieces each representing one of the major planets (other than [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 28

This is probably the last snippet I will post. Let's look in on Simon... -----   Chapter 28.      "Fictional powers can be made real," Laila Canning repeated slowly. Her sharp brown eyes studied Oasis as though the redheaded woman was a specimen on her dissection table. "How certain are you of this?" "Between ninety-five and a hundred percent sure," Oasis said. "I mean, Wu Kung already demonstrated he's going totally beyond the normal limits of the Arena and he can do that talk-to-animals thing that no one does, as far as we [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 27

It was time we got some answers about what Vindatri wanted... -----   Chapter 27.      "Your words tantalize me, my friends," Orphan said as DuQuesne was still trying to wrap his mind around this latest revelation. "It is clear – it has, in truth, always been clear – that there is some great mystery surrounding Doctor DuQuesne, and his compatriots Wu Kung and Oasis and, I believe, Maria-Susanna. I have to believe it also has to do with Wu Kung's extraordinary performance in the recent Challenge. "It seems that these connections now [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 26

Something had Oasis frightened... -----   Chapter 26.      "Doctor Alexander Fairchild," repeated Simon, studying Oasis closely. The Hyperion-born woman was still not entirely herself; the strain showed in the stiffness of her arm as she reached out for the water-pitcher and poured herself a glass. She drank, looked aimlessly around the conference room that Simon had chosen when they had returned – in haste – to the Embassy. "Yes," she said finally. The name finally clicked. "Masaka. That was the name of the Hyperion AI that [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 25

There's another group we need to look in on... -----   Chapter 25.      Dajzail ripple-walked from the airlock down the ramp; Alztanza himself waited there, holding his fighting-claws rigid in salute. "Guard not," he said to Alztanza, who immediately relaxed his stance. "It is good to see you again, 'Tanza." The Fleet Master clattered a smile at him and they briefly clasped claws. "And you, Daj. How was your journey?" "Well enough, though it took me homeyears, it seemed, to extricate myself from the Embassy. I have selected [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 24

It's Ariane's turn to find out what's waiting for her... -----   Chapter 24.      Ariane stumbled to a halt, mouth dropping open, eyes wider than they had been since she was a child. The old man – who didn't look so old now, to a girl ten years older – smiled broadly at her and held his arms wide. "Hey there, racer girl!" I thought I was prepared. Boy, was I wrong, a part of her thought. That part, Captain Ariane Austin, Leader, knew perfectly well that this was – had to be – just an unexpected guise of Orphan's mysterious [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 23

Vindatri had separated them... -----   Chapter 23.      DuQuesne stared narrowly at the man before him. He knew the patrician, lined face, the graying hair that had once been brown, the sharp brown eyes looking levelly into his own, the half-smile of the lecturer and scientist so familiar to him. "I had expected to end up talking with myself," he said finally. "Not you, Professor Bryson." Clearly this couldn't be the man he looked like; this had to be one of Vindatri's guises. At the same time, it was almost impossible to think of [ Continue reading... ]