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... ]

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 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... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 18

Oh, you didn't think I'd just continue the LAST scene, did you? There's other characters to see! -----   Chapter 18.      "The idea is tempting, Doctor DuQuesne, but ... are you certain it will work?" "Not certain. But... say eighty percent chance it'll work," DuQuesne answered. "And if it does work, your firepower just went way up." "It will drop if you fail, however," Orphan pointed out. DuQuesne could tell that the protest was, at least partially, purely from Orphan's instinctive need to be cautious. "You'll still have the [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 14

Our friends were finally on their way... -----   Chapter 14.      "Orphan…" Ariane said apprehensively. "Are you sure we want to get any closer to that?" "My dear Captain Austin, we are going to get far closer," Orphan replied with a chuckle. The immense vessel loomed ever larger in the suddenly-tiny shuttle's viewport. Just about an old-style mile long, and looks it, DuQuesne thought, as he saw a brilliant line of light that widened, became a massive pair of doors into a huge landing bay. "Almost like coming home, isn't it?" he [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 12

And what do you do after winning a race? A party, that's what! -----   Chapter 12.      "As always, a fine celebration," Orphan said, observing Wu Kung trying to imitate a whirling dance by three of the Genasi, while a laughing crowd of a dozen species watched the performance. "Afterward, however, would I be correct to hope that you and Captain Austin will be free?" "You mean, to go on your little jaunt into the back end of nowhere? That's the plan," DuQuesne answered. He had noticed the tall alien had a particularly cheerful [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 9

Time to look in on DuQuesne and see how he's doing... -----   Chapter 9.      "Draw two," DuQuesne said, evaluating his cards. Nothing impressive in this hand. I need a break. The two cards passed to him turned out to be a Sky Gate and a Nexus Gateway. With the Inner Gateway and Outer Gate I have, that at least makes a decent run. "Bet 5 points," he said, not without trepidation. That's half of what I've got left. He could see Orphan, absently stroking his high head-crest in a nervous fashion, sitting near Ariane; Laila Canning [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 7

If you haven't played a game before, you'd better practice it a bit prior to a species-critical Challenge... -----     Chapter 7.      "I yield the play, Dr. DuQuesne; once more you have outmatched me." Orphan tipped his remaining cards into the dump-bucket. "Anyone else still in?" he asked the others, looking around the conference-room-turned-simulated Arena. A shadowy holographic display showed several simulated runners speeding along a course, overcoming various obstacles. "Not me," Oasis said promptly. "I know Marc too [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 2

Our friends were about to pay a visit to their oldest alien acquaintance...   -----     Chapter 2. "Captain Ariane Austin, Doctor Marc DuQuesne, it is an honor to welcome you back to my Embassy once more," Orphan said, giving the full pushup-bow which both the Blessed and the Liberated used as a sign of greatest respect. "And you as well, Sun Wu Kung. I take this to mean that the various... issues in your home system have been addressed in a satisfactory manner?" DuQuesne saw a smile instantly appear on Ariane's face, [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: My Top Ten Villains!

  While, at least in theory, we cheer for the victory of the heroes, it is often the villains that define a work, and certainly the villains tend to get the best lines, best music, and commonly the coolest "style" in a work.   This probably partly stems from the fact that villains are more "free" than the heroes; they get to do what they want rather than what they should or must. In addition, the villains tend to be in control, the ACTIVE force, in the story, at least up until the end; the heroes spend much of their time reacting [ Continue reading... ]