Under the Influence: Wizards of the Coast

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I was a major presence online in the Usenet gaming communities rec.games.frp.* for many years (going back to the late 1980s). One day, in 1991, I was contacted by a person going by the name of Mavra, whose real name I later learned was Peter Adkison. He said he was part of a new RPG company and was looking for people to take a look at an early draft of their first planned product, and I was the sort of gamer he was looking for. Little did I realize how important a first contact I had just made. I of course [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Nancy Drew

I have previously mentioned two of the strongest influences in my life that gave me a strong assumption of the essential strength and equality of female characters to male – specifically, the Oz series (in which the most prominent characters are almost always girls/women), and the Little House books told from the point of view of Laura Ingalls (later Laura Ingalls Wilder). But there was a third such influence: Nancy Drew. Dating all the way back to 1930, Nancy Drew in all her incarnations has been a young amateur sleuth, child of a [ Continue reading... ]

Demons of the Past: Chapter 5

  We conclude the battle we started this week. As a side note, the paragraphs that begin this chapter, and some others scattered through the chapter,  are the oldest untouched pieces of prose I have ever posted; they are unchanged from the first draft of this work (originally called "Psionic!") written in 1978.     --------     Chapter 5. Varan: Red fire-hammers slammed into the makeshift barricade. Being made of E-steel torn from the bulkheads behind us, it only gave a little, but even that little [ Continue reading... ]

Demons of the Past: Chapter 4

I'm trying to pump out a lot of writing to catch up with things missed last year when Kathy was very sick, so that's why I'm posting snippets. In the case of Demons of the Past, I am going to take you through the first actually dangerous event of the book... which starts now!     Chapter 4. Varan: The red target shimmered and exploded just a split-second before the blue. I was, unfortunately, blue. "And that," Diorre said gleefully, tossing back her red-gold hair, "makes it even, Navy Commander Varan." I tried to look [ Continue reading... ]

Demons of the Past: Chapter 3

I'll post a couple more of these. Now when we left off, Our Hero had decided to think on a particular personal conundrum a bit...       -----     Chapter 3. Varan: "And that makes it three for three," I said with some satisfaction. Diorre burst out laughing. "Okay, Sash, I'm well and truly beaten. Couldn't you have let me win just one?" "I might have, if it hadn't been for the 'wussy Navy boy' bit. The pride of the service required I put a Guard in her place." "Very impressive," a clear [ Continue reading... ]

Teaser Chapter: Demons of the Past, Chapter 2

I posted the Prologue and Chapter 1 of Demons of the Past a while ago. As I'm in the middle of a crunch period and don't have much time to write other columns of interest (and one I DO want to write will be very long), I'll continue with a couple more sample chapters. Like The Stuff of Legend, Demons of the Past is with my agent Marisa Corvisiero and, hopefully, will get a bite soon. If you haven't read those prior chapters, go take a look before reading this one!   -----     Chapter 2. Jearsen: She looked [ Continue reading... ]

Teaser Chapter: The Stuff of Legend, Chapter 2

Figured I should at least let you see the end of that particular scene! If you're coming here for the first time, don't forget to first read the Prologue and then Chapter 1 before going on!   -----     Chapter 2.      She was still in something of a state of shock, but she heard herself respond, "I… will have to think about it for a few minutes." He looked suddenly chagrined. "Look at me, coming in here with a clear plan as to what I was going to say, and then messing it up already." She blinked. "What do you [ Continue reading... ]

Teaser Chapter: The Stuff of Legend, Chapter 1

  I posted the prologue for Stuff of Legend some time back. Here's Chapter 1 of that superhero novel (based in a possible future of the world of Paradigms Lost); this book's currently with my agent Marisa Corvisiero!     ----     Chapter 1.      "I think today's session went well, Mr. Thompson," Jennifer Hsui said in her best professional tone. It was important to conclude each appointment on time, but not to make the patient – or client, as some people preferred – feel pressured or cut [ Continue reading... ]

The Craft of Writing: When I Ignore Science

Writing science fiction – especially hard science fiction, where you're expected to keep to what modern science believes is possible, rather than inventing force fields, lightswords, faster-than-light-drives, or other accoutrements of space opera – is a demanding task. It's not necessarily harder than writing, say, good epic fantasy; they're both equally difficult, in my view, just with different areas of difficulty. It does, however, have external demands that other types of speculative fiction don't really have to worry about. In my "day [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: Superman

  "That man won't quit as long as he can still draw a breath. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem. I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard, always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can't you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose, and show you just how powerful I really am!"      The Man of Tomorrow. The Last Son of Krypton. The Man of Steel. [ Continue reading... ]