Second ‘Versing

Yesterday was all about playing around.  There wasn’t any writing going on, no novels to edit or develop, so it was all about doing things that might not seem interesting to you, but could be great fun to me.

There’s the whole “brainstorm the story” thing  I’m working on, and while it goes slow–because I have to think about whats happening, to come up with a few ideas here and there, and then line it out–it’s interesting.  I see how the program works, how the whole idea should come together.  If I see something that I forgot, I make a note and tag it back to a certain, particular idea.

I can see how I can use this to work on one character, one that needs more defining than I’m able to give in my head.  I can lay their name out in the middle of the page and start putting character ideas together.  I might only have a couple of weeks to work on it, because this public beta goes up in smoke on 15 September, but that’s okay, because I can save the information off, and even export the map to a pdf or image and show it to someone who . . . well, they’re always a good help.

But the one thing I really wanted was to do The ‘Verse.  By “to do”, I don’t mean engage in some strange sexual congress:  I mean I wanted to design it in my AstroSynthensis program.  I wanted to bring the information down from various sources and load it up in my program, and see what works.

There is a map that’s been created that is now considered cannon, so I decided to use that as a guide.  I mean, you look at the stars and it’s pretty easy to figure out what they should be.  But then I came across a white paper that has just about everything in terms of planetary data, and this helped a lot, because suddenly I have something which makes modeling far easier.

Right off the bat I discovered something:  The ‘Verse is huge.  If measuring the orbit of the farthest star in the system, it’s about forty light hours across.  From the next orbit in it’s about thirty-five light hours across.  Distance between close systems–and by that I mean when they are in conjunction and you are at the shortest distance between their outermost planets–averages about twenty AU, or about three billion kilometers, or about one billion, eight hundred sixty million miles.  That’s in conjunction, which doesn’t happen too often.

What this means is if your little Firefly Class transport doesn’t go really fast, it’s going to take a hell of a long time to get from one place to another.  Having to travel a distance of, say, twenty-five light hours isn’t that bad–if you’re a beam of light.  If you’re not, you could find yourself getting a little bored on your years-long flight.  But we know they have fast ship in The ‘Verse–

They travel at the speed of plot, don’t you know?

Genrely Me

If you write, you tend to write certain stories.  I don’t, for some reason:  I have a published horror story, as well as one of erotica, and I’m getting ready to publish something that’s science fiction.  But most other writers I know do; they write romance, or science fiction, or paranormal, or young adult.  They get into their groove and go with it–

Assuming they know what that groove actually is.

I had a conversation with a writer friend of mine a few days back, and they were trying to figure out the genre for their story.  Now, lets get this out of the way:  they write science fiction.  But when they were looking at all the sub-genres that are offered for self-publishing, they found there were–well, it ain’t just science fiction, let me tell you:

 

FIC028000 FICTION / Science Fiction / General
FIC028010 FICTION / Science Fiction / Action & Adventure
FIC028070 FICTION / Science Fiction / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
FIC028040 FICTION / Science Fiction / Collections & Anthologies
FIC028020 FICTION / Science Fiction / Hard Science Fiction
FIC028050 FICTION / Science Fiction / Military
FIC028030 FICTION / Science Fiction / Space Opera
FIC028060 FICTION / Science Fiction / Steampunk
FIC028080 FICTION / Science Fiction / Time Travel

 

Sure, you have “Science Fiction, General,” which could be your “regular” science fiction, but what about the rest?  I think about my Transporting series, and where it would fit in that group.  There is time travel, but it’s not really time travel fiction.  It’s hard, but not what I’d call Hard Science Fiction.  There’s action, but not something that would fall under FIC0218010.

Truth is, my Transporting stories are character driven, and all the sci fi trappings are sort of grist for the mill.  Stuff is just there because in that future, who cares about how a warp drive works, you get in the freakin’ ship and go.  I’d probably file my stories under “General” and be done with it.

The problem we have here is that if you don’t have your book in the right spot, it might not sell.  Sure, your story might be about something happening at the end of the world, but is it “Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic”, or is it “Action & Adventure”?  Or is it something else that’s not there?

A question also came up at the same time:  what is this “New Adult” genre?  I had to look that one up as well, ’cause I had no idea.  Come to find out, it’s for people “From their early twenties until about the age of thirty.”  Are we talkin’ people who have crawled out of the Valley of Young Adult, but whom aren’t ready for Full-on Drama?  Or is this another bullshit grouping so publishing houses and pigeonhole a writer’s work more efficiently?

I remember Stephen King once saying his agent was worried he’d get pegged as “a horror writer”.  I’m certain he wasn’t saying that for very long, however, because that horror kept the money rolling.  These days, however, with self-publishing in full-swing, it’s not so much being pegged, it’s finding the damn peg to hang your story upon.

The writing game is hard enough without having to think about what sort of story someone says you’ve actually written.  As it is, some writers just scatershot their stories into a genre and hope for the best.  Others do their research and select that which they think is best.

Me?

I just write.

You’ll know where to find my work.

 

Beyond the Farthest Handwavium

Thursday night is Relaxation Night due to a combination of things happening early in the evening, then Project Runway coming on and remaining on my television until nine-thirty PM.  There are only two or three more episodes of that show remaining, so I’ll soon be back to working on Thursday nights–and by working, I mean writing.

The way things work our, I’m looking at a lot of editing and formatting throughout April, with an occasional article here and there posted just to keep my hand in.  I’ve looked at my Idea File (I do have one), and I’ve not seen too much that is blowing a draft up my skirt, at least not yet.  Yes, they are my ideas, but what seemed like a good idea one moment doesn’t always translate into, “I gotta write this now!”  As I’ve found, you gotta let an idea stew a bit before you jump into it, otherwise it’s going to die stillborn.

But what do I want to write next?  I’ve been into the horror and the fantasy the last two novels, so I need something different.  But what?  Science Fiction?  Erotica?  Maybe Science Fiction Erotica, where In Space, No One Can Hear You Orgasm Unless You’re Really Loud.

I have been thinking of trying to write some science fiction that’s more in line with what’s considered “hard”, which means there’s no energy weapons that vaporize people, no gravity fields that make your space ship layout look more like the Queen Marry 2 than any tall skyscraper you can bring to mind, no super-duper space drive that will get you from Point A to Point B in a matter of hours.

There’s a term for that in the community:  Handwavium.  We’re talking a complete disregard for any of the laws of physics, where we can travel faster than the speed of light, or we can use an electromagnetic field to deflect light, or we don’t worry about heat when we’re using weapons that can take out stars.  Most of the science fiction from the Golden Age was like this, mostly because there were a lot of things we simply didn’t know at the time, but these days most writers have a better understanding of the universe, and they know what can and can’t be done . . .

Yeah, but we still like stories about getting from one star to another, and doing it in a way that doesn’t make us wait forever for our characters to make the trip.  Star Trek wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if it took an entire season of fifteen shows (actually twenty-two back in the day, but that was back in the day) to travel from Earth to Vulcan, which in terms of the scale of the galaxy is like me walking to the end of the driveway to get the mail.  The Dominion War becomes a lot less worrisome if it takes the Jem’Hadar six months to travel from the Bajor Wormhole to DS9–and Starfleet won’t show up for eight months after that.

There is something intriguing about staging a story in a world where most of what happens in a world is more or less real.  Sure, you can stretch science and engineering a bit to make the world a little move interesting:  you see that happen now and then where the space habitats are little too nice, the ships a little too fast, the terraforming a little too quick.  And yet, the reality is just enough that it feels like a world that isn’t too out there, that’s it’s just real enough to be a place that could happen.

Now all I have to do is come up with that world–

And write it out.