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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hello again! It has certainly been an exciting day!

The people manning the scanners finished their scans late last night, and I’ve been locked up in a room with the rest of the team, discussing the best possible routes of navigation across the ocean floor. As this is not really my area of expertise, what with me being a biologist and all, I mostly sat around and listened to the others discuss things. I did strike up an interesting conversation with one of the chemists, Dianne, who was similarly unable to contribute much.

From what I could understand, though, the ocean floor is indeed very odd where we’ll be going! A massive chasm apparently rips the ocean floor in two, with a single towering spire of rock sticking up out of it. We’ll be touching down a mile or so away from the chasm, but we will be making our way quickly towards it. The flora and fauna here should prove interesting, especially around the chasm, where the water temperature fluctuates wildly, to extremes that shouldn’t really be possible; the survival mechanisms of the creatures that live here will be utterly fascinating.

My next entry might be a few days from now, as tomorrow morning we’re casting off, and I’ll probably be busy for a little bit getting settled into Hubie – which is almost the size of this boat, with rather comfortable cabins for everyone – and doing my initial surveys of the area. I even have my own dedicated mini-sub that can wander independently of the larger sub, connected via hose and wires to Hubie!

See you all in a few days with my first reports!

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Blog Fiction

 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hello world! I assume that Mr. Wilmot has introduced you to me already, so I don’t need to spend much time describing my purpose here, or tell you all why I can’t say much about my current location or the true underlying purpose of this expedition. I am incredibly excited and proud to be a part of this team, though! I would like to deeply thank Mr. Wilmot for agreeing to repost my diary entries; he is a very busy man, and it means the world to me that he is willing to take time out of his day to do this.

There are eleven of us total: me (the biologist), three geologists, two oceanographers, two chemists, one sedimentologist, and two engineers (to maintain the sumbersible). In about forty-eight hours, we will embark upon one of the greatest journeys mankind has ever taken. Using experimental technology developed by our funders, we will descend to the bottom of the sea in a submersible, connected to the surface only by a series of cables and tubes, in order to keep us alive for extended periods of time. I don’t know yet how long we’ll be down there; I’m guessing maybe a month or two. It’s very comfortable, the submersible; we’ve named her Hubie.

Right now we’re just waiting on the final scanners to finish their initial map of the ocean floor, and then tomorrow we’ll plan out our course. We’ve been waiting out here, over our destination spot, for quite a few days now; I’m excited to finally get going soon! Whatever we find down here is certain to be exciting, and brand new, of interest to anyone with an even remote interest in the deep sea! From what I’ve heard so far, the area we’re visiting is unique in the world. Until tomorrow, ta-ta!

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Blog Fiction

 

Introduction to Goodman’s Diary

A certain close friend of mine has embarked on a secret expedition to a location I cannot disclose in the middle of an ocean, funded by certain benefactors I am not at liberty to name. This friend – I shall call him henceforth by the alias John Goodman – is a firm believer that knowledge should be shared among all peoples, and has asked me to share his personal diary of the expedition for him as he sends it to me. He has obtained a very powerful digital transmitter that allows him to transfer text from a digital diary directly to a receiver in my possession. He has also obtained the reluctant permission of the expedition’s funders to send me his reports, on the condition that he not reveal anything about the exact location of the expedition or the funders themselves. Similarly, I have agreed to not publish any entries of his that violate this agreement.

So, on this site, what you will see are relatively live updates of the expedition to the bottom of the ocean. John is not the expedition’s leader, but is part of a team of about a dozen scientists who are investigating a previously unexplored area of the seas that might hold something of value. Whatever this might be, I’m relatively sure John has been forbidden to speak of.

John  is a marine biologist by training, and the team he will be with consists of geologists, oceanographers, climatologists, and chemists, as well as a few other more specialized figures. From what he told me before he left about a week ago, he will be taking a ship out to the spot to be explored, and that ship will use experimental technology to lower a submarine on cables and tubes to supply the team with vitals while they scout around the ocean floor. John was really excited about this – and presumably still is – and wanted to share what was going on with the world. As such, he asked me to relay his diary to the world, as he won’t have access to the internet from where he is.

He said he’d have the first entry to me tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens then! His entries will just be titled with the date; my own commentary (if I have any) will be in separate posts. I hope you enjoy what he has to say!

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Blog Fiction

 

The Next Big Thing

I have emerged from the university library, where I have spent my days and nights toiling over an undergraduate honors thesis on medieval Iranian ideology, for a brief period of time in response to one Thomas James Brown, a great horror and speculative author and amazing person, who was kind enough to tag me in a post, asking me to spend some time discussing my current work in progress. I highly recommend checking out his post on his own WIP, Lynnwood.

Of course, I ran into a problem as soon as I decided to make my own post: I have multiple WIPs. I have part one of scifi/fantasy fusion duology (Tal’kan), a story about the rise of a king in the distant future (The Divine Madness of Kings), and one about an investigator-turned-ambassador-turned-illegal investigator on an alien planet (Beneath). So my first problem was choosing which WIP to write about. In the end, I chose my most active WIP, Beneath.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Beneath. It will likely be the final title, too, as the entire novel revolves around secrets hidden beneath a glossy surface: the depravity behind a great culture, the knowledge behind a mystic order, and the evil beneath a planet’s surface. The main character’s goals in the novel (though he might not know it yet!) are to rip away the shiny exterior and reveal what lies beneath it.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is part of my larger universe, the “Juxian Mythos;” it’main character is also a secondary character in The Divine Madness of Kings. I have created a detailed timeline of the history of this universe, and there was one specific entry in said timeline that just briefly touches on a powerful figure destroying an ancient evil. As I was browsing through said timeline, I came across that brief entry and wondered at what cost was that ancient evil defeated? Could the debt to whatever power allowed that evil to be defeated ever be paid back? From those questions, the idea for Beneath was born. It takes place long, long after this evil was defeated, but will deal with an outsider slowly discovering exactly what it cost a certain civilization to drive out the evil, and how it still plays a role in that society, just beneath the surface.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Horror in a science fiction universe. The plot is Lovecraftian in the extreme, but the setting is a very detailed space opera. There are elements of high fantasy in the work as well, as embodied in the conflict between an ancient evil and a cosmic good, but the lines between the two have blurred over time, and the focus of the novel is on the horror of the past and the disturbing price of victory.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don’t know many actors, but were I to choose one for the main character, Russell Hicks, I would have to go with Ben Browder or Peter Jurasik; they have both played characters similar to the intriguing Mr. Hicks, who is really a combination of John Crichton from Farscape and Londo Mollari from Babylon 5, with a bit of Sherlock Holmes thrown in there. Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee would probably find their way into it as Elfviyat (the alien civilization in question) as well.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ex-private investigator, now an ambassador for the Kingdom of Man, is sent on a routine diplomatic mission to the heart of the ancient Elfviyat Empire, but once his old investigative instincts kick in, he realizes that the grandeur of the Elfviyat is not all that it seems…

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published! I am a huge fan of self-publishing, and at this point have little interest in traditional publishing; I enjoy having full control over all aspects of my work.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

What first draft? I’m still working on it! It’s been about eight months so far, though.

 8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

H. P. Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness or Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. The first has the same atmosphere of horror, and the second has the same themes of secrets hiding beneath the surface.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I’m not sure. I was choosing between three possible new projects, put a poll up on my website, and this idea sounded the most intriguing to the respondents! That’s the best answer I have.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The universe and background is extraordinarily detailed, and like all Juxian Mythos novels, it will have an extensive appendix! The clash of cultures on this book would be of interest to anyone with a remote interest in anthropology or sociology, and the structure of different alien cultures might also prove interesting to a reader. Anyone who loves Lovecraftian monsters would also not be disappointed with this book; Lovecraft’s hand is very easily seen. Other than that, an atmosphere of dread and, of course, a mystery plot also might intrigue a reader!

 

I would nominate others for this, but I have never been really comfortable doing so, so everyone who reads this is nominated! Hopefully I can find more time to be active in the future!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Writing

 

Dark Aeons

Big news! After three long, long years, I have finally released Dark Aeons, my collection of horror short stories! I would like to take this time to thank Peter Merlin and Jacob G. Adams, my literary advisors and editors, for the work they put into editing the monstrosity that is now available for reading!

Dark Aeons is, like I said, a collection of horror stories. Most of them are highly experimental in nature, so many of the stories won’t be for everyone, but they cover a wide range of topics and things, all linked together by fear and their disturbing nature. H. P. Lovecraft’s influence is very heavily felt in the collection, and indeed, my novella “Parallax” is very similar to his story “From Beyond,” though the two go in very different directions.

My personal favorite stories from the collection are the following:

-“Winds of Madness:” A story about a young boy with a deathly fear of winds, and the pyschiatrist assigned to work with him. His fears might not be irrational, however, and both of their lives are soon in danger.

-“Dark Prophecy:” A prose poem describing the horrors of the future, as told through the words of a rambling, crazy man accosted by the police.

-“Hell Factory:” A semi-prose poem describing a terrifying vision of eternal torment.

-“The Loneliness of the Spheres:” A poem describing my own personal feelings towards life.

-“The Derelict:” Originally published in Space Adventure Magazine, re-appearing here, this story follows a crew of space scavengers that pick the wrong derelict to loot.

-“The Playground:” This prose poem embodies all that is disturbing and creepy to me, and is filled with a commentary on both childhood and adulthood.

-“The Vessel:” A Roman equestrian finds himself caught up not only in the Punic Wars, but in something far deadlier as well.

-“What Walks Under Moonlight:” My first attempt at a semi-rhyming and metered poem. It might not be amazing, but I’m still proud of it!

Of course, I like every single poem and story in the collection, but the above are, in my opinion, the best of them. But who knows, maybe you will disagree with me!

And just to whet your appetites, here is an excerpt from “The Silver Door:”

*-*-*

We always had wondered what was behind that large silver door on the lowest floor of the city library. It was an oddity in that dusty old building, easily one and a half times the size of the polished mahogany doors that populated the rest of the structure. For a long time, I never got too close to the door itself; it was one of those items irresistible to my childish curiosity, but at the same time clearly forbade anyone from coming too close. My fear had always overridden my curiosity, and the same had been true of my two best friends – Jack and Valerie – as well.

It didn’t help our curiosity that we never saw anyone ever open that door. Many a time we would sit at the table nearest the door – though this table was still a good twenty feet or so distant – and watch it intently, all the while pretending to study.

I say that the silver door was an oddity, but in truth, the entire lower level of the library was odd. It was below ground level, and one had to walk down a spiral staircase to get to it. Five more floors extended upwards from the first, for a total of seven floors. The library was the oldest structure in town, and I would not have been the least surprised if the lowest level predated the rest of the building. The stones in the walls of that level were different than those used throughout the upper portions of the library; they reminded one of the walls of some ancient castle, very much unlike the red bricks of the structure above. The carpets on the floor were also much older, and looked like antiques brought in from the Orient.

The bookshelves down there had the same appearance as those of the upper floors, but their contents were an example of what was perhaps the starkest contrast between the upper and lower levels. While the books above were those one would expect to find in a library of this day, the books in the cold stone cellar were much older and far more sinister in appearance. Many of them were locked, and almost all were bound in thick leather, with thin yellow parchment in place of proper paper pages. Most of them looked as if they hadn’t been touched in centuries.

To make the room even more curious, at least to us children back then, was that all of the books were written in either Latin, Greek, or Arabic. None of us could read a word out of any of them, although we often tried. We didn’t go down there for the books, however, though one would describe us back then as bookworms.

We went down there to escape. Our intelligence and bookishness made the others jealous – we were teased and bullied mercilessly. The library was the only escape for the three of us –  Jack and Valerie and me. We had always visited the place when we were tiny, and as we grew older, spent more and more time there.

There was one day, though – I think it was a Tuesday – when the biggest bully of them all, Billy McDermott, and his friends chased us into the library on a sunny afternoon. Terrified, we ran down the first staircase we saw – the one leading down to the lower level, where we had never before been in our lives. Billy never found us down there – perhaps the work of the doddering old men (and occasional young lady) who worked at the place, or perhaps they failed to notice the descending spiral stair. Or perhaps he sensed something about that cellar that we did not.

We found quickly that we loved it down there – we all fancied ourselves to be medieval folklorists, and the atmosphere in that basement was that of a medieval study, perhaps one in an ancient monastery. We soon found ourselves going down there every day, sitting at one of the old oak tables – maybe from an old Viking meetinghouse – reading various works of fiction we had brought from home, and doing our schoolwork.

We found the door a month or so after we began to inhabit the room, staying there every day of the week. The floor was very large, much like the others, and we never ventured far, for we never had any need to. Eventually, though, curiosity got the better of us and we went exploring. At the farthest end of the room we found the door. As I said, the closest tables were above twenty feet away; there was a large open space in front of the door. The three of us, on that day, approached the silver door, but all refused to cross that threshold marked off by the tables. We stood silently at the edge of that area for several minutes, all overcome by mingling senses of curiosity and fear. But, as always, our fear overpowered our curiosity, and we retreated back to the stairs, where we discussed our findings.

Gradually, over the course of a few months, we began to sit nearer and nearer to that door, until we regularly inhabited that table closest to it, no longer quite so bothered by the odd mixture of emotions that tended to accompany its presence.

Only once did someone other than ourselves descend that staircase and enter our domain. I do not know whether or not he was a librarian, but he was an old man in an ancient tweed jacket, supporting himself on a silver cane topped with an intricate carving of a howling wolf. He stayed with us for only a minute or so, quickly locating a gigantic black volume, and walking back upstairs with it.

And for many more months after that, the silver door waited, unmoving, its cold surface both taunting and terrifying, both beckoning and warning us against the secrets it hid behind its implacable face.

*-*-*

Currently, Dark Aeons is available as a free eBook at Smashwords, and as a $7.00 print book at the  CreateSpace eStore and Amazon. It will eventually become available on Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook, as well as the iTunes iStore. If you’re even remotely interested, give it a try; you might find something worth your while in there!

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Writing

 

Asylum of the Daleks

So, I watched the latest Doctor Who episode, “Asylum of the Daleks,” and I was not impressed. I don’t like the direction Steven Moffat is taking the show in. I loved the fifth Series of Doctor Who, but Moffat’s treatment of the show in the sixth series frankly disgusted me. I don’t like his grand universe-saving schemes spanning multiple seasons. I actually preferred Doctor Who as a “monster of the week” show, and the one-off episodes are still my favorites. Moffat has fundamentally altered the character of the show in ways I don’t like. Moffat is trying to make the plots too convoluted, in my opinion, and isn’t always doing it correctly.

This isn’t to say that it’s bad (for the most part); I just don’t like it. So, despite my not being a fan of Series 6, I was willing to give Series 7 a go (and still will). But, from the first episode, my hopes aren’t very high. Moffat wrote the episode himself, so I had been expecting a lot, as he is generally a good episode writer (he wrote “Blink,” after all), but I was again disappointed here.

The Doctor, in the episode, was remarkably devoid of humor, his lines seemed forced, the episode had little context into the events and left me as the viewer lost and confused, and the Daleks acted in a very un-Dalek-like manner. Moffat said he was trying to make them scary again, but he really only made them more laughable, in my personal opinion. He did the same thing with the Weeping Angels in the two-part “Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone,” when he made the Angels move and speak, ruining their terrifying nature. The Dalek Parliament’s behavior did the same thing to the Daleks, in my personal opinion.

But the thing that really, really bothered me was Amy and Rory’s relationship. I liked Amy in Season Five. I hate her now; she acts inconsistently and, frankly, is insensitive, whiny, and rather thick. Rory really is the better of the two of them, by far. Very far. Moffat’s handling of their whole relationship annoyed me to an amazing degree, and seemed unnecessary and uncharacteristic.

On the bright side, the twist ending at the end of the show was very, very good and I loved it, even if I felt like it could have been explained and thought out better. In conclusion, I am going to at least finish this Series, but I am wary of it. Moffat has, I think, changed the fundamental nature of the show, which I feel was designed to be episodic, and that his convoluted plots are getting the better of him. Maybe he’ll impress me this Series; who knows. I hope he does.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Watchings