Sunday, November 26, 2017

Untold Stories Behind Other Stories

Sometimes when you see a movie, read a book, etc., there's something that indicates there's another interesting story in this world waiting to be told. Think Obi-Wan's reminiscing about how Darth Vader "had been a pupil of mine before he turned to evil" and "was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force." Although the Star Wars prequels weren't all they could have been to say the least (I left Revenge of the Sith straight-up laughing after "NOOOOO!"), it's my understanding the Clone Wars cartoon (the various versions of them) is well-done and the fall of Anakin Skywalker could have been a great tragedy in the Greek sense. He has his tragic flaws...fear of loss, anger...and between the negative influence that drawing on the Force using these emotions has and the fact a dark lord has been grooming him since the age of ten, things don't end well for Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padme, the Jedi Order, etc.

Well, that can be applied to some other stories, ones much less well-known than Star Wars.

*I saw a high-school stage version of The Wedding Singer with a former girlfriend and there's a line where Julia reminisces that her young-Trump boyfriend Glenn used to be much sweeter before he got so much money. There might be a story there...Glenn could have entered the New York business world a much better person (perhaps emulating or working for a relative...there's a line in one of the songs "don't cry uncle unless your uncle's the CEO") and got seduced by the money, power, sex, perhaps drugs, etc. that this world offered and turned into a massive jerk. The Glenn we see in TWS is a selfish, controlling, narcissistic jerk, but the murderous warlord Darth Vader was once a pleasant little boy who loved his mother, had lots of friends, and wanted to free the slaves.

*Although I've never seen the Australian Western film The Man From Snowy River (at least in its entirety), I did become curious about it and found there was actually actually a live musical "arena spectacular." It tells broadly the same story as the original film--a penniless young cowboy proves his worth as a man and woos the daughter of a wealthy station owner--but look closely at the cast. One of the side characters is named "Harrison" and is a young cowboy who made a fortune betting on horse racing. The disapproving (until the sequel) father of the spirited young Jessica is named Harrison and he made the money he used to build his ranch betting on horses. The musical is actually a prequel to the film.

(Given how zealous he seems to be about keeping his daughter away from protagonist Jim Craig in the films, the love story from the "arena spectacular" might have ended badly and soured him on the whole "redneck cowboys wooing ranch heiresses" thing. Yes, Harrison is a controlling ass whose behavior alienated his brother, his dead wife, and his daughter, but if it turns out there's some actual wisdom hidden in the class prejudice, sexism, and narcissism it takes the events of both films to at least mitigate, it would make him more interesting.)

*In the Sharpe television series, there's a soldier named Harris who the other characters say should write a book. He's based on a real soldier, who wrote an enlisted man's account of the Napoleonic Wars entitled The Recollections of Rifleman Harris. How Harris "wrote" that book--an illiterate man, he dictated it to an officer friend who eventually got it published--could be an interesting story too.

(The fictional Harris is literate and dies at Waterloo in the TV series, but if Michael Crichton can do the "mostly dead" thing for Ian Malcolm in The Lost World--he dies in Jurassic Park but shows up in the sequel--so could Cornwell and friends if there's any interest.)

And there are plenty of other examples. The TVTropes "Hero of Another Story" and "Villain of Another Story" have plenty. The Avengers depicts Hawkeye and Black Widow bantering about something that went down in Budapest that I think could make a good basis for a prequel movie. In my Wastelands world (the first of many planned novels is under consideration by a major publisher, so fingers crossed), I have the villain Grendel's son Falki reference events I later turned into the novella "Son of Grendel. I also have another planned novella explaining just why Sergeant Ezekiel Thaxton fears the Blood Alchemy Host (an army of mutants bred in the shadow of an abandoned nuclear reactor) so much.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Older Newsletters to View, and Sign-Up for New Ones

Like many writers, I have an e-mail newsletter. I promised newsletter subscribers exclusive content, and although I haven't (yet) provided wholly original fiction or other more lavish perks other writers have, I have provided behind-the-scenes information, important announcements in advance, etc.

Here are some older newsletters for your perusal:

*This one features two short science-fiction stories a man I know from the alternate-history forum wrote and posted there. This might be my first exclusive content for my newsletter readers, except for the small issue that I'd posted it some years ago on the blog. Still, it's free content for one's readers. You've got to give people a reason to want to follow you, and other than friends/family and super-duper fans, people are probably not just going to be interested in what you're up to.

*This one informs my readers that I've got stories in a new collection, but also provides a lot of back-story for these tales that appear in it. For example, an early draft of "The Beast of the Bosporus" was reviewed by Philip Lee Williams, author of All the Western Stars. Based on his suggestions, I made the final battle in the harbor of Constantinople much less anti-climactic, among other things.

*In this one, I lead with an announcement that two of my stories will be free for Halloween. Again, you should emphasize what you can do for others, not what others can do for you. I then discuss my progress on various writing projects, including expanding Catalina Merrill's role in Battle for the Wastelands and a dieselpunk short story I still haven't finished revising.

*In which I discuss Kij Johnson's heartending short story "Ponies," which is a rather disturbing in which animal abuse is a metaphor for teen-girl bullying.  Given how common "mean girls crap" is, this is a story I felt would stand the test of time. It's also free content that might interest one's readers. This one also features why I might put out Little People, Big Guns under a pseudonym.

If receiving this type of information is something you'd enjoy, sign up here to subscribe to my newsletter. I'll be sending out some exclusive character-biography information tomorrow and I'll work my way up to better perks. I only send out once a month or so (or longer if there's nothing important happening), so don't worry about being spammed.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another Military SF Novella: "Discovery and Flight"

Back in April, I blogged about my military scifi novella "Ten Davids, Two Goliaths," set in Lindsay Buroker's Fallen Empire universe. I've been really busy with real-life work stuff, so outside of my newsletter I haven't had the chance until now to reveal the sequel, "Discovery and Flight."

Here's the Amazon blurb:

A month has passed since Lieutenants Geun Choi and Tamara Watson and the other pilots of the Alliance's Dragon and Raptor squadrons destroyed the Imperial cruisers Achilles and Sarpedon. Now the Empire is brutally striking back, dispatching a fleet of warships to destroy the Alliance's outpost in the Kir Asteroid Belt.

Choi and Watson now have to face an enemy far more skilled and dangerous than two cruisers with trainee crews, one bent on their total annihilation. Fighting alongside them are expert Alliance pilots Alisa Marchenko and Bradford Tomich, but even their help might not be enough. Who will live and who will die when the Imperial battle-group comes knocking?

Taking place before and during the events of Lindsay Buroker's short story "Remnants" and after Quinn's previous novella "Ten Davids, Two Goliaths," this tale set in Lindsay Buroker's FALLEN EMPIRE universe will thrill fans of STAR WARS, FIREFLY, WING COMMANDER, and the adventures of Honor Harrington.

I'd planned since the publication of "Ten Davids" that the buddy-pilot duo of Geun Choi and Tammy Watson could be a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern way to depict the early days of the rebellion against the Sarellian Dynasty. After all, the play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" tells the story of Hamlet from the point of view of two minor characters, and other than a couple short stories, Buroker generally doesn't discuss what happened before. Although "Ten Davids" depicts an incident that is never described in the main series, "Discovery and Flight" showcases the battle immediately before the events of Buroker's story "Remnants," which you can find in the You Are Here anthology.

"Discovery and Flight" is the tale that also changed the most in the telling. I'd made the characters in "Ten Davids" purely original because nobody would think characters who appear in the canonical series would be in any real danger, a common problem with prequels. However, I'd noticed sales for "Ten Davids" declining relatively rapidly after the first two months and suspected one cause was the complete non-appearance of any canonical characters. Given how series regular Bradford Tomich is depicted as sexually promiscuous, having him after female lead Watson made a lot of sense, while "Remnants" explicitly describes series protagonist Alisa Marchenko flying for the Alliance in that battle.

(Also, Tomich in the main series is a more complicated character than just a Casanova wannabe and the events told but not shown in "Remnants" would give him plenty of chances to show his legitimately heroic side. I wanted to avoid Flanderizing him into a mere lecher.)

I also changed some of the mechanics of the battle based on discussion in a guest post I wrote for "Ten Davids" on the blog of notable indie science fiction writer Chris Nuttall. Some of his readers took issue in the comments section with my idea that Billy Mitchell's theories on air power vs. ships could be transferred seamlessly into space combat, and some of what they said rang true to discussions on the Battlestar Galactica forums about how formidable a capital ship's flak batteries would be and how American ship-based antiaircraft guns became more effective against Japanese aerial attacks as World War II went on. When I posted about "Discovery and Flight" on Chris's blog, it got the discussion going again.

So if you liked "Ten Davids, Two Goliaths," I'd encourage you to read "Discovery and Flight." The more of these I sell, the more likely I'll write the planned third Choi and Watson novella, "Torpedo Protocol" and the Imperial-centric companion novella "Fallen Titan."