Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seas of Black and Blue

This is a song fragment that will be included in the short story Seven Sins (prequel to Serving Time). I hope you enjoy!

One good day I rigged my ship
and out to sea I went.
A row-a-ho, a row-ho-ho,
no reason to repent!

Through the mist, between the waves,
an old man spoke to me.
“Sonny, this life, it ain’t for you.
Don’t squander it at sea.”

He pointed high above his head.
I looked up in surprise.
A sky so deep, and stars so blue,
with twinkles in their eyes.

Now I sail my ship each night
through seas of black and blue.
From star to star, from dusk to light
to worlds both old and new.

A special thank you goes out to the marvelous CCers who helped me!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Future in Sci-Fi

Bringing unibrows to a whole new level.
As a kid, I loved Star Trek, Deep Space Nine. My fondest memory is of Quark's Bar. And it wasn't just that the bar was owned by two of the cheekiest back-stabbing alien brothers, Quark and Rom. It was also because, even though the series portrayed the unusual sci-fi situations, we viewers always knew there would be a place where everyone could unwind and raise a steaming glass of rainbow vodka.

Because people, even intrepid 24th-century astronauts living in the middle of who knows where, still need those little terrestrial pleasures.

Lately I've been asking myself: How far has mankind really come? Sure, we've made remarkable breakthroughs in the last couple centuries in many fields, but have we really changed that much? Have we evolved as much as we think?

All these questions arose some while back when I received a certain critique through Critique Circle. In a nutshell, the critiquer urged me not to have my main character drink beer. Because this character was living 200 years in the future, he had to drink something exotic and hard to pronounce.

I can't agree with that advice.

Let me give you a little bit of context: Serving Time takes place a little over 200 years in the future. In this time period, mankind has left the confines of planet Earth and many thousands of people are living in space colonies. The moon has more or less been colonized (mainly for research), and Mars is a terraformation disaster.

From the very start, I knew I wanted the technology surrounding my characters be no more
than a backdrop. Serving Time is character-driven, so the story relies on the characters in order to move forward. Of course the story is littered with sci-fi technology: Tristan is an interplanetary pilot while his younger brother Eneld is a biorobotics engineer. However, while their professions are without a doubt character traits, they don't define the heroes.

While sharing chapters of my novel with my writing buddies, I sometimes received kind suggestions to make certain things more "futuristic." I remember the characters' food was one of those things on the list. But I honestly don't get it. Why should my character eat a monkey brains and mustard sandwich instead of a delicious roast beef? Because he lives in the future and everything's weird over there? Okay, in Serving Time there's a character who actually enjoys tentacle sandwiches and spicy octopus and tomato soup, but that's his personal problem and he's working on it. Plus, I also enjoy my share of tentacles so who am I to judge.

Heaven on a plate!
In Serving Time, Tristan and Eneld drink beer. They button up their shirts. They eat bread with tomato (the typical Catalan way--see image). Why shouldn't they? Oh, because they live in the year 2225? What difference does that make? Beer has been around for about seven thousand years, so why shouldn't it still be a popular drink two measly centuries into the future? The first buttons (used for decorative purposes) date back to around three thousand years ago, so why shouldn't they live on during the space age (along with other fastening methods, of course)?

Tristan's piloting a positron reactor cruiser, for crying out loud! Let the man kick back and enjoy a cold beer while he watches E-Wok: Cooking with the Pros and scratches his unmentionables.

I guess my opinion on the matter is:

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

And here's where I have my gripe. It seems that some sci-fi authors can't conceive of a world where a phone is called a phone, and a car is called a car. Everything has to have a high-tech, sometimes unpronounceable, name because "Hey! In case you forgot: we're in the future!"

In my opinion, this draws attention to the technology, not the story. That might not be a good thing. I vividly remember one disgruntled Amazon reviewer complaining about a sci-fi author's complete lack of regular words. Every single object the characters interacted with required an obscure techie name.

"Why can't a watch be called a watch?" the reviewer said, and he was right. Objects evolve as our technology evolves, but many names stick. Pocket watches from the early 16th century look very unlike our modern-day watches, yet the name persists. So why shouldn't these details survive into a futuristic sci-fi setting?

Think of the daily objects you interact with... Drinking glasses, forks, knives, and spoons... How many of these are centuries old, yet they still persist and are still part of our day-to-day along with i-Phones and self-parking cars? I'm not saying these objects won't evolve or even fall into obscurity over time, but why should we immediately disassociate them from a sci-fi setting?

So what do you think? Out with the old and in with the new? Or if it ain't broke, don't fix it?

Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm still here!

Hello everybody!

*Runs in flailing arms over her head.*

I apologize for my disappearance! It's been just over three months since the last time I published a post. Wow! Since when did time go by so quickly?

So, let me give you an informal update on what's been happening. Bullet points might be useful here, since I have been known to ramble...

  • I'm getting married next year. Salva and I have just started the preparations and I'm already completely stressed out. We've been searching for restaurants for the reception, and so far we're leaning towards a place called Can Traver. We still have to go see it and speak to the wedding organizers there. You can see beautiful pictures of the old Catalan mansion here.
  • My current novel, Making Time, is complete. The first draft, that is... As us regulars in the CC Progress Report Thread always say: "there will always be edits." And that's precisely where I am right now: so deep in edits I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to get back out. Several rewrites are in order, and just knowing what I have to do is twisting my guts in a very unpleasant way (as if there would be a pleasant way to experience gut-twisting...). Hopefully, Making Time will be ready for publication sometime this year, though I prefer quality over speed, so we'll all just have to sit tight.
  • Apart from the novel series, I've also been working on three short stories--prequels--which I also hope to release some time this year (if all goes well and I can finish the darn things!).
  • Finally, and this announcement is coming embarrassingly late, I'm proud to announce that my second NaNoWriMo experience was a complete success! I completed the 50k on November 15, one day later than last year. I admit I started out NaNoWriMo this year with a lot of self-doubts and hesitation. Fortunately, things worked out much better than expected. An entire month of nothing but mindless writing and furious plotting ended in 82,600 words. The novel I worked on is Out of Time, the third book in the Timemakers series.

So that's the update for now. I really can't believe so many months have gone by. I'm a scatterbrain, really, and when I focus on something I tend to block out everything else. Lately, all my focus has been directed toward Making Time.

Here's to new posts!
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