Tag Archives: Science fiction

Star Wars Fan Fiction Experiment

One of the joys and hassles of writing speculative fiction is the world-building involved. I found that out recently when I started writing a new Science Fiction book. I’m at the stage in my writing at the moment where I just need to get on write and improve my storytelling skills (I think anyway) rather than focus on world-building, so that part of things can hold me back. So I had a think about Fan Fiction – as long as its not for profit then its allowed. So I thought I’d give it a go.

You can see my first effort and follow along with it as it progresses here at Wattpad. The story is called Into the Heart of the Empire. I don’t know what’s going to happen yet, so I’ll have as much fun as you will discovering the story too!

Here’s the start of it:

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away …

Following the Battle of Yavin and the destruction of the Death Star, a new hope has been kindled in the universe. The Evil Empire is not all powerful. The Rebel Alliance has shown that it is possible to stand up for freedom and against oppression. Across the galaxy there are stirrings of resistance to the Empire.

Even in the heart of the Empire’s industrial infrastructure there is unease and a willingness to question the word of the Emperor and his forces of oppression. One such place is the Imperial dockyard on Malykan, a system of the Inner Rim.

The ship shuddered as it came out of hyperspace. The battle damage it had sustained made handling difficult and it felt like at any moment the drives might fail.

Jana Yaku could think of simpler ways to die than taking on the mission the Rebel Alliance had assigned her. To be fair to them, she had volunteered and she was the only pilot (she thought) that could pull this off. But still … she regretted her decision now.

The mechs on Yavin had patched up the ship has best they could. The whole point was that it was supposed to be battle-damaged—that was her cover story, but Jana wished that the Rebels who’d knocked this ship out hadn’t been quite as thorough in their work. That’s ironic, as it was her, in a Y-Wing bomber who’d disabled the Imperial Reaper class Escort frigate. Two proton torpedoes had ripped large holes in the frigate—one just forward of the engines and one taking out the Frigate’s bridge. Twisted metal and plastiglass had been bent and welded back into shape by the Engineers on Yavin, but where Jana sat on the bridge was still an uncomfortable and unnatural place to be.

“Reaper-class Frigate, The Ravager, please acknowledge.”

She sighed. She knew it wouldn’t be long until she got a challenge from the Imperial Navy. After all Malkyan had to be one of the most intensely militaries parts of the Inner Rim, given the Imperials built a large number of ships and weapons there.

Book Review: Frostborn by Lou Anders

Frostborn CoverFrostborn (Thrones and Bones 1) by Lou Anders

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published August 5th 2014 by Crown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2014)

ISBN 0385387784 (ISBN13: 9780385387781)

I don’t usually read many Middle Grade of Young Adults books, but I decided to give this one a go after hearing Lou Anders interviewed on the Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing podcast. I’d heard of him as an editor of Science Fiction and Fantasy, but didn’t realise he was an author as well. He came across really well and his book sounded cool – I really liked that he’d actually made the game that was featured in the book – Thrones and Bones – and the viking inspired fantasy world that he talked about appealed to me as well. I got lots of ideas about world building from the interview – including using Fractal Terrains map making software – which I looked at after the podcast (didn’t buy yet it but played around with the demo – it’s good!)

Anyway enough of the asides, onto the book! Frostborn is about two main characters: Karn, a human boy who is more interested in playing Thrones Bones than learning about farming, and Thianna, a half-giant girl. They both have enemies. Thianna’s is fairly obvious – some of the other giants don’t like her, but Karn’s nemesis is a bit more veiled, so I won’t spoil that part of the plot. Thianna also possesses a horn which was given to her by her dead mother, which seems to have special powers – and that brings in a good part of the thriller element of the story. Karn and Thianna both end up on the run from their respective societies. Lots of escapades result and the plot keeps moving at a good pace. There’s also some funny bits in at as well – for instance the skeletal inhabitant of a barrow and associated ghouls who chase Karn.

Needless to say everything gets resolved in the end and the villains get their comeuppance. I liked the humour of the book – the lack of too much seriousness meant that it was a much easier read than many other epic fantasies that begin as rites of passage stories. Both Karn and Thianna had a sense of humour as they struggled to assert themselves, and I found that really refreshing. The viking style fantasy setting was well done–fairly simple, not too many kingdoms etc. I thought it was a good fantasy novel for young readers – and adults alike. Just need to have a go at Thrones and Bones now – you can actually buy the game apparently!

If you’re interested in buying Frostborn (or anything else) then click on one of the Amazon links below. You’ll also be supporting this blog.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly – new Medieval Short Story Collection out soon!

Just wanted to update you all that I am currently working on putting together a new collection of my short stories. The title will be Through a Distant Mirror Darkly and it will collect all my short fiction set in a Medieval setting. Here’s the blurb and cover:

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverNot all is as it seems in this collection of dark tales from the Middle Ages.

Mark Lord, the author of By the Sword’s Edge and Hell has its Demons, weaves five Medieval short stories to excite, scare and enthral you. From the vicious struggle of the Hundred Years War, to legends of werewolves and rumours of necromancers and ghosts, to the bitter conflict of a castle under siege, the action and adventure never stop. These five fast-paced short stories will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning every page until you reach the end. In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.

I’ll post again as soon as its published.

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Naked Writer #5: Summary of the last few days while away from the PC

I was away for the weekend and fairly busy on Friday getting ready to go away so didn’t have time to do a post. I did manage to do some writing, however. So here’s a quick summary:

Friday, 23rd August – 420 words on the start of a SF short story called Trial by Dream. I have a vague idea where this is going, the title is a clue, but otherwise I’m writing into the dark pretty much. But it’s fun!

Saturday, 24th August – nothing! We were out for most of the day, so simply didn’t have time

Sunday, 25th August – this was a travel day so actually did quite a bit of writing – nearly all of it in the car. I did a puny 55 words on Trial by Dream and 574 words on a new writing in the dark project called Dragons Above. The idea behind this one is that it will be a fantasy war themed short novel. The intro of the novel features a dwarf on Anti-Dragon Artillery duty. Loving writing this and looking forward to doing some more.

In total 629 words on Sunday, so a good day for me.

Monday, 26 August – still on holiday so things were fairly busy, but I still managed to get in 177 words – all on Trial by Dream. That’s the problem with writing two things at once – one project can slide a bit. I think I’m going to finish off Trial by Dream first (its going to be a fairly short short story) and then get into Dragons Above a bit more.

Tuesday, 27th August – another travel day, but less opportunity to write. This time did 279 fairly fun words on Trial by Dream – its interesting to see how the setting and the story is developing. I also did a bit of work on tinkering with prices and blurbs on some of my titles on Amazon and other platforms – Lulu, Smashwords and Kobo.

Should be more regular posts for the foreseeable future now!

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Naked Writer #4: Endings and Beginnings

Well I finished Time’s Arrow today (referring to 22nd by the way). Wasn’t quite sure how I would end it, but I thought it was sort of nifty, but to my mind an obvious twist, but we’ll see! I think it’s a terrible story, but they say a writer is the worse judge of their own work.

That was 140 words.

Plus I started a new SF story. Just came up with a title and then though of a vague story idea to go around it. The story is called Trial by Dream and I did a paltry 38 words after coming up with the idea.

Other work included doing some research into my Grail story idea. Decided I needed to do a bit of background reading to get me more in the mood and I also fleshed out some ideas about the story – I’m taking more planned approach to this story, whereas for Trial by Dream its seat of the pants.

So not a lot of words, but at least I’m writing a bit every day so far, which I wasn’t doing a few weeks ago.

Reading:

Still feasting on Feast of Crows. I liked the first chapter for Samwell, but wasn’t sure about the next one and the description of Braavos – seems just like a fantasy Venice to me plus the Colossus of Rhodes – I’m not sure if I like fantasy settings that are transplanted so wholesale from our own real world. But I haven’t finished the chapter yet, so maybe there will be something more to it?

I am also dipping into a book called How to Read a Novel by John Sutherland. The idea behind the book is that to really appreciate reading a novel is as difficult as writing well. It’s written by an English professor, so I guess he has a vested interest in telling us that, but I see his point and I’m hoping to get something out of it. Mostly it contains lots of out of date observations about the publishing industry (it was published in 2006), but I’m hoping it will pick up soon!

 

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Science Fiction Magazines Increase Contributor Pay Rates

For quite a while now the contributor pay rate for a professional Science Fiction and/or Fantasy Magazine has been 5 cents per word. So if you were to write a 5,000 word story you should be making $250. This rate has been pretty much the market standard and fixed as the sign of a professional sale as the SFWA only recognizes a magazine market as professional if it pays this rate or over.

Now it seems economic factors such as inflation have finally caught up with this figure. Asimov’s and Analog are both increasing their rates. SFScope reports that these two publications are actually increasing their rates from 6-8 cents per word to 7-9 cents per word. The other major market is Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine – their website reports that they are offering 6-9 cents per word.

How long I wonder until the SFWA increases the criteria for the qualifying markets it lists? I would imagine they might look at increasing it to at least 6 cents per word? Although it doesn’t sound like a lot, when you calculate the payment for a 5,000 word story then it does add up: $300 instead of $250. These magazines must be taking quite a hit at the moment to their costs. I hope they can cope, as we definitely need these publications to stay vibrant and profitable for the sake of the SFF writing and reading community.

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The Purring of Cats by Dave Hoing, Interzone #207 December 2006

Quick Short Story Review: The Purring of Cats by Dave Hoing, Interzone #207

About a counselor who falls in love with his patient. In this case the patient is actually classed as a criminal as she has illegally had sex with an alien.

The writing was alright, although for me it didn’t really come alive. I thought the Science Fiction was rather superficial though – it could have been in any era from the twentieth century onwards – apart from mention of aliens and spaceships there was very little futurism, and the societal background could well have been swapped for any totalitarian state.

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Latest Fantasy Fiction News February 26, 2012

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The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy

As well as Science Fiction and Fantasy I also love many works of classic literature, and probably my favourite author is Leo Tolstoy – specifically his great works like War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but also some of his lesser known fiction like The Cossacks.

To that end I have started populating some information about these books on the site. I’ll soon be putting up some information about War and Peace, but for now why not go and find out more about The Cossacks? It’s a delightful novella and a great introduction to what Tolstoy is all about.

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The Human Factor Uploaded to Scribd – by someone else!

Weird and unlikely things happen when you distribute your work for free over the internet. And it seems that my story The Human Factor has been downloaded from Feedbooks and uploaded to Scribd.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I guess the guy who did just liked the story, which is good and isn’t gaining commercially from it – although Scribd are of course through advertising – whereas there is no advertising on Feedbooks.

Writers – what do you think? Are you happy to see your work distributed for free by others if you have already made it free?

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