Seven

Aloha – I’ve been busy over the past year.  I completed the editing of two books as yet unpublished:  Salt of the Earth and Project Lilliput.  Then I took a break.  I’m now starting my tenth manuscript, Seven.

I had four books or series of books that I wanted to write when I started writing science fiction about ten years ago:  the first was a YA Science fiction series that was intended to be three books, but to tell the story completely it became five books.  I wrote them for my grandchildren in my own style, but reminiscent of Heinlein.  I had two other ideas for books that I completed:  Project Lilliput was a what if story.  What if we shrank all animal life including humans, with humans being about two inches tall.  The environmental theme was in the background, and then of course, what if the science did not completely work?  What if birds, snakes, and cockroaches were resistant to the science?

Salt of the Earth was my effort at a serious piece of literature.  I believe it is the best thing I have written from a literature perspective, but I also believe it is a great story related to politics, economics, and mining asteroids.  And no, it is not boring.

So what is Seven about?  The last of the stories I started with ten years ago was a space opera.  This is intended to be high adventure, and more action than the earlier books.  I still have two elements that dominate my writing:  (1) trying to develop sympathetic characters, and (2) an optimistic future.  So if you’re looking for the popular dystopian theme you don’t want to read my stuff.  I find that publishers find me too 1960s for their taste.  I do have strong female characters, but it is still more focused on young male characters.  What little sex is involved is very traditional heterosexual in nature.  I have no problem with the LBGTQ community, but they are not front and center in the universe I write about.  So you are unlikely to see anything I write anywhere but Amazon 🙂

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Dog Days of Summer Reading

It is that time of year.  I still have two books written that I haven’t published (Salt of the Earth, and untitled Project Lilliput).  I’ve started a new book, untitled Elijah of Seven.  Meanwhile to celebrate the dog days of summer, I have put the Orion’s Spur Series on sale starting today.  For the next three days Demeter volume 1 in the series in free on Amazon.  Starting tomorrow the complete series, volumes 2-5 are on sale for summer reading.  Enjoy lounging on a comfortable chair and enjoying the adventures of William Ryder, his ever confident sister Debbie and the rest of the gang.

Image result for slow movement

Aloha – Seems like I’ve been inching forward for months now.  The Demeter series is about 80% of the way to being available in hard copy book format and we’re recovering the entire series.  Once that is done we’ll be releasing “Salt of the Earth.”  If you like the old covers you may want to grab a copy on Amazon this week (or month depending on how much longer this project takes).

Still haven’t read volume 1:  Demeter?  The price is reduced for March Madness to 99 cents.

Enjoy

 

Project Lilliput

 

I’m getting ready to begin a sequel to the yet unpublished novel Project Lilliput.  The first book was fun to write; very much a young adult science fiction novel.  Instead of the traditional dystopian approach to a future limited by resources I chose a different model, where science had shrunk all animal life on Earth including humans.  Unfortunately for humans, not all animals remain in a shrunken state.  Enjoy Chapter 1 and let me know what you think 🙂

Chapter 1 Cloud Dragons

Eric Brice was a firstling.  He was not unique.   All 27 members of his class were firstlings.   They were the first born after the Transition, and provided evidence that the planet-wide initiative had worked.

Eric often wondered what his mother had thought.  Had she been afraid?  Did she think she would die?  He realized that his mother must have been the bravest person in the world.  Correction, all the mothers of his generation must have been the bravest people on the planet.  Trying to imagine the fear they must have endured for nine months terrorized him even now at seventeen years of age.

“Beautiful, isn’t it,” a voice startled him.

“Huh?” Eric turned to see the smiling face of his friend Kviiiy as she slid in facing him on the padded bench seating.

“I just noticed that you were looking out the window, and assumed you were taking in the rolling hills of Iowa,” Kviiiy responded smiling.  “Or were you just meditating again?”

Kviiiy was the same age as Eric and had been his best friend since they were both six years old.  She was a bit shorter than Eric and had recently filled out with a solid, curvy build.  She had red curly hair that she was always fighting, and a face full of freckles.  When they were eight, she asked Eric to count the freckles on her face but he lost count at a hundred.

Turning back to the window, Eric replied reflectively, “Yes it is pretty, a lot nicer than the brown weeds of home.”

The bullet train they were riding sank back to the surface after zipping across a bridge spanning the North Skunk River.

“Haven’t we crossed this river already?” Kviiiy asked, leaning across Eric to get a closer look.

“You smell good today,” Eric grinned.  “Making another play for Tony?”

“He’ll come around,” Kviiiy smiled knowingly.

“To your question,” Eric spoke as he turned back to the window, “we’ve crossed the North Skunk River three times and will cross it once more according to the maps.  It writhes back and forth like a snake.  The train line is moving southwest, so we intersect it four times before we cross into Illinois.”

Kviiiy plunked down beside Eric.  She was dressed in a denim shirt and jeans, and wore a white headband holding back her rebellious red hair.  “How fast are we going now?”

Eric scowled.  “200 miles per hour with the mag-lev system.  You know all this; don’t play dumb with me.  What gives?”

“I’m bored,” Kviiiy replied.

“So Tony blew you off?” Eric grinned.

“No… yes… sort of.” Kviiiy sulked.  “Chanel is all over him.”

“Okay, how about a game of cards?” Eric exhaled slowly.  He reached under his seat to pull a deck from his backpack when the lights inside the car flashed to warn that the train was slowing down.  Even so, he toppled over onto Kviiiy as the train quickly decelerated.  As he recovered, he noticed her blue eyes staring into his.  “Sorry.” he blushed as he stood back up.

Eric was stocky but tall compared to his peers.  His ink black hair contrasted his pale face, which exacerbated the scarlett color that rose when he blushed.  He preferred slacks to jeans and wore a blue, button down collared shirt, which was his signature look.  “I wonder why we’re stopping.  We’re still in Iowa.  We shouldn’t get to Springfield Central for another hour.”

As the train came to a rest, the lights flashed again, and a neutral computer voice came over the PA ordering everyone to stay in their seats.

Eric and Kviiiy joined their classmates, ignoring the announcement, crowding around the windows trying to figure out what was going on.  It was a lightly wooded area with green rolling hills.  The area immediately surrounding the train was thick with some sort of thorny wild berry plants.  The fruit on the bushes had formed but was still green.

“I’m going outside to see what the problem is.” A voice that Eric recognized as belonging to Anthony Dennett rose above the din.  Tony was the class president.  He was also captain of the junior class basketball team.

“I’m going with you,” came another voice.

Female.  Chanel Savage obviously, Eric thought.

Kviiiy moved to stand, but Eric dragged her back into her seat.  “This is neither the time nor place to be wandering outside,” he whispered.

“But…” Kviiiy began.

“No buts.” Eric cut her off.  “We wait and see.”

Several minutes passed before the chatter of classmates resumed when Tony returned.  Standing at the doorway he announced, “Looks like a broken tree limb blocking the track.  They’re unloading the lasers to cut it away.”

“Come on out,” Chanel called.  It’s a beautiful day out here, just a bit muggy.”

The call to enjoy a sunny day in Iowa was too much for Eric’s classmates, as they rose from their seats and started to disembark.  “Don’t you want to go outside?”  Kviiiy asked as she got out of her seat.

“I’m thinking about it,” Eric stalled.  “It would be interesting to watch the lasers at work.”  He had a sudden urge to scratch at the scars on his back.  “I think I’ll stay here,” he replied indecisively.

“Come on.” Kviiiy encouraged.  “I’ll protect you.”

“Even Tony can’t protect us.” Eric growled.  Nonetheless, he rose to follow Kviiiy.

Just as they reached the doorway to the train he heard screams and backed away from the door; a too familiar screech followed.

As students shoved to get back to the safety of the train, Eric heard someone outside yell, “Cloud Dragons.”

“Great!” Eric exhaled.  The engineers weren’t dumb enough to remove all the defensive lasers were they?  He wondered.

One screech was followed by another and another.  Eric finally got up the nerve to approach a window.  Three, four… no five.  I don’t recognize this variety.

Kviiiy joined him, “Looks like kites,” she stood mouth agape.

“Did everyone make it back inside?” Eric asked as he spotted a beam of light hit one of the kites.  The dragon dropped something or someone.

A second laser beam from the top of the center car drew Eric’s attention away from the fallen bundle.  The green light seared the right wing of the cloud dragon causing it to squeal as it took flight.  Two more beams were creating a light show from the front of the train now.  The predators were dancing and screeching trying to avoid the burning light.

Eric saw movement out of the corner of his eye to the left.  The bundle that had fallen earlier was crawling slowly, toward the train.  “No,” Eric whispered.  “Stay still you fool.”  He realized as he spoke that it was a waste, as his voice did not even carry to the next set of seats.

Eric jumped out of his seat and raced to the egress.  Without pausing, he jumped to the ground and bounded to the fallen man, jumping on top of him.  “Lie still you idiot,” he whispered angrily.  As if illustrating what he meant, he lay perfectly still on top of the man who responded in kind.

One of the creatures stood less than a wingspan away from Eric staring at him with a hungry look in its red eyes.  Eric closed his eyes expecting to feel the sharp talons digging into his flesh.  His muscles flexed involuntarily expecting the pain that did not come.

Two laser beams angled into the kite from different directions.  The screech was deafening, but Eric did not move.

The creature took flight, being the last of the five predators to leave the scene.

Eric lay still on top of the man for what seemed forever, when he heard running footsteps.  “Come on, get up.  Let’s get back inside,” he heard the familiar voice of his friend Kviiiy.

Eric rose, then tried to help the man up he had been lying on top of.  The man struggled, but could not rise.

“Afraid my right leg is broken.” the man apologized.

“Dr. Lambert?  Joseph Lambert?” Eric’s jaw dropped.

“One and the same lad,” the man waved Tony and others back.  “Right now I could use some help, but it is going to have to be a medic.”  He replied hoarsely.

“But what are you doing here?” Eric looked dumbfounded.

“On my way back to Springfield,” the man groaned as he started to shiver.

“I’ll get a blanket,” Kviiiy yelled and ran back toward the train.  “I think he’s going into shock,” she called over her shoulder.

A man wearing a red polo shirt, designating him as security, approached from the front of the train.  “Why did you get out of the train?  Get back aboard immediately!” he began shouting at the group of students and handful of adults that had circled around Dr. Lambert.  “Looks like we’re going to need a medical team,” he spoke formally into the communicator attached to his shirt.

Kviiiy reappeared with several blankets, tripping into Tony Dennett.  “Sorry,” she spoke half an octave higher than her normal voice Eric noticed.

“The blankets Kviiiy,” Eric called, unusually irritated.

The security officer took over, with his focus darting back and forth between Dr. Lambert and the sky.  “You kids!  Get back on the train.”

Back at his seat, Eric watched as a Med Tech rushed up the aisle from a rear car and hesitated at the egress from the train.  With a deep breath, the Tech moved away from the protection of the car and quick stepped over to where Dr. Lambert and the security officer waited.  A two-person team soon arrived from the front of the train with a mounted laser unit.  They scanned the sky continually, while the medic worked on Dr. Lambert.

“Nice job out there,” a warm voice distracted Eric from the scene; turning he saw Tony Dennett and his entourage standing behind him.

“It was nothing,” Eric blushed.  Still he accepted Tony’s outstretched hand.

“It was something,” Tony grinned with a toothy smile.  “I didn’t even think to do what you did.  I’m not sure if I would have had the nerve if I had thought of it.”

“Yeah, we were impressed,” Coul  GoCool agreed as he stood next to Chanel with both of their heads nodding.

Eric did not care for Coul GoCool.  In some ways, he felt sorry for the guy as he had such a stupid name.  Nevertheless, Eric could feel his skin crawl whenever he was around Coul.  He decided that Coul was a Clinger.  He hung around the most popular guy in the class, whoever it happened to be.  Eric thought Coul was his best friend in second grade, but by third grade, Coul was to be found with the boy who rescued the cat out of a tree.  Now it was the class president or basketball star, Eric wasn’t sure which of Tony’s roles had captured the attention of Coul.

Eric laughed to himself as he took in the trio.  Coul was as pale as Tony was black.  Coul was the shortest kid in the class; Tony was the tallest.  Tony was cool while Coul was not.

Coul always wore a hat.  This year, his choice of haberdashery was a grey beret.  The beret covered short sandy hair that looked like Coul had cut it himself.  His teeth were yellowish, and he sometimes smelled as if he needed a shower.

Chanel was as short as Coul, but there the similarities ended.  She had shoulder length brunette hair, and dark brown eyes accentuated by her eyebrows and lashes that drew observers in.  She was petite and athletic.  She was attentive to whomever she was focused on that week and laughed easily.  Half the boys in Eric’s class had a crush on her.  Today she was drawing attention to herself with a bright floral print sundress.

Eric didn’t care much for Chanel.  She acted like an airhead, but he knew she was near the top of the class academically.  She had captured the hearts of four boys in their class, dating since she was thirteen.  But Eric noticed that she tended to break up with the boys as soon as she knew they were totally focused on her and not someone else in the class.  He was beginning to think relationships were just a game for her, as basketball was for Tony.

“Hey, they have a patrol copter coming in,” Kviiiy announced, drawing Eric’s attention back out the window.  The copter was huge with four sets of rotors surrounding a substantial round carriage.  They could have placed half the train in the space that the main deck of the copter occupied.  It was modeled after the drones of the early twenty-first century.   The oversized construction had been necessary to ward off the cloud dragons that had mangled hundreds of standard size helicopters the first several years after the Transition.

Dr. Lambert waved in Eric’s direction as the old man was carefully lifted onto a gurney, and carried to the copter.

“Where do you think they’re taking him?” Tony asked no one in particular.

“Probably the hospital in Springfield Four,” Kviiiy volunteered.                 “But we’ll get to Springfield as fast, or faster, than the copter,” Chanel looked up to Tony for confirmation.

“But they’d still have to get him from the station to the hospital,” Tony replied seriously.

Chanel actually fluttered her eyelashes, “I hadn’t thought of that.  You’re so smart.”

On the side, Kviiiy provided a gag reflex with her fingers that made Eric laugh abruptly.  He transitioned the laugh to a cough.  “Well we better take our seats.  I think they’re packing up to get moving again.”

Kviiiy remained by Eric and started talking as soon as Tony and his companions returned to their seats.  “She makes me sick.”

“Chanel?” Eric asked, although he knew the answer.

“Yes, little miss prissy pants,” Kviiiy spat out.

“She’s wearing a dress today if you hadn’t noticed,” Eric smiled.

Kviiiy slapped his arm.  “You know what I mean.  All lovely dovey and pretentious.”

“Seems you’ve been taking lessons,” Eric teased.

“What?” Kviiiy yelped, drawing attention from the students nearby.  Then in a lower voice, “What do you mean by that?” she snarled.

“I saw that fake trip into Tony you pulled,” Eric whispered back, leaning in without looking directly at Kviiiy.  “Oops, look at me… classic Chanel move, if not as polished.”

Kviiiy folded her arms tightly and sat silently as the bells chimed and the train began moving forward again.  She didn’t speak the rest of the way to Springfield Central.

Original? Science Fiction Movies 2018

Image result for megashark

This is the last of a 3 part series about 2018 movies deemed science fiction.  Of course science fiction and fantasy have long been merged on the variety of lists I’ve seen over the years.  In part one we looked at total remakes, in part two we looked at sequels, now we’re looking at original story lines (even if the themes have been used poorly in the past).  It is a pretty disappointing list unless you’re into art films or horror.  Below is the short list that I’ve created with a brief highlight(s) for each:

Annihilation – Surreal mystery with Natalie Portman

A Wrinkle in Time – Based on a children’s classic that in some schools was on the required reading list.

Ready Player One – Based on an Ernest Cline novel.  Yet another dystopian story mixing Tron with fantasy.  Steven Spielberg directs.

Rampage – Based on an arcade game.  It does offer Dwayne Johnson, as we get the 1950s B movie approach of a person (in this case an ape) growing to huge proportion then creating havoc in a large city.

Replicas – With Keanu Reeves.  Haven’t we seen this in six other varieties?

Alita:  Battle Angel – All we need is the title to know that this is based on a Japanese manga.

Captive State – Oh-oh, August release date.  Still an interesting premise with John Goodman.  What happens to the Earth 10 years after the alien invasion?  Think V from the TV series.

The Meg – Jason Stratham and a 70-foot shark?  Shouldn’t this be on the SciFy channel as a tongue in cheek horror movie?

The Mortal Engines – Peter Jackson from the Lord of the Rings franchise was a co-writer of the film.  Dystopian future, Mad Max, parable that seems focused on creating An Inconvenient Truth parable.

Nine films.  Some of these may catch on based on the audiences to whom they appeal.  Personally I’m a Dwayne Johnson fan, but not sure if I’ll watch Rampage before it comes out on free video.  The only story lines that really catch my interest are A Wrinkle in Time and Captive State.  I’ll probably see Ready Player One because Spielberg is directing and he knows how to make an entertaining film.  I’m also interested in what Peter Jackson does as a legacy fan from Lord of the Rings.  But I’m prepared to be disappointed.  With that said, here are my predictions on winners and losers (whether I like them or not)

Three winners:

Ready Player One

Captive State

The Mortal Engines

Films that may do all right, but won’t recoup their investment

Annihilation

A Wrinkle in Time

Films that range from losers to embarrassing losers

Rampage

Replicas

Alita:  Battle Angel

The Meg

Overall, it looks to be a disappointing year for original story lines.  Thank goodness for sequels.

 

2018 Sci Fi Sequel winners and losers

Last week I discussed 2018 remakes.  I really only considered two movies to be science fiction remakes for 2018.  This week I’ll try to narrow my thoughts on Science Fiction Sequels.  Oh my gosh, where to begin?

The Avengers:  Infinity Wars

Pacific Rim Uprising

Jurassic World Fallen

Solo:  A Star Wars Story

The Maze Runner:  The Death Cure

Black Panther

Aquaman

X-Men:  Dark Phoenix

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Bumblebee:  The Movie

Wreck-It Ralph 2

Without considering the quality of the movie production, with this many big-budget sequels some are going to be winners, others will be big time losers.  Here is my guess as to the winners and losers with my own preferences weighing heavy (I acknowledge that I liked both John Carter of Mars and the Lone Ranger so my views certainly have limitations)

Winners:

The Avengers: Infinity Wars – Too many fans have too much time invested in the series to miss out on this one whether it is good or bad.

Jurassic World:  Fallen Kingdom – Chris Pratt.

Ant-Man and the Wasp – This is my danger zone.  I loved the first one and the writing.  Paul Rudd is back.  The Catherine Zeta-Zones look alike is also back, playing the daughter of Michael Douglas which creates some real cognitive dissonance.  But really, it’s the writing in this case.  Another winner.

Solo:  A Star Wars Story – Who doesn’t love Han Solo?  Who didn’t choke up when he died?  (well other than Harrison Ford)

Wreck-It Ralph 2 – Only because it is the only animated sci-fi sequel on the eleven film list.

 

The Toss Up

It is a battle between Black Panther and Aquaman.  I think one or the other will make the winner list, and the other will be a loser.  At the moment I’ll give it to Aquaman as he was one of the few redeeming elements of the Justice League.

 

Losers:

Pacific Rim Uprising –  Great direction and story might help if its there, but I think its going to be a mess that should have gone straight to video.

The Maze Runner – The Death Cure.  Pretty easy answer here.  The film series has already lost steam.

X-Men:  Dark Phoenix – Are there fans?

Bumblebee:  The Movie – Talk about a worn out premise. 

 

I’m not done yet, but done for today.  We haven’t even looked at the new science fiction films.  Next week 

 

 

Science Fiction Remakes in 2018

Fahrenheit 451Predator

2018 is looking to be a terrific year for science fiction and fantasy movies.  The list of films on the horizon merits breaking the movies into sub-categories.  Today I’m looking just at remakes.  Many of the sequels might be remakes to a greater or lesser extent (take Iron Sky for example).  But I’ve only classified two as true remakes for 2018; Predator and Fahrenheit 451.

Predator has an alien antagonist, bur really is otherwise a horror film more than a science fiction film.  People who saw it generally liked it (87% of audiences liked it according to Rotten Tomatoes).  Its sequels did not fare nearly so well.  The film was made in 1987 and stands up well thirty years later if you like this type of film.  The only reason to remake this film is to make money.

Fahrenheit 451 was released in 1966.  It is based on a Ray Bradbury book that was very successful, and in the required reading list of many high schools.  The film is very dated, and of course the special effects of are of a 1960s era, which makes for a severe weakness for a sci-fi geek.  As opposed to Predator, remaking this film generates some excitement in my circles.  This has the potential of being a great story, updated with 21st century special effects and budgets that allow the opportunity for a deeper sense of loss than could be generated in the original film.  As much as I like Julie Christie in the film, Oskar Werner left a lot to be desired as a leading man in the 1966 version.  Let’s hope they do a great job on a great story.