tired of the same old politics? Fed up
with candidates slinging so much mud it puts thong-wearing lady wrestlers to
shame? Have strategically-timed ‘gotcha’
videos turned you into a jaded cynic? Do
you want fresh ideas to revive your interest in social narrative and public
discourse gone stale? Do you want them
in an easy-to-digest pamphlet size that’s no bigger but no less incendiary than
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense? If so, then you won’t need terrabytes of
polling data to figure out that Politics
Unusual is the literary choice for you.
writers Patrick Lundrigan (L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future award-winning
author), J. Monell, Brian Pedersen and Neil Morris as they spin tales of fantasic contests in the civic arena: in Patrick Lundrigan’s The Political Machine, a master of old-fashioned realpolitik must
adapt to challenges posed by an artificially-intelligent candidate in a
technologically disorienting virtual debate; negative campaigning gets a taste
of New Age medicine in the battle for a young woman’s soul in J. Monell’s The Media Medium; Brian Pedersen’s Falling for a Presidential Hopeful features
an ambitious wife grappling with the possibility that her nominee husband may
not be of this Earth, while Neil Morris’ The
Living Document pits an anthropomorphic United States Constitution against
a Supreme Court Chief Justice in a debate over the most controversial issue of
readers, though, there’s simply no debate: whether you’re a nobody in the
ninety-nine percent or a one percent patrician, Politics Unusual will leave you wholly entertained.
I've always been a storyteller. I remember standing in the second grade schoolyard and captivating some classmate with the most outrageous string of, ahem, embellishments to the story I was telling.
A few years later I committed those stories to loose-leaf paper, with drawings and report covers. Next came attempts with typewriters.
Years later, I realized that there were such things as How-to books, and stocked up and read a whole bunch of them. But it wasn't until 2001 that I seriously started to write. By that I mean I took an on-line class in how to write, joined Critters, and I not only wrote, but keep track of what I was doing.
So back on May 10th, 2001, I wrote the first 380 words of my professional writing career. Since then I've written about a hundred stories and more than 700,000 words of fiction. Which means I'm still working on the one million words of crap they say writers have to produce before writing something good. But I have managed to sell six stories and win a few contests. Did I show any promise with those first few hundred words? You be the judge:
The Pierian Spring
Krane felt a lurch in his stomach as the lander dipped into the atmosphere. The steady keel of the carrier was long gone, replaced by the bobbing and weaving of this small craft as it descended. He could feel the thin wisps as they slowed the lander, and the wingtips began to glow. Weightlessness and inertia traded places, and he was pulled into his seat. Another swift turn, and the ocean below was revealed. Clouds, white like all clouds; waters, blue for the most part. Vast patches of greens and blues hugged the shorelines and equator. He accessed for a moment. These varieties of plankton were similar to species found thirty-two other worlds. Preliminary studies showed them to to quite unremarkable. Genetic makeup was closest to… He felt the beginning of vertigo, despite the momentary smoothness of the lander. Closing his eyes, he concentrated until the feeling, and the information, faded.
Krane looked over at the pilot. No queasiness showed, only an eager grip on the controls and the intense stare of concentration. His flightsuit bore colorful badges of rank and missions in contrast to Krane’s single insignia—a small stylized microscope.
“We’re coming up on the continent.” he said, acknowledging Krane for the first time.
Krane had seen the continent from orbit, of course. Now it was appearing on the horizon. The only major land mass on this planet, beside tiny outcroppings and volcanic chains of islands. He was about to access the tectonic and geological records, but hesitated. Later, he thought.
They were now over land, the descent moderated somewhat. The lander was now an aircraft, and Krane imagined the sonic booms below him. There was nothing to hear them, though, this area being devoid of any life on an already sparsely inhabited world. Those simple creatures, plants mostly and a few phyla of insects, had their fate in Krane’s hands.
. . . is no news. For me anyway. But some of my friends have been doing good stuff.
J Kathleen Cheney, a friend from WotF 24, made the Nebula Awards ballot with her story Iron Shoes! It came out in the fabulous Alembical 2, the anthology of novellas from Paper Golem Press. Edited by Laurence Schoen, who will be the Guest of Honor at Lunacon in a couple of weeks.
Ian McHugh, another mate from WotF, has his latest story, Boumee and the Apes, in the May 2011 issue of Analog. On newsstands NOW -- so get yourself a copy before they're all sold out.
And if you prefer audio books over antholgies or magazines, give the Erin Cashier (yes, another pal from WotF) storyCrucigar a listen over at Escape Pod.
I jumped into this year's NaNo without much thought, and sometimes that's a good thing. I made the 50 k mark, just barely, and on the last day. The other two times I won, I finished a day early. This time was a lot harder. I had four no writing days, and three days with less than 1k words, which meant a lot of catching up. And I can't remember how many times I just wanted to quit.
But I haven't been writing much, and doing a lot of writing, even if it's bad writing, helped to get me unstuck. I went right back into the story I had on hold for November, and I'm almost done with it (it's a 20k novella, so it's a big story too).
Previously I had used Spacejock yWriter for NaNo, but this year I found out that Scrivener had a windows trial version out, so I wanted to try it. It has a lot of great features, none of which I had much time to use because I was busy writing. Scrivener came highly recommended as an all-in-one writer's toolbox, and I'll take a deeper look at the features now that I have time.
And the actual story I wrote? Well, it was a re-write of a previous NaNo novel, with big changes at the end of the story. I still don't think it's ready to go, many things about the story need work, and it needs another 20-40k to make it saleable. I'm going to let it sit for awhile.
Congrats to all you other winners out there, and for those that tried, keep writing anyway.
The prize package for the JBMWC came (quite awhile back).
Here's the very cool trophy:
The rest of the package was a great assortment of cool stuff from Baen:
I got a Baen book bag, stainless steel mug and 2 books:
A Robert Heinlein double anthology: The Green Hills of Earth / The Menace from Earth and The World Turned Upside Down, edited by David Drake, Eric Flint and Jim Baen. This antho collects stories that made the editors SF fans -- stuff that turned their worlds upside down and made them lifelong fans! For more on these books, go to Baen's website.
If you're interested in the contest, start writing! The submission window for this year's contest opens October 1st. Good luck!
My story "Space Hero" has won the Grand Prize in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest. Last year I won second place with a re-write of one of my WotF quarter-finalist stories, but this year I managed to write two new stories for the contest, and sent the best one in. The story will be published on the Baen Books website sometime in the future, as a feature story.
And congratulations to second place winner David D. Levine (another former WotF winner) with his story "Citizen-Astronaut" and third place winner Stuart D. Gibbon with his story "High Ground." I'm sure we'll see those stories in print soon.
The National Space Society and Baen Books
sponsor this contest in memory of Jim Baen, to celebrate the role
science fiction has in making advances in science. The basic
requirement for entries is that they show the near future of manned
The National Space Society has a simple
vision: People living and working in thriving communities beyond the
Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic
betterment of humanity. They have local chapters all over the United
States. I've been getting their magazine adAstra for the past year, and I enjoy it thoroughly. Check out the magazine's website where you can download a sample issue and read some articles.
Jim Baen (1946-2006) was a noted science fiction writer,
who became and editor and publisher when he founded Baen Books, a
leader in the field of military SF, fantasy, adventure and space opera.
They also have a thriving e-book division called Webscriptions, which allows readers to download books before publication.
A big thanks
to Baen books and The National Space Society for providing the prizes
(including membership in the Society!), judges Hank Davis, Jim Mintz, David Weber. And special thanks to William Ledbetter for
organizing the contest and getting the results out.