The Veil War

"and then I was like, 'Holy crap, goblins!'"

The Really Big Idea: M. H. Mead

I was going to say something clever about the interesting essay that follows. But I am totally distracted by horror at the thought of rule 34 applied to this phrase:
Meaty Tiddlywinks. Once you recover please read this excellent essay:

Meaty Tiddlywinks

Car crashes are scary.  The auto companies spend millions every year trying to convince us that their cars are the safest, but we know better. We’ve watched too many movies that show us how easy it is for cars to shoot into the sky, roll over, and blow up. Thanks to YouTube and dashboard cameras, we can watch Stupid-People-Who-Are-Not-Us smashing into other cars left and right, rebounding from stationary objects, and blasting pedestrians into the air as if they were meaty tiddlywinks.


TakingTheHighway-1000x1600

In films, the scariest crashes aren’t the ones we see from a distance, but rather the interior shots where gravity suddenly seems cancelled due to lack of payment and the view out the windshield  stops making sense. When the passengers dangle from their safety restraints and their personal possessions begin the mid-air waltz of underwear in the tumble dryer, we have to cover our eyes.

If watching car crashes second hand is bad, the near-misses we’ve had are terrifying. Looking into a rear view mirror in anticipation of a rear-ending makes us feel helpless. The loss of control that we feel when the tires hit a patch of ice makes our hearts seize and our breathing stop. It’s probably the lack of control in general that is so unnerving; one likes to be the captain of one’s destiny, the pilot of one’s soul, the composer of one’s metaphor—and we don’t like when reality intrudes on that delightful illusion.

We both drive a lot, and almost all our trips take us on the highways around Detroit. We see the carnage of driving-gone-wrong every day. Maybe that’s why crashes scare us so. We know we’ll probably never be taken hostage by bank robbers or flee from a tsunami. But a car accident? Highly likely. In fact, they’ve already happened to both of us, and in Harry’s case, it was nearly fatal.

There are a lot of car crashes in Taking the Highway—terrifying collisions where the people don’t just have to worry about their own driving or the dubious skills of the other drivers, but about the very technology that is supposed to keep them safe.

In the fictional world of Taking the Highway, cars and highways work together to keep drivers safe. Overdrive technology—an artificial intelligence system—lines every highway in Detroit. Overdrive monitors the flow of traffic and sends override codes to cars to keep them from speeding, veering, or crashing.

That is, until things go horribly wrong. Someone is sabotaging Overdrive, confusing the sensors and causing horrific accidents. Is it somehow connected to the carpool laws, and the professional hitchhikers who are paid to fill cars? Or does it go deeper, into the sordid politics of Detroit itself? The only one who can stop the crashes is homicide detective Andre LaCroix, who has to arrest the culprits before becoming their next victim.

Writers are told to write what they know. But it’s more important that we write what scares us. And what scares us is car crashes. We hope it will also be what scares you, because cars of the future will be safer than ever—and will fail in ways we can only dream of.

M.H. Mead is the shared pen name of Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion. When not writing books together, they can be found at their homes in Michigan watching very bad television and eating key lime pie.

Buy Book: Taking the Highway

Visit the author’s website | facebook

 

The Desert of Stars

Friend of the Veil War and Really Big Idea alum John Lumpkin has a new book out – The Desert of Stars. The sequel to Through Struggle, the Stars is just as good as the first – no sophomore slump here. If you like hard sf this is something you want to be reading. The world that John has created is plausible in its politics and history and realistic in its portrayal of future technology. In fact, there’s only one real departure from our current understanding of physics: the wormhole gates that allow FTL travel between Earth and her colony worlds.

If you’ve ever wondered what space combat might be like, these books will give you a taste of what real space warfare might be like. All and all, an excellent read; a ripping yarn of space war and interstellar espionage. Highly recommended.

The Really Big Idea: Chris Braid


A while back, of a Sunday I was feeling sick and out of sorts. I pulled out the phone and started reading my twitter feed. I saw a tweet pimping a zombie book. Zombies, I thought. Just the thing for a rainy sick Sunday. So I went and bought it. (And so I am living proof that social media works to get books into the hands of readers.)

And it’s fun. Also grim, bloody, British and filled with zombies. Here’s Chris Braid to explain:

Going Viral

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. Encouraged by parents and grandparents I would more often than not walk around with a comic book or paperback stuffed into my back pocket, ready to be whipped out and perused at a moment’s notice. At least, as soon as I started wearing trousers with pockets. (Mine was the last of the UK’s ‘short trouser’ generation; being given and allowed to wear full-length trousers with pockets was seen as a rite of passage. Thank the Lord that times change!)

But I digress. I do that a lot.

viral

It seemed a natural progression to go from reading almost anything I could get my hands on to writing. The first few ‘books’ I wrote were when I had just become a teenager. They were a series of detective novels whose hero, Wes Chisel, just might have been inspired by Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. (It was surely coincidence that I was collecting – and reading – all of Spillane’s books at the time!) But what I really wanted to write was fantasy; I just didn’t know it yet.

I’d taken a break from Wes Chisel’s latest case to read the most recent issue of Marvel Comic’s Savage Sword of Conan comic. Yet again I noticed that almost every one of the QNS’s† letters referred to a book called The Lord of the Rings. Which I had often heard of but never read.

This time I decided to do something about it. I got hold of a pretty tidy copy from a local second-hand bookshop. Luckily it was the summer holidays. I read the whole thing in two sittings and spent the next three days wondering around like a zombie (I liked zombies, even a thirteen year old schoolboy had a chance against a zombie, as opposed to a werewolf or vampire!) due to lack of sleep.

Sorry, more digression. I did warn you.

The upshot was that Wes Chisel got fitted for concrete overboots and a veritable rainforest of exercise books were filled up with lots of sub-Tolkien …well, garbage, actually. Not long after I discovered that there were aliens living among us and a couple of years after that, aged 16, I joined the army as a boy soldier.

Fast forward a couple of decades. I’m still a soldier but far, far away from being a boy and I’ve married my own special alien (I’d found out that the species were known as “girls” and they were even more alien than I had ever imagined!). I’m undergoing a protracted stay in hospital with little to occupy myself apart from read the mountain of books supplied by my alien, sorry wife, when I realize that some of them are…not very good. When I mention this, I am told. “Well if you think you can do any better…” So I tried. And I tried. And I kept trying.

And got nowhere.

All I had to show for my efforts was a mountain of rejection letters. All containing the advice to, “Write about what you know!” But I didn’t know any elves. Or Dragons. Or wizards. Oh I knew a few Rangers, but they were not that sort of Ranger. And then Santa brought me a Kindle.

I was out of the army, with time on my hands. I went into a feeding frenzy. Books for Free? I’ll have some of that! And some of that. And that, and that and…well, you get the picture. I spent so much time with my nose buried in my Kindle I was walking about like a Zombie again. And then it hit me. I didn’t know elves but I knew soldiers; and surely the essence of a Zombie was not that they were the risen dead but that they were mindlessly driven to infect the living.

It was the “mindlessly” bit that finally helped the pieces slot into place. The so-called Zombies (or infected) cannot help the way they act; they are driven by their infection. It isn’t their fault! But the others, the people who knowingly, even joyously, prey on weaker, less fortunate humans, well they are the real monsters. And so The Virus Sequence was born. I’m not saying that Zombies (or infected) are cuddly or anything, don’t get me wrong. But they can’t help what they are doing. The “Black Hats” can. They know that what they are doing is wrong. They just don’t care.

† QNS (Quite ‘Nuff Sayer) – someone who has had a letter printed in a Marvel Comic.

Buy Book: amazon

Follow the author’s wife on twitter

Subcommandante Mumbles vs. The Dinosaur Nazis

This is a silly story. I admit. Some friends were joking around and one line caught me funny – and this story was born. I’ll post one section each day, about 500 words a pop. Enjoy.

P.S. Click here to get see all published episodes of the Saga of Subcommandante Mumbles.

Update

Hey! There’s a new pope! For those who are Prophecy of Saint Malachy followers, he wasn’t named Peter and doesn’t seem to have any Peter-type connections. So, we probably won’t get to see Rome in flames. At least not for that reason. In other news, the delayed bonus chapter is nearly done. I’ll probably post that tomorrow morning. But in the meantime, I have a special double-extra-plus bonus:

A new serial!

This is short story, but since posting things serially is kind of my thing, I’ll just run with that. I’ll post a short section of the story every day until it’s done, for about two weeks, starting today, in a few minutes.

 

The Really Big Idea: Ian Healy

Superpowers are the heart of science fiction and fantasy. Whether the source of super-human ability is magic, technology, genetics, hand-waving or even pure pluck and gumption – sf examines worlds where people have extraordinary abilities. Since this sort of thing is so very common the trick, then, is to provide an entertaining and plausible explanation for these gifts… Batman’s monomania, nanotechnology, that ancient spell book, heredity. And the trick within the trick is to provide meaningful limits to power that grow out of your explanation. Here’s Ian to describe his world:

Day of the Destroyer

My forthcoming book release, Day of the Destroyer, is yet another foray into the weird and wonderful world of parahumans and their astounding and amazing abilities. Also, alliteration. Day of the Destroyer is set in 1977, well before researchers have begun to understand the science behind parahuman abilities within the Just Cause Universe novels, but it’s something I’ve put quite a bit of thought into, and wanted to discuss some of the ideas I have about how these powers can exist.


DayoftheDestroyerEbookCover

“Superhuman” abilities have existed in some form or other throughout recorded history. Stories and legends abound of men and women with godlike abilities. Hercules. Moses. Paul Bunyan. Pecos Bill. John Henry. In the Just Cause Universe, these legends have some basis in fact, and these people are parahumans. In The Archmage, for example when the [SPOILER AHEAD] heroes have traveled back in time, they meet a man who thinks Juice is John Henry because they look so similar. Is it because John Henry may be an ancestor of Juice? They also meet Mustang Sally’s great-great grandmother, and witness that she has slightly greater-than-human speed. Indeed, both Mustang Sally’s mother and grandmother have speed abilities, which suggests that parahuman abilities are hereditary. In the JCU, that led Japanese researchers to eventually isolate the genetic markers which are common to parahumans.

So parahuman powers are mixed into our genes. But how does that explain such a wide variety of abilities? In the first novel, Just Cause, here is a brief list of the abilities represented on the Just Cause team: super-strength, absorption of electricity, invulnerability to physical damage, flight, telepathy, super-speed, and the creation and control of force fields. How can all these things be tied into a single genetic marker?

It comes down to three aspects, all closely tied together; a perfect storm that allow parahumans to do such wonderful things: dimensions, energy, and psionics.

Dimensions. The idea of parallel universes and dimensions beyond the three cardinal dimensions (plus time) has been around for a very long time. Some theories get kind of wacky with it. Bosonic String Theory, for example, requires no less than 26 dimensions. I’m postulating that one of these dimensions or parallel universes or alternate planes of existence provides the source of parahuman abilities. In what way?

Energy. Energy is, at its simplest, the ability to do work. And if you have a lot of energy, you can do a lot of work. The dimension that originates parahuman powers is jam-packed full of energy. In fact, there’s no matter in it at all. It’s a dimension of pure energy (Cue the Information Society video for those of use who spent our formative years in the ‘80s). I’m conveniently ignoring the idea of the Zero-Energy Universe here, so don’t bring it up, punk. All that energy has the ability to do work, and that work can take a variety of forms. Since there’s an entire universe’s worth of it, it will take quite awhile for the parahumans to use it all up. Since that dimension/universe/what-have-you has no entropy of its own, the only way it can reach a lower state of energy is for that energy to be drained out, and that requires…

Psionics. Psionics is a fancy name for mind powers. Ultimately, in the Just Cause Universe, every parahuman with the appropriate genetic marker has a mind-power that allows them to drain energy from the alternate dimension and make that energy do work. Everything else is just special effects. How does Juice lift up a car and throw it? He might appear to be using his muscles, but in reality, he’s channeling energy from the other dimension to do that work. Doublecharge can fly, Crackerjack can laugh off physical harm, and Mustang Sally can run at supersonic speeds, all because they can control this extradimensional energy on a subconscious, psionic level. So why do parahumans have the abilities they do? Why can’t Juice also fly, or run at the speed of sound? Why can’t Mustang Sally shoot lightning bolts?

Therein lies the real mystery, and one which I may explore further in a later novel.

Buy Book: from ian | amazon | barnes & noble | smashwords

Visit the author’s website | follow him on twitter | facebook

Minor Delay

Your bonus chapter is written and complete, but not edited. I hope to post it late this evening or tomorrow morning at the latest. FYI.

Also, may have a nice surprise next week.

The Really Big Idea: Vanna Smythe

My dutiful and obedient twitter bot (at least, until it takes over the world) has connected me with literally thousands of people. It is a good robot. But one day, not too long ago, I really thought it was screwing with me. One of the new followers it had found me apparently had written not one, but two books whose titles included the word “Veil.” Well, my heart just stopped. Had I been beaten into print by this Vanna person? Had she created a world not only with Goblins, Explosions and Marines, but also Love and Duty? Happily not. There appear to be very few Marines, Explosions or Goblins in this Veil. Maybe I should add some love to mine…

Can the Heart and Mind Function Separately?

The main theme, problem, conundrum that plagues the characters in the Anniversary of the Veil Series is the choice between duty and love. On a more whimsical level, this translates to the choice between following you heart versus following your reason, your mind. And the further question, which then arises is: Can there be balance if one is forced to make this choice so cleanly?

This question plagues me, the writer, as well, but it took me quite a while to come to the realization that this question is at the core of my series.  I am more of a pantster when it comes to writing, and trust that any deeper meanings, significance and questions I struggle with will be there to find once I tell the story I want to tell, with the characters I want to create.

So, Duty vs. Love in the Anniversary of the Veil series …

FinalBookCoverProtectorFixAmazon72dpi

In our lives, love comes in many variations: mother/father to child, man to woman, teacher to student, self-love, … so I have not placed any limitations on it in my series.  But the thread that runs through it all is that in each instance the man or woman involved must choose between it and following their duty and cold reason.  None of them can have both.

Protector Kae must decide whether to stay a Protector or follow Princess Issiyanna, the girl he loves, on her quest, which would make the first impossible.  First Captain of the Protectors Entan must decide between sacrificing Kae, whom he regards as a son, to the scheming of Head Priest Rhaldan, or force Kae to flee and thereby going against his oaths and his duty. Keeper Alet must choose between following her orders and sacrificing her sister’s daughter, Princess Issiyanna, for the greater good, or forsaking her duty and saving her niece. And Princess Issiyanna must choose between leaving her whole world and everyone she knows and loves behind to be with her one true love, her other half.

Yet a clean-cut choice like this is difficult, especially in a world such as the one these characters inhabit, namely one that is artificially separated into two by a Veil, which none may cross at will.  The worlds on either side of this Veil are completely different, and the bigger choice in the series is between allowing the Veil to continue to separate the worlds, or letting it fall and allowing the world to become one once again.

As of the end of the second book in the Anniversary of the Veil series, Decision Maker, most of these choices have been made, for better or worse. I will not go into the details here, as I don’t want to give it all away, but I will say this: I do not believe that clean-cut choices between love and duty are ones we can make without unplanned consequences.

In our (Western) culture I have often observed a sort of inability to weave our heart’s desire into the choices we make. Society dictates a certain path for us, which starts with finishing school, getting a job, getting married and having kids, and then working on keeping it all. And if those things are not precisely what you want, well, there will be time later to indulge in your dreams. Right? I don’t know, maybe.

Within reason, I do not believe we should ever disregard what our heart tells us is the right path, and I also do not believe that we can truly do so. No matter how much we pretend to the contrary. One way or another, this is also what plays out in the lives of all of my characters in the Anniversary of the Veil series, after they have each made their choice.

Decision Sml
Book One and Book Two of the Anniversary of the Veil series, as well as a free ebook sample of the series, are available from Amazon and other online retailers. Book three is coming this summer!

Buy Books: amazon | barnes & noble | itunes | kobo

Visit the author’s website | follow her on twitter | facebook

The Really Big Reminder

Just so you don’t forget, we’ve now done quite a few of these Really Big Idea posts, going back to over a year ago. I still haven’t read all of them (shame) but every single one of the ones I’ve read has been simply fantastic. So give them all a shot at your attention, and your wallet.

If the spirit moves you share a link to this page, or to the posts of the authors you’re most interested in. Let’s help some indie authors.

This is the end

Chapter 36 is here, and here is the end of this part of our tale.

“Your family’s mostly in Alabama, right?” Coleman asked.

“Far enough from the Veil for now, yeah. For now. Chicago, New York, Washington… Boston’s holding out, I heard. But they were farther away. The whole middle of the country is fucking gone. Fuck, dude, the goblins are camping on the Mall in DC. How do you come back from that?”

According to my calculations, Lewis’ story runs to 94,321 words. The bonus chapter next week will take us to within a loud shout of 100k. That, I believe, is a respectable amount of fiction. By weight at least, it’s a novel. I’d like to thank all of you for reading, and I can say in all honesty that your participation in this project made it far better than it would have otherwise. Thank you.

(And as always, point out errors and the like in the comments. )

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,427 other followers