Archive for October, 2012


This is it: NaNoWriMo 2012!

(c) Ken McCulloch, 2012I’ve been putting it off for a very long time, but this year marks the first NaNoWriMo I will participate in. I’ve long since stood on the sidelines while others’ fingers bled throughout battlefield November, but not this time. I’m in!

I suppose the big reason that I didn’t enter before was that I already had a writing gig and didn’t feel the need to be published in a traditional manner, even though I did write for myself from time to time. This last year has seen a lot of changes, both personally and professionally, and now is the time to saddle up the horse and head for novel-dom.

So, what’s in the offing? Well, I have been writing my novel-in-progress pretty aggressively over the last few months, and as I develop it, I realize that it will need a lot more effort to make it “work” than I previously thought. Its shaping up nicely, but ultimately, I think its going to a sort of chill and think about books, rather than what I need to get sold. My NaNoWriMo entry will be a sort of mid-level historical-fantasy kind of thing, entitled “The Vale of Odin.”

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In the first two articles of this series, I have put forward some thoughts for what life might be like for freelance, civilian space workers as a sort of thought-exercise and the foundation for some of the characters and events in my novel in progress, codenamed “PSA”  With this episode, I describe the main elements of the idea.

My spacers started out as good-natured, friendly, heart of gold types, but I needed an edge, or something that I felt like I could call them mine. So I made them superstitious, stressed out drug addicts trying to make their way in a cruel, unforgiving universe. I think they’d be  a little… “touched” to put it nicely.

Copyright Ken McCulloch 2012

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Spacers, especially in recent years, have ended up being lovable scoundrels, possibly because of latent Han Solo fantasies being brought to light. Shows like Farscape, Firefly, Babylon Five and to some extent, even Star Trek, the average professional space-farer is rugged, tough when they need to be, but all good on the inside, even when doing bad things like kicking bad guys into jet turbines. Sqooosh!

As mentioned in a previous article, my current novel in progress (still official untitled, but labelled “Karyss” or “PSA”) features, in part, the crew of a dubious freight vessel. They started out as the cliché spacer crew – tough, but good hearted – simply because in terms of the overall novel outline, they just weren’t that important.  When I finally started fleshing out that outline into a first draft, they evolved, and I needed some conflict. Don’t we all?

I began with the idea that spacers are going to be products of our environment. We do what we do because we have to and we can. Some of us have hated our jobs, but we continued to do them because we had to and because we could. The trucker of the future won’t be much different: they’ll like some aspects of the job, but hate others. That gets them into the business, but what happens when the worst of the worst happens, when the spacer’s real character comes out? Worse things happen at sea, right? So Even Worse things happen in Space!

Raft of the Medusa, Théodore_Géricault
Based on a true story (and cannibalism to boot!)

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Rhapsody in Black, by Angus McKie

Where it all started…

The summer of 1985 was where it all started, with issue #29 of Imagine magazine. Imagine was the British born sister mag to the D&D focused Dragon magazine, but featured content from all over the fantasy, science fiction and horror genre, including gaming, books, movies and so on. Issue #29 was special because it was devoted to science fiction in all its forms. It had an interview with SF author Bob Shaw, (famous for Orbitsville, the Brit rival to Larry Niven’s Ringworld), a full pull out adventure module based on his book “Ship of Strangers” and one other thing: a glorious cover by Angus McKie.

The cover image captivated me so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for … well, I still haven’t stopped really. It featured a sleek, sophisticated spacecraft orbiting a placid watery planet, surrounded by sun-dogs and lens-flares from the distant sun. The ship was graceful and elegant, with smooth curves, a mirrored hull and stylized graphics here and there. In my Traveller RPG adventures, I had to have it – so I wrote up stats after building it in the Traveller ship design sequence, tying it onto one of my characters through a dangerously exorbitant mortgage which would take several lifetimes to pay off. I drew up floor-plans for it, sketched pictures, basically going the whole nine yards with it.  I named it the “Interstellar Queen.” And apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

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Eat at Half Price!

A Phileas McNeil Compilation

The Inimitable Phileas McNeil, as visualized by TransPopTech artist Xiao Arcturo Yamaburo-kan IV.
Media: chemically enhanced mental projection with xenon-treated photographic plate

Or rather, The Unorthodox Eater is at half price…

I’ve reduced the price on my e-book short story collection about Phileas McNeil, the interstellar gourmand who tasked himself with eating one of everything there is to be eaten, and a few things that shouldn’t be.

It is the lowest price it will be at on Kobo, as its the lowest price it ever can be on Kobo: $0.99 Cdn. Unfortunately, I do not know how many quatloos that is. Just as well, as I’m not so sure Kobo accepts quatloos anyway.

For those not familiar with Kobo, its a worldwide thing, although your country may carry Kobo books under different service name, such as Dealtime.co.uk in the UK, and uh, I can’t remember the Australian one, but if you do a search for “McCulloch Weed Wacker” on au.shopping.com you’ll find it. 🙂  Kobo books can be read with on desktop systems and a variety of handheld devices including iOS and Android.

If you’re in the mood for some light-hearted, potentially weird, even shocking, and perhaps thought provoking reading material, please give it a whirl.  And if you do, then please accept my thanks in advance, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

May the ink in your well never dry!

Ken McCulloch (GRNDL)

PS: Reviews always welcome, good, bad and indifferent!

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