Category: Writing


Ear of a KingWell, in short, he’s a monkey – though you’ve probably figured that out already. More specifically, he’s a White-headed Capuchin monkey, named Xerxes and a somewhat angry, kleptomaniac, tongueless one at that. He is the companion of the “hero” of a series of stories I started to write seven years ago.  Yeah, I know you’ve heard that story before. I’ve probably told it several times on this blog already, each time about a different project.   But at least with this one, there is an end in sight, or hopefully, a new beginning for it, as I’m hoping to kick it out of the door as an e-book called “The Ear of a King.”

“The Ear of a King” grew out of a response to G.R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire.”  Though I enjoyed the series, I was frustrated with the rate of his storytelling and in some way I wanted to lampoon his work and his style.  There are still some slight barbs toward Mr. Martin’s work, but it turns out I didn’t really have it in me, and the project grew into its own kind of twisted sapling. Though this probably had  lot more to do with the tone, colours and wretched squalor of Terry Gilliam’s film “Jabberwocky” of which I’ve been a long time fan. In particular, Max Wall’s performance as a tired, disinterested King and the inner workings of his courtroom, the by the book herald and the zealous, unflappable guards, gave me the starting point I needed to put pen to paper. Metaphorically speaking, anyway, since it was a laptop computer, using Circus Ponies’ Notebook and MS Word, rather than pen and paper.

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“I saw the angel in the marble, and carved until I set it free.”

what he was aiming for

The Vision. What he was aiming for…

Michelangelo believed that he could see his subject in the material that he’d use to sculpt. Taking his philosophy as creative people we might envision our art through the medium we work with. With regards to writing – and to some extent, the world building of many disciplines – the story might be contained in its themes, characters and ideas, but deeper still, in the very words we use to “sculpt” them. The selection of these would dictate what we can create with them.

When one begins to write, the creator must have that same vision that Michelangelo had for his statues – to see the story beyond the words they are about to use. The writer takes their themes, characters, action – their ideas – and begins to sculpt. But inevitably there is a time when the material, whether it be word or stone, leads to something that the writer/sculptor didn’t see. A fracture hidden deep in the marble, a character suddenly confronting a decision that needed to be made though wouldn’t make sense. The work ends up in a form the creator didn’t intend to shape.

What then? What does the creator do when their creation starts walking away from their vision of it?

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the-next-big-thing1Thanks to the kindly C.B. McCullough (still not sure if a distant relation!) Pan Spectrum Analyzer has been nominated for a blog-hop: The Next Big Thing.  I’m a bit too humble for my own good, so writing something like this feels rather weird to me, but here we go.

What is the title of your book?

And we’re off to the hard questions already.  It actually doesn’t have a name yet, so I’ve been forced to resort to “Pan Spectrum Analyzer” or just PSA to tag it.  Its not even really finished, but it is kinda. I have no idea what it might finally be called.

What is the genre of your book?

Considering the specification of what science fiction is, I’ll have to say Sci-Fi, as the novel itself isn’t based on a scientific notion. It is slathered with science-fiction tropes though, with nods of space opera through and through.

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Karyss_Prologue

Karyss aboard the Hegemony ship, Respondent.

I’ve posted a lot about my science fiction novel in progress. I’ve talked about the illustrations I’ve done for it and plastered them across this site. I’ve blabbed about the processes I’ve used to get my head in its reality. I’ve mentioned the spacecraft and its denizens, and blah blah blah…  but I’ve never actually shown anything from its pages.  I guess its about time, eh?

Like all things, there are reasons for that.  Creative types can be insecure about their work, especially their “favourite child.” But a protective father needs to let their sweetheart out of the house to live her own life, so here we go.


Pan Spectrum Analyzer (working title)

“We all aspire to take upon ourselves a Great Journey, but only a few of us ever do.”

Prologue

Mbali Sector, deep space, T + 65 days (Starship Sequential/Chronological Time)

“Collision imminent!”

Karyss was only dimly aware of the vacc-suit’s alarm klaxons insistently sounding off, somewhere deep under layers of her ragged, forced breathing. The shrieking rush of blood in her ears was far clearer than the proximity warnings and victimized screams leaping from the comms. Too much was happening, too fast to follow. Overwhelming. Soul crushing. She needed to focus and figure out what was important.

“Collision imminent!”

Deep breath, girl, deep breath. She clawed air into her lungs, bringing brief clarity. She shrugged around in the stiff vacc-suit, glancing around as much as she could, snatching glimpses that brought her situation into an even starker reality.

Incandescence surrounded her – the dying breaths of a hundred spacecraft exhaled as violent flowers of burning vapour miraculously blooming from their hulks: volatile gas spilled from shattered starships shocked to ignition by radiant, prismatic showers of sparks. They rapidly boiled away into the void, eerily silent, their passage illuminating skeletal wrecks, scattered bodies of crew, faint zig-zag plumes of lifeboat burn motors; the embers of a once proud navy.

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Karyss-shade3a-FX

Karyss, drawn in 2013

Karyss is the protagonist of “PSA”  the Science Fiction novel I’m currently writing for what seems like forever. Young and unassuming, she lives a life defined by the everyday, never questioning the world beyond that she sees, but a brave, yet foolish step toward her dreams casts her adrift amongst the stars, on a journey she could never imagine, let alone understand.

But my story of her is a little different than the novel’s.

Karyss entered my life back in 1997. She didn’t know it was going to happen and neither did I. I had logged onto an online text-based MUD (I was addicted to them at the time) and was spontaneously asked the odd question “Character Name?”   I knew this question was going to come up at some point while starting a new character on a new MUD, I just wasn’t ready for it then.  Really, without thinking, I typed the word “Caryss” and hit enter. I think I had thought of a strange version of “Chris,” then “future-ized” it. About 30 minutes later, I left that MUD never to return – but I took Caryss with me.

Caryss

Early version of Caryss from 1999.

Since then, she has bobbled to the surface of my imagination quite frequently. I found myself having to write glips and glops for this and that, and she kept stepping through the brain-idea barrier every time. Here, she is a bounty hunter, there an inadvertent terrorist, and over here, a co-pilot of a starship. These versions of Karyss were obvious nods to the pulpy SF I’ve absorbed and desired to write ever since I was six and seeing Star Wars that fateful summer. Then, she was lithe, sexy, full of attitude… In other words, a stereotype and not much else. She needed depth.

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