Aug 212014

I have become irked at “Mockingbird.” Not because I think the story is wrong, but because I wanted to keep it short, to about 10 pages, and I’m already there and nowhere near finished. One of the roadblocks to creativity is when creativity gets bloated… the longer or more involved a project gets, the more likely it’ll get tied into knots and fail to come to pass. And this failure will make it less likely that you’ll even try to take a stab at something else.

Given my need to do things that actually pay, I haven’t a lot of time for fiction writing. Still, I wanted to see if I could actually get something reasonably short done, to convince myself that I can actually finish *something.* And one thing sprang to mind. A scene I wrote a while back that I thought was interesting but served little purpose but to needlessly bloat a longer story got chopped out and left by it’s lonesome. So I went back to it, re-read it and decided that it can form a stand-alone short story. Not much of a story, admittedly, but still, a complete yarn.

This features the same ship and crew from “Mass Disappearance” and “Launch.” No big-time adventures, just a little something that expands upon not only personalities but also technologies. The idea here occurred to me years ago when pondering a technology so common in science fiction – including my own tales. Such an interesting technology, so rarely examined.

A Matter Of Some Gravity: EPUB format

A Matter Of Some Gravity: MOBI format

A Matter Of Some Gravity: PDF format

Feel free to comment & question.

And as always, if you *like* the story, feel free to tell others. If you *really* like it, feel free to toss cold hard PayPal cash my way via the “tip jar.”

Fiction Tip Jar


 Posted by at 1:27 am
  • kbob42

    The asshole-ish AI is a trope that repeatedly shows up. Do you suppose that when real AIs are in use that that will be a common personality in an attempt be the programmers (or trainers) to make the AI be more relate-able?

    • Anonymous

      Nobody likes perfection. In the future I’ve created, though, there’s only one *legal* design for an AI “brain.” But during manufacturing, there are a few thousand regions of the brain that are allowed to randomize, with millions of different “neurons” in each one able to form hundreds of different connections each. Thus a mathematically vast variability in personality is produced without the need to impose it via programming.

      • Anonymous

        I think this is your best work thus far. The whimsy of doing art with gravity itself. The higher g’s could have allowed him to see high pressure ice no camera could ever get to see.

        • Anonymous

          In standard crew areas, there are limits to how “tight” a gravitational knot can get. There would be a maximum static G limit that can be imposed on the floor plating… say, 10 gees. So for a small volume in the middle of the room, the G limit could be a lot higher… 100, 500 maybe 1000 G’s, but the overall average would remain about 10 G’s. The system would be able to deal with much higher G loads for very limited times, such as countering harsh maneuvering accelerations, but for art purposes the limits are too low to do much really strange stuff. Enough to flow liquids and squash clay. but not enough to, say, cause room temperature bronze to flow. *Molten* bronze, though…

          There is a different part of the ship that uses similar principles but at ridiculously higher levels. But you wouldn’t want to be terribly close to that.

  • Herp McDerp

    Hmm. These strike me as being more like vignettes from a novel than standalone stories. In fact, they remind me of a spacegoing version of Thomas Heggen’s novel Mister Roberts, set on a World War II cargo ship that sailed “from Tedium to Apathy and back again, with an occasional side-trip to Monotony.” (Some of the chapters in Heggen’s novel originally were short stories, though.)

    It might be difficult to sell these as individual stories unless you punch up their resolutions a bit. For example, what does Zane do with the rose sculpture? Does he give it to Sarah, and if so, how does she react? In “Mass Disappearance,” what do we learn other than “Yup, space sure is strange!”? And I really liked “Launch,” but it just sort of stops without warning.

    It’s clear that you somehow intend for these to fit into a unified structure, because in addition to using a continuing cast of characters you’ve been dropping hints and leaving loose threads. So … Does a relationship develop between Zane and Sarah? Do Zane’s interface implants play a non-artistic role in later events? What are the Space Squids, and what the heck are they doing? If humans don’t understand how the hyperdrive works, then how did we get it? (Did AIs invent it? Did we buy it from aliens?) You’ve mentioned two races of intelligent aliens; the Thessi are one, but who else is there? And if I recall correctly, you’ve mentioned that there’s a war brewing … and that the Space Squids are somehow involved (though apparently not as the main adversaries). I want to see where this goes!

    I don’t know how much you’ve revised “Mass Disappearance,” but you might consider switching to third-person narration. For one thing, that would make it consistent with the other stories. For another, the impression I got of Zane through his first-person narration didn’t seem to mesh with his personality in the other two stories.

    You’re working on a novel, whether you intended to or not. And it might be a damn good one — certainly better than many I’ve seen published. Alas, there also might be considerable effort involved. I think you’d need to sell at least a couple of standalone short stories first to get a longer work past the slushpile reader.

    Good luck!

    • Anonymous

      > These strike me as being more like vignettes from a novel than standalone stories. … And I really liked “Launch,” but it just sort of stops without warning.

      Hmmmf. The reason why both of these seem like vignettes is because… they *are* vignettes. And they are described as such in the blog posts. They were vignettes from the same story, in fact, but they didn’t add to moving the plot along, so I cut them out.

      > I think you’d need to sell at least a couple of standalone short stories first

      Let’s face it: not gonna happen.

      • Herp McDerp

        Well, I liked the writing and I want to see more of it. So there!

        They were vignettes from the same story, in fact, but they didn’t add to moving the plot along, so I cut them out.

        But they add to the characterizations. There would be a place for them in a novel.

        Let’s face it: not gonna happen.

        Have you considered the concept of “writing for fun”? It doesn’t pay any bills, but it can be satisfying.

        • Anonymous

          > Have you considered the concept of “writing for fun”?

          What the frak do you think I’m doing this for? The buckets of cash? The groupies?

          • Herp McDerp

            The groupies are the best part!

            {I wish the Unicode character set had those funky sarcasm brackets, for this comment and my previous one.}

  • Rick

    I wanted to read the Gravity story but it was too heavy….

    ba-dum TSSSHHH!

    Thank you, I’m here all week, try the veal, and don’t forget to tip your host!