Tag Archives: speculative fiction

The Dark

The Dark: Home

Here’s an interesting find. _The Dark_ is a sci-fi series that will be broadcast exclusively on the Internet. Currently, there are two free episodes online to generate interest with plans to have a new 12-minute episode available weekly. The subscription fee is a initial payment of $20 with a $1 fee per episode.

From the website:

Space is dark … silent … lethal.

Ships stay quiet when they can and when they can’t, it’s because they’re too damned big. Either way, no spotlights shining on white hulls, no glowing nacelles. Nobody hails anybody. Space is an unlit sea and everything swimming in it is hungry. Planet systems mean resources and, unless someone says otherwise, they’re there for the taking.

It has been decades since the last independent nation on Earth was absorbed by the Community of Aligned Nations (aka. Generica). The solar system has been colonized, more or less, and things are going swimmingly for the genetically optimized citizens of Generica, until, that is, aliens arrive to obliterate most everything.

Mysterious aliens; no one has actually seen them, just their massive, all-devouring ships, and no two of which are alike. There has been no communication either, and Generica’s increasingly desperate pleas to negotiate go unanswered. It’s war, and for humans, it’s going very badly indeed. In the unlit labyrinth of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, three old ships from a long-defunct independent republic drop out of deep-freeze and begin waging their own kind of war against the aliens. Crewed by misfits, genetically randomized (normal folk), the Widow, Wolf and the Recluse begin an unrelenting campaign using stealth tactics, snatching small victories where great navies find only destruction. Like the hunter subs of the first cold war, they lurk in the dark, communicating with no one (not even, no especially not, Generica), with no base to call their own, and each operating with fierce independence.

This is the story of one of those ships: The Recluse. Damn near invisible in space, powered by a throbbing fusion reactor, and inhabited by a crew for whom cabin-fever is a way of life. Each crew member is a study in paranoia, neuroses and just plain weirdness. These men and women are our heroes.

The acting in the two free episodes remind me a bit of a ‘B’-movie, but I’m intrigued by the concept behind this series. I’m a bit disappointed that they haven’t shown more engagement with the aliens, but then again, 12 minutes isn’t a lot of time for storytelling. It’s something that I may be interested in checking out further as they develop this.

In the meantime, go check it out and then come back here and tell me what _you_ think. I’d be curious what other people’s reactions are.

Podcast

I’ve been considering the idea of recording some of the flash fiction stories I’ve written and podcasting them – y’know, just a little something to further exercise my inner geek. It would require, of course, that I purchase a suitable microphone, but I already have the necessary software. ((Open source is a beautiful thing.))

Is this something anyone might be interested in?

X-men: The Last Stand

My wife and I finally got to watch the third chapter in the X-men movie trilogy a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that I found it to be a very satisfying ending for a successful comic-film run. Now, mind you, I’ve never read any of the comic books – never had the interest or the money. And I’ve heard a number of X-men comic book loyalists loudly complaining about what the film writers did to the X-men storyline in the third installment. As someone whose sole exposure to the X-men franchise has been through the movies, however, I really enjoyed the way they tied everything up (and left just enough loose ends to tease the audience with the potential for a fourth film).

In “The Last Stand” we finally get to the see the epic battle between mutants and humans and between mutants and mutants. Magneto finally puts together his Brotherhood to face-off with the X-men. Epic though it may have been, however, it was still less dramatic than one might have expected, considering the power of the mutants involved. But there are limitations to what can be done on the silver screen, both in the visual range and in the time allotted. Ultimately, the final product was more than acceptable, though the Phoenix’s ending was perhaps slightly cheesier and more simplistic than believability might allow.

The storyline for the third film was a logical progression of the first two and was, in my opinion, stronger than the second chapter. Put together, the three films make a highly entertaining and enjoyable series to add to the collections of comic book lovers and speculative fiction enthusiasts everywhere.

Rating: 4/5

Gearing Up

The “100 Voices in the Night”:http://100voicesinthenight.com flash fiction anthology project is gearing up to really get rolling soon. We’ve filled 17 of the 20 contributor seats available, leaving just three openings remaining. So, if you’re interested in getting your name out there and in writing a few stories to add to this anthology, read the “guidelines”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/09/18/100-voices-in-the-night/ to apply. We’re looking forward to seeing the final product on this and on working together to learn a bit more about the writing industry as we go. It should be an interesting ride.

Jericho

I just got done watching all five episodes of the new show _Jericho_ airing on CBS. (They’re streaming them from the “official website”:http://www.cbs.com/primetime/jericho.) I thought the show looked intriguing from the previews, and so far I’ve not been let down.

From a writing standpoint, they’re doing a great job on three fronts:

1) They’re telling a great story from the perspectives of each of the important characters. It’s hard to care about the outcome of a story if you don’t care about the characters. They’re doing a good job of creating empathy for the folks of Jericho.
2) All the crises that they’ve faced so far have been realistic ones that you would expect to face after a disaster like this. The power outages, food shortages, and fires are all things that could reasonably follow this sort of an event.
3) The pacing on revealing the conspiracy details is excellent. Just one or two little bits with each episode. Just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The jury’s still out for me as to whether or not Hawkins is a good or bad guy. He’s definitely in on a conspiracy. I just can’t decide what side he’s actually one yet. We don’t know enough to make that determination. But the key to the whole show lies with him.

I’ll be curious to see if this show makes it a full season and, if so, how much they resolve by the finale. I’m looking forward to seeing more of what’s to come.

A Noticeable Shift

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a noticeable shift in focus on my blogroll. A lot of the blogs I’ve been reading that deal with faith and spirituality issues have been thinned a great deal while my writing-related blogroll has expanded substantially. I’m actually rather amused by the shift because it says something about my interest levels in these two types of blogs.

The trimming of faith-related blogs from my blogroll is not indicative of any disinterest in the topics and issues of the Christian faith. No, I’m still quite interested in such topics, and I continue to keep the “Open Dialogue forum”:http://open-dialogue.com/forum running in the event that anyone would care to use it for discussion, as still happens occasionally. The trimming does, however, reflect my dissatisfication with the vast majority of faith-based blogs on the web these days. Most of the ones I’ve read seem to ultimately only spin their wheels in an endless cycle of philosophical and theological rumination. Except that, instead of digesting truth and processing it to some worthwhile end, most of these individuals seem to prefer to spit it back out onto the ground, a warm, soggy mess that, in the end, never yields any kind of spiritual nutrition.

I guess you could say that I’ve grown frustrated with the seemingly endless process that most Christians today go through of spending entirely too much time wondering aloud about the nature of our relationship with God and what we as Christians are to do about it. It could be that these folks are, indeed, physically active in their churches and communities trying to apply the truth of Scripture to their lives and reflect Christ to those around them. If such is the case, however, it is not reflected in the content of their blogs. What I see are continual arguings and bickering among folks who are supposed to be of like mind, rehashing issues and ideas and topics that have been hashed over and over again, seemingly with no ground gained. I find this both troubling and particularly frustrating to watch and be a part of. They never leave the communities of their local churches because they’ve become mired in the process of “figuring things out” rather than taking the Good News to those who’ve never heard. They’ve lost sight of what they are to be about and what it is they are here to do.

For a while I lent my voice to the din, expressing my thoughts and sharing in the process of learningm, but in recent weeks, I’ve opted to back out and back away from most of these ongoing discussions. The words, actions, and reactions of so many involved – Christian and non-Christian alike – have served only to exacerbate my cynicism toward the American church. So, rather than continue to involve myself through this medium and risk losing myself completely to such negative attitudes, I’ve backed away and left them alone, choosing instead to take a more personal, one-on-one approach with folks via email, IM, and face-to-face encounters. And these I find much more satisfying.

In the vacuum this change has brought, I’ve begun to more aggressively pursue my writing, and so my writing blogroll has expanded to fill the void left by the trimming of my blogroll’s other half. Writing has given me that creative outlet my inner artist has so craved and proven to be much more refreshing than I could have expected. I still don’t get to write nearly as much as I’d like to yet, but I’m becoming more and more involved in the writing community. In the process I’m getting to kill two birds with a single stone – I get to write all these fun stories while being able to periodically talk about faith-related issues with interested people.

It’s an interesting ride, to say the least, and I feel content in being able to have, in some ways, the best of both worlds.

IGMS

Ok, I love Orson Scott Card’s new online speculative fiction magazine, “Intergalactic Medicine Show”:http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com. The stories are first-rate, the free articles are fantastic, and the extras are a lot of fun.

The biggest gripe I have with it right now? They seem to being major problems actually sticking to a publication schedule. The IGMS is supposed to be a quarterly publication. This means one issue every three months. Since the IGMS launched last October, there have been two – count them – only two issues published. Issue 3’s publication date was pushed back from July to August, then from August to September. Now we’re into October again – one year since the magazine opened its doors – and we’ve _yet_ to see Issue 3 come online.

Much as I respect OSC (he’s my favorite writer and probably my number one influence in my own writing), he seems to be having quite a bit of trouble running a magazine. I wonder how much of this is due to “turning the editorial reins over to Mr. Schubert”:http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=content&article=about and how much is due simply to poor planning.

Mr. Card, your readers really do want to support your magazine. How about giving them something to actually get behind?

Regular vs. Speculative Horror

I think there are two brands of horror fiction.

One kind is what I call regular, or normal, horror. It’s the kind of horror that we frequently see on TV or in the movies with the deranged psychopaths who like their shiny metal tools and trap unsuspecting – but beautiful – young adults and torture them for hours. It’s the kind of thing we read about in our newspapers, where people kill (or attempt to kill) others just so they can steal their babies. Or the stories we hear about that could easily be the realizations of our own worst fears. These are the everyday horrors that we hope never come to visit us.

But then there is the kind of horror that can only, and will only, ever take place in our imaginations, the horrors that happen in the future or that have some element of fantasy, magic, or the supernatural. These are the kinds of horrors that frighten us, disturb us, creep us out, but the ones that we ultimately know will _never_ come to visit because they simply cannot happen. These are the _”safe”_ horrors, what I call speculative horror.

I heard it said recently that regular horror is far better because it is far creepier. I have to both agree and disagree with that notion. I think that it _can_ be far creepier and horrific because we know that these sorts of things _could_ happen to us or to someone we love. We recognize that fact, and it unsettles us deeply. On the other hand, though, speculative horror can be easily translated into things that _could_ happen. Our minds modify them and make them real, especially if we find ourselves feeling empathy for character undergoing the horror. Our imaginations take flight, and suddenly those things that go bump in the night might not be just bumps anymore. So I do think that speculative horror can be every bit as frightening as regular horror if the writer crafts the story properly.