This post is primarily intended as an educational one, to discuss some of the terminology and thought-processes involved in materials science, but it was inspired by world-building considerations. As you may recall, if you've been following along with what I've been reading (and my regular book reviews), I recently read a book called The Substance of Civilization, which detailed how the materials to which our species has had access have shaped the course of cultural evolution over the past ten thousand years. It prompted me to think in more detail about choice of materials and construction techniques in world-building.
I admit that I've never participated in NaNoWriMo, despite it being one of the most popular events for the past several years for aspiring writers. The goal of it is to help people establish a writing habit, so it's not that I don't support the mission. In fact, I post writing prompts here on the site precisely because I want to encourage people to write more. And the idea of basically free-writing a short novel in the course of a month isn't a bad one. As unreasonable as it might sound, writing fifty thousand words in a month is not all that much of a stretch, if you're willing to make a routine out of it.
If I had to describe this story, I would probably say that it's whimsical surrealism in a science-fiction context, with elements of horror and metaphysics. It is, most certainly, weird. Whatever else it is, that last might be the only completely accurate descriptor, and it is still a really compelling story. Whatever meaning you decide to take, or not take, from The Hunt, I hope that you consider giving it a read soon. Available right here at IGCPublishing.com.
If you've been writing for awhile, you've probably reached a point in a story where you've had to kill off a character. I don't mean a minor character or a world character who pretty much exists just to die on a main character's sword - I mean a point where the plot and the characterization and the whole story demand that a character you have worked with and developed and followed through thousands of words must die. Maybe you knew this was something that would have to happen from the time you started writing the story, or maybe it was something you weren't expecting before you reached the scene and realized there was no other good choice. Regardless, it's never an easy thing.
For a publishing site, there aren't really a whole lot of published works here on IGC. We have The Grounds Warden, which is just a stand-alone short story, and we have Zombies in a similar vein. Of course, we also have half a season of Blood Magic, with new episodes coming out at the end of each month. It's this last that I want to address, because I alternate between being excited about how well our library of Blood Magic stories is developing, and worried about how working on Blood Magic stories has led to drastically less work on my other projects.
The world is a dangerous place. That's true any time, and at any point in history, but certainly this year the point has been emphasized repeatedly. Although it is often easy to imagine that either it is hubris to think that we live in important times, or alternatively that what is happening right now must be a matter of grave and unprecedented significance, the objective truth is that this year has already seen more uncertainty and tumult than usual. So, naturally, I read a book written to scare people.
It's a question I get all the time: will you ever write an IGC story? A sort of autobiographical account of your time as an agent of the Intergalactic Coalition, with special emphasis on your last six thousand years or so of service here on Earth?
Perhaps it’s not terribly surprising then that I try to avoid introducing contradictions into my fictional worlds. For most of the time that I’ve been writing, I’ve operated in world creation under the premise that contradictions in world-building will drive readers away and make the world less believable. After all, overt contradictions would seem to undermine the idea of plausible impossibility, and leave the reader less immersed in the world. A contradiction can act like a sort of car accident that abruptly stops the flow of traffic and ejects the reader from the story.
It is absolutely essential that we keep our minds open to alternative explanations for the universe in which we live and with which we interact. Just because one explanation is the accepted explanation doesn't mean it is "right" - there may not even be a truly "right" answer to a lot of the deep, probing questions about the universe. If we hew too strongly to a single explanation simply because it is the one that is commonly accepted, then we will inevitably be scoffed at by our ancestors the same way we scoff so readily at those who did not accept Copernicus's teachings.
It doesn't come up often, but occasionally I'll have someone ask me to write them into one of my stories. They'll say that they don't care what I do with the character, but that they want to be in there somehow. I refuse every time.