Tag Archives: science fiction

The Expanding Universe Volume 3

I am extremely pleased to announce that I have a story included in THE EXPANDING UNIVERSE VOLUME 3 Anthology available tomorrow, on Amazon, in both ebook and paperback.

This collection of Space Opera, Military Scifi, Space Adventure, and Alien Contact stories includes works from USA Today Bestseller, Lisa Blackwood, Craig Martelle (The FreeTrader Series), Chris Fox (The Void Wrath Trilogy), and twenty-seven more talented authors.  I am humbled to be included with such an impressive group of talent.

While I’m working on continuing CARSON LYLE’S WAR, you can check out my story, THE NEXT LEVEL, by clicking the link below.  And as always, thank you for your support!

Till next time!

TAKE ME TO THE PRODUCT PAGE!!!

What Has Been (and Will Be) Happening…

Greetings and welcome back.  It’s been kind of a whirlwind last few months and I just wanted to take a moment share what’s been happening and what’s on the near horizon.

First, as always, thanks to all of you who have either purchased or borrowed FOOL’S GOLD and THE JACK FOEHAMMER OMNIBUS.  I really, really appreciate your support.  Hopefully, you’ve been looking forward to CARSON LYLE’S WAR:  PART TWO.  If circumstances permit, it will come to you soon.

Work on Part Two (and other projects) has been sidetracked many times since October.  Early on, it was a story problem.  Things were not planned out as well as I had thought and I wrote myself into a corner.  It’s not an excuse, just a statement of fact.  There were somethings that HAD to be worked out, or this would have been a broken part two on release, and you deserve better than that.

Naturally, of course, other things inserted themselves to impede progress.  Some things welcomed (birth of a another grandchild), others were not (best if don’t elaborate on this).  But all of those things intruded on my writing time and just made extremely difficult next to impossible to get into a writing state of mind.  So on the rare occasion I had a chance to write…well…nothing happened.

Thankfully, though, things are settling down and I’m getting ramped up to get back to dedicated work on writing these stories, setting a release schedule for the remainder of the year…and sticking to it.

The schedule is still being worked out, but I expect CARSON LYLE’S WAR:  PART TWO to be released on Amazon by June 30, with subsequent parts coming every 30 days after that.  I expect there to be three more parts to this story in total.

If you’ve read FOOL’S GOLD, then you know Carson already has a price on his head on the planet Rygel above and beyond the charges the Authority already has against him.   My mailing list subscribers will be receiving the prequel short story about that incident tentatively titled:  CARSON LYLE AND THE KING OF RYGEL somewhere around the end of May.

And on top of all that, I have some story ideas in the hard science fiction and cyberpunk genres incubating in the idea tank right now, that could see the light of day between releases of Carson Lyle stories.  At this point, I would expect those to be released under the Jack Foehammer pen name.

That’s all for now.  I’ve got to get back to work.

Till next time…

C.L.U. Was Clueless

The Tron Legacy score, by Daft Punk, is in regular rotation in my writing music playlist.  By far, it’s the best part of that movie.  I wanted to like that movie.  I really did…and I still do.  But the story suffers from huge plot holes, inconsistencies, and too many things that defy logic.

Which is ironic considering C.L.U. was meant to build the perfect system.

It’s C.L.U.’s ENTIRE plan and execution of that plan that just defies that logic.  Now, let me state, for the record, that it has been a long time since I watched the movie.  so it’s possible I might not recall some of the finer details correctly, but this high level review of C.L.U.’s idiocy ought to be accurate.  And that idiocy starts at the very beginning…

(Sigh)  The premise of his plan is brilliant:  He sends signal to Alan Bradley’s pager, trying to lure him into the system so the portal would be open and he could get out.  But we don’t get this until a little later.  The problem is, C.L.U. seems to forget he has a plan in motion!

He’s EXPECTING Alan Bradley – or someone – to come into the system.  I get the impression there is ONE way into the system: the replica of Flynn’s arcade.  Question:  Why is there NO ONE there waiting for whoever comes in?  C.L.U. would want that person caught and brought to him AS SOON AS THEY SET FOOT ON THE GRID because of the limited amount of time the portal stays open.

But there is no one there.

One might argue that Sam IS caught very soon after coming into the system, but that was part of a routine sweep for programs to be brought either to the Gaming Grid or to be put in C.L.U’s army.

So Sam gets taken to the Gaming Grid and forced into Disc Wars.  No knows a user is on the grid.  Not C.L.U, not anyone.  The Sirens know he’s different when they are prepping him for the games, but they don’t alert any one.

So Sam is in the games.  Sam somehow manages to beat an opponent, even though he’s never through an identity disc in his life and has only been on the Grid for perhaps an hour, may be two.  All of this is going and for a bit, no one knows a user is there.  But there’s something else no one notices.

No one, not one of the thousands of programs in the arena…or ANYWHERE ELSE, for that matter…notices the PORTAL is open!.  It’s right there, on the horizon, like a very bright, shimmering star.  AND (as we find out later) it was designed that way, to be a reminder that Kevin Flynn was around or something like that.  I think it was Quorra that said something like that to Sam.  The point is, no one noticed and I would think that would have been a pretty big deal to someone.

During the Disc Wars, Jarvis gives a C.L.U. an update that includes the status of his “private initiative”, which would be the plan to take an army through the portal.  But…Jarvis doesn’t actually know that’s what the plan is!(?).  As a matter of fact, I don’t think ANYONE knew what the plan was except for C.L.U.!  Maybe Tron knew, but he wasn’t exactly a chatterbox.  C.L.U. just had his people round out ordinary programs and ship them off to be reprogrammed to be in C.L.U.’s invasion army.

The army is being assembled and rallied at a base somewhere out in the direction of the portal.  The ship is being loaded and they are acting as though they are definitely going to go through the portal at a scheduled time.  But they don’t have Flynn’s disc.  They don’t have the key to get out and know one even notices the door is open.

So C.L.U. doesn’t have what he needs to make his plan work and when he finally knows Sam is on the grid, his first instinct is to try to kill him???  To show the programs that the “tyranny of the user” will never return???  How does that help him get Flynn’s identity disc?  Flynn doesn’t know his son is there either.  Quorra rescues him from the grid, but it isn’t until sometime later that he’s reunited with his father.

And what about ol’ Kevin Flynn during all of this?  We see him meditating, facing a window that looks out in the direction of the Grid.  In the distance, the portal hangs in the sky…and we don’t get the impression he’s noticed it either!!!

Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot

I would expect Kevin fricken Flynn, of ALL people on the grid would notice the portal! Even if he knows it’s probably a trap set by C.L.U., it’s still the first time in it’s been in the sky for 20 years.  Is he anxious?  Excited?  No.  He’s just kinda “meh”.

I could go on and on about the failures of the plot, but I think you’re getting the idea.  The movie had a plot and all of the characters ignored it.  Except for Sam.  He’s the only one that had the right idea. As soon as he heard about the portal, he had a one track mind about getting the hell out of the Grid.

As I said, I wanted to like this movie and if really force myself to engage my suspension of disbelief, I can still enjoy it.  To me, that final confrontation between Flynn and C.L.U. is a classic movie moment.  The elements of the story they were trying to tell came together in an intense, satisfying way, and the Daft Punk score gives it just the right emotional weight and the result makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  I feel like it’s that good.

For me, personally, the antagonist is usually what gets me invested in a story.  Unfortunately, C.L.U.’s constant mis-handling if his master plan just made him (and his plan) and great big joke to me.

Tron and Tron: Legacy have given me a story series idea that I really like and will try (again) to write this year.  But I know we aren’t likely to get a sequel in the foreseeable future, and I understand why.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Comment below.

 

The Disappointment of: The U.S.S. Excelsior

Oh boy.  This one is might hurt some feelings, but if there is any one thing that is the epitome of this series, The Excelsior would be it.  It probably got the least amount of screen time than anything else I’ll talk about in this blog post series, but that brief time was significant.  A possible changing of the guard was implied when the old Constitution class Enterprise limped into space dock, battle-scarred and haggard.  To add insult to injury, the heir-apparent to the Starfleet throne waits in the wings.  You could almost pick up on the new starship smell, even in the vacuum of space dock.

A sad end to an icon is foreshadowed.

er-spacedock-st3

The first sight of the Excelsior is held in reverence by most of the bridge crew.  Sulu might of even got turned on when mentioning the trans-warp drive.  Even James T. Kirk was given pause, almost as if to be thinking:  “What if…What if…”

You just knew that these two were meant to tangle before the film’s run time was up and it was going to be EPIC, right?

.If that wasn’t enough, Starfleet made the decision to decommission the Enterprise and reassign her crew before it was even moored back at space dock.  Despite Kirk’s best efforts to convince Fleet Admiral Morrow that the ship still has life left in her, the admiral states “The Enterprise is twenty-years old.  We feel her time is done.” (Or something close to that, anyway.)

***Just for clarification, because I know trekkers will probably call me out on it.  The “Twenty-year old” Enterprise is a continuity error, to the best of my knowledge.  If one wants to be technical, twenty years prior was when Kirk took command for his five year mission according to the timeline I’ve seen.  Christopher Pike and Robert King both commanded the ship for five year missions – each.  But I digress***

To keep in line with his career history of disobeying orders as it suited him, Admiral Kirk and the gang hatch a perfectly executed plan to steal the ship and go back to Genesis.  I say ‘perfectly executed’ because so far as I can tell, the were able to plan and prep this plan to not only steal the ship, but bust Bones out of the Starfleet brig, in about seventeen minutes, it seemed.

But he’s James T. Kirk, and that’s how he rolls.

Lucky for them, Kirk had foreshadowed the need for the ship to be fully automated and had Scotty get to work on that project while they were still on their way back from Genesis.

Fast forward to the getaway.

After brief, inspiring exchange between Kirk and the getaway gang, they power up the Enterprise and make a break for the Space Dock doors.  This, of course, makes Docking Control collectively crap itself and the call a red alert.

huh…always on the move, I guess.

 

Captain Styles gets the call from the Excelsior bridge.

First, we already know this guy is a pompous ass after his brief exchange with Scotty as he was leaving the ship.  “I’m looking forward to breaking some of the Enterprise speed records.”  He carried a swaggar stick, for crying out loud.  Then he had the audacity to question the yellow alert.  “How can we have a yellow alert in space dock?”  He says, passively while buffing his fricken finger nails.

He’s told what’s going on and then he takes action…while still carrying the swaggar stick (geesh).

Here’s where the tension really starts to build.

On the Enterprise (which is making the slowest starship escape on record, IMO), Chekov intercepts communications and announces to all the very last thing they wanted to hear:  “Sir, Excelsior powering up with orders to pursue.”

boy-that-escalated-quickly-anchorman-520x245

 

After struggling to override the space dock doors, the Enterprise makes it to open space with the Excelsior is hot pursuit (well, its the slowest pursuit for the lowest getaway.)

Captain Styles, ever the confident starship captain, lets us know the best chance for the Enterprise to escape isn’t good enough compared to the shiny new Excelsior by reminding us that if “If he tries to get away with warp drive, he’s really in for a shock.”

Queue the requisite threat from the Captain of the shiny new ship to the Admiral on the decades old rust bucket:  “Kirk. You do this, you’ll never sit in the captain’s chair again.”

Without out a second thought, Kirk gives the order for warp speed and the Enterprise is off and gives the Excelsior the proverbial finger in its subspace wake.

Oh hell no, he didn’t!  It’s on like Donkey Kong now, right?   Captain Styles is through pussy-footin’ around.  Time to show the galaxy that there’s a new sheriff in town and her name is:  Excelsior.

“Prepare for warp speed.  Stand by transwarp drive.”

The music score ramps up the tension even further with heavy percussion.  This has to be bad ass because the bridge crew has to secure themselves in their stations, right?

A very young Miguel Ferrer, at the helm, announces the transwarp drive is his command.

It’s time!  This is the confrontation we’ve been waiting for up to this point.  Time to show us what thirty years of technological advancement in starship design has come up with.  The Enterprise, as great as she was, stands NO chance!  Hell, we even heard the Enterprise was going to be destroyed before the movie even came out.  THIS HAS TO BE IT!

With a look of steely determination, Styles issues the command:  Execute.

We hear the heavy rumble of state of the art trans warp drive rising up to what is sure to be an earth shattering crescendo.  Then…

*Faulter…cough…fizzle…sputter*

It’s an FTL failure the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back.

The new pride of starfleet falters like Tim Couch did for the Cleveland Browns.  So sad.

And all it took stop the biggest, baddest, starship ever built was Scotty pulling some fuses or chips or something out of the Trans warp computer drive.  That’s it.  No epic computer hack.  Nothing fancy.  My four-year old grandson could have done it.

Then the Excelsior disappears until the last two minutes of Star Trek IV, and we don’t see it again until Star Trek VI.  In which, it (again) faltered and was left adrift in space dock.

I’m serious, the incident with the Enterprise was such an overpowering embarrassment, this ship sat in space dock for two MORE years (according to the memory-alpha site) until Star Trek IV, then had to undergo a major refit before being put into service after another year or two.

They tried to redeem it, in Star Trek VI, by giving Sulu his command of his starship-crush, but by that time it was too late.

Goodbye, Excelsior.  Your disappointment won’t be missed.

Thanks for sticking around to finish this long post.  If you like what you’ve seen here, please give me a follow.

Till next time…

 

 

Music Quiets The Demons

Like most writers, I shut the world out by listening to music while I write.  It works best using a good set of earphones that’ll shut EVERYTHING out around me.  My goal is to get a set of Bose Noise Cancelling headphones sometime.  That ought to quiet the demons, around me, completely.

As for the type of music, I go for an epic score or epic music collection.  If I have a clear enough vision of the type of scene I’ll be writing that day, I’ll grab a score that is reflective of the tone of that scene.  For example, I wrote the scene in which Carson Lyle, Kagan, Dex and Varga stole Carson’s ship back from Authority Impound and escaped from El Dorado while listening to tracks 1-3 of the Star Trek: Into Darkness score.

In general, any good collection of music from AudioMachine, Two Steps From Hell, or anything similar will do.  There are endless compilations and mixes to pick from on Youtube.  but if I’m in the mood for something a little more random, I have a channel for such things on Pandora.

My current favorite collection to listen to while writing is below.  It’s a fantastic mix using a lot more obscure pieces and has a great Epic Action, Adventure feel to it.  Hence, the title.

 

The Disappointment of Azkaban

So, we were watching one of the Harry Potter film marathons recently and it got me to thinking about something:  Azkaban Prison.

In the movies, when Azkaban is mentioned, characters get wide-eyed and scared at the thought of having to go there.  You get the sense that it is something to be feared in their world and you’re meant be fearful of it, as well.  It’s a BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD place.  If you get sent there, you’re not coming back.  A foul pit of hell, that place is, right?  NO ONE ever escapes.

Then we get THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN.

Someone escaped the inescapable prison and he’s a BAAAAAD man out to get Harry.  I get it.  That was a big deal.  So in light of that escape, Azkaban was going to tighten up.  No one’s getting out ever again, right?

…Until Barty Crouch Jr. escaped.

Wait…this wizarding prison, that has “No escapes in 300 years” on its brochures, loses another prisoner within a year or two of the last one.  And this time, no one knew about it.  Then there’s the mass breakout that let loose a bunch of death eaters.

Anyway, the point is Azkaban didn’t live up to the hype.  Prisoners came and went as they pleased.  It was almost a casual affair.  And it had to be “casual” because when they finally did discover Barty Crouch Jr., Dumbledore’s almost “casual” comment was something like:  “Sent an owl to Azkaban, I think they’ll find they’re missing a prisoner.”  It came across like it wasn’t something that was out of the ordinary.  It’s okay, just another Azkaban escapee in the house.

If I was sent to Azkaban, I might feel pretty good about my chances of escaping, IN SPITE of the Dementors.  Since they feed on things like depression, I’m sure they could easily be bought off by telling them where to find a bunch of emo kids.  This fear of Azkaban was just smoke and mirrors propaganda from the Ministry of Magic.

Do you have any movie set piece disappoints? Anything that was built up to be fear and revered by the characters of a movie, only to have it let you down?

Let me know in a comment below.


FOOL’S GOLD: CARON LYLE’S WAR – Part One goes live TOMORROW but you can still reserve a copy and the special pre-order price.  Click the link below to learn more.  And, as always, stay up to date on what’s happening in the Twin Suns Territory by joining the mailing list by clicking the button on the top right of the page.  THANKS!

FOOL’S GOLD – CLICK HERE!

 

 

2016 Writing Goals Review – May/June

2016 has been the year I’ve done the best job of keeping my feet to the writing fire so far.  Let’s see how I’ve done on my goals through May and June.

Goal #1: Write 1,250 words a day.

GRADE:  PASS!! – This is an average, of course, but with a variance of 800 – 2500 words a day, it all works out.  I’m probably most proud of this one as its the first two month period I’ve made it.  I left my second job so I could have the time to focus on my writing goals and its paying off.

Goal #2:  Develop an outlining system

GRADE:  PASS – I actually had this done for the March/April review.  It’s still on the list because I’ve been tweaking it to my needs.  This will probably be the last time this one appears in the review and I’ll come up with another one to put in its place for the second half of the year.

Goal #3:  Publish a story every other month.

GRADE:  PASS!!! – Hell yeah, the whole reason for doing this.  In June, I released THE JACK FOEHAMMER OMNIBUS .  It’s the collected work I wrote under the pen name Jack Foehammer, plus an all new novelette and a preview excerpt from my new series CARSON LYLE’S WAR:  FOOLS GOLD – PART ONE.  Some might call this a cheat because its a collection of previously published work, but with the new material included, I’m calling it a pass.  FOOLS GOLD is due out later this month so I feel pretty good about calling this a pass at the next review.  The overall reason for putting that collection out was to get my new author platform some exposure ahead of the release of the next book and test/tweak my launch strategy based on what I’ve learned in recent months.

Goal #4:  Blog post every other week.

GRADE:  PASS!! – I passed this one by a lot.  🙂

Goal #5:  Building of my author platform.

GRADE:  PASS!! – I done a great deal with this, may be to excess and impacting my writing time but its something that’s got to be done.  The new Thomas J. Rock blog page is up and running (If you’re reading this, then you are aware).  I’ve started the mailing list.  I just got my GoodReads author page yesterday, so there’s some work to do there.  Started a new Facebook author page and signed up on Thirdscribe.  It’s all still a work in progress, but its work I’m doing almost every day.  This one is a PASS.

5/5 and I’m feeling pretty good.  Now it’s up to me to keep writing the best stories I can and see where it all goes.  To get all of the insider information and updates on CARSON LYLE’S WAR or anything else I’m working on, You can click the link below and sign up for the newsletter.  

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Till next time…