So what are the “written worlds?”
Basically, the title of this journal is meant to refer to the various universes of my written fiction. So far there aren’t too many of those that have actually seen print, but I’m hoping that number will increase over time. Let’s start with the licensed universes, since they’re what I’m currently most known for:
- Star Trek. Pretty much self-explanatory. But one could say it actually constitutes multiple “worlds.” Not only have I written fiction for many of the series set in Pocket’s main book continuity — The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Titan, SCE/Corps of Engineers — but I’ve also written in three alternate Trek timelines: one of the Myriad Universes (VGR: Places of Exile, an alternate-history short novel), the Mirror Universe (“Empathy” in Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows), and now the Abramsverse (Seek a Newer World). So technically that’s several realities right there.
- Marvel Comics. Only two entries here, X-Men: Watchers on the Walls and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder. Strictly speaking, these books could be counted as two separate universes. WotW is intentionally in a continuity slightly different from the comics canon, since it was the only way to get the mix of characters I wanted and avoid certain story complications from the comics (the mandate was to tell stories that worked as standalones, like movies). But DiT is as entirely faithful as I could make it to the Spidey comics continuity as it existed when the book was written (though that continuity has now been rendered moot in the comics). There’s actually a passing allusion to WotW in DiT, though, so that complicates the delineation of universes. DiT is also assumed to be in the same continuity as the prior two Marvel Spidey novels (see previous post), and contains passing allusions to both.
So far, that’s it for licensed universes. Now on to my original written worlds:
- The Default CLB-verse. Okay, I don’t have a good name for this yet. That’s because there’s no single thing unifying it. It’s just the continuity in which I’ve always chosen to set most of my original fiction, including the first two novelettes I sold to Analog: “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide” and “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele.” I have a couple of stories currently on the market that are also in this universe, and if I sell an original novel anytime soon, it will be as well. Over the years, I’ve thought of this continuity by various different names. The first was “Future Prime,” which had various meanings: it was the primary future in which I wrote, it was an optimistic future, and it was also “prime” in the sense that x and x’ (x-prime) are alternate values of a single variable; I wanted it to be plausible enough that it could count as a valid alternative to the real future. Look, I was younger then. Subsequently it’s been through various names that would only be meaningful if I’d gotten more of my fiction published by now, like Geminga Universe and Bardic Universe. But for now let’s just call it the Default-verse (a term I stumbled upon while writing this post). There are times when I’m tempted to split this continuity into two separate universes, since in recent years it’s kind of coalesced around two rather different series ideas, one set in the colonial age of the Solar System, the other a sweeping warp-era space opera with plenty of aliens. Splitting them might allow each one to have its own distinct “branding.” But I suppose different series can still have that even if they’re in the same overall reality, like Asimov’s Robot and Foundation sequences (before he merged them). Although it’s a moot point unless I get them published.
- The Hub. This is the universe of my upcoming Analog story “The Hub of the Matter.” I’m hoping to do a series of stories revolving (pun intended) around the Hub. This is a humorous universe, but a credibly constructed one. That is, the world itself is relatively believable, even hard-SF, but the focus is on humorous characters and situations within it. Unlike the Default-verse, this universe has a single strong core idea, the Hub, from which everything else springs. Not sure how much more I can say now, but Analog‘s January/February issue is now out, so the March issue containing THotM should be out in just a couple more months and I’ll have plenty to say then.
- To Be Announced. I can’t talk yet about my most recent sale, but it’s in a universe all its own. It was written to fit a particular set of guidelines, and though I would’ve liked to put it in the Default-verse, it didn’t quite fit. No telling if I’ll ever do more with this universe, but it’s always struck me as a waste to create a whole reality and only do one story in it. Which is why I have a Default-verse.
Beyond that, I have ideas for several other universes I hope to do something with someday. Which is kind of my problem; I’ve generally been better at worldbuilding, creating environments, than at coming up with specific stories within them. Perhaps it’s telling that, after years of failing to make a third sale in the Default-verse, I’ve sold two stories set in new universes just over six months apart. Maybe the Default-verse is too weighed down by worldbuilding baggage and I should focus more on fresher, more streamlined worlds.
Or maybe it’s just that, after years of gaining experience writing licensed fiction, I’m simply a better writer now and have a better chance of writing publishable work in whatever universe.
We’ll see. I’m just starting in on a new story set in the Default-verse. It’s actually a prequel to the unsold spec novel set in the colonial Solar System. I figure I might have a better chance of selling that one if I create some interest in the main character first.
(And please, if anyone is thinking of updating my Wikipedia entry or anything like that, please, please don’t treat “Default-verse” as anything like an official name for that continuity. For one thing, it’s silly and ugly, and for another, it’s really pretty much hypothetical. Most of the original fiction I’ve written has been set there, but only 50% of what I’ve sold — exactly two stories — goes there. Hopefully over the years to come I’ll sell enough fiction in that universe that a good name will become evident.)
And I suppose that there’s another written world I could count:
- The Real World. Or at least my interpretation of it. I majored in world history in my second college career, and many of my papers are available on the History Papers section of my website. So I guess you could say this world counts as part of my body of written work. And of course I’ll be discussing various aspects of real life here on my blog. (Yeah, I don’t care for “blog,” but “journal” sounds a bit pretentious.)