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Posts Tagged ‘Patreon’

A blast from the Troubleshooters’ past on Patreon

I’ve been lax in posting content on my Patreon page’s Fiction tier these past couple of months, since I’ve been struggling with writer’s block and slow in getting things done. To try to make up for that, I’ve latched onto the fact that 2022 is the tenth anniversary of Only Superhuman‘s publication (though technically not until October). I’ve posted the first two chapters from Troubleshooter, my first attempt at a novel about Emerald Blair, originally written in the latter half of 1993. The excerpt is actually from the last draft I did of that manuscript in 1999, at which point I’d already changed its title to Only Superhuman, but for clarity’s sake I’m calling it Troubleshooter, since it’s still the original version of the story. It was in the course of the ’99 rewrite that I realized the story’s systemic problems were too deep to be solved with revision, leading me to re-break the story from scratch and rework many of its concepts and characters. This is a glimpse of what Emerald Blair and the Troubleshooters might have been — not so different in many ways, but lacking some key elements.

Fiction: Excerpt from TROUBLESHOOTER (1999 draft)

Accompanying it are the usual notes and discussion on the Behind the Scenes tier:

TROUBLESHOOTER Excerpt Annotations

And some of my early concept art on the $1 tier, including my original design for Emerald’s ship Zephyr:

TROUBLESHOOTER: Early art concepts

It’s possible that I’ll post other deleted scenes, this time from Only Superhuman, over the year ahead. As far as proper, original fiction content goes, I have some thoughts, but things are up in the air for me right now and it’s hard to make plans. So I hope my Patreon subscribers will bear with me. And for those of you who might be on the fence about subscribing, keep in mind that the more subscribers I have, the more motivated I’ll be to create new content for them.

The one thing I have managed to keep current on is the $5 Reviews tier, where I’ve just wrapped up a review of the mindbending cyberpunk anime Serial Experiments Lain. Next week, I’ll be doing a special one-part review of the Watchmen TV series, free for everyone to read. After that, I begin covering the 1997 historical fantasy Roar, a short-lived TV series that was the American screen debut of two actors who became famous later on, Heath Ledger and Vera Farmiga. And after that, I’m planning to cover an old favorite that I’ve wanted to revisit for decades.

So what are the “written worlds?” redux

Happy anniversary! The Written Worlds blog debuted a dozen years ago today, on November 29, 2009. I was pretty prolific at the beginning, writing a half-dozen posts including introductory comments, an announcement of my 2009 Star Trek movie tie-in novel (which was later cancelled), some slice-of-life observations, and a book series review. I also wrote an introductory post summarizing the different fictional universes I’d written professionally up to that point, by way of explaining the blog title:

So what are the “written worlds?”

I always hoped that, in time, I’d be able to make a new, longer list of universes I’d gotten into print. I figure this is as good a time as any, though as it turns out, the list of universes is only slightly longer than it was a dozen years ago. Instead, it’s gotten deeper, and evolved in other ways.

Starting again with the licensed universes, which are the same ones as before:

  • Star Trek. This is the world that still constitutes the majority of my published prose work, though not quite as large a majority anymore. In the past dozen years, I’ve added 11 more novels and four e-novellas, nearly all of them in just three series: Department of Temporal Investigations, Enterprise: Rise of the Federation, and Original Series books set outside the TV series time frame (one before TOS, one between TOS & the Animated Series, two in the movie era). These still include two alternate timelines, the Mirror Universe and the timeline of Myriad Universes: Places of Exile, though the “Abramsverse”/Kelvin Timeline novel I wrote in 2009 ended up not getting published. I guess my post-Nemesis novels and e-novellas are now in an alternate timeline as well, for the novel continuity they were set in has now been contradicted by Star Trek: Picard, and the current Coda trilogy has reconciled the “Novelverse” as an alternate history. I’ve also contributed a number of game campaigns to Star Trek Adventures, whose continuity is distinct from that of the novels while borrowing some elements from them. Arguably those campaigns constitute an open-ended number of alternate worlds, a new one for each gaming group that plays them.
  • Marvel Comics. Still only two entries here, X-Men: Watchers on the Walls and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder.  The only change is that both now have audiobook adaptations, a single-narrator edition for WotW and a full-cast dramatized adaptation for DiT.

The list of my original universes is somewhat different, though:

  • Arachne/Troubleshooter Universe. The primary universe I’ve been developing for most of my life, an optimistic hard-SF future history spanning centuries. This was what I simply called my “Default” universe back in ’09, even though I only had two published novelettes in it at the time. By now, it encompasses the novels Only Superhuman, Arachne’s Crime, and Arachne’s Exile, plus about a dozen short stories. Its published entries to date basically break down into subgroups focused around two stages of the universe’s history: the Troubleshooter period, when genetically and bionically modified superheroes keep the peace in the Main Asteroid Belt, and the interstellar era centered around the Arachne duology or growing out of its events. I’d hoped this would be a significantly longer entry by now, but I’m glad to have made the progress I have. And hey, at least I finally have a name for the darn thing, albeit a bit of a cumbersome one.
  • The Hub. A hard-SF comedy universe revolving around the Hub, the one and only means of FTL travel and thus the nexus of all interstellar civilization, with humanity as a minor, backwards culture struggling to make a name for itself. This was just one story back in my original list; now it’s a series of six stories, basically two trilogies, collected in the volumes Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy and Crimes of the Hub, the latter of which has the length and structure to qualify as a short novel. I’m still hoping for more stories to follow.
  • Tangent Knights. This is the most significant addition to the list, an original series of dramatized full-cast audio novels from GraphicAudio, a hard-SF superhero narrative inspired by Japanese tokusatsu adventure series and built around unused comic-book premises and characters I created back in the 1990s. Only the first book, Caprice of Fate, is out as of this writing, but a whole trilogy has been written, and there’s a good chance there will be more. This could soon be my largest original written world. Or worlds, as it encompasses numerous parallel quantum realities.
  • Thayara. My first published stab at a fantasy universe, set in the early industrial era of an alternate Earth whose evolution and culture were shaped differently by the presence of the Wyrd, a magical force that resonates with sentient minds. It includes two stories so far, “The Science of Sacrifice” and “The Melody Lingers,” both of which are available on my Patreon page, though only “Melody” was previously published professionally.
  • Miscellaneous standalones. I now have a fair number of individual stories in their own distinct continuities, including the professionally published “No Dominion” (the “To Be Announced” entry in my 2009 post) and “Abductive Reasoning,” and seven of my self-published Patreon stories as of this writing. It’s conceivable that some of these standalones could share a universe with one another, but I’ve established no links between them as of yet. Some are pure one-shots, such as the comedies “Abductive Reasoning” and “Growth Industry,” but there are some set in universes that have potential for continuation in further stories:
    • “No Dominion”: A world where medical science has made death largely curable, creating new challenges.
    • The Moving Finger Writes“: An interstellar future featuring an ancient network of time-travel wormholes.
    • The Monsters We Make“: A hard-SF take on kaiju/giant monsters invading the Earth.
    • What Slender Threads“: A multiverse premise of a different sort grounded in brane theory, an alternate approach to some of the ideas of Tangent Knights.

So in the past dozen years, I’ve gone from four original short stories set in three universes to at least six novels and over two dozen stories set in multiple different universes, at least four of which encompass multiple stories. That’s fairly significant progress, though still less than I’d hoped for.

Going forward, I think I’m likely to focus largely on expanding the universes I have. As you can see, my recent attempts at starting new short-fiction universes have largely gone unsold and had to end up on Patreon. Starting a new universe, at least the kind of worldbuilding-heavy universes I favor, is more suited to novels than short fiction. And I’m always interested in fleshing out my existing universes in more depth. But you never know. A new story idea might strike me that doesn’t fit any of my existing universes. Or, as with Tangent Knights, I might be offered an opportunity that requires creating something new.

So I wonder how this list will change over the next dozen years. Will the written worlds have increased more in number or in size and depth? Will I add more licensed universes? Will I finally have reached the point where my original fiction output surpasses my licensed output? Will I even have to wait another dozen years before this list deserves another update? Only time will tell.

New Patreon fiction: “Nilly’s Choice” (Arachne’s Crime tie-in)

To make up for going a while without new Patreon fiction, here’s the second story in just under a month, this one newly written exclusively for Patreon. As I mentioned in my last post, “Nilly’s Choice” is a character vignette (if a 5200-word story can be called a vignette) filling in the backstory of R’nilinnath, aka Nilly, the young Chirrn apprentice mediator introduced in the second half of Arachne’s Crime. She was one of my favorite characters to write in that novel and Arachne’s Exile, and I realized it was an oversight that I’d never established her background and motivations for becoming a mediator. This story reveals her reaction to the events of the first half of AC, and it also lets me flesh out a few more details about the Chirrn.

You can find the story here on the $10/mo Fiction tier:

Fiction: “Nilly’s Choice”

As usual, annotations for the story are also up at the $12/mo Behind the Scenes tier:

“Nilly’s Choice” Annotations

This makes, let’s see, the fifth Arachne story I’ve done, after the original “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide” (reprinted in Among the Wild Cybers), the duology, and the “Comfort Zones” prequel story (which is also on Patreon as well as in The Arachne Omnibus). The sixth if you count “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele,” which is an indirect sequel.

Where things stand with my writing

October 16, 2021 3 comments

Well, the good news is, I’ve now been paid for the concluding volume of the Tangent Knights trilogy. It was cutting it a bit close, which is my own fault for running behind, but the money’s in the bank at last. Also, with TK done, I had time to finally finish revising a couple more Star Trek Adventures standalone games, and I’m awaiting approval and payment on those. So I daresay I’m probably okay for the next half-year or so now, barring disasters.

Things are still a bit iffy going forward, though. I’ve already pitched an idea for more Tangent Knights novels, and I’ve got a couple of new things tentatively lined up with Star Trek Adventures, all of which I’m waiting to hear back on. I expect my projects with both publishers to go forward, but I’m not sure when they’d be likely to pay out. So my long-term prospects are a little uncertain right now, but at least I have time to try to line up some additional sources of income to bridge the gap, if it proves necessary.

You’re probably wondering about Star Trek novels. Let’s just say things are up in the air with those right now, and I’ve learned over the past few years that it was unwise to rely too heavily on them as my primary source of income, given the unexpected delays and slow periods that tend to crop up. So until I hear otherwise, my current priorities are elsewhere — Tangent, STA, my other original work as time allows, and whatever else I can line up over the months ahead. Ideally, I hope to find the time to start writing a third Arachne novel.

Gaining more Patreon subscribers would certainly help. I fell behind on preparing new Patreon content while I was writing TK3, but I’ve been trying to catch up. I’m currently 3/4 of the way through a review of the 8-episode Japanese miniseries Miss Sherlock, which reinvents Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as modern-day women in Tokyo. After that, starting on October 26, I’ll begin covering the mindbending 1998 cyberpunk anime series Serial Experiments Lain, in an edited repost of the detailed reviews I wrote in 2009 for a now-defunct incarnation of the ExIsle BBS, so they probably no longer exist online in their original form. That will carry my review series through to the end of the year, so I’ll hopefully have time to rebuild my inventory.

I’m also working on a new Patreon story that I hope to have ready by the end of October. It’s a character vignette (well, longer than a vignette) filling in a significant bit of overlooked backstory for one of my favorite characters from Arachne’s Crime. Some of it might find its way into the third Arachne novel if I ever get around to it, or at least it might help me flesh out ideas for that book.

Also, I now have an author copy of Tangent Knights 1: Caprice of Fate, so I’ll finally be able to do annotations, which I was waiting to do until I could hear the final version and get the timings for my notes. I want to get the Patreon story finished up before I tackle that, though.

I also have a new Troubleshooter story that I’ve been trying to sell, but a couple of the markets I was hoping to offer it to have dried up recently. If I run out of other options, it’ll end up on Patreon.

I’m wrestling with an idea for what might be a new Hub story. It’s a concept I’ve had in mind for years, a fairly dark comedy premise. I already tried writing it once as a standalone story, but I wasn’t satisfied with the result; it turned out less comedic than I intended. I have an idea for how to take another stab at the concept in the Hub setting, but I’m not sure if the plot specifics can really work there. So that’s still up in the air.

I keep a list taped to my door of the projects I plan to tackle in a given year, and I usually end up disappointed by how few of them I actually get done. I suppose it’s not as bad as it looks, though, since I got most of the biggest things done, except for Arachne 3. The things I haven’t checked off are mostly outlines or tentative short story ideas. My problem is that it’s hard for me to focus on more than one thing at a time. If I were better at multitasking, I could get some of these smaller things done during breaks in the bigger things. But it’s hard for me to split my focus that way. Indeed, part of why I was late with TK3 is because I took a break from it to finish an STA game and it took longer than intended. But then, almost all my writing takes longer than intended.

Maybe I’d do better if I were more financially secure and less stressed. I’m somewhat better off in that regard than I was last year, thanks to GraphicAudio and Tangent Knights. But it’s not as much of an improvement as I’d hoped for, due to various delays. So I’m hanging on, but the long-term uncertainty remains.

New Patreon fiction: “What Slender Threads”

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted a new story on my Patreon. I fell behind schedule on the conclusion of the Tangent Knights trilogy, so I tried to focus solely on that. But now I’ve finally posted a new story, “What Slender Threads,” which you can read here on the $10/mo Fiction tier:

Fiction: “What Slender Threads”

The annotations for the story are also up at the $12/mo Behind the Scenes tier:

“What Slender Threads” Annotations

I say “new,” but it’s more like “unsold.” As I mentioned on the Tangent Knights discussion page, I already had a rough idea for a trilogy I was planning to develop when GraphicAudio invited me to pitch an original trilogy or series, but I had to rework it to separate out the characters and concepts I’d already used in a prologue story I was shopping around at the time, splitting different aspects of the original premise into two separate continuities and two distinct approaches to the idea of parallel Earths. “What Slender Threads” is that story, a glimpse at my original approach, which would have been somewhat darker and more tragic than Tangent Knights turned out to be. In retrospect, I’m glad I ended up taking a different tack, because TK was enormous fun to write. But there are still aspects of “What Slender Threads” that I’m eager to share with my audience, particularly its distinctive take on the nature of parallel worlds. And people who’ve listened to Tangent Knights: Caprice of Fate might be interested to compare and contrast it with this alternative version of the concept (or vice versa).

New fiction on Patreon: “The Monsters We Make”

First off, a belated apology to my Patreon subscribers for not posting a Fiction entry for May. When I started my Patreon page, I hoped I’d be able to post something new in the Fiction tier on a monthly basis, but I’ve been very busy with The Big Exciting Project I Still Can’t Talk About, and that will still be ongoing for a couple of months more. I may have to dial back to every other month for new fiction, at least for a while.

However, I do have a new story out this week, along with its annotations. It’s not entirely new, since some of the Kickstarter backers for the Arachne duology got a look at it as an extra bonus when they increased their pledges. But this is technically its first publication. It’s called “The Monsters We Make,” and it’s the latest of my efforts to devise a plausible, hard science fiction approach to a usually fanciful genre — in this case,  kaiju/giant monsters. Did I pull it off convincingly? Well, that’s for my readers to decide. But due to its genre, it’s certainly the most dystopian thing I’ve ever written. Might make an interesting change of pace for my readers.

The story can be read at the $10/month Fiction level here:

“The Monsters We Make”

And the annotations are available at the $12/mo Behind the Scenes tier here:

“The Monsters We Make” annotations

This is good timing, come to think of it, since we’re now just days away from the global release of Netflix’s anime series Godzilla Singular Point. Naturally, I’ll be reviewing that series here on Written Worlds, as part of my ongoing (and free) Godzilla/kaiju review series. I could pretend I timed it this way intentionally, but it’s pure coincidence and I only just realized it as I wrote this post.

Now on Patreon: “The Science of Sacrifice”

This month’s Fiction entry on my Patreon page is “The Science of Sacrifice,” a newly revised version of an unsold story set in Thayara, the same fantasy universe as last month’s reprint, “The Melody Lingers.” It’s actually the first of the two Thayara stories I wrote in 2009-10, and takes place about a generation before “Melody,” laying some foundations for its concepts.

Yet while “Melody” focused entirely on the human cultures of Thayara for simplicity, “Science” is set in a more cosmopolitan city where multiple sapient species interact (since it was written as a “pilot” for the universe), so it has a rather different flavor. As a supplement for subscribers to the Behind the Scenes tier, I’ve published edited excerpts from my Thayara worldbuilding notes, including discussion about the various species and a map of the planet (which is an alternate-history Earth whose evolution was shaped differently by the magic-like phenomenon called Wyrd).

The story is here on my $10/month Fiction tier:

Fiction: “The Science of Sacrifice”

The notes are on the $12 Behind the Scenes tier:

Thayara worldbuilding notes and “Science of Sacrifice” discussion

Meanwhile, my Patreon reviews of the Logan’s Run TV series conclude next week, after which I’ll start reviewing season 3 of the 1988 syndicated Superboy TV series, retooled and retitled The Adventures of Superboy, and vastly improved from the first two seasons.

“The Melody Lingers” on Patreon

I technically missed posting a Patreon story in February, but my previous entry was on January 31, so it’s barely been a month. Anyway, this month(ish)’s entry is a reprint of my first published fantasy story, “The Melody Lingers,” which appeared in Galaxy’s Edge Magazine in July 2019, and was the only story I ever sold to my fellow Cincinnatian, writer-editor Mike Resnick, before he passed away last year. (Interesting how two of the editors I’ve sold to, Stanley Schmidt and Resnick, were from my hometown. Indeed, Stan once lived on my current street!) The story is available to subscribers of the Fiction tier at $10/month:

Fiction: “The Melody Lingers”

I’m afraid I don’t have a Behind the Scenes entry to go along with it this month, since the annotations were already published here on Written Worlds, and the one suitable thing I have is something I’ve decided is better saved for later.

Meanwhile, my current review series on the $5/month Patreon tier is of the 1977 TV series adaptation of the film Logan’s Run.

Arachne’s Crimes… of the Hub? Only on Patreon!

This month’s Fiction post on Patreon is a little unusual. It’s an excerpt from an early draft of the novel that became Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile, from a time when I was piling on too many characters and species that led me too deep into the weeds, requiring me to regroup and streamline the latter half of the story. One of those characters was the prototype for Tsshar, the adorably larcenous Mrwadj captain from Crimes of the Hub. She was meant to be comic relief, so after I cut her out of Arachne, she slotted neatly into the comedic Hub universe with minimal changes required. Now you can see my original version of the character, and get a few extra glimpses of Arachne worldbuilding that I ended up not having room for in the duology. Maybe not the best of both the Arachne-Troubleshooter and Hub universes, but a unique convergence of the two.

Fiction: Deleted scene: Arachne Meets the Hub?

Accompanying it on the Behind the Scenes tier is a second excerpt from my “Life in the Galaxy” worldbuilding notes, focusing on ancient galactic history and the evolution of the galactic institutions and social structures that exist by the time of Arachne’s Exile.

Worldbuilding notes: Life in the Galaxy (Part 2)

As always, the Fiction tier is available to Patreon subscribers at $10/month, and Behind the Scenes is $12/month.

Crimes of the Hub cover
It only just occurred to me that both these works ended up with “Crime” in the title.

“Safe Hex” on Patreon

Since I’ve been extra-busy this month writing my new novel, my Patreon Fiction entry this month is a very short story — no annotations, sorry. If my memory is reliable, then “Safe Hex” is technically the first story I ever had published, in a newsletter of the University of Cincinnati Honors Society, of which I was sort of an honorary member back in the late ’80s and early ’90s (i.e. I had friends there and they let me hang out in their lounge). Although that was an earlier draft of the story, less imaginatively entitled “Be Careful What You Wish For.” This version was written in 1996-7 and never sold; apparently I gave up after the first rejection, not having a lot of faith in the story. But I’ve always somewhat liked the idea, and it sort of works as a companion piece to last month’s “Vein Glory,” for reasons that will become clear. I did a bit of revision and updating for this edition.

As always, the story is available to subscribers of the Fiction tier at $10/month:

Fiction: “Safe Hex”

“Vein Glory” on Patreon!

This month’s original story on Patreon has gone live, coincidentally at the same time Arachne’s Crime got its cover reveal (and I’m informed the novel has just gone to press, and Kickstarter backers have received their e-book copies.) It’s the second bonus story I offered with that Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, a short SF/fantasy hybrid called “Vein Glory,” which is one of only two vampire-themed stories I’ve ever written or probably ever will. As always, it’s available to patrons at the $10/month Fiction tier or above, and the story’s annotations are also online at the $12/month Behind the Scenes tier. Here are the links:

Fiction: “Vein Glory”

“Vein Glory” Annotations

“Comfort Zones” now on Patreon!

This month’s Fiction post on my Patreon page is now up. With the release of Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile coming up quite soon, I’ve decided to release the prequel short story “Comfort Zones,” originally an exclusive for the duology’s Kickstarter backers, on the $10 Fiction tier. The backers got the story months ago, and there are only a couple of overlaps between them and my Patreon donors, so I figured it was okay to go ahead and do that. As usual, annotations for the story will go up tomorrow on the $12 Behind the Scenes tier.

I hope the release of this story will encourage more people to sign up for my Patreon, at least for a month or two. Though the new writing gig I’ve been hinting at should substantially improve my financial situation in 2021, my ability to bridge the gap until then is iffier than I’d expected. I should have enough to scrape by barring emergencies or delays, but the margin is narrow. I’m tired of asking for handouts, but by this point my Patreon features seven original or reprinted short stories, an Arachne’s Crime novel excerpt, dozens of vintage SFTV reviews, a couple of book reviews, exclusive annotations and behind-the-scenes writing notes, some original artwork, and even some cat pictures from my younger days. So there’s plenty you can get in return. Even if you just sign up for one month, you can read everything currently on the site at whatever tier you sign up for. And these next 2-3 months are when I’m going to need Patreon income the most.

Minor website update

I’ve been getting acquainted with WordPress’s new editing software, which is frustratingly more limited than the old software in its ability to edit image size and placement, but which has a few useful features I’ve been discovering. One of those is the ability to insert hashtag anchors inside a page, so that I can create page jump links within a single page, or link to a specific part of a different page. For instance, here’s a link to the discussion for “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” on my Troubleshooter fiction page:

https://christopherlbennett.wordpress.com/only-superhuman/#StuffDreams

So despite my ongoing Internet connection problems, I’ve managed to update my pages covering multiple works (such as my pages for Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation or Among the Wild Cybers) with page jump links for easier navigation to the individual entries, usually in the form of tables of contents at the top.

Speaking of the Internet problem, it stabilized yesterday afternoon and evening, but went out again this morning. (Phone line is still dead.) As I mentioned in a comment to my last post, I noticed that the dropouts seemed to fit the pattern of my modem overheating, though that couldn’t be the only reason, since they didn’t start until after the technician did his failed repairs to the phone line on Monday. Still, I tried blowing a fan into the modem vents to dislodge dust buildup, and it was stable all day after that. However, I can now rule out the overheating idea, since I tried the fan again after the first dropouts this morning, and had another dropout just moments afterward. Nothing I can do seems to fix it; I’m just trying to work around it as best I can, to take advantage of the moments of connection I get and hope it eventually settles down again.

I have to say, I really am much calmer about this today than yesterday. I realized yesterday how agitated and frustrated I was getting about what’s really a relatively minor inconvenience, albeit an annoyingly persistent one. I mean, things are improving in my life lately. The new project that I hoped to announce this week (well, maybe next week) should finally get me out of the financial mess I’ve been in for the past few years, though I still have to scrape through the rest of this year first (and more Patreon subscriptions would help me with that, even if you just try it for a month or two). And while I’m well behind schedule on my current novel assignment, I’ve finally been catching up and getting back on track. So I have good reason to feel better about my life situation now, and you’d think it would be easier to put more minor crises into perspective.

But I guess I’ve just been in panic mode for so long that it’s my default reaction. The little frustrations feel the same as the huge setbacks. I hope in time, as things continue to improve for me, I’ll be able to settle back into a more stable state of mind. (Well, as close to stable as a neurotic sort like me can get.)

And now I really should get back to work on that book…

ARACHNE’S CRIME/EXILE update (and more art!)

Okay, folks… You may have noticed that I now have preorder links for both Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile up on my homepage. Both books have now been edited and typeset, and all that’s left is the cover art, which eSpec Books’ Mike McPhail is about to take up. Oh, and hopefully collecting a few promotional blurbs.

So I talked it over with my editor, and we decided that, instead of releasing the two books separately as originally anticipated, we’re going to release the whole duology at once! I figure, hey, we’ve all been waiting long enough, so why create an artificial wait for the second book if there’s no need to?

There’s a definite irony here, though, since I originally wrote this story as a single really long novel. It was when I decided to shop it to small publishers that I decided to split it in two to fit their word count limits, and I realized it worked better that way, as two distinct, more focused stories connecting into a larger sequence. So I rewrote with that in mind, making sure AC had a reasonable degree of closure and completeness while AE opened with sufficient recapping and reintroduction to refresh readers’ memories after a gap of, I presumed, several months. Now it turns out the whole story is coming out all at once after all.

Still, it’s good that it has that flexibility. Readers can buy both books at once if they like (and I hope they do), or they can start with AC and then get around to AE later if they prefer. It really does have a better structure as two consecutive installments, but I guess that’s true regardless of how much or little time separates them in the reader’s experience.

As for when they come out, that depends on how long the covers take. But it should hopefully be fairly soon. Of course, you can preorder right now with the above links.

Meanwhile, given all this, I’ve gone ahead and posted an advance look at four Arachne’s Exile alien designs on my Patreon site, following up the sketches I posted of Arachne’s Crime aliens back in June (when I thought the book might be out in July or so). Both sets of sketches are available to anyone at the $1 subscription level, though they’ll all be included with my novel annotations here on Written Worlds when the time comes. For now, though, they’ll hopefully tide us over until the covers come out.

Oh, and I should have another big announcement about a different project very soon.

More free Patreon samples!

I now have free samples up on Patreon for all three of my main membership tiers. I hope they entice at least a few more people to subscribe to my Patreon page.

At the $5 Reviews tier, up since last Tuesday, is the first of my weekly reviews of the 1988 syndicated Superboy TV series:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/40266250

At the $10 Fiction tier is a reprint of my 2017 Analog short story “Abductive Reasoning”:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/free-fiction-41459524

And at the $12 Behind the Scenes tier, I’m offering a glimpse of my worldbuilding notes for the Arachne-Troubleshooter Universe, an overview of the distribution of life in different parts of the galaxy:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/worldbuilding-in-41460817

These are pretty representative of the kind of content I offer regularly. I post a new review every Tuesday (I’ve got enough written in advance to last about a year at this point), and new (or sometimes reprint) fiction and Behind the Scenes content roughly once a month. Also, at the $1 Tip Jar level, I have a couple of posts’ worth of old cat photos you can check out (no new ones likely to follow, alas) and occasional advance glimpses at character and alien design sketches I’ve done for my fiction (which will eventually be reprinted here on Written Worlds).

Feel free to check it out!

Free Patreon review this week!

Today I’m starting a new TV review series on Patreon, of the 1988-92 syndicated Superboy (renamed The Adventures of Superboy for seasons 3-4), which was produced by Alexander and Ilya Salkind of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and starred John Haymes Newton (season 1) and Gerard Christopher (seasons 2-4) as Superboy and Stacy Haiduk as Lana Lang. It’s a little-remembered series today, as it hasn’t been widely available, but the entire series is on DC Universe. While the first two seasons are inconsistent and often terrible, they do have some noteworthy moments, and are notable for having veteran Superman comics writer-editors such as Cary Bates, Mike Carlin, and Andy Helfer on the writing staff. The retooled seasons 3-4, though are a vast improvement, probably the best live-action DC television prior to Smallville (and I say that as a longtime fan of the 1990 The Flash). Seasons 2-4 also feature Sherman Howard as one of the finest screen versions of Lex Luthor ever.

This will be a long series of reviews, so in hopes of attracting some new subscribers, I’m making this first review available for free to the public. Just click here:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/40266250

Subsequent installments will appear weekly for Patreon subscribers at the $5 level and above. I hope this review will entice at least a few of you to join up — I’d like my reviews to be read by more than 20-ish people.

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Update on ARACHNE’S EXILE, Patreon, and other projects

We’re still waiting for the Arachne’s Crime cover art to be completed and the book to be released, but in the meantime, I recently got the copyedits for the second half of the duology, Arachne’s Exile. I had to wrap up an assignment for Star Trek Adventures first, but I got that done last week and then applied myself to the copyedits. My editor Danielle correctly pointed out that the opening scene I’d written to recap the first book was unengaging, so I found a way to work the necessary exposition into the subsequent scenes more gradually and organically, and I got a nice new moment of character interaction out of it by turning an internal monologue into a dialogue scene. (To make sure I covered all the relevant exposition, I copied the cut recap scene into another file, bolded the text, and then unbolded each part I worked in elsewhere or decided was unnecessary, so I could be sure I didn’t miss anything.)

Along the way, I also realized that I could improve the pacing of the first few chapters enormously by moving forward a couple of scenes, so the intercutting between the two main groups of characters flows better. The new arrangement lets me re-establish more of the main characters and their emotional arcs and conflicts before getting into the heavy plot and science exposition, and it lets me postpone a crucial revelation so that it comes at the end of a chapter rather than one scene before the end.

After turning in the copyedits yesterday, I took a look at a recently rejected short story to see if I wanted to revise it one more time before resubmitting it elsewhere. I decided it was okay as it was, which is good, because I have another, major project that I really need to get on with, though it’s not something I can talk about yet. It’ll be keeping me busy for the next few months, though.

Also, I had occasion today to reread a story I wrote a while back and decided to abandon because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I had what I envisioned as a comedy idea, but the story I wrote didn’t turn out to be all that comedic. I just glanced at it to see if there were character names I wanted to cannibalize, but in reading it again, I realized it might be okay the way it is. Too bad I don’t have time right now to revise it for submission, but I’ll keep it in mind for later.

Meanwhile, I’m told that I’m close to getting an answer about another project I was invited to pitch a few months ago, and the prospects look pretty good. I’m trying not to get overconfident, but if I get it, it will be a great help to me financially and should be pretty fun to write — though it’s likely to make me even busier over the months ahead.

 

On Patreon this month, my fiction post will be a reprint of the Troubleshooter story “Conventional Powers,” originally published in the Sept/Oct 2019 Analog. It’s the first time my Patreon story has been a reprint rather than new/unpublished content, but hopefully it’ll be new for some of my patrons, at least, and I thought it was a good idea to have the story archived for people who didn’t manage to read it in Analog. It goes live on Saturday, August 8, a date I chose because it’s the anniversary of the day I conceived the character of Emerald Blair and the earliest form of the Troubleshooter premise (I remember it because it was 8/8/88). The following day, my Behind-the-Scenes Patreon post will be a glimpse at my Sol System geography notes for the Emerald Blair/Troubleshooter series, including some locations from as-yet-unpublished works. I’m also working on a couple of new pieces of Troubleshooter character artwork to accompany this month’s releases at the $1 level, debuting as a Patreon exclusive, though I’ll eventually repost them here.

Starting next Tuesday, my Patreon reviews return to DC Comics TV shows with a look at the short-lived 1992 Human Target series from the producers of the 1990 The Flash. That’ll be my shortest rewatch/review series yet, covering the unaired pilot and the seven aired episodes in four posts, after which I’ll begin my longest one yet, covering all four seasons of the 1988-92 syndicated Superboy series. That should take the better part of a year to get through, so I’ll probably intersperse some other reviews along the way for variety.

New story on Patreon: “Growth Industry”

My newest Patreon story, “Growth Industry,” is now up for subscribers at the $10 Original Fiction level and above. It’s an affectionate parody of Super Sentai/Power Rangers and a particular trope of the franchise that’s always bugged me. I didn’t have any luck selling it to magazines, probably because it’s too much of an inside joke, but I hope my subscribers find it entertaining whether they get the references or not. Annotations will be up for $12 subscribers tomorrow.

Incidentally, Written Worlds readers may notice I’ve made a couple of visual changes to my blog. Something happened to my page theme that replaced whatever background it had previously had (I forget what it was) with blank white, so I went looking for a way to add some kind of header image or something to add visual interest, and I found a set of background pattern options. I chose one with an emerald theme, for what should be obvious reasons. I also discovered it was possible to insert a “gallery” widget along the side to display the covers of my recent releases, making it easier to promote them beyond the main page (basically I copied this from Dayton Ward’s blog, once I realized it was also WordPress). I still haven’t figured out how to add a header image, though. Maybe I’d need a different theme for that.

It’s Arachne Week on Patreon!

We’re probably less than a month away from the publication of Arachne’s Crime, my second original novel and the first half of a duology from eSpec Books. To promote the book, and hopefully to draw in some new subscribers to my Patreon page, I’m devoting this month’s fiction and behind-the-scenes content to Arachne’s Crime.

It begins at noon today with the release of the entire Chapter 1 of Arachne’s Crime for subscribers to my $10 Original Fiction tier and above. Tuesday will be the usual weekly TV review for subscribers at $5 and up, and on Wednesday, all Patreon subscribers at $1 and up will get an advance look at my design sketches for the three alien species featured in Arachne’s Crime, two of which are brand-new. Then on Friday, the $12 Behind the Scenes tier will feature an exclusive look at my worldbuilding notes about the featured aliens’ evolution, behavior, and culture.

If you haven’t tried out my Patreon page before, this is a great time to start!

How well do I Bechdel, updated

It’s been nearly four years since my “How well do I Bechdel?” post, where I assessed the gender inclusiveness of my fiction by applying the famous Bechdel test (an imperfect but useful assessment for an aggregate body of work, as discussed in the original thread). I was surprised at how poorly my original fiction came out, since so much of it is female-centric, but the problem was that it was mostly short fiction that often centered on one male and one female lead. Anyway, I’ve had a significant number of new stories and novels published (or due for publication) since then, so I figured it was worth updating the list.

To recap, a work of fiction passes the Bechdel test if it meets three criteria:

  1. It includes at least two named female characters…
  2. who have a conversation with each other…
  3. about something other than a man.

There’s also the related Mako Mori test for works with only one female lead; such a work can pass if:

  1. It includes at least one female character…
  2. who has her own narrative arc…
  3. that isn’t about supporting a male character’s arc.

Of course, as I mentioned last time, passing the test doesn’t guarantee a work isn’t sexist, or vice-versa, since it’s more about the aggregate than an individual work. A great example I came across a while back is the Roger Corman horror movie Forbidden World (1982). The movie passes Bechdel handily thanks to a scene where the two female leads have a lengthy conversation with each other about how to communicate with the monster attacking their lab… however, the entire conversation is conducted while they’re fully frontally nude together in a futuristic shower. Indeed, they’re treated throughout as sex objects and victims. So Bechdel alone is not a definitive assessment. But then, part of the point is that it’s an absurdly low bar to clear, so there’s no excuse for so many stories in popular culture to fail it.

So let’s see how my total body of work stacks up now. My first post covered my published or pending works up through Star Trek: The Face of the Unknown from January 2017. Most of my published works since then have been original, so we’ll start with those. In publication order, and including sold works awaiting publication:

“Twilight’s Captives”: Passes Bechdel. The female lead Madeleine Kamakau discusses the rescue of hostage children with the mother of one of the hostages, as well as with a female alien leader and an alien of a third “brooder” sex using a female pronoun. An asexual, non-gendered alien also has conversations with several female characters.

“Abductive Reasoning”: Fails Bechdel, but passes Mako. A two-hander between an alien female and a human male, but the alien’s pursuit of her own goal (which involves reconciling with her sister) drives the story.

“Hubpoint of No Return”: Ambiguous pass. Nashira Wing and the female alien Tsshar have a conversation that is partly about rescuing the male lead David, but evolves into one driven primarily by Nashira’s own agenda. Passes Mako twice over, as both Nashira and Tsshar have their own independent agendas shaping events.

“Aspiring to be Angels”: Passes. Emerald Blair and a female scientist have several discussions about the driving concepts and themes of the story, with the male lead only occasionally discussed.

“…And He Built a Crooked Hub”: Limited pass. Nashira converses with several female characters about various matters, although her overall goal is to locate and help David. (Also contains a metatextual joke about this very subject.) Not a Mako pass; three female characters (Nashira, Yldai, and Tsshar) have narrative arcs (i.e. storylines that develop and resolve rather than just unchanging motives/goals), but all are about David in some way.

“Hubstitute Creatures”: Limited pass. Nashira argues with a female colleague about her work (though her relationship with a male character is brought up) and discusses a medical matter with a female alien doctor. Mako pass, since Nashira’s personal agenda and narrative arc drive the story.

Crimes of the Hub: The new bridging material added for the collection includes one scene that passes, where Nashira speaks with two female colleagues (one human, one not) about their respective careers.

“The Melody Lingers”: Fails Bechdel and Mako. There are two primary named female characters (arguably three, but one isn’t truly present), but they have almost no direct interaction except through the male viewpoint character, and neither has an independent arc (one is subservient to him and the other is reacting against him). But this is arguably more a feature than a bug, since the intent is to critique and challenge the viewpoint character’s self-serving treatment of women.

“The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”: Barely passes Bechdel. There are several named female characters discussing the artifact around which the story revolves, but they’re mostly discussing it with the male lead, and there’s only one paragraph in which one woman addresses another. Probably passes Mako, as Captain Veronica Moyo has a clearly defined agenda that, while it ultimately puts her at odds with the male lead, is not specifically about him, and her actions in pursuit of her goals are a primary catalyst of the story’s events.

“Conventional Powers”: Full pass. Emerald Blair discusses multiple subjects (largely her own actions, aspirations, and beliefs) with at least five other women, four of them named (or at least code-named).

“The Cat Who Chased Her Tail Through Time” (Patreon): Full pass. My debut Patreon story is a self-indulgent piece I wrote long ago about my cats, so it has no “onscreen” human characters except myself; but all but one of the cats in the story are female and they interact and discuss a great deal; also, the story is catalyzed by the actions of two female humans based on my two best friends from college.

“The Moving Finger Writes” (Patreon): Borderline pass at most. There are several named female characters, two human and two alien, but the two female aliens only briefly converse to establish their kinship, and all other conversations are with or about males. Probably a Mako fail; several female characters do have their own independent agendas, but their narrative purpose is to support and advance the male lead’s arc.

“They Also Serve” (Patreon): Fail. Emerald Blair is the only female character, and she’s merely the audience for Arkady’s narrative about meeting his husband.

Arachne’s Crime (upcoming): Full pass. There are multiple central female human characters, a female-identifying AI (Arachne), and a genderfluid alien species for which 3/4 of the most prominent characters are female for most or all of the narrative. They have numerous conversations and debates about a wide variety of topics. (Includes the events of “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide,” discussed in my previous Bechdel post, with most of the conversations mentioned there present here as well.)

Arachne’s Exile (upcoming): Full pass. There may be a higher ratio of female-male interactions to female-female ones here, but there’s still a number of the latter, and one of the two female leads becomes a more active driver of the narrative and shares several scenes with a female alien ally discussing various topics (spoilers!).

“Comfort Zones” (Kickstarter bonus): Pass. Has two main female characters who discuss their respective future plans and debate exploration policies.

“Vein Glory” (Kickstarter bonus): Only 2/3 Bechdel pass, Mako fail. Two named female characters who speak to each other, but only about matters pertaining to the male lead.

So… as of my previous post, my original fiction had 6 Bechdel passes out of 10, many of them borderline. Now I make it 18 out of 27, so I’m up from 60% to 67% (and only three unambiguous Mako fails) — a moderate improvement, though it could be better. However, I’ve succeeded in substantially improving LGBTQ representation in my original fiction, since about half of the above works feature overtly LGBTQ characters, 7 feature same-sex romance or attraction (8 if you count an ambiguous same-sex kiss), and three feature characters (mostly nonhuman) of non-binary sexuality. And 100% of my novel-length original works (Only Superhuman, Arachne’s Crime/Exile, and Crimes of the Hub as a fixup novel) succeed at both Bechdel and LGBTQ representation. It’s easier to achieve with novel-length works where there are more characters and interactions.

And now my comparatively few Star Trek works:

DTI: Shield of the Gods: Passes, briefly. Two female Aegis agents discuss their business.

ENT: Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference: Passes, though not extensively. Caroline Paris and Kivei Tizahr get acquainted; Devna and Maras discuss various matters (including but not limited to a male character); Tizahr discusses transporter ethics with Regina Tallarico (and two male crewmates); etc.

TOS: The Captain’s Oath: Moderate pass. It’s mainly from Captain Kirk’s perspective and relies on TOS characters, so it’s strongly male-centric, but there are a few Bechdel-passing scenes between female characters original to the novel, mainly Starfleet/Federation personnel discussing their work or crisis situations, though there is also a close female/female friendship depicted between Kamisha Diaz and a Caitian classmate. Mako pass, since several female characters have independent agendas and arcs.

TOS: The Higher Frontier: Moderate pass. As before, most of the passing scenes are between book-original characters, including Reiko Onami returning from Ex Machina, but Miranda Jones has a conversation with Chief DiFalco from ST:TMP, and there’s a scene or two of Uhura reasoning with a (more or less) female community leader of a group of aliens (though a male community leader is also involved). A strong Mako pass, as several female characters’ agendas drive much of the narrative.

Before, 20 out of 23 Trek works passed the full Bechdel test, though all passed at least one part. Now I make it 24/27, bumping up the percentage slightly from 87% to 89%. On the LGBTQ inclusion front, there are prominent/returning bisexual characters in the DTI novella and the ENT novel, although The Captain’s Oath only manages a few incidental references. The Higher Frontier establishes one returning Ex Machina character as lesbian and another as bisexual, but only in passing.

In the case of my Star Trek Adventures RPG campaigns, it’s impossible to assess whether they pass, since of course I have no idea who the Player Characters would be in a given gaming group. But as far as Non-Player Character interactions go, Call Back Yesterday, The Whole of the Law, and Stolen Liberty have only one named female NPC each; The Gravity of the Crime has several prominent female NPCs who interact with each other; and Hard Rock Catastrophe has three named female NPCs, two of whom share a scene but do not necessarily address each other directly (depending on how the Gamemaster plays the scene). So only Gravity is a guaranteed pass; the rest depend on who the PCs are and how and whether they choose to interact with the NPCs.

So overall, a limited improvement, but I think it stacks up pretty well. Since Bechdel is more of an aggregate assessment, it may be unreasonable to aim for 100% success; an overall success rate of 2/3 or more across an entire body of works is reasonably good. After all, the goal is diversity; there’s nothing wrong with stories centering on male leads or a single male-female pair, just so long as they’re part of a wider mix instead of crowding out more female-centric stories.

(Just a reminder that you can find more information and purchase links for these publications elsewhere on the site, by following the menu options up top. And if you read them, please post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and the like; the more reviews a publication gets on Amazon, the more its visibility improves in searches.)

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