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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.

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.

Author copies and annotations

My author copies of Galaxy’s Edge #39 have arrived!

Galaxys Edge 39

Here they are next to my “brag shelf” of Analog issues for size comparison. Normally I keep one copy on the brag shelf and one with my overall collection of SF magazines, but Galaxy’s Edge is too tall to fit on that shelf, so I have to keep them both here.

The Melody Lingers

And here’s the opening page, on paper and everything! It’s great to have a short story in a print magazine again, my first one other than Analog (and Esli for the Russian reprints of the first two Hub stories from Analog).

Right now (July 2019), you can read the entire issue on the Galaxy’s Edge site. But that’ll only be until the next issue comes out in September. If you want something you can keep, or if you read this after September, you can buy the issue in print from:

And digitally from:

In other news, the annotations to “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” are now up, and can be accessed (for now) from either the Original Short Fiction page or the (newly renamed) Only Superhuman/Troubleshooters page, though the latter will be the long-term “home” for Troubleshooter story discussion.

I also decided to move the book-cover slide show on my front page down below my author bio so it wouldn’t obscure the drop-down menus so much. It still covers up the last couple of items on the Star Trek drop-down menu, but they can still be seen clearly from any other page on the site. I also rearranged the Trek menu to put the Short Fiction page at the top, since the second-level drop-down links for short-story annotations were getting hard to reach that low on the page. I also put the other Trek links into a somewhat more logical order on the menu, instead of the sort of reverse-chronological thing I was somewhat using before (which I guess evolved because I was putting the newest stuff on top for easy access).

“The Melody Lingers” is out!

At long last, my first fantasy story, “The Melody Lingers,” is finally available to read. Issue #39 of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine is now on sale:

Now, Galaxy’s Edge publishes a number of the stories from each issue on their website, and as it happens, “The Melody Lingers” is one of the stories they’ve put online this month, so you can read it right now for free at:

http://www.galaxysedge.com/

Although that’s only until the next issue comes out in September, so I certainly hope you’ll also buy the magazine and read all the other stories. Ordering links are on the website below the stories, or right here:

Paperback:

Digital:

As you can see from the cover, I’m sharing the issue with some really big names, which is humbling. Remarkably, it’s the second time in the past year that I’ve shared a magazine with the legendary Gregory Benford, the first being the Sept/Oct 2018 Analog in which “…And He Built a Crooked Hub” appeared. And it’s my second time appearing in the same publication with Robert Jeschonek (after Star Trek: Voyager — Distant Shores). And Kevin J. Anderson provided a nice cover blurb quote for Only Superhuman, if that counts for anything.

And I just realized — this isn’t just my first fantasy story to get published, but my first story to be published in a print magazine other than Analog (unless you count the late, lamented Alternative Coordinates, which had a printable PDF version available). So that’s doubly cool.

“The Melody Lingers” in July!

It was last July that I announced selling my first fantasy story, “The Melody Lingers,” to Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge Magazine. It’s been so long that I was wondering what had happened to it, but Mike just informed me that it’s slated for the next issue, Galaxy’s Edge #39, dated July 2019. I think that means it may be out sometime in June, but I’m not sure.

“The Melody Lingers” is a short story about magic harnessed through music, using the distinct system of magic I developed for the world the story is set in, which I call Thayara. I came up with it back in the ’90s, but readers may note some broad similarities to the magic system from Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence.

Galaxy’s Edge is available in multiple electronic formats and in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and select stories from the current issue are available for free on its homepage at http://www.galaxysedge.com/, with ordering and subscription links for the full magazine further down on the page. I don’t yet know whether “The Melody Lingers” will be one of the free stories for the July issue — we’ll see.

I’ve sold my first fantasy story!

In my last post, I mentioned waking up Saturday morning at Shore Leave to find good news in my e-mail. The good news is that I’ve finally sold my first-ever short story in the fantasy genre rather than science fiction. It’s a fairly short piece called “The Melody Lingers,” a tale of magic harnessed through music, and I’ve been trying to sell it for years, honing it through various rejections. I’d pretty much run out of markets for it until I learned that Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, edited by fellow Cincinnatian Mike Resnick, was opening to general submissions. It was too long for Mike as written, but he said he’d take another look if I trimmed it down considerably — which is ironic, because the version I submitted was expanded from the first draft. I ended up going pretty much back to the story’s original structure, although incorporating enough of the improvements I’d made along the way to make it work. It was on Saturday morning that I got the acceptance and the contract, and fortunately they accepted an electronically signed contract, so I could send it right back without needing to wait until I could get it printed out and find a post office (or, well, I guess hotels can mail things for their guests). I just got the check today, which is very fast service.

“The Melody Lingers” is set in a fantasy world called Thayara that I’ve been developing since the ’90s (probably inspired by my college friends who were heavily into fantasy) and have made occasional attempts on and off to write stories in. This particular story focuses only on one limited part of that larger world, and it isn’t the tale I’d imagined as being the introduction to Thayara, but hey, it’s a start. I can finally say I’ve written fantasy professionally. And now that I’ve sold this one, it might inspire me to put renewed effort into writing more stories in this setting — sooner or later, once more pressing responsibilities are past.

I don’t yet know the publication date, but I’ll post it once I do.

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