From the Archives

There is a Star Trek fan club called Starfleet. Once upon a time, a chapter in Lynchburg, Virginia spawned multiple daughter chapters in nearby cities such as Roanoke, Blacksburg, Hampton, and Bluefield. We all enjoyed pretending to be futuristic starship crew, and that all our chapters were part of a squadron of ships assigned to the most unusual missions. It didn’t take long at all for us to start writing fiction about these ships, and even un-subtly working in many references to our other sci-fi and fantasy favorites.

Over the course of six or seven years, some of this fiction turned into 100,000 words of interlinked storytelling covering multiple chapters, dozens of characters, and many alternate science-fiction universes. We were pretty shameless. But you know, looking at it two decades later… it’s not bad! We’ve all grown as authors since then, but you can tell we were on our way. I’m pretty proud of our hard work, and I think Tom, Beth, and Jerry should be too.

By an odd coincidence, this month I decided I needed to learn how to make an e-book, for… no special reason. And what better place to practice than with this material that would need clean-up, formatting, and other new skills. And here’s there result: 1993’s “The Multiverse Cycle”, in its complete form for the first time in 22 years. And due to matters of copyright, free to anyone who’d like a look.

multiverse-front The Multiverse Cycle in EPUB format for iOS, Nook, and other readers

The Multiverse Cycle in MOBI format for Kindle and other readers

Check your documentation for details on adding these books to your e-reader library. And – enjoy!

The Old Dungeon

The past blasted me a couple of times this weekend. The charity site Bundle of Holding offered the old Traveller RPG books from 1981 as PDF for a giveaway price (through July 9th), and I discovered that D&D Classics will sell me the First Edition Dungeons and Dragons books in a similar downloadable form, cheaper than they’ve ever been. With the PDF reader on my iPad, I could browse them easily, even use them to run a game or two were I so inclined; I’ve done this with Shadowrun and Paranoia PDFs.

Both offers are incredibly tempting. I spent uncounted hours of my puberty reading these game books, immersing myself in their world, and running adventures in my head when I couldn’t play with my friends. Did a lot of the latter, to be honest: I went a long stretch without friends who were interested in a regular game, and frankly most of us were abysmal gamesters. We followed rules slavishly or bent them nine ways from Sunday without thinking for a second about game balance, or storytelling. We didn’t spend any time building a game world to inhabit, either. Adventures were disconnected episodes which occurred in a void. Despite all that, I had a lot of fun and kept many golden memories.

So, these old books tempt me to come back and relive those happy novice days. Unfortunately, I’m not 13 any more. I’ve spent a lot of experience points, bought off some disadvantages, and picked up some new ones. The dungeons of my youth are now familiar places, stripped of their wonder and danger in favor of familiarity. I find my modern players less interested in poring over carefully-constructed maps of hyperspace jump routes in favor of simply asking, “According to the ship’s computer, where’s the closest system with a fuel depot we can safely use?” and I can’t blame them. Hell, I don’t even know anyone who cares about D&D these days, with Pathfinder still going strong.

So I’ll be saving money on this nostalgic offer for now. I have to admit, though: “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” would still make a great Deadlands or Shadowrun adventure with some adjustments to fit the new setting.

An Unnatural Friend

I've been eagerly awaiting 's book "The Unnaturalists", and it looks like it's finally been announced:

Book cover for Tiffany Trent's "The Unnaturalists"

Steampunk and parazoology sound like a darn good combination to me, but then I've been a fan of her writing since the first Hallowmere book.

I can only assume that she feels as excited as I do when I've released a new slapstick video out into the wild 🙂

Stolen heredity

Some Ponyo research led me to an article about Lupin the Third, and it suddenly struck me that I should read some Lupin the First – just for purposes of self-education! Luckily the 21st century makes this pretty easy for anyone capable of reading this LJ entry; thank you Project Gutenberg for this collection of Arsene Lupin tales.

I found the first book of stories to be entertaining reading, though I noticed that Lupin resembles the Bronze Age Superman – nothing is truly a challenge for him. If author Leblanc needed Lupin to escape a locked room, frequently a subsequent scene would show him out of the room with no explanation, other than a shrugged “it’s Lupin, what do you expect?”

And this is what put the brakes to my reading of the character, when the French author decides to place Lupin against Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes in “The Blonde Lady”. It’s a pointless battle from the start; Holmes at least engages in his own equivalent of Star Trek technobabble to justify his more unlikely successes (“I can recognize hundreds of brands of cigars by their ashes, of course.”) Lupin has no such limitation, and in this tale penned by a Frenchman, the French thief walks all over the English detective.

Of course, I knew that Holmes would lose the contest – I can see the author’s name at the top of the document, after all – but I’d have enjoyed a real battle of wits, with each side forced to play their best game against the other. Instead, Holmes is shown as completely unprepared for Lupin, and incapable of causing him even mild discomfort. It’s an ungentlemanly treatment of another author’s work, and I’m hardly surprised that Conan Dolye’s estate demanded the removal of Holmes’ name from reprintings. I could not even finish the novel, such was my irritation with it.

I’ll go back to Lupin III, I think. The unstoppable thief is more fun in the slightly deranged world of anime shenanigans; but I’m glad to have briefly met his grand-dad. (Leblanc’s estate does not approve of Lupin III’s use of the name, btw, and in several countries he’s had to be called “The Wolf.” Pot, may I introduce you to kettle?)

Hey… where’s my watch?

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John Milton revisited

I’m curiously drawn to re-interpretations in modern fiction of the underpinnings of Christian theology, such as the one in the beginning of Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Since I’ve enjoyed Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos novels, I picked up To Reign In Hell at a con or bookstore, and gave it a read.

Well, I tried to. Twice. The first couple of times, for some reason I couldn’t get a sense of the characters or the premise. Last night, I took a deep breath, and tried a third time with much more focused attention, getting much farther into it. The attempt didn’t work out…

Spoiler-laden discussion

Brief updates

  • 10:43 @lisbet Actually, I found that reading books from the Baen Free Library on an Apple Newton was fairly pleasant. Don’t know about the Kindle. #

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Christmas / Time

Since my ‘Net connection is still wonky, I may be reduced to watching this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special on SciFi. The horror.

On the other hand, I received a nice Who fandom Xmas present in the from of this Livejournal artwork post by _tonylee_. The image linked at the bottom cheered me greatly; the likenesses are a bit off, but it’s still my desktop wallpaper for a while. (One of them. The other wallpaper is the Apollo 8 “Earthrise” shot right now.)

As Starr works tonight and tomorrow, we finished the majority of our own gift-giving last night. Among other things, I received two hardcovers: an H.P. Lovecraft collection, and a Hitchhiker’s omnibus of all five novels and the short story. In each case, these will supersede paperbacks already on my shelf, thus retaining the integrity of the Stuff Reduction Plan. Starr, on the other hand, got a gift card for plenty of crochet yarn, and a brand-new toolbelt to aid in her remodeling projects (she’s already done a den and a bathroom). She wore the toolbelt around all evening to ‘break it in’, so I think it was appreciated.

I am messing with my co-workers today, playing Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra with album breaks provided by cuts from the “Sailor Moon SuperS Christmas For You” album.

Always glad for books

A little thing I am thankful for: My Subterranean Press hardcover omnibus of The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox arrived this week. I can exchange two softcovers in my library now for a single hardcover, and perhaps not lose it this time (I’ve already lost one paperback of Bridge of Birds and one of Eight Skilled Gentlemen). It’s quite a shame that Hughart won’t be writing any more of them, but as he says on the flyleaf, he could feel “formula” creeping up on the tales, and that would be a worse shame.

If only certain other authors had stopped while they were still ahead of their own creation. On the other hand, a check with enough zeros on the right can be a powerful incentive to any writer…


I had a good, if exhausting, birthday weekend.

Starr bought me the delivery pizza I like (which we don’t get often, because they don’t have much that she likes) and a couple of this year’s Trek ornaments for our Xmas tree. Some new clothes and a Barnes & Noble card rounded out my birthday. I confess that I’d rather be 30 than 40, but I’d rather be 40 than dead. Besides, my life doesn’t exactly suck right now. 40 ain’t so bad. Thanks much to the people who wished me Happy Birthday on the last entry! My friends absolutely rock, and I’m fortunate to have folks like you in my life. *group hug*

Of course, we also moved furniture and unpacked stuff at the house, and made another run to the apartment. The front room’s full of empty packing boxes and stuff to be Freecycled, and the kitchen and full bath are just about clear; we still have the half bath and the bedrooms to do, though all three bedrooms are at least partially done. I had hoped to clear them this weekend, but that turned out to be unreasonable. We’ll work on them this week instead.

However, because of the dust we kicked up and the wacky weather, I was sneezing furiously all weekend – I know it was driving Starr crazy. I had to take two Benadryl before bed to ensure that I could breathe all night; it worked, and I got a good night’s sleep, but man, I’m still feeling those Benadryl this morning.

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