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Did I Mention it was an Honor?

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

Sweet Lady of Blessed Validation, my comedic space opera novelette, "Red Sun Over Silver City", earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest!

Most writers will attest that validation's giddy highs come after months and years of trudging through the deepest, darkest valleys of uncertainty.The fleeting esteem snatched from occasional success is all that keeps us going.

I wish I could share Red Sun with you because it's one of my favourites, but I'm shopping it around for publication, which is a very long, very dark valley of its own. I'm sure it'll find a home sooner or later (hopefully quickened by this Honorable Mention), so I'll content myself with, and hopefully entertain you by, talking about it.

We were running on plasma fumes in the Proxima-Procul system; my ship’s fuel rod indicator, illuminated well before our in-system fold, took up its familiar insistent flash. I cruised alongside a jumbled 16-squared lane-bundle of perpetual holiday traffic, the stop-and-go spacecraft stretching back to the out-system buoy. Poor bastards.

Before Red Sun I had written mostly fantasy (a lot of it), including my novel and several short stories. I love fantasy, but I was feeling a need to try my hand at something fast, furious and silly. Fantasy has certain... heavy requirements. So, I cut loose and threw myself headlong into a space opera that feels like a cross between The Fifth Element and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I love space opera because it has no hard and fast rules. You can really go nuts with spaceships, blasters, comedy, aliens, techy stuff, and sciencey things. The fine details aren't really that important; it's all about the action, the drama, the conflict, the visuals. I could set my story literally anywhere, hard science be damned, and let my imagination go to town. It turned out that town was on a tiny ball of ruck suspended in space around a red sun. I saw blue skies and pink clouds, black rock cut by kilometer-high oceanic canyons in which a mega city could sit suspended above the waves.

I knew where the story was going to happen, but was it plausible? Enter the internet, the modern writer's best friend. Turns out the clouds I had envisioned were a good thing, because one way to have a habitable planet orbiting a red dwarf is for it to be very close, and the only way to survive that radiation is for the planet to have serious cloud cover. Good, I didn't want to worry about bio domes or re-breathers or clunky stuff like that. The flora would be prehistoric: giant ferns and huge palms, which would need to be dark to better absorb the weak red light. Very cool. I decided the fauna would be chiefly avian and aquatic to go with those open skies and endless canyons. That was all I needed, and writing the story took very little time.

The story has an underclass of downtrodden bots, super-heated plasma guns, oppressive planetary regimes, blockade running, and an intergalactic megabank with a vested interest in keeping Kev one step from bankruptcy. Right from the off, poor old Kev's in over his head, not that you'll feel very sorry for him. You'll probably identify more with Jo's, his kick-ass engineer, or Caroline-6-2-7, a bot who needs Kev if she's going to make it off world. After all, his ship, The Indefatigable Bucket, might be a junky old rocket, but it's a tough junky old rocket.

I hope you get to read their little misadventure soon.

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