blog, Fiction

The Asura Trilogy – Preview

I’m working on a novel. Well, really, a series—a trilogy and a spinoff duology—inspired by this Reddit writing prompt. The basic premise is that humanity, having spread into the solar system, begins to explore other star systems. We establish a small handful of colonies and encounter a few so-far-peaceful alien species. Then, without apparent warning, one of the colonies is destroyed in an attack that seems to originate from one of the species, but involves a previously unknown and enormously powerful being—the species’ god, or one of them. Humanity retaliates, but finds that it is difficult to fight a god with conventional weapons. In defense and as a means of striking back, a team is outfitted with strange weaponry and equipment reverse-engineered from the technology left by another, long-vanished alien civilization. Their actions and the consequences thereof will lead humanity to ethically treacherous ground, and uncomfortable questions about the nature of the universe and its place in it, as well as its own status vis à vis its religious or spiritual beliefs.

The general idea is to have a trilogy exploring the initial response and the beginning of a multi-system war, unforeseen consequences on both members of the strike team and on certain alien civilizations, and the ultimate unfolding of the enormous changes humanity’s arrival on the interstellar scene provoke. And, in the midst of it all, a two-book spinoff series following a search for more remnants of the vanished alien civilization, in the hopes that it will provide both answers to some troubling questions and additional technological advantage for humanity. This search will ultimately have important consequences for the resolution of the original trilogy; it will occur simultaneous to the second and third books.

I’ll be posting previews—character sketches, technology concepts and descriptions, and glimpses of the world as I build it—for patrons over at my Patreon page. So if this kind of thing interests you and you’re not already a site supporter, head on over and sign up to check it out!

For those who aren’t already in the know, Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows creators of all types to receive regular monthly support from their fans. Unlike Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and many other such sites (which do one-shot campaigns for individual projects, usually of large scope), Patreon campaigns are ongoing and support the creators’ entire set of activities, rather than just one project. As such, reward thresholds for donations are much lower, and recurring. The result is a sort of monthly salary for producing beautiful, interesting, and useful things. Curious? Check it out.

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Nonfiction

Two very different uses of sighing

I’m for the moment just posting this because I find it an interesting example of how a single artistic gesture can be used to greatly differing effect in two different works. (Not that this should be surprising; but it’s nice to see it done so well and so differently.)

Anyway, listen to the two songs below:

 

 

 

Hear the sigh each singer uses? How do they make you feel?

Of course, a sigh isn’t just a sigh, nor is it sighed in isolation. The musical context contributes heavily, creating the atmosphere that the sigh breathes. In the case of “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”, it’s creepy and disturbing; even more so for the way it works with the whole song—thetremulous voice, the quiet, tender melody that worms into your head carrying the initially unremarkable and eventually deeply dark lyrics—to create something profoundly unsettling, and unsettlingly attractive.

Meanwhile, in Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah”, there’s a hell of a lot of sex appeal. Buckley notably trims down the lyrics to focus almost exclusively on those pertaining to love and desire. And the inhalation at the beginning, as if Buckley had just been touched for the first time by a long-desired lover…

Nonfiction, Poetry

Persona Poems

It’s a funny thing—I really enjoy writing persona poems—they’re a bit like acting—but I’m not tremendously excited about reading them. Or at least, I’m not any more excited about reading them than I am any other poem. Maybe even a little less, if I know in advance what it is. Does this have something to do with preconceived notions of pretentiousness? Fears of heavy-handedness? I don’t know. Pound wrote a whole book of ’em, and Pound, though intellectually brilliant, often fails to move me. (For one thing, I don’t like being obliged to do intense research to understand a poem. I feel a poem should work on me through language, not through arcane reference; and that if there is arcane reference, it should add to the experience but not be essential to it.)

Thus when I do write them, I try to make them poems first and persona poems second. The point of adopting a persona, for me, is to explore the experience of another character, to imagine what a given moment might have been like for him, her, or whatever. To that end, the poem should contain within its language everything absolutely necessary to present the experience to the reader, to move them. If I do it right, you should be able to read the poem and experience it, be moved, without needing to go looking for information outside of the text; but if you do, that should only deepen your encounter.

I’ve been thinking about this because the other day, I was browsing through poems from when I was at Sarah Lawrence and came across a handful of persona poems and demi-persona poems. I’ve got one from the POV of Joe in Angels in America, which imagines him confessing his internal struggles to his wife; one exploring what Hektor might have thought and felt in his last days at Troy; one about Odysseus beginning the journey home; one that is an apology from Prince Harry to Falstaff on how he treats his friend on becoming King Henry V; and more. I’ll post one or two soon so you can see.

Nonfiction

Blogging the 30-Day Novel

A colleague of mine a couple of months ago turned me onto The Guardian’s pieces on how to write a novel in 30 days. Admittedly, their title is misleading (and mine might be, too), since the process they tout (created by XXX) really only (“only”) has you create a sort of very thorough and detailed outline that (they say) should practically count as a first draft, or at least make your first draft potentially your only draft.

But I started looking at the process, and I’m intrigued. As an experienced (but, silly me, practically unpublished) poet, I am familiar with, and comfortable, writing short pieces that I can revise in great detail ad infinitum, until they feel perfect. This procedure doesn’t really work for novel writing, though, and so I’ve become interested in various authors’ systems for getting their bigger stories down on the page. I’ve tried the Snowflake Method (helpful for me in some ways) and 5KWPH (which has dramatically improved my ability to ignore errors and let go of my tendency to tinker endlessly with the tiny details that might make or break a poem but would be of infinitesimal significance in a novel). Now I’m trying this one.

But here’s my idea: like others before me, I’m going to blog about my process. Maybe I won’t follow the method to the letter—I do have many other things to manage in my life—but I’ll follow it all the way through and talk about what I come up with. Maybe show you some cool things. And at the end, maybe I’ll have a novel!