A Farewell to Pratchett

Eulogies really aren’t my thing, especially not when they pertain to people who are very well known by the general public and not personally known by me (which, let’s face it, are usually the same thing). However, I make an exception here in that I’d like to mark the passing of Terry Pratchett in a way that I failed to do with the death of another of my literary heroes, Ian Banks, last year.

As a child, I greatly enjoyed reading about fantastical worlds. A few books from my early years have stuck with me, but none so much as Pratchett’s Bromeliad/Nomes trilogy and his Johnny Maxell series, particularly Only You Can Save Mankind; in which the main character plays a spaceflight simulator game only to discover that it’s actually taking place in a faraway galaxy. I also read a few of the Discworld novels and will doubtlessly read more of them in the future, but the Nomes and Johnny were the biggest influence Pratchett had on me (and certainly on my upcoming novel Chronozone Zero).

So I’d like to just take a moment to say a quiet thanks to him for that. I only wish I could have had the chance to meet him.

Carl Sagan on Books

” A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called ‘leaves’) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person – perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic. “

– Carl Sagan, Cosmos (1980)

Came across this yesterday; seems all the more poignant now that Sagan himself is speaking to us beyond his time.

Picking up where we left off

I recently realised that I haven’t made any posts for a good long while. This is always the way of these things; after a gap, you feel the need to do something worth the wait, which only worsens the problem. New Year provides a useful occasion to carry on like nothing happened (or in this case, did happen).

So, Twenty-Fifteen, eh? We meet at last.

It’s shaping up to be a busy year. First up, in February I am pushing a new initiative I made up on the spot: Finish a Novel Feb. Specifically, I am looking to finish Chronozone. NaNoWriMo is all well and good for creating loads of rough, unfinished drafts but, well, it seems I can do that pretty well already. So come Feb, I will be committing to complete the draft of Chronozone Zero.

It’s not an initiative that’s going to catch on or anything; hardly a challenge worth a website for; but it will get me where I want to go. Wish me luck.

Diluting creative output: can it work?

A lot of the famous and successful writers you come across describe themselves as being obsessive or living to write. It makes sense, of course. If you spend each waking hour with the written word, you ought to be pretty good with them.

If I’m honest, though, that’s not really me. I hugely enjoy writing, but it isn’t my raison d’etre. Mostly, I just get too distracted by all the other awesome-cool vocations out there that I can’t decide what I like more. Sometimes this makes me wonder: can you be successful with a divided attention?

If you focus on your vocation, you will obviously further your skills in it. So it stands to reason, taking only this into account, that the best writers will be those that work hardest and longest at their craft. And to a degree, this is true. Does this mean those of us that are undecided or took a while to find the right thing are destined to be hopeless “masters of none”?

Nope! As much as this fear sometimes nags me, it’s worth remembering that there’s more to writing than a proficiency with language- just as there is more to art than shading techniques or volumetric form. When we create, we draw upon all areas of who we are and what we know. A breadth of knowledge is as important as the depth of it.

My many hours of flying give me a pilot’s knowledge on my works. As an artist I have a vivid visual sense of the world I’m writing (and will sometimes use drawing to work through ideas). My understanding of games and emergent systems affects how I build plots and implement causality.

You do need to put in a lot of hard work to excel at any craft worth doing, but don’t be afraid to diversify a little, too. It’s what makes your work yours.

Releasing preliminary version of Cloudgazer

So earlier this week I released the preview version of my first novel, Cloudgazer, somewhat low-key as it’s still in draft 5 and only the first 8 chapters are up for feedback. But it’s been quite exciting just in this short time, starting to discuss with people the characters and plot points that I’ve been working on for over ten years. So if you’re curious, check out the link above and grab the PDF for your e-reader of choice. All feedback and critique welcome. At this stage there are still probably several misspellings & typos, but I’m mostly interested in how people feel about the tone and pacing and the like.

Keep on writing!

I’m missing out on the fun of NaNoWriMo again this year. It’s hard to keep writing, sometimes. I find it all too easy to just want everything to be perfect and never let it out. But you have to keep writing. Because the alternative is stopping. That sounds obvious, but it’s something I have to remind myself from time to time. Keep on writing, even if everyone seems to disagree with you. Keep on writing, even if you think nothing will become of it.

Here’s a toast to anyone too busy trying to finish something to start something new this month.

Do not adjust your set

So now that it’s November, where have all my travel blog entries gone? Well, in short, I decided to do NaNoWriMo. Thus a large portion of my writing juice has been taken up by working on my novel Chronozone Zero; a book that’s been in progress for oh so many years. Anyone familiar with NaNoWriMo would rightly point out that this is cheating. This is true, but I really fancied doing NaNo and the last thing I need is to start another novel. I am also not keen on imposing yet another foolish dare on my long-suffering Lucy while we are meant to be exploring the great Down Under. The upshot of it all will be that I shall (hopefully) finish a book I have wanted to finish for some time (and Lucy, having read the preview, is also impatient for).

On a similar subject, I finally finished the 3rd draft of Cloudgazer just in time to be free for November. Lucy completed reading it last night ( in two days, no less! She’s posessed of a reading prowess that I cannot begin to comprehend). I will be doing another short edit some time soon, before seeking out a wider proof read audience.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more posts on Oz, I promise to do another in the next day or two!

The Harrington Experiment

As established already*, Liang Oscillation is the behaviour exhibited by the continuum of spacetime when altered. The quantum states of particles are defined by the 5th ‘meta dimension’, which is best thought of as the path of spacetime. When a Chrononaut alters past events (or visits them), they enact a change on the shape that spacetime occupies in the meta dimension.

Plotting a space-time graph, we can imagine the history of a complex system to be represented as a line. From an abserver looking at this history the system’s history is fixed. To the present, the past is a straight line and the future is non existant. Now, if we make a small change to the system at a point some time ago, spacetime will ‘veer off’, as a sequence of chaos amplifies to make a very immediate change. This ‘butterfly effect’ was predicted by Chaos Theory as early as 2.0.C. However, unknown at the time, a curious property of the meta dimension is that the path of quantum probability has an ‘optimum’, almost like a river settling into a valley. This leads a change in the system to eventually reverse and invert repeatedly, our ‘line’ of spacetime waving up and down until the deviances slowly converge and the system’s distant future is largely unchanged from how it was originally; hence the ‘occillation’ Dr Liang postulated in 2.9.C.

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The Absence Theory; or, “Where Are All The Time Travellers?”

The most compelling evidence for the impossibility of Time Travel has always been the complete lack of people from the future, when such things will inevitably come to exist.

With the advent of Chronoportology, it became clear that the reason for a lack of travellers from the future was to do with the availability of information, or lack thereof. As the destination of a time jump required accurate, specific information, the earliest jump date possible was generally around the time that Chronoportology itself was invented. In many minds this rendered time travel largely useless, but helped guard its integrity from some forms of abuse by unscrupulous individuals.

In any case, the act of Chronoporting is not something undertaken lightly; involving a gravitas and severity that was previously associated with the deployment of nuclear warheads. Each ship is made to withstand the intense warping and fracturing of no more than one return journey, with one notable exception; the Temporal Navigator Novodantis.