So this blog post is an examination of some of the inspirations, challenges, and final thoughts for my newest short story WarLight (formerly known as “Project Light.”) This has been a hard story to complete, but it is finally finished. I will let it “sit” for a while and will revise it based on feedback from my “Beta readers.”
- The genesis of this story is simple: it is the “Halo-Killer” that I always wanted Sony to develop for the PlayStation. Bungie originally intended Halo to be a multiplatform game and I followed its development with great interest. Then Bungie’s website “went dark” and then when it came back, the game was suddenly Microsoft only. I despised that tactic of “buying” a 3rd party game to “deny” it to your rivals and MS lost me as a customer for their game system with this philosophy. There was always talk of Sony developing its own Halo-Killer, but Killzone, the game that was touted as the sci-fi shooter of the PlayStation, didn’t achieve the level of heights that Halo commanded.
- Halo worked because it started with a cool sci-fi premise and then added an “everyman” character on to it. Add in awesome vistas, cool secondary characters, a menacing enemy and a story where one man could save the world, and you had an instant sci-fi classic (the “new” Star Wars).
- I tried very hard to start off with a cool sci-fi premise: what if your world’s sun would go not just supernova, but hyper-nova. This would generate a shockwave of light, heat, and radiation that would all obliterate everything in its path for hundreds of millions of light years. What if a civilization could just barely stay ahead of the wave, their technology only allowing them to “jump” up to a couple weeks ahead of the doom–a vast array of ships, collectively known as the Fleet–all jumping, emerging into real space for a week or so scavenging resources and jumping out again?
- What if the Fleet got trapped?
- This is the story that I try to tell in WarLight.
- The hero of the story was born in the weeks after my grandmother passed away, so he has a “darkness” about him that is unusual for my characters (no, he is not “morally ambiguous”–a term I hate with a passion–rather, he looks at the death and destruction and wonders what is the use of trying).
- The actual story takes place on a planet and that is taken from a dream that I had about kids arriving on world with a long dead civilization and awakening an ancient evil.
- The theme was originally going to be “Fight on no matter what,” with epigraphs taken from “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas. However, he is contemporary enough that his poem is still in Copyright, so I was unable to use it without obtaining permission.
- The story floundered for two years–I’d write the first paragraph down (sometimes more), but each time I’d be unsatisfied with the way it turned out. It never made it past the first couple of paragraphs.
- I was determined to write it this year and I was originally going to write it to be submitted for Visions IV. It was the 1st story I started working on in 2016. I then reread the guidelines and saw that stories for that anthology needed to be in space not on a planet and so I had to switch from writing WarLight to Ship of Shadows.
- After, I had finished and edited Ship of Shadows, I thought it would be easy to finish up WarLight. Boy, was I wrong! I still had the same problems and issues as before, not having a way to illustrate my theme and not understanding enough about my main character (named Tyrian in early drafts).
- Finally, in late April/early-mid May, I happened to be going through my Literature books and remembered “Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I was able to adapt that poem to my use for epigraphs and also to refine my theme to be “find something to live for even in the face of great tragedy.”
- I copped out on the original ending. I needed another day to finish it, but I had literally an hour before the place where my “beta readers” worked closed, so I wrote a dreadful ending. I wrote the “real” ending over the weekend and emailed it to the beta readers, but I don’t know which one they prefer yet–although I know which one I prefer.
- The artwork is by the artist Geoffroy Thoorsen via ArtStation and you can find his work there and at his website (DjahaLcom). The title of the piece is called “The Demon Killer,” and the suit is similar to what I’m hoping to convey to readers of the story. This is another artist I would love to work with in the future. He “gets” my type of sci-fi.
- I plan to revise it when it is time to submit to Carrol Fix’s next Visions anthology.