In which i briefly discuss the books i read in November.
Outlaw Breed, by Max Brand. Western.
Thoughts: Typical Max Brand western, with the melodrama expected of the genre. 3 out of 5.
Scourge, by Jeff Grubb. A Star Wars novel, set in the New Republic era.
Thoughts: Read a bit like a transcript of a tabletop RPG adventure, which it may well be, as the events of the book first appeared in a SW RPG product. Still, full of action and set in a familiar universe. 3 out of 5.
The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau. YA SF.
Thoughts: Nice pacing, interesting world. 3.5 out of 5.
206 Bones, by Kathy Reichs. Crime/Mystery.
Thoughts: First Temperance Brennan novel i’v read, though i have most of her books on my shelf (every secondhand book fair i’ve been to has heaps of them going, so i thought, ‘why not collect her?’ ). Fast paced, well-plotted. While i worked out most of the main plot conclusion fairly early, i didn’t get all the pieces in the correct order. 4 out of 5.
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Classic.
Thoughts: Couldn’t do it. Not sure exactly why, but just couldn’t get more than a few chapters in.
The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov, by Isaac Asimov. Collection of 31 mystery stories.
Ongoing Thoughts: While i acknowledge Asimov was an SF master, i often struggle with his writing style. This collection is no exception. I started this in September, and am still only a few stories in. I’ll push on, though.
Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. YA SF/F.
Ongoing Thoughts: Only 50 pages in, but enjoying so far. Fun characters and fun world.
Today we have with us, live in studio, the lady who will be the recurring protagonist in most of Samuel Mae’s new short stories. Let’s get right into it, shall we?
Thanks, narrator. Jazz Heely, isn’t it?
So, what’s, like, your deal?
You mean, my job?
Hey, I’m asking the questions. But yes, your job?
I’m a contractor.
I see. Well, so am I, but I’m not off every week stealing priceless jewels or collecting bounties or exploring ancient ruins or delivering medical supplies to quarantined planets. And I definitely don’t have a Confederation warrant. Or a Commonwealth one. Or any warrant. Mostly, I do data entry.
We must subscribe to different job services.
Not that I think I’d want to do your kind of contracting. You look like you’ve been through the wars.
Several actually, and plenty of skirmishes.
Where are these latest injuries from?
Ribs, cracked, thanks to a run-in with a robot sentry on a job last month. Fingers, two broken, because I tried to catch a flying ship spanner rather than dodge it. That was stupid. The knee is okay. It’s bandaged up because I’ve had some nano-upgrades and my right knee is the transceiver point. Don’t worry about the arm, it’s cybernetic, and the data nodes at the base of my neck are permanent too. And useful.
The black eyes?
Nothing, really. The optic upgrades are fine. My nose got a thumping in a recent fight with a Novus Replicate initiate is all.
But you should see him, right?
He probably looks about the same. I just had to get close enough to shock him in the balls with my hand-stunner. I did call his mother some nasty things, though.
Why did you get into this line of work?
Why does anybody? Money, of course. Body upgrades and enhancements aren’t cheap.
What did you do before this?
Data entry, mostly.
No. I’ve done this since I was a kid.
Wow. You were raised as a mercenary?
Contractor. And I guess I was. Dad was a warden gone rogue — he was good, the government was bad — and Mom was a gangster way up the tree. I hung with Dad growing up. Mom was too busy crushing her rivals, expanding her drug empire, planning political assassinations and all that other criminal kingpin stuff.
Sounds like an unusual match.
The Milky Way is full of unusual matches.
Are they still together?
Were they ever, really? Mom just wanted Dad’s DNA, but was bound by some weird old-world traditions to care for him as well.
So what happened?
Dad got on his moral high horse one day. There was yelling and throwing stuff and maybe gunfire. Then Dad lit out and took me with.
Is he still alive?
Last I saw him, he was on a cruiser venting atmosphere, exchanging gunfire with some pirates who’d double-crossed us and I was on the last escape shuttle, heading towards planet.
So he might still be alive?
Well, aren’t you smart? Guess he could be, but I tried searching for a while and everything points to that being the last of him. And Mom stopped chasing after that, too. She’s got far better resources at her disposal than I do, so I figure he must be dead.
Don’t stay in touch with your mother, then?
I try not to. Our paths cross sometimes–it’s a small galaxy, once you’ve been around it a few times — but we don’t talk.
She hasn’t tried to induct you into the organization?
Yeah, but only halfheartedly. I’m sure she’s got some master plan, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Got too much else to keep me busy.
Do you think you’ll do this your whole life?
Maybe. Maybe not. It’s a great way to get around the galaxy. Better than hitchhiking, that’s for sure.
Surely you have dreams.
Sometimes I dream about unicorns. And candy rain.
That’s very interesting, but I’m talking more about–
Nah, I usually dream about explosions.
Exploding candy. I keep asking Hermit to make me some, but he has scruples about it for some reason. He does a mean chocolate box, though.
Okay. So what’s your end goal with this contracting stuff?
I’d love to have something named after me.
Heh. You just keep coming with the wisecracks.
I’m serious. It’s about the only way I can see to become immortal.
Anything in particular?
Nah. A solar system would be cool, but you’ve got to do something pretty amazing to get your name on one of those. Hell, I’d be happy if I got a beetle named after me. Or even if I spawned a popular term. Like if people started calling getting the job done in the nick of time ‘jazzing it.’
You can’t see yourself settling down, then?
I’m not even sure what that means. I’ve met people who’ve had the same job for forty years, or raised large families, or never left their hometown and I wouldn’t call most of them settled.
What’s your favorite place in the Milky Way?
That’s kind of what ‘favorite’ implies.
*laughs* I’m beginning to like you.
Thanks. I hope. Do people you like often end up dead?
Only sixty-five percent of the time.
Great. So, favorite place?
That’s a hard one. If I had to choose, maybe the Rainbow Falls on Salvit Outer. It’s a trick of the atmosphere or something, but the waterfalls flow in ten different colors. When they hit the lake surface it’s like watching paint melt on a canvas. Breathtakingly beautiful.
I have to say, you don’t seem like a rainbow-loving type of person.
Everybody’s an enigma in the right light.
Probably time to wrap this up. Before we go, though, tell us what’s next for Jazz Heely.
*shrugs* Who knows? Right now I’m in the middle of an investigation, trying to figure out who killed a middle-ranked GalEx Inc. accountant. In his office, of all places. And why the Novus Replicates are involved.
Turning detective, eh?
Be whatever the job needs you to be, is my motto. He was part of a money laundering ring, which I’m beginning to suspect has my Mom’s pawprints all over it.
Busting criminals, even.
Don’t you start! Fact is, someone in that ring has coordinates to an ancient battle station supposedly brimming with gene tech. I want those coordinates. The accountant’s murderer might not have them, but the accountant was my best lead. So I figure if I find his killer I might get back on the trail again.
Um, sounds like a longshot to me.
Yeah, well, what do they say? The devil’s in the details?
I’m not sure that saying works here.
Perhaps I haven’t told you the full story.
Nobody ever does.
Uh, well, I guess I should let you get back to tracking down killers and busting criminals and suchlike.
Just so we’re clear, it’s very rare for me to do those things you just mentioned.
I did my research. It’s less rare than you would have us believe.
Well, don’t shout it out too loud. It would do terrible things for my reputation.
I understand. Thank you, Jazz Heely, for consenting to this interview. I hope you get that solar system named in your honor soon.
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe a solar system isn’t such a good idea. Pretty sure you have to be dead before they name any after you. A plant might be a better bet. Something like a ‘Heely’s Carnivorous Fighting Vine.’
Whatever pilots your cruiser, I guess. Thanks again, Jazz, and safe travels.
You better not misquote me. I know where you live. Or at least, I can find out easy enough.
I would never do such a thing.
You like having the last word, don’t you?
Yes. See you around, readers. Back to you, narrator.
Thanks, Jazz and Sam. We’re currently organizing an interview with Jazz’s arch rival, Leclerc, so stay tuned. But don’t tell Jazz, because we’d prefer not to have a firefight in studio. If you have any follow-up questions, post them in the comments section.
Happy travels, everybody!
I’m not doing NaNo this year (actually, i’ve never done NaNo any year, but that’s neither here nor there), but i’m hoping to use this month to get back into a daily routine of writing BIC. For those not familiar with the term BIC, it stands for Butt in Chair.
So far, so good. I’ve had a couple days where i’ve spent most of my BIC time rearranging words rather than writing new ones, but i’m reviving old habits, which is all good.
I also finished a story last week. First story finished in over a year. w00t!!!1!! It came from a challenge prompt on Absolute Write, and was only meant to be flash, but expanded into something just under 3k. I’m using other prompts from the same challenge to write stories featuring the same character. It’s fun.
Getting back into the story submission habit, too. Had a few Rs already, including 2 from Interzone (who’re now accepting electronic subs; hip hip hooray!), and it seems the calluses i built up to rejections are still strong. Have 6 stories out currently. 5 original, 1 reprint (which reminds me, i need to resub the reprint). I hope to have at least 1 more story out before the end of this month, with the goal of having 7 doing the rounds by the end of the year. I like having a minimum of 10 stories out at any one time; it keeps the waits from getting to me, and also seems to keep the rejection sadness at bay too, funnily enough.
How you all doing?
Back! I’ve been away from the blog for a good while, haven’t i? The last year has been very busy, for a whole lot of reasons, none of them writing-related.
However, i’m hoping to use November to reestablish a writing routine. Not quite the heady writing times when i was blogging last — my life situation now is very different to then — but at least writing every day. I’m hoping to blog semi-regularly, because i’ve found blogging helps motivate me to work on my fiction.
Story news i don’t think i’ve posted about:
2013 has seen two of my stories in print:
Mandarin Alley, in Earthbound Fiction’s Dark Stars anthology (sadly, it appears Earthbound Fiction is now defunct)
Just Add Water, in the April 2013 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly.
I’ve had one sale, to Stupefying Stories, which means i have two stories waiting in their ‘to-be-published’ queue. Another story, featuring the same protags as ‘Orion’s Belt’ is in the works, and Stupefying Stories will be its first market once it’s ready to roll.
So, yep, there we are (maybe i need to work on my endings a bit ). See you all again soon!
It’s been a while since i’ve blogged, hasn’t it? Life’s been busy busy busy. Anyhoo, hello *waves* and hope you’re all chugging along
I have a story out. Dromedary is now up at Untied Shoelaces of the Mind. It’s perhaps slightly possibly maybe on the absurd side. An audio version will be available in a few days, too. Hope you enjoy it!