R.S. Hunter

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author

Tag: science fiction (page 2 of 3)

New Acceptance! The Exile’s Violin Contracted by Hydra Publications

Good news, bad news time. Bad news is I got a flat tire on my way to work this morning (Mondays…amirite?) and have to buy some new tire(s). But the good news definitely outweighs that: I get to officially announce that my steampunk, fantasy novel The Exile’s Violin has been accepted by Hydra Publications! Here’s a little description about the novel:

The Exile’s Violin is a steampunk novel set in the fictional world of Tethys. Jacquie Renairre’s life is ordinary up until the night her parents are murdered and two of their prized possessions are stolen: a pair of black and white revolvers and a black key. After spending six years trying to track down the murderers, all she uncovers is a mystery that will take her around the globe in order to stop a war from breaking out. The Exile’s Violin is a story of loss, action, airships, gunfights, and long-buried magic.

So I’ve known about this acceptance for a couple of weeks, but I got the official green light to announce it today. I had to wait until the ink was dry on the publishing contract and all that. Right now The Exile’s Violin is slated for a Summer/Fall 2012 release in electronic and paperback formats. It’s funny up until now I didn’t feel like this was really happening…but it is!

That’s all the information I have for now, but I’ll post updates on the revisions, samples (if I can), cover art (when I see it), and a firm release date (when it’s set). I’m also going to blog about my experiences getting a novel published for the first time. I have a feeling it’s a whole different ballgame than being included in an anthology.

Please contact me if you have more questions or want to set up an author interview or guest post or something! Now I have to go celebrate! (aka get back to my day job)

Five Sci-Fi & Fantasy Wallpapers

I love customizing my desktop background. I have a folder on my computer dedicated to cool wallpapers. Some of my favorites have to be sci-fi, fantasy, or abstract themed. Here’s some of the awesome ones I’ve found this weekend. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so maybe one of these will inspire a new short story, poem, or novel! Click on the pics to be taken to where you can download the full-sized versions.

sun outer space explosion wallpaper

I like this one’s yellow color palette. Plus explosions in space are cool. Ask anyone.

outer space planets wallpaper

Another space-y planet-y type wallpaper. A nice blue contrast to the yellow one up above.

outer space stars planets wallpaper

This one’s called “Rusted” and I think it fits perfectly. So there you have it: space wallpapers based roughly on the primary colors. Now onto a couple of fantasy desktop backgrounds.

fantasy woman warrior with spear wallpaper

I like this one because she’s a fantasy female warrior of some kind, but she’s wearing sensible armor, not a chainmail bikini.

fantasy art landscape wallpaper

This one caught my eye because it could be interpreted as either fantasy or sci-fi. Either way, it’s cool looking.

 

Naming Your Characters

Naming the characters in your short stories and novels can be fun or it can be a huge nightmare. Sometimes you’ll write a character and you’ll already have the perfect name for them. And then sometimes this happens: you finish a chapter or story and it’s filled with characters with placeholder names. It happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve lost count of how many characters I’ve had to call Guy1, Person McPerson, or Girl3 until I can find more proper names for them. I’m sure it happens to even the most famous writers. Imagine Stephen King writing all of something like The Shining but with placeholder names for Jack, Danny, and Wendy.

But luckily there are tons of resources out there for writers who’ve hit a roadblock when it comes to naming their characters. Here are some of my favorites. Some of them are geared more toward science fiction and fantasy, but others can work for any kind of story.

Seventh Sanctum — This website has a huge collection of name generators. It’s definitely one of my favorite sites. Some of the generators are more humorous than others, but overall it’s usually the first place I turn to.

Squid.org — This website’s random name generator is geared more towards fantasy, but still some of the options are really useful. It can only generate so many names at a time, but its options more than make up for that.

Behind the Name — This website’s name generator is made up of “real” names from around the world. You’re able to choose what countries and cultures you want it to generate names from. Also most of the names have descriptions associated with them so you can find out alternate spellings and meanings.

Ever Changing Book of Names — This isn’t a web-based generator. Instead it’s a program where you can download a free trial version. It contains thousands of different names from all around the world. You can even download different “chapters” that can generate names based on other fantasy works and universes. It’s a great resource for when you’re looking for a very specific type of name.

There are other resources out there, but these are some of my favorites. They’ve definitely saved me from submitting a manuscript full of placeholder characters.

Sci-Fi Space Battles and Submarine Warfare

Want to know one of my favorite sci-fi space battle scenes of all time? Definitely in my top five is the space portion of the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Even if you’ve seen it dozens of times (and if you haven’t seen it shame on you) go watch it on YouTube real quick and get reacquainted with it.

Still awesome, right? Nothing like that CGI mess at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith. Despite the Battle of Endor being one of my all time favorite space battles, there’s one thing wrong with it: space combat will never be like that. In fact, I have a feeling space combat will be more like submarine warfare.

It’s no secret that George Lucas based a lot of his space battles off old gun camera footage from WWII aerial battles, and it shows. X-Wings and TIE Fighters behave more like airplanes than ships fighting in a vacuum. In fact it’s not until Empire Strikes Back that you actually see a ship do something “spacey”. While trying to escape from Hoth, the Millennium Falcon is being chased by a Star Destroyer and two more are moving to cut it off from the front. This is a good move…if they were on an ocean. In space you have three dimensions to work with, and finally it seems like Han realizes that. He dives the Falcon straight “down” at a 90 degree angle. Because of the Star Destroyers’ mass and inertia they’re unable to make the same maneuver in time and end up crashing into each other.

But that scene still isn’t a very “realistic” depiction of a space battle either. (Yes I know “realistic” isn’t quite the word because to this day there hasn’t been an actual space battle. Just bear with me.)

The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series gets it a little better. The Galactica resembles a submarine more than anything else. Its bridge isn’t exposed on the top or front of the ship. It’s buried in the middle under layers of armor. The crew has to rely on a vast array of sensors and projections to keep track of enemy positions. Still because it’s a TV show, the space battles have to be exciting, so most of them take place at very close ranges where the Galactica and Cylon Basestars. This allows the viewer to see the two ships firing conventional kinetic weapons at each other along with barrages of missiles. Still some aspects of the combat feel more like naval vessels fighting each other than space ships.

However, given the vastness of space, it’s unlikely that two ships engaging each other would ever get close enough to establish visual contact–especially given that light can only travel so fast. If you were far enough away, any visual you’d receive would already be outdated. Therefore space combat will probably take place at great distances and based around highly sophisticated guess work.

Instead it’ll be like two submarines trying to outmaneuver and outguess each other. Submarines have to rely on sonar and other instruments to figure out where their enemies are. My guess is that space combat will be more like that. More like a chess match than two heavy brawlers punching each other in the face. Still that kind of fight doesn’t make for very entertaining movies and TV episodes, doesn’t it? So while my head knows that space battles will happen one way, my heart will still be fascinated by swooping fighters, flashing lasers, and big explosions. I think I’m going to go watch that Endor clip one more time.

When Inspiration Strikes

What do you do when inspiration strikes, when your muse speaks to you? (Sidebar: I hate calling things “my muse”) Most of the time inspiration doesn’t show up when you want it to. You get a bit of free time. You sit down, ready to bust out a thousand words or so, but then nothing comes to mind. You don’t know what to write about. The monolithic blank page scares you so instead you waste some time on Twitter or going through pages on Reddit. Then your time’s up and guess what? You got nothing done. Thanks for not showing up, Inspiration.

Personally, I tend to come up with ideas at the weirdest times. The situation I just described above rarely happens to me. Not because I’m an amazing writer, full of ideas all the time. It’s just that I don’t try to write without a plan already in mind. But where do these plans come from? Weird places and strange times. The shower for instance. I’ll be taking my morning shower and bam! I’ve got an idea for a short story. Or what about when I’m falling asleep? I love and hate when that happens. I have to get up and write my ideas down or–what usually happens–text my ideas to myself so they’ll be on my phone in the morning.

I swear I’m trying to go somewhere with this post. Inspiration shows up unannounced. I write down my ideas so I don’t forget them. Then I try to use those ideas. A real life example: I’m working on a short story right now tentatively titled “Land Swimmers.” The idea came to me as I was falling asleep a few weeks ago. Instantly I knew that I had to do something about it or I’d forget it in the morning. I sent myself two texts and I’m so glad I did. Oh, the actual image/thought that sparked everything? “Giant worms that come out when it rains. Jump out of the ground like dolphins.” Yup. That’s where “Land Swimmers” is coming from.

What about all you other writers? What’s the weirdest time/place that inspiration has hit you? What’d you do when that happened?

Project Name: “Land Swimmers” (working title)

Deadline: 6/20/11

Word count: 1,663

 

Breaking Ground & Being a “Real Writer”

I’m having a very surreal moment right now. I’m breaking ground on my 2nd novel of 2011–my 3rd one all time. I just finished the outline for The Price of Loyalty after the end of a marathon day today. You’ll see what I mean when I get to the word count section. This is the longest outline I’ve ever written, so hopefully it’ll be easy to fill in the cracks when it comes to the actual writing part.

Let me break down the surreal part. I consider myself a writer, but in my head there’s a tiny voice that sometimes tries to tell me that I’m faking it. I’m not a real writer. I’m just someone who wishes they were a writer. When that voice kicks in the acceptances, the rejections, the completed stories, and even the two completed* novels don’t count for shit. It’s kind of annoying actually. I hate when that voice pops up. Well it’s kind of happening right now, but this time it’s a little more incredulous instead of discouraging. It can’t believe that I’m starting another book, never mind the fact that I just finished one a month or so ago. Writing yet another book is something real writers do. Okay, maybe it still is just discouraging.

Screw it! I’m writing another book. In a few months I’ll finish the rough draft, and then maybe that little voice will shut the hell up.

*By completed I mean I’ve finished one to the point where it’s suitable for submission. Its sequel has a complete rough draft but hasn’t had any edits or revisions. It’s kind of pointless to start really revising that one because it can’t really be sold on its own.

Here’s my statistics for this mentally exhausting day.

Project: The Price of Loyalty (outline)

Deadline: N/A (was supposed to be 6/1)

Word count: 7,964

 

My First Interview & Some Writing Updates

My first interview is up at the Dagan Books website. My first ever. I think it’s really cool that all the authors included in the In Situ anthology are being interviewed. It adds a little bit of personal flavor to the anthology if you can get a glimpse into the authors’ heads. At the very least, I hope I don’t come across as boring or dumb.

Sadly, the dumb part may not be avoidable. I just headed over there and realized that my spell checker changed the name of my story on me. It’s supposed to be “Jewel of Tahn-Vinh” not “Than-Vinh.” Also the website listed isn’t current anymore. I switched to this current site and forgot to to mention it to Dagan Books. Whoops. Should be simple enough to get proper info put in the interview though.

I took a break over the weekend and didn’t work on The Price of Loyalty outline. I’d been working on it for over a week straight and I needed a bit of a break. I dove right back into it. I got a good chunk of it done today. I’m actually over the 40,000 word mark for the outline, but that’s okay. It just makes the actual writing part that much easier. I’m getting near the climax and the main character is going to get the emotional shit kicked outta him. Nothing hurts more than broken trust and expectations.

Project: The Price of Loyalty outline

Deadline: N/A (maybe 6/1)

Word count: 8,066 (since 4/20)

Space Opera Writing Updates

In all the excitement of writing my post about the definition of steampunk, I forgot to put up my writing updates. I’ve put the rough draft of Terraviathan aside for the time being. The Exile’s Violin needs to be published first before Terraviathan can be considered. I have plenty of time to work on edits, though I hope somebody picks up the book soon.

I started working on the outline of my science fiction, space opera novel The Price of Loyalty again. I’d first started it a couple of years ago when I was taking a break from The Exile’s Violin. I actually have a completed outline and several completed chapters, but they’re not up to my current standards. They feel very rough and unpolished, not what I’m capable of now. I decided to completely rework the outline and start over. So that’s where I’m at now.

Even though I define the novel as space opera, I’d like to think it’s not going to be generic space opera. Or at least it’ll be space opera with some nuances. Definitely not like this novel described (in jest) on Paul McAuley’s blog.

Project: The Price of Loyalty outline

Deadline: N/A (maybe 5/1 for the outline)

Word count: 12,477 since 4/4

 

How Do You Define Steampunk?

Steampunk. It’s everywhere right? But how do you define steampunk–as a literary genre. I’m more interested in it as a genre rather than steampunk culture, DIY projects, and the like. There are dozens of definitions and websites dedicated to the celebration of steampunk literature.

Personally, my definition of steampunk doesn’t get bogged down in the Victorian era or 19th century settings. I also tend to focus more on the -punk part of the word. To me steampunk is still linked to cyberpunk, just with different aesthetic touches: challenging authority, oppressive regimes, etc. To me the -punk suffix is perfect for writing things that challenge the romantic notions of the 19th century, a time where European imperialism was at its height.

At the same time I love worldbuilding. I’d much rather create my own setting than use even a fictionalized version of Earth. It’s fun for me, and at the same time I don’t have to worry so much about factual accuracy. If it’s my setting I can make it how I want. But can a work be steampunk if it’s set in a completely made up setting?

I ask because my novel just got rejected by a certain SF/F publisher. While the acquisitions dept. said it had potential and was tightly written, “The steam punk feel came through strongly enough […] It was very modern in language and dress.”

They remarked that this was a subjective view, and I agree. I don’t fault them at all. It’s their prerogative to accept whatever books they want. But I can’t help but wonder, were they working off a different definition of steampunk than me? I think absolutely. According to this publisher, steampunk needs to have an older–read: 19th century–feel to it. On that note I have to disagree.

Just because a book isn’t set in England and doesn’t have people riding pennyfarthings and speaking with faux old-timey accents and diction, doesn’t mean it’s not steampunk. I had airship battles, clockwork automatons, corrupt governments, violence, and other things that I feel fall perfectly within the realm of steampunk. I put this question up on Twitter and according to the responses I got (from a small sample size) people seemed to agree with my view.

Oh well. It is what it is. I’ll continue to describe my book as science fiction/steampunk. This particular rejection didn’t hurt too much. At least they took the time to offer up something more than just a generic rejection, plus it had a little positive something something in the middle. But the best part is that it sparked this little thought experiment.

What do you think? How do you define steampunk? Does it need to have 19th century trappings, even when the piece is set in a completely fictional, non-Earth setting? Let me know.

Terraviathan is Born!

I did it! Last night I finished the first (very) rough draft of my new science fiction/steampunk novel Terraviathan. I spent almost all of yesterday writing the last two chapters. I only took two breaks: one to watch the end of the Arizona game and one after finishing the penultimate chapter. My brain was just too tired. I went upstairs to play some videogames, but my brain couldn’t handle Killzone 3, so I played Donkey Kong Country Returns instead.

Sidebar: DKCR is a joy. The controls are a little different from the SNES iterations of Donkey Kong, but it’s still a joy to play. Definitely helped me unwind and prepare for the last writing sprint of the night.

It’s almost like giving birth. Okay not really. I’ve never experienced, and never will (being a male) experience the process of childbirth. But maybe the comparison works. You spend all this time putting all your blood, sweat, and tears into the process and then all of a sudden it’s done. There’s your manuscript screaming and kicking on its own in the big wide world. Welcome baby Terraviathan into the world, weighing in at 112k. Now comes the process of actually raising it and making sure it grows up properly so I can send it off to college–I submit it places.

I plan on spending most of today going through the thing and cleaning it up a bit. First thing on my list: come up with names for people and places. I leave notes to myself in all my manuscripts and highlight things with certain colors. I need to go through and address all the little highlighted parts.

But the important thing is it’s done. Well that’s kind of a lie, but one I’ll gladly tell myself. The editing and revising process can be just as long and arduous as the writing process. I’ll be ready for it.

Project: Terraviathan

Deadline: N/A (maybe 5/1/11)

Word count: 15,835 (since 3/24)

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