Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Flash: "Stolen Mass"

Every rotation, she diminishes and I increase. I will be my sister's grim reaper. I can imagine that, at first, our parents were ecstatic. A twin star birth would be a powerful one, enough to increase our galaxy's standing against our neighbors. Then I and my sister emerged, not the promised identical twins of legend, but ever so slightly mismatched. Already, she is an orange-red subgiant, doomed to a cooling core.

This flash is a "six sentences" format and I've recently posted on the Six Sentences social network.

Happy New Years Resolution! Come a bit early, I suppose.

Looking to connect with other flash writers, read, and share your own work? Find me here:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TNG Ep. 59: The Hunted

The Enterprise investigates Angosia as an applicant to the Federation. During the investigation, the crew assists in the capture and detainment of a criminal escaped from a lunar colony, Roga Danar. The Enterprise learns that the criminal is an war veteran psychologically programmed and physically modified to be an adept soldier. These modifications leave the veterans with tendencies towards violent, even murderous outbursts. The Angosia government has imprisoned all such veterans on the lunar colony with no plans to reintegrate them into mainstream society. Roga Danar escapes The Enterprise and frees several of his fellow inmates, who then hold key members of the Angosia government hostage. It appears as if several of the Enterprise crew will become involved in the conflict, but Picard orders non-interference and they all beam out, leaving the Angosians to their own troubles.

Well, that was sure depressing. Not the ending, but the whole premise. The US government does a lot to attempt to provide for its veterans, but they can never guarantee a good reception by all of society. Just last summer I was hearing that veterans that had left service after 9/11 had a higher unemployment rate that their fellow veterans and also higher than the average citizen. Tsk, tsk, society. Scarier than that, though, is the idea of the super soldier, and of our inability to turn a super soldier back into a regular citizen. You can't just wipe the training and the memories of war. You can't say "just kidding" and rewind time for them - just like you can't take back the bad experiences that happen to numerous poor and otherwise disadvantaged people around the world, except that with soldiers, its more directly our fault if they turn out too Super. But maybe we could give them a chance at a job, out of respect for the fact that they risked so much for us.

Of course, the super soldiers in the episode are a bit more extreme than our real veterans. Most real veterans aren't more likely to, say, knife us in the back, and we try really hard to identify those who are, so that they can get help and not give the rest a bad reputation. We try not to give them multiple personalities and all that fun stuff. But, hey, with Scifi, anything is possible! It's more exciting that way! No, wait... still depressing.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Special Time of Year from PV

Listen to a special message from Pendragon Variety!

In related news, I finally worked out a decent setup for recording prose. The last couple of projects that I had tried to record were full of noise that no amount of editing could eradicate. Now I just need a decent pair of headphones so that I might join the Ladies Pendragon on their group recordings.

Oh, and Merry Christmas, every one!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This Year, Next Year

Despite moving and having a baby, this year has not been a total loss writing and podcasting wise. Here's what I've been up to both here on the blog and elsewhere, and what I'm planning for next year:
  • TNG Reviews. I had made it my goal for the year to write TNG episode reviews every week and that I have. It has been great practice for writing nonfiction and for posting regularly, to a deadline. I found that I prefer to write a bunch at once and schedule them ahead of time. As such, the reviews will continue for the beginning of 2012, but I plan to close this chapter of the blog in the spring. I'd like to finish TNG and get to DS9 ever in my life. Plus, I have something else to review now!
  • YA Book Reviews - I’ve been writing the YA Report at SFFWRTCHT. Bryan Schmidt, scifi author and orchastrator of the weekly #sffwrtcht chat on twitter, runs author interviews and the like on the associated blog. I do a small part of the work, writing reviews and interviews for the YA Report column. From now on I'll be posting here to let you know about these reviews! Here's what's up so far:

  • NaNoWriMo - My biggest fiction writing achievement this year was with NaNoWriMo. I set my goal at 25k based on my most productive days since the move and the baby, and I outlined ahead of time using the notecard method and the suggestions in Scribe's blog, Ink Stained Scribe. The final piece of my success was my use of Write or Die. I'm hoping to edit this novella (The Real Woman) in January. The whole family has been sick for a month, prompting a break from such endeavors, but the real culprit has been holiday shopping. January is a new year!
  • Pendragon Variety Podcast - I haven't been able to join in on the recordings, but I've been doing a little bit of work on the backend, like uploading the mp3 files. These ladies are pretty funny and insightful, and there are some changes coming next year, so go check it out*! The Ladies have also been involved in a reading of A Christmas Carol.
  • Theory Train - I've mentioned before that I'm staff on this specific magazine. Recently I helped judge submissions and now issue 3 is out! Keep us in mind if you're looking for something short to read or submit.
  • Lesson Plans - I used to work in afterschool education and now I'm planning on homeschooling my own kids. They're only two and zero, but that's not too early for lesson plans! I've been writing math activities and looking into teaching at a homeschooler's coop. Bet you didn't know that!
  • Pendragon Express - We had a great time at *! I started a newsletter for the project, but it's been a bit on hold. What I really need is local people who want to run tables and small events to represent independent publishing. I'd love to play backup, helping prepare displays and talk to authors and the like, but I can't be the main person going to these events. Please let me know if you're interested because otherwise the entire project will need to go on hold.
  • Flash! Next year I'm hoping to get back into writing flash fiction (regularly. I did write some!) and participating in the drabblecast forums. I thoroughly enjoyed being an active forum member there and I miss the people and the flash fiction - both my own and theirs. And I loved podcasting flash, and even have a mic appropriate for it. Flash fiction fits best into my current life style, what with two small kids, so my obsession with trying and failing with longer forms doesn't make sense. Folded Word might be releasing an anthology of my flash next year. Why not stick with what I know? Here I come #flashfriday and @dribblecast ! I would also like to submit any of said flash any where by the end of the year. Perhaps I'll refine this part of my goals at a later date. ;)
  • Questions for Writers (tag QfW). My amusement with this has ended! This is not currently in the plans for 2012.
What are your goals? What were your goals last year and what did you accomplish?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

TNG Ep. 58: The Defector

The Enterprise rescues a Romulan craft pursued into Federation space by a Romulan warbird. The Romulan warbird turns tail and the single Romulan occupying the craft boards the Enterprise, announcing his intentions to defect and claiming knowledge of a secret Romulan installation in the Neutral Zone. At first Picard is suspicious because the defector claims to be an insignificant clerk, but then Picard learns that the defector is actually Admiral Jarok. Jarok eventually gives Picard detailed tactical information, convincing him to investigate the supposed base. The Enterprise does, only to be attacked by cloaked Romulan ships. The Enterprise is ready with three cloaked Birds of Prey, so the Romulans turn tail. Jarok was set up, used as a pawn to lure the Enterprise into a trap. He can never return to his wife and family because he defected, but staying in the Federation will mean that he is tortured if he does not give up Romulan secrets. He chooses to kill himself, and this ends the episode.

YES. I love the twist at the end of this episode. It would have been too simple if Setal was double-crossing the Enterprise, yet too easy if he really did know about a secret violation of the treaty. Instead, every one gets screwed in some way or another - check mate! Political intrigue isn't my favorite kind of premise for an episode, but I enjoyed this one any way because of how well they characterized Setal and Picard. I also tend to enjoy episodes that can't be easily summed up in four sentences or less.

And I know that last week I was complaining about that episode being depressing, but here it totally makes sense that Setal would kill himself at the end. Where would he go and what would he do, if he were alive? No doubt he had Romulan secrets that he didn't want to tell the Federation despite his defection, and they probably would have just tortured him until he died any way. Usually I'm totally against stories ending in suicide - don't get me started on how much I hate The Awakening! - but this one I can accept, in part because he isn't a main character of the series. The writers wanted to get him out of the way, and I can understand that as long as his actions aren't out of character, which they aren't. Boohoo, a Romulan died. The end.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TNG Ep. 57: The Vengeance Factor

Upon investigating a raided Federation outpost, the Enterprise is drawn into a long-standing clan war among the Acamarian people. One faction, The Gathers, who were responsible for the raid, have exiled themselves from their home planet, refusing to take part in the others' treaty(s) ending the clan wars. Picard convinces the Acamarian Sovereign to once again seek reconciliation. The Sovereign brings her personal servant, Yuta, who secretly attacks one of the Gathers at the first peace meeting. At first it appears as if the man died of natural causes, but Dr. Crusher soon discovers that it was actually a microvirus that had to have been genetically engineered to target a certain Acamarian clan. Data and then discovers that it is Yuta who carries the virus, and Riker rushes to stop her before she can kill The Gathers' leader. He arrives at the peace talks just in time, but must kill Yuta, whom he has been infatuated with. The Acamarians are grateful and go on their way. Riker is put out by the whole affair.

Aw, how sad. But who doesn't love a good murder mystery?

Though, seriously, that woman should give it up. Maybe I just wasn't raised with enough feuding instructions, but I find Yuta's character to be a prime example of why people should grow old and die at a rate proportionate to their fellow human beings. Otherwise you'd have those die-hards (pun intended) who would be carrying on prejudices and the like for eternity, because their papa raised them that way. Think about it - if people didn't die out in their natural time, we'd probably still have segregated buses (or have them again). Note that this is also why cryogenically frozen Klingon soldiers are a bad idea. Yuta might as well have been frozen all this time for as much as she was willing to change her character and sense of purpose.

Poor Riker. They might have been good together if it wasn't for the whole obsessive assassination thing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

TNG Ep. 56: The Price

The Federation is in a bid for what appears to be a stable wormhole, with The Enterprise as its representative. If the wormhole is actually stable, it could mean a cheap form of transportation to wherever the other end of the wormhole happens to hang out. The Ferengi suddenly appear and demand to be included, after which things start to get messy. The Enterprise obtains permission to run some tests on the wormhole, with the stipulation that they share all of the data collected with the other bidders. But, since the Ferengi don't trust any one, the Ferengi insist on being allowed to run their own tests. Meanwhile, Troi has a passionate affair with one of the negotiators who is secretly a mind-reader as well. Their relationship becomes strained when Troi finds out that her new lover uses his powers to deceive his competitors and otherwise gain the advantage. The shuttle team goes through the wormhole and discovers that it is not stable and that the other end does not stay in the same location. They try to warn the Ferengi, but the Ferengi shuttle won't take their word for it and end up stranded, with no possible rescue. Back at the negotiations, Troi's lover has worked up a ploy with the Ferengi that Troi feels she must call him out on, revealing his secret. She ends their relationship. Everyone learns that the worm hole is worthless, and all go their separate ways.

Pluses for this episode include Ferengi, gambling, and distraught Troi. Not that I don't like Troi, but I do have to admit that I like the Soap Opera Factor. Perhaps I should start giving out Soap Opera Points? I bet that the SOP score would correlate with how much I enjoy an episode. This would be especially true when I can stand behind at least one character's choices, because I wouldn't have stayed with Ral, either.

It's also good to have other things happening in the episode. Distrustful Ferengi are always good for a laugh, even when they get stranded by a worm hole which is almost the same as getting dead. And where there's Ferengi, there's often some sort of gambling, and I find it hilarious that they weren't even invited initially. It was also a nice touch that the gambling centered around a tantalizing scientific possibility. Man, what if there really was a stable worm hole? I imagine that after the newness wore off it would become an everyday super highway, even if they couldn't replicate it, but there's always that Ooooo factor when something like that is first discovered. Kind of like "Oooo, fire." Fiiiiiiiiire. Fire is pretty!

Er, I mean... Yay, science!