If You Haven’t Tried Sci Phi Journal yet, You’re Missing Out

The Sci Phi Journal, which is publishing Beyond the Mist, is in need of additional readers to remain sustainable, and if the readership does not grow sufficiently, it might have to fold before completing the scheduled serialization. I would encourage anyone who is undecided about whether to buy an issue, anyone who likes the sound of stories and articles that truly engage your brain, to take a chance and try it, there are many excellent reads to choose from. If you have already bought some issues, tell your friends about it or write an amazon review. The highlights among the stories for me are as follows (this is not to say that the stories I do not mention are poor, and some of you may disagree with my personal picks, but these are the ones that stood out to me): Continue reading

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Door

What does this small door open to?
Where does this entrance lead?
To a secret staircase,
Or a mighty noble steed?

Perhaps an endless field of stars,
Or alien terrain;
Great waves of mighty vehicles
To charge across the plain;

An honour guard of shining knights
Or swarms of countless foes;
A dark trench-coated private eye
To tell you what he knows;

The tomb of a great warrior,
His body lain in state;
A dark priest’s inner chamber
With its altar of pure hate;

A fleet of anchored warships,
All ready to depart;
The final set of traps that guard
The holy mountain’s heart;

A glistening laboratory
Of wonders to behold;
Mighty curving walls of ice
That gleam with burning cold;

A superhero costume
To unleash your inner strength;
Your wise and wizened mentor,
Who desires to talk at length;

A legendary training room
Where you can hone your skill;
A cold white room where your beloved
Lies so deathly ill;

A briefing room where you find out
How you can save the day;
An awesome craft to take you to
A place so far away;

Millions of universes
Linked to this one point;
A crowd of surly faces,
A disreputable joint;

A cupboard full of power tools
We’ll use for our escape;
Our most valued captive
Who can change his very shape;

Shifting clouds and atmosphere
Above a barren land;
The fabled artifact that we
Defend with our last stand;

A world that’s full of magic,
Where souls are forged and grown;
The frightening power so many
Have been trying to disown;

A thousand atmospheres of pressure
Waiting to rush in;
A poor neglected victim
Who’s now so weak and thin;

The king’s forbidden siren
And her enticing web;
The fragile source of life that’s reached
It’s very lowest ebb;

A host of those that stalk the night,
Who we must now destroy;
A team of special forces
Preparing to deploy;

The secret project our elites
Have hidden all these years;
The documents that will confirm
Our deepest gnawing fears;

The unsuspecting target
Of a dark assassin’s blade;
A refuge from the desert heat,
Providing welcome shade;

A passage to another time
When life was simpler, yet
Dirtier, more difficult,
And often under threat;

Rolling hills and meadows
On which to play and roam;
A vault of glistening treasure,
Or better yet, a home?

Character Profiles

A question was asked on facebook a little while ago about using character profiles to flesh out characters in the stories that people write.

In the superversiveSF livestream, the point was made that each character should have two conflicting desires, an undercurrent of some kind that goes against their role in the story to give their character depth, to be more human, for their part in the story to be more real and dramatic.

When we want to go into more detail with a character, in particular one that will be used a lot, there are many things to consider and keep consistent. I’ll outline what I do below:(which may or may not be the best approach, you decide):

I’ll start with their role in the story, and some dialogue they take part in, then from there I use an approximation of this sort of mental checklist (when I’m being really organized, I’ll actually write it out):

Name:

Including nicknames or aliases, think about what the name means, is it something that describes them well, a reputation they have rightly or wrongly earned, or something they are resentful of and rebelling against?

Occupation:

How they currently support themselves. Is it something they enjoy, or something they have been forced to do by someone else’s edict, or by the circumstances (e.g. the best of a bad set of options)?

Education/training/skills:

What comes more naturally as well as what they have invested time and effort into learning (can be major overlaps with ‘strengths’ below).

History:

How they were brought up, in what culture (and subculture), what character-forming events they have been through/people they have known that reinforced/undermined/added to their upbringing, helped them mature (or not), expanded their horizons or made them cynical or secretive.

Beliefs/ values/ morals:

What are they comfortable with doing, what are they prepared to do when the situation demands, and what is overstepping the line for them? What guiding principles are important to them, and how do these differ from those around them? Are these changing, or something they cling to through the turbulence of life?

Strengths/ Weaknesses:

Both in terms of physical and technical abilities and psychologically, what they can and can’t cope with well.

Hopes/aims/goals:

What their ultimate goal is beyond the immediate situation, what keeps them motivated to carry on, or tempts them to take the easy way out.

Fears:

What is personally at stake for them if they fail, how invested they are in the situation (or mission), what ghosts of their past still haunt them, what aspects of normal life are incomprehensible or intimidating to them. (Can be major overlaps here with ‘weaknesses’ above)

That’s my checklist, what would you add?

Second Superversive SF Roundtable Discussion Tomorrow

The second Superversive SF roundtable discussion will be held tomorrow at 3 pm eastern time (7 pm GMT), on the topic of “what makes a good story”, featuring the same group of people as last time, plus some new additions.

If you have any questions you’d like to be discussed, leave a comment at this page:

http://superversivesf.com/2015/05/05/another-superversive-sf-livestream-2/