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September 12th, 2015

11:08 pm - Nothingness
So, in a few minutes it will be my birthday, which is, of course, completely wrong. My birth day was 67 years ago. This is just another, and likely the very last, "celebration" of the anniversary of that day...or rather that event.

Statistically it is unlikely I'll have another one. That's fine. Everybody has a "last birthday" at some point. Mine is just coming a bit earlier than others. I'm going to spend the day working...or rather more likely, standing around. I don't really expect to sell a lot of ladders tomorrow, but we'll see.

In the meantime I'll receive a few greetings from some people, many of whom I've never met in person. I already got one from the person who pulled the trigger over a week ago. Somehow doing that and then "wishing me the best" seems strange. Maybe even...oh...maybe a bit hypocritical. It kind of reminds me why I told my daughter I didn't want any funeral or memorial service once I'm gone. I cannot accept the idea that people who honestly didn't give a damn about me while I was alive showing up to tell each other how terrible it is that I'm gone and how much they'll miss me. I'm calling Bullshit on the whole idea.

I spent all of today driving to sell ladders, standing around trying to sell ladders, driving back from selling ladders to volunteer, standing around volunteering, and then driving home. A pretty exciting day. Heck, even the cat hasn't come inside to see me since I got home. Right now I'm heading to bed (early) so I can get up in the morning and do it again. I'd consider buying a cake, but too much of it would simply be wasted because I couldn't eat it fast enough...and I don't need the useless calories anyway.

Maybe I'll sing to myself as I drive. Maybe not. I'll see how I feel about that in the morning.

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June 27th, 2015

01:02 am - A new roundhouse story
For reasons that make no sense I've decided I'll put the latest Roundhouse story on LJ.

There are a couple things you should probably know. All the Roundhouse stories have two chapters. Within the anthology, the chapters are separated, largely because the whole anthology is more than just a collection of stories. It's about a journey. My personal journey. A journey I'm (unfortunately) still wandering through.

The stories all have two things in common.

First, they are all rather Dark. Really Dark. They tend not to have happy endings. That's just the way of things.

Second, the characters are all minorities. Why? Well, a while back I was told by a friend that I didn't (or couldn't) write anything but white CIS characters. I found that statement both offensive and inaccurate, but arguing about it failed to resolve our differences. In truth I suspect we each stepped on respective triggers so we parted our friendship. I'm not proud of that, but it happened. I've tried to reach out, but...oh well.

In any case, one thing that was said was that there could never be enough non-white, non-traditional characters. 100% wouldn't be enough, although I admit I have no idea how to create more than 100%.

In any case, I decided then and there that the Roundhouse stories would all be about such characters. I'll admit there is one white male in a story, but he's a bit of an outlier, essentially a serf in the left-overs of a feudal system that still existed in Wales at the time.

Now, without further ado, here is a portion of Chapter One of Lists

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March 10th, 2015

10:56 pm - And now the question is....
Okay, the story was to pay off a bet, but I'm really wondering if anyone actually read any of it. My suspicions, based upon a complete lack of comments, is that the answer is no. I'm somewhat okay with that, but it is, I admit, disappointing. Oh well. Such is life, and I have more writing to do.

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March 9th, 2015

11:24 pm - Resurrection - Chapter 29 (the end)
The nice thing about working for SHIELD is the job security. Yes, you might get killed on every mission, but there's no end of bad guys and evil doers out there. Sometimes you just have to take a break and decompress.

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11:08 pm - Resurrection - Chapter 28
When you're waiting for results, and hoping for positive outcomes, time always seems to slow down. In this case it seemed as if time was actually standing still, not moving at all. Did it work? How would they know? How soon would they know? Everyone had the same questions, but no one was brave enough, or stupid enough, to ask. And so they waited.

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March 8th, 2015

09:15 pm - Resurrection - Chapter 27
With one agent down (Melinda May) and possibly never to return, Coulson begins to fear he's about to lose another. Bennett Gross seems to hold the winning hand, and there are no more cards to be dealt. It time to call and see what happens.

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March 6th, 2015

08:29 pm - Resurrection - Chapter 26
When things go wrong, they really go wrong, especially if your opponent his armed with alien weapons. Director Coulson is faced with the ultimate decision: to save one of his team members he must sacrifice another one, and it's not a choice he's prepared to make.

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March 3rd, 2015

03:39 pm - Resurrection - Chapter 25
The score is improving, but the bad guys have retreated to Helm's Deep, and now it appears they might have the upper hand. It's a Mexican Standoff, but then things change for the worse.

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February 27th, 2015

09:10 pm - Resurrection - Chapter 24
The plan, such as it is, is complete, and now it's time to rock and roll. There are far too many unknowns, but time won't change that, and time is not on their side.

Chapter 24

Phil had one last stop before deploying his teams, parking outside the offices of the national police. Inside he presented a quick plan, asking the locals to form a second line of defense in case things went sideways. He also collected some heavy weaponry required to execute the ideas they had agreed to use.

Back outside the team had one final review, confirming that everyone was on the same page. “Chuck and Anthony check out the back porch and mark the back door. Skye and I will open the front door then Trip and Kadeem will open a window. From there we’ll clear the living room and if they retreat to the kitchen, Chuck and Anthony will pop in to say hello from the pantry. We pick up the nuralizer and Bob’s your uncle.”

Everyone looked at him, nodding their common understanding. Then, as Phil prepared to come up with his final pep talk, Skye stepped up to take the stage.

“We all know what's at stake. It's not about SHIELD. It's not about Bennett Gross. It's about Melinda May, the heart and soul of our team. Last time she had to step in and save the day. She answered the call that day, and we all know she would again today if she could. Now she needs our help, so let's do this.”

Phil concluded there was nothing more to be said, so he kept his comments short. “Let's go. Let's do this.”

The team scattered into the four different vehicles they had commandeered, a dirty, dusty Land Rover, a beat up service van, and two cars unlikely to be considered a threat: a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and a shiny blue Mini Cooper. As they pulled out onto the highway, each team checked their comms links. Those that had the blaster defense systems checked them again, hoping they would work as well as they had in the lab tests.

* * * * *

After a final confirmation that everyone was in position, Phil gave the go-ahead order and things began to happen. Chuck and Anthony, two of the local agents, entered the building from the north side, walking easily into the spaces where the delivery company operated, and directing those present to evacuate, explaining to them just enough to firmly establish their desire to be elsewhere.

As was hoped, their subsequent search found nothing of interest and confirmed there were no connecting doorways that led into the other occupancies. With that done they quickly identified the common wall and placed a line of explosives certain to blow a man-sized hole when triggered. Then they reported in and waited.

Outside, the other cars began moving. Trip, driving the Mini Cooper, approached from the south while Skye rolled in from the north. As a diversion, the plan called for them to pass each other, hoping that that ploy would be distracting long enough to prevent an organized defense. As Skye braked to a halt on the site of the previous battle, Phil leveled an oversized RPG at the roll up door…and fired. The blast sent fire and metal shards deep into the building, destroying one of the cars and wounding two members of Gross’ team that were loading some of their loot into the trunk.

Gross and his men began to react, grabbing for weapons and running out of their day room to defend their vehicles and assist their fellow thieves, but before they could establish a plan a second RPG, fired by Trip from the south side of the building blew a huge hole in the wall, creating more confusion and demanding that Gross defend more than one front. To that point in time Phil’s plan was working perfectly.

Trip and his partner advanced first, and they were met with a series of blaster flashes. Trip’s defensive unit successfully deflected them, and Kadeem, his partner and the survivor from the first battle, was able to wound their assailant by firing a round through their shield. Unfortunately another man scooped up the Chitauri weapon and continued with another series of shots.

With that battle joined, Skye and Phil entered through the remains of the roll-up door. A blaster shot quickly in their direction, passing neatly between them as their protective cones funneled it there while outside Jae and David, the last pair of Clark’s agents, stood guard. They were the least experienced pair, and they were detailed to serve as backup should things go badly. They had some heavier weapons but did not carry any defense against the Chitauri devices and their specific charge was to take out any vehicle should Gross try to escape.

As planned, Skye and Phil worked towards their left, forcing Gross to divide his forces an deal with attacks from widely-separated invaders. Trip and Kadeem ducked behind the remaining operable vehicle, and took advantage of a lull to flatten the driver’s side tires ensuring that the bad guys couldn’t escape except on foot.

Skye and Phil, each wearing a defensive device, separated from each other, further diluting the defenders. As a man rose from behind a pile of furniture, Phil took careful aim and fired, watching him fall. “Three down,” he yelled, adding his success to the two men originally injured by the damaged car.

“Four down,” Trip yelled, dropping another man who was trying to run for the cover of a room in the back. Somewhat quieter, using the comm. link rather than yelling, he added another important piece of information. “One of the blasters I down.” While the information was helpful, it wasn’t conclusive since they had no idea how many Chitauri weapons Gross possessed.

“We’ve got a problem,” Phil breathed out. “They’re all inside that back room, and the only way in is that door.”

Skye considered the situation for a moment, and then made a suggestion. “Jae and David, we need your help.” She was very aware that they had no protection from the blasters, or the nuralizer for that matter, but her idea shouldn’t expose them significantly.

David responded. “What do you need?”

“Straight back from the roll-up door…slightly to the right, is a doorway that leads into another room. It’s probably a pretty small room, but we’ll get killed if we try to take it through that door. We need a window. Take your RPG and fire a round about ten feet to the right of the door. We’ll lay some covering fire at the door.”

“Roger that,” David responded. As Phil and Skye poured some un-aimed rounds through the door David entered, knelt beside the damaged car, and lined up his tube. He fired, and the shaped charge of the RPG blew a ragged hole in the wall, allowing Trip and Kadeem to move out from behind the second car and begin to pour some additional fire through the hole.

Amongst the noise and confusion they heard a clearly-defined scream that suggested at least one round had found its mark inside. With no return fire coming through the doorway, Skye and Phil worked their way to the wall, ready to enter and make a final assault. Directly in front of them one man tried to escape through the door but Phil cut him down. Before they could do anything more someone inside the room pulled the man back inside, leaving a large pool of blood to mark the spot.

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February 25th, 2015

12:07 pm - Quick Thoughts
I value language. A lot! When I read a statement made by someone who is a writer, or writes in the publishing industry, or seeks to affect the publishing industry, I assume...which is reasonable in this case...that they have chosen their words to convey the meaning they seek to share.

So, when said persons say things like "there can never be enough ****" I tend to see that as a statement that even 100% of that wouldn't be enough. In that context, if the statement is "there can never be enough female characters, or characters of color, or LBGTQ characters" I'm left to figure out how there could be more than 100%...because, in their words, that wouldn't be enough. This is not a statement of "we need more"...something I agree with completely...this is a statement that 100% won't be enough. So...I'll ask the simple question: What percentage would be enough? 110%? 150%? 200%? Whatever the number, how is it possible to attain it?

Now, I see a message advocating that for the next year people should not read anything associated with a white CIS male...apparently either an author or a character. Again, this is a statement made by a person of letters who, I presume, understands the meanings of words.

After some serious consideration, I've concluded that the only possible genre that could survive this test would be Fantasy. It is possible, I suppose, to write SciFi without a single white male CIS character. Personally I've not read any, but I do accept the idea that it's possible. In a few stories I've read, the central character is never defined by race, and often not by gender orientation, so maybe I've just failed to see them in the "proper light." Maybe a story about HAL being visited by some asexual alien race would qualify, but I suspect readers would see the aliens as some sort of stand-in for humans, and it's also possible HAL is just another white male CIS character in a silicone rather than carbon based form. We do know he was created by a white (presumably CIS) male.

NOTE: After reading this through I thought of one story I have read that did not have a single white male character. It was written by my friend Aleta, and was specifically written to feature anthropomorphism. Other than a single human, which I believe a female of unknown race or orientation, every other character was an element of her apartment...the floor, the wall, the kitchen sink, and even the vacuum cleaner. While I loved the story, I'm not sure a steady diet of that would work for me, and I'm pretty sure most readers would begin to read into those "characters" the traits they associate with various stereotypical humans...likely including at least one white male.

Clearly a lot of SciFi, while including alien races and worlds, is actually a written criticism of our own society. Star Trek was great at doing that. Consider the "aliens" at Farpoint Station, or perhaps the trial in The Measure of a Man.

So...if you wish to see more diversity in the characters you read, that's great. If you wish to see more diversity in the authors whose books are available, I'm all for it. If you believe that only non-white male authors should be read, or the worlds of your reading shouldn't include any white CIS males then I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree. I doubt that in most of the world any society exists with out at least one, even if he's not native.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to write. I do so knowing that some folks won't like my results, because I am the worst possible combination...a old, white, relatively straight male. In truth, my chemo treatments make me pretty much asexual, but that hardly matters. In addition, I often write about white male characters, although they operate in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society that includes all sorts of folks. However, like JKR with Dumbledore, I don't always make a big thing of the gender role or personal preferences of every character...since a lot of the time it really doesn't much matter to the story. As a reader, you can decide otherwise, and that's fine with me.

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