Browsed by
Author: Aaron Starr

Some Words That Must Be Said

Some Words That Must Be Said

There will soon be more going on here than meets the eye… or the ear.

100:

Well, hidey-ho there, friend! Let me ask you something. Have you or a loved one ever been writing something – say, a novel, or a short story, or heck, even a sonnet– and found yourself apprehensive about the dialogue to come? Or have you ever felt the reverse, an all-encompassing need to document the details of every character’s chit-chat? If so, you might be on the Dialogue Malappropriation Spectrum, or DMS for short.
Golly, I’m not sure. Can you tell me more? Continue from 180.
I most certainly do not! Continue from 320.
I do. I really do! Continue from 440.
You again? Listen, I thought I made it clear I’m just here for the stories and gaming stuff. Continue from 230.

Read More Read More

LET’S KEEP THIS SIMPLE, SHALL WE?

LET’S KEEP THIS SIMPLE, SHALL WE?

Too many layers, or 100% necessary? Let’s examine this together, Friend!

100: Well, howdy there, Friend! Let me ask you a question. Do you or a spouse struggle with Character Development Mania, known more commonly as CDM? Oh, I hear you, Friend. It’s not easy to admit it when you have a problem and need help. But you can trust me, I’m in sales!
This sounds serious. Tell me more about CDM! Continue from 230.
This doesn’t sound like a real thing. Continue from 350.
I’m mostly here for the fiction and game stuff, not the writing advice. Continue from 410.

Read More Read More

If I May Take A Moment of Your Time

If I May Take A Moment of Your Time

A failed literary outline.

100: Hello, Friend! Are you a writer who struggles with Scene Development Instability, sometimes called SDI? I know, it can be hard to talk about in public, but let me reassure you, Friend, that SDI can be treated!

Great, tell me more! Read on from 400.
I’m not actually a Writer! Read on from 300.
I only write short stories, so I’m immune to SDI. Read on from 200.

Read More Read More

No Time Like the Present

No Time Like the Present

“Do you know where you are, Mr. Starr?”

I snapped awake once more, realizing I’d dozed off again. The therapist sat back on her chair, her crisp white jacket and black pencil skirt the picture of professional cool. I moved my eyes left and right, trying to remind myself where, exactly, I was.

The evaluation vault was warm, bright white, and, if the monitor above the therapist’s head was to be believed, well over ninety-nine percent germ free. I blinked and squinted in the brightness, still recovering after my ejection from the the pressure sauna, which had left my skin a bright pink, save for the circles around my eyes from the protective goggles, and, under my white paper medical gown, a similarly protected region provided by the official Black Gate thong I’d been assigned to use while within, which had since been reclaimed.

The modern edition has more safety features, of course.

“Am I in the Black Gate medical wing?” I guessed, trying furiously to remember how I might have gotten there.

“That’s right,” the therapist said, her voice soothing. “Now, I want you to think back. What’s the last thing you remember? Before the incident?”

“I, um, well, I remember being brought to the medical wing because of a… paper cut?” That didn’t seem quite right.

“Yes,” the therapist replied. “A paper cut. With all 384 pages of the print edition of Black Gate #15. Naturally, we couldn’t have you bleeding out on the contents of the archives, so you were brought here. While we managed to save your life – and most of your organs – we were forced to use an experimental rescue technique, and have you clinically frozen until technology was advanced enough to revive you.”

“Wait. Are you saying I’ve been… frozen?”

“That’s right. Welcome back, Mr. Starr! You’ve been gone a long time.”

Read More Read More

A Meditation on Writer’s Block

A Meditation on Writer’s Block

And the route was wide open just hours before
And the route was wide open just hours before

Lights-out had come two hours before, but I couldn’t sleep with the deadline looming. Rising from the squeaky metal cot, I left my cubicle and padded through the darkened corridors of the Black Gate writer’s bullpen. From all sides, the satisfied snores of my fellow writers echoed in the cavernous space just below the boiler rooms. Further up the narrow passage, I saw light spilling from one of the cubicles, and recognized with relief that it was the cell belonging to Ryan Harvey.

Creeping quickly along the narrow passages between the darkened cubes, pausing only to avoid the searchlights that raked the area from above, I ducked through the bead curtain that separated Ryan from his fellows. In the center of the cubicle, atop a small cushion on a richly woven rug, was the man himself. His eyes were nearly closed, his legs crossed, his fingertips gently touching, the very picture of serenity. At the faint rattle of the beads, his eyes opened fully.

“Mr. Harvey, sir?” I ventured.

“I’ve been expecting you,” he said, gesturing to a nearby cushion.

Read More Read More

Multiple Passes: A Post About Editing

Multiple Passes: A Post About Editing

Playing it where it lies is sometimes not so simple: an editing allegory
Playing it where it lies is sometimes not so simple: an editing allegory

The Black Gate executive golf course was built on the highest volcano in Scotland, and, between the snow and the lava, I would have been hard pressed to make par. Had I been actually playing, the round of golf would have taken far longer, and, looking at the rumbling caldera to one side, I wasn’t certain we could spare the time. John O’Neill, however, was having the sort of game that allowed the group to clip along at an unprecedented pace.

Being the cart driver, I listened to him chatting on a phone to this or that business associate as we navigated the narrow tracks between holes. But, as the sixteenth hole approached, he had not gotten another call, and I took my chance.

“I was thinking about a new blog post, and wanted your opinion, sir,” I ventured. Mr. O’Neill , startled from his reverie, grunted and looked over at me.his eyes opening into narrow slits.

“Are you still blogging, Starr?” he asked.

“Uh, yes, sir,” I replied. “I was thinking about the topic of editing, actually, and –”

“Editing?” he asked, his incredulity awakening him fully, and he fixed me with an icy stare. “Why can’t you write anything exciting? Like something about aliens?”

Read More Read More

A Deal You Can Refuse, But Shouldn’t

A Deal You Can Refuse, But Shouldn’t

Black Gate HQ in downtown Chicago
Black Gate‘s Manhattan offices

There were seven hundred and seven stairs leading to John O’Neill’s desk within the Black Gate publishing complex, twelve more than last time, and I was exhausted when I reached the top. There, I waited, watching with trepidation as he finished reading a sheaf of papers, each heavily marked with the red pencil in his white-knuckled fist. His youth of back-alley boxing had left his hands suited to little more than holding an editor’s pencil, and this he wielded furiously, gold rings glinting in the dim light. From behind his massive chair the bodyguard, Tolstoy, glowered silently. Finally, the publishing magnate looked up at me and scowled.

“Starr,” he muttered, running a finger down a printed agenda on his desk. “Something about a blog post.”

“Yes, sir,” I stammered, holding out the two flimsy pages in my hand. Sweat had made the paper soft and slightly rumpled, and he considered them with distaste before taking them. His eyes flicked down the length of the copy before he tossed them down on his desk.

“Rubbish,” he declared.

Read More Read More

I ask for Black Ice, and all I get is Angry Birds

I ask for Black Ice, and all I get is Angry Birds

It's like a how-to guide for living in the present!
It's like a how-to guide for living in the present!

The year which we have so long awaited is finally upon us. 2013. Finally, our dreams of a cyberpunk-style distopia can be fully realized. Let’s do a rundown, shall we?

Corporate personhood? Check! Finally, the mega-corporations have revealed the iron fists beneath their velvet gloves! Pharmaceutical companies are now pursuing legal actions allowing their salespeople to basically say whatever they want to under the premise that the corporations are exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. Can Second Amendment rights be far behind? This is like manna from heaven to those of us longing to live in a cyberpunk-fueled future.

Read More Read More

R&D to SF: Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us!

R&D to SF: Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us!

Patents on skull-smashing implements are also void.
Patents on skull-smashing implements are also void.

Although it first filed paperwork in mid April of this year, the news that Samsung was suing Apple (the iPhone guys, not the Beatles label) was rendered strange by one of their arguments. It seems that Samsung was contesting the viability of Apple’s patents for the iPhone and iPad, because a nearly identical device had been seen used on the U.S. space mission Discovery One, way back in 1968.

Yes, that Discovery One. You know, the mission to Jupiter where the HAL-9000 AI had a series of unforeseen technical difficulties and eliminated the human crew, thus putting the U.S. space program on hold until mid 1969, when America renounced its Jovian ambitions and settled for landing on the moon.

Samsung used, in its initial defense of the argument, this clip from a documentary on Discovery One, clearly showing members of the ill-fated crew using an iPad-a-like to stream video feeds while somewhere past Mars orbit. This, Samsung assured the press and the courts, is clear evidence that Apple didn’t invent anything, and that the idea –the actual execution, even– of the iPad had been around long before Apple even existed. So, all of Apple’s patents had to be seen for the shams that they were. Steve Jobs was, in effect, cribbing ideas from doomed U.S. space missions, and profiting from the misfortunes of historical figures.

Read More Read More

A Lone Candle, Part 2

A Lone Candle, Part 2

expedition
"Quick! Get the laser ri- I mean, get the thunder stick!"

If genre-shifting mid-tale is unwelcome in film and literature, where is it sometimes acceptable? I’ve found only one medium in which this sort of thing is easily done, and generally welcomed, if done right.

Role playing games.

Hear me out on this. Role playing games are a lot more fluid, since the storyline just keeps going after the genre-shifted adventure. The players know that, sooner or later the story will return to the main genre, and so they’re more willing to play along. That’s been my experience, anyway.

Read More Read More