Thursday, June 7, 2018

No writing is ever wasted


Last week at Spacefreighters I explained where the Dryden Universe came from - basically a bit of discarded writing - something I'd written years ago. Morgan's Choice arrived in a very different way. Actually, that's an interesting story – to me, anyway.

I'd been writing for a long time, in fits and starts, between jobs. I even took a few writing courses, but they were aimed more at copywriting, short stories for magazines and the like, not novels. Even so, I'd played with some ideas, most of them derivative and pretty awful, including some fan fic. It wasn't great fan fic, mind, but it was better than a lot I'd read.

When I finally retired from the stress-filled rat race I decided I'd write a book. Because I have that sort of mind set, I wanted to learn how before I started. I came across a course that both taught and offered a level of mentoring – during the course, you'd write your own book submitting some chapters for evaluation. It sounded perfect to me so I enrolled.

After a few weeks of business, I threw the virtual manuscript at a virtual wall. "This is rubbish. Who's going to want to read this?"

The problem was the protagonist, a woman who could interact with computers with her mind, sort of like… magic. And I didn't like the setting. It was all too… fairy tale in space. And slow.
I set about creating a cyborg – although I didn't know it at the time. Her name was Morgan and she had a supercomputer in her head. She was feisty and difficult and exceptionally good at what she did. She also hated, loathed, and detested Authority. She hadn't been asked about that computer in her head, or the (slightly faulty) artificial eyes that allowed her to see like a human (and more) and interface with a computer. (They're silvery, unlike her peers, who have ordinary, human-looking eyes) She was a supertech, whether she liked it or not, modified at birth. Supertechs created all the apps in her universe. They themselves were strictly controlled so that never again would artificial intelligences threaten humanity. For that reason, Supertechs were supposed to be subservient, obedient individuals who did what they were told. If they strayed from the path – well – they were exterminated.

That was the beginning of Morgan Selwood. I wrote a short story about Morgan's first posting after she scraped through her training. It's called Supertech.

Then I got to work on her main story – Morgan's Choice. The book's name has changed several times, Morgan's name has changed several times, and the story has changed, too. But it was always going to be about Morgan going far beyond her own world to undiscovered parts, where she would have her adventures, and meet a man who could match her.

That other fairy tale I threw at the virtual wall? Over time and many iterations, it became the Iron Admiral books. Which does goes to prove, no writing is ever wasted.

Here's a little snippet from Supertech to give you an idea.

Morgan slapped her hand on the panel that opened the door to the broom cupboard also known as her office. Lights flickered on as she entered. She really must bring in a broom and a bucket to finish the look. Another day in paradise. She flung her bag into its usual corner and sagged onto the chair. What riveting task would Cam have found for her today?

Concentrating on the dataport, she flicked the mental switch in her implant to meld with the base’s computer system. The impersonal lens became a coloured highway, transporting packets of data back and forth. Morgan sent her ID, which she’d long since changed to system administrator, and looked around for changes.

Ah. A new frigate up on Gens Brasna Two, the larger of the maintenance base’s two orbital space stations. She sighed. Dead boring. Routine annual checkout and recalibration. They wouldn’t even ask her to move her backside out of her chair for that. Nothing in her in-tray. She’d finished this week’s work yesterday morning. Oh, well. Might as well play with the simulators.

She browsed the list of simulator scenarios for a star destroyer, meant for Fleet engineers, navigators or officers on advanced training. This one sounded good; Star destroyer in orbit around a planet, main drives failed, orbit decaying.

She’d barely started diagnosis when Commander Campbell’s voice jolted her out of the system.
"Morgan. ENSIGN SELWOOD."

There are four books in the Morgan Selwood series and three short stories. You'll find them all on the Morgan Selwood page of my website.

And to finish, here's a nice sunrise from a stretch of beach near where I live.

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