Star Frontiers Short Story Preview

BorgLegend's picture
BorgLegend
April 5, 2012 - 6:38pm

I've been planning on writing a series of stories based on the star frontiers apocalypse.  This is not my whole first story, only what I have done so far.  This is not my final draft, so I will probably make changes.  Tell me what you think, and if there is anything I should fix or work on:

Joshua leaned back in his hoverchair, watching the holovision set with bated breath.  A war veteran, a strong vrusk by the name of Clusstao had just ended the fifth sathar war by using the new electrostunner invented by Wartech.  No one knew much, but there rumors floating around that using the new stunner,
scientists kept a sathar paralyzed and studied an alive specimen, and with the help of the brand new Level 9 computer, discovered every fact about the species, and Clusstao(with the help of the scientists)was about to explain everything.  Joshua's eyes widened as the ripped vrusk stepped on the stage displayed on
the HV.  He coughed, stepped to the microphone and began to speak.  "Ladies, gentlemen, and otherwise,you are all about to hear hear how our final war with the sathar has ended."  The crowed cheered for one whole minute, remaining just as loud the whole time.  He continued.  "As you may know, I-"
Joshua sat upright.  The Pan-Galactic were airing a public HoloVision message!  Joshua mumbled curses under his breath as the message began.  "Greetings, citizens of the frontier!  We are sorry
to interrupt your program, but breaking news has been announced.  A solar storm is headed for our galaxy.  It's readings have exceeded measure on the Trook Power Scale.  All citizens are urged to stay inside and find cover.  I repeat, all citizens are urged to stay inside and find cover," the serious voice
commanded.  Joshua smirked.  It was just another false alarm, the sixth one this month.  The screen snapped back to the auditorium.  He could see a few people exiting the auditorium, probably heading home.  The public announcement was probably broadcasted into the auditorioum as well.  Most of the audience, however, didn't move, determined to hear about the discovery.  He watched for twenty minutes, waiting for Clusstao to stop talking about his war story and tell everyone the secrets of the sathar.  Suddenly, Joshua heard a loud booming noise so loud, it shook his small house.  On the Holovision, everyone looked for the source of the noise.  Apparently, he wasn't the only person who heard it.  Joshua felt sick when the horrible truth dawned on him.  The solar storm was real this time.  Everyone at the auditorium screamed and ran out.  Clusstao froze in shock.  As Joshua ran to his window, he saw the chaos happening on the streets.  He didn't know what it was like everywhere else, but on Port Loren, it was complete chaos.  He could see mothers hugging their children, people swearing and running around naked.  Joshua ran back into his living room, searching hopelessly for cover.  He finally turned around, shocked by the bright light consuming
everything.  Then it was dark.
Minx'las searched the rubble for any signs of life.  There was none, of course.  He played with his antannae, something he often did when he was thinking.  He sighed and walked further.  After five minutes of searching, he sat down to rest.  He must have been the only survivor.  He drooped his head.  The frontier
civilazation was dead, and it's only hope was a vrusk old enought to be at the Port Loren assisted living center.  He scanned the area for something, ANYTHING.  And that's when he saw it.  The movement.  Some of the rubble moved!  The vrusk hurried to the area where he saw the movement and felt for survivors.  He
froze.  He had just felt a hand.  A human hand by the way it was shaped.  The vrusk grabbed the appendage and pulled.

Joshua slowly opened his eyes.  There was an old vrusk looking at him and treating his wounds.  "What..." Joshua began, before the the vrusk shushed him.
"Rest," the vrusk whispered.  "I will explain everything.  That solar storm wiped out the galaxy.  You're the only living being I've seen for a while.  I found
you in the remains of what seemed to be your house."  Joshua nodded.  It was all coming back to him.  He sat up, and the vrusk pushed him back down.
The vrusk then shoved something into Joshua's mouth, and it was dark again.

When Joshua woke up, the vrusk was standing there, holding a medkit and motioning for him to follow.  Joshua ran up to the vrusk.  "Where are we going?"
He asked.  "The spaceport.  Chances are there will be a ship that is still in working order.  We can go to the other planets and see what they're situation is.
The vrusk replied.  "By the way," he added, "My name's Minx'las."  "Joshua,"  Joshua said, shaking Minx'las' hand.

After walking for a while, Joshua stopped as soon as he heard the crying.  It was the voice of a little girl.  As he turned his head, he saw her.  It was a yazirian girl,
sitting next to two other yazirians who must have been her parents.  They were laying down, covered in scratches, whispering to her while she cried.  The yazirians smiled
and held something out to her.  She blubbered and took it.  Her parents closed their eyes, and took their last breath.  He couldn't stand it anymore.  Joshua
walked over to her.  "Sorry about your parents."
"Mommy said I should never talk to strangers."
"And why is that?"
"They could be space pirates."
"Well, times are different now.  I think the space pirates are gone now."
"They are?"
"I'm pretty sure."  The yazirian girl looked at him, unsure whether or not to believe him.  Finally, she looked up at him and took his hand.  "I'm Krinna."  He smiled back.  "Joshua," he replied.  Minx'las
walked up to them.  "I think these bodies need a proper burial," he said, staring at the girl's parents.
 

The trio walked away from the blazing fire cremating Krinna's parents.  It was a yazirian sign of respect to burn a body.  It told the world the dead person's
soul was still burning with passion.  Minx'las pointed to a large, ramshackled building.  "That's where we get our ship," he declared.  Joshua nodded.  Krinna's expression didn't change.

Krinna sat in a corner and watched Minx'las dig through the rubble, looking for a starship.  Just as she stood up, Joshua yelled from the other end of the building.

That's where it ends.  Tell me what you think!

"Hello, Traaz.  I see you forgot my credits.  You have 24 hours to live.  Say goodbye to your family, tell off your boss, do what you want.  Just kidding.  Did you really think I would let you do that?  Goodbye, Mr.Traaz." -Uknown

Comments:

iggy's picture
iggy
April 5, 2012 - 9:17pm
Engaging so far.  I am interested in reading more.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 6, 2012 - 6:04am
Lost my original post when computer crashed.

First, aggree with iggy.

Second bit of a nit pick here but solar denotes of the sun and a sun is a miniscule part of the structure of a galaxy which makes one wonder how a solar storm could destory a galaxy. Even at the speeds of light and event in one location will take 5 years to reach a star system 5 light years away. Not sure of where to pidgeon hole your story genre-wise. For example if it was to be more science fantasy and even a little quirky then I'd note "solar storm" as bad juju within the story and move on with no question of why or how a solar storm would destroy a galaxy. If the story is more hard science then a typical reader will ask questions like, Just what is a solar storm? Why would it destroy a galaxy? How did some people survive and not others? The genre you write in brings different expectations from the reader and you have to meet those expectations as a writer for the reader to hang with you.

So use of the solar storm in one context is ok because the reader will have pegged this story as one genre and things dont really have to make sense but in another genre its use would flag questions in the readers mind because they expect most things to make sense even if the story has FTL travel which may never be possible they choose to overlook the speed limit of physics and roll with a good story.

Plus side, you get into the action fast which is good for catching a reader's interest.
You have some engaging and unexpected characters- vrusk from a nursing home- different.

Telling the reader a computer is level 9? I'd drop that. Dont write in actual game mechanics into a story its distracting and someone not into the game will be lost not knowing what level 9 means. Instead you could say something like "using the most advance computers and AI networks they...." no mechanics and the reader understands its top level computers that are doing this.

Now I want to point something out that we are all guilty of: anthropomorphizing the aliens- or giving human attributes and characteristics to aliens. For example you had a vrusk cough before speaking, its a common human reaction to public speaking to cough as a way of clearing your throat, in some people its actually a nervous response to public speaking because they are uncomfortable with speaking in front of people.

This is not to say that vrusk dont actually cough, they may do in deed cough, who's to say one way or another. And who's to say your wrong for making a vrusk cough? Point is that we are talking about aliens with dralasites, vrusk and yazirians and they ought to be alien and not just funny looking humans. I'd recommend that you join the Core Four project and pick through some of the material there that interests you. For the most part the conversations in the Core Four project were about trying to understand these alien creatures and how they would think and behave and we have Imperial Lord's to thank for insisting that they are not just humans in funny suits. Now back to your vrusk coughing- if it had been me I would have perhaps done this: As he stepped to the podium he preened his antennae with his hands, it was a nervous habit and the vrusk equivelent to a human clearing his throat before adressing a croud." Preening is something birds do to smooth their feathers and prepare them for flight so I've pressed it into this use but having done so I've established the vrusk as alien from humanity and yet similar, he has a little bit of apprehension in speaking to a croud which is something most readers can identify with- even me who studied communication in college and had to speak before crouds of 60-100 people 9 times for 30 minutes each in one 7 day period after which I was all like, "Hey, you need someone to speak? Sure tell what the subject is and give me some notes and I can do it right now." Even though public speaking doesn't phase me anymore I still remember what it was like to be nervous and thus I can connect to that character.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

BorgLegend's picture
BorgLegend
April 6, 2012 - 6:35am

Thanks for the criticism!  I used a solar storm because I couldn't think of something powerful enough to trigger a galaxy-wide apocolypse.  I'll just have to do more research.  I will definitely fix those problems you talked about.  THanks again for the input!

"Hello, Traaz.  I see you forgot my credits.  You have 24 hours to live.  Say goodbye to your family, tell off your boss, do what you want.  Just kidding.  Did you really think I would let you do that?  Goodbye, Mr.Traaz." -Uknown


Rollo's picture
Rollo
April 6, 2012 - 6:38am
Looks good to me!

A) If you're having fun with your writing, then keep writing! :D
B) If there are any issues with content, they will disappear in time as you become more comfortable in your work. Practice makes perfect and all that!

So yeah, keep adding to it till you're satisfied, post it if you want feedback and don't sweat the technical stuff just yet. All that will work itself out with practice. :) What is important is to cultivate the imagination and see if writing is fun for you. It's always better to have a hobby (or profession) that you enjoy doing. In the end, if you enjoy it your end product will be all the better for it.

One way to effortlessly practice writing (in my opinion anyway) is to keep role-playing journals. It's effortless in that, the storyline is already laid down. All you have to do is put it on paper. It enables you to practice all the technical writing stuff without simultaneously fretting over the content.

Of course there is another benefit to keeping a role-playing journal. 20 years from now you can crack that old journal open and chuckle at all the stuff you did 'way back when'.
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

BorgLegend's picture
BorgLegend
April 6, 2012 - 6:48am
Thanks!  That sounds good!

"Hello, Traaz.  I see you forgot my credits.  You have 24 hours to live.  Say goodbye to your family, tell off your boss, do what you want.  Just kidding.  Did you really think I would let you do that?  Goodbye, Mr.Traaz." -Uknown


BorgLegend's picture
BorgLegend
April 6, 2012 - 6:52am
Meteorites!  If they could (theoretically) wipe out the dinosaurs with changing the climate and smacking up the planet, then they could wipe out the frontier, and maybe leave a few survivors!  I just need to figure out how so many meteorites could hit all those planets...

"Hello, Traaz.  I see you forgot my credits.  You have 24 hours to live.  Say goodbye to your family, tell off your boss, do what you want.  Just kidding.  Did you really think I would let you do that?  Goodbye, Mr.Traaz." -Uknown


TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
April 6, 2012 - 8:26am
If you want something akin to a solar flare/storm use a gamma-ray burst in the center of the galaxy.  Gamma-ray bursts are so powerful that they put out as much energy as an entire galaxy does in a day in a few milliseconds.  They are so bright that we see them from billions of light years away.  It's one of the types of objects that the NASA mission I work on studies.  That kind of intense radiation field would do what you're looking for.  Of course it would also probaby boil off the atmospheres and such but we'll pretend we're far enough away that that doesn't happen Smile.  I don't have the exact figures anyway.

You still have the light travel issue that jedion357 mentioned but if you took the Frontier to be fairly planar and perpendicular to the blast wave it would hit all the systems at about the same time.  That could actually be an interesting plot twist.  They get off the planet and make it to a nearby one that hasn't been hit yet and have to try to convince people that something bad is coming in the next year or two.

BTW, if you have astronomy questions, feel free to ask.  I'm the resident astronomer on these forums.

Side note:  There's another Cosmic Catastrophe article for me to write right after supernova and pulsars.  I've got to find more free time Undecided
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 6, 2012 - 9:00am
Its hard to find a disaster that functions on a galactic scale that is believable. Super novas impact areas slightly larger than the Frontier but again its not instantaneous, shock wave must travel it will take years to reach other systems. Whether systems in the path will have adequet warning or not is up for grabs. I would suggest that when the laws of physics are not cooperating with you that you change them. For example if you used a "subspace phase inducement disruption" you could have multiple planets destroyed and no one can say differently because you're the authority on what that gobble-gook is and you can make it do what you need it to do for your story.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

BorgLegend's picture
BorgLegend
April 6, 2012 - 8:35am

I'll do that!

"Hello, Traaz.  I see you forgot my credits.  You have 24 hours to live.  Say goodbye to your family, tell off your boss, do what you want.  Just kidding.  Did you really think I would let you do that?  Goodbye, Mr.Traaz." -Uknown


jedion357's picture
jedion357
April 6, 2012 - 9:21am
The convention in sci-fi is that if something is impossible or unbelievable but you need it for the story, game, TV show you give a name to the technology; Warp Drive, artificial gravity, phasers, etc and simply state that it works. In most cases its best that you don't even try to explain how it works. Like light sabers? How do they work? Don't know but everyone thinks their cool. If you can give a plausible explanation or hint at a plausible explanation that's good too, take sonic swords 30 years ago I thought they sounded like a plausible alternative to the light saber but today I don't they'd be possible though there is just enough plausibility there I don't question it too much as power swords are sort of staple for science fantasy and lets face it melee combat is so much more fun in game with a sonic sword then with a machete. You just have to be careful how much new tech you ask the audience to suspend their disbelief for. Star frontiers was cool because other then FTL travel almost everything seemed plausible more or less and we really want to believe FTL travel is possible, that some day we will be able to travel to strange new worlds and meet new civilizations. We all realize that sci-fi shows are filmed within earth's gravity well so we willingly suspend disbelief concerning artificial gravity. Few people gripe over these two techs but introduce too much and you'll get blasted for writing science fantasy which is OK if that's the genre you intended to write in.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

BorgLegend's picture
BorgLegend
April 6, 2012 - 9:23am
Okay, I finished the story, I'm gonna try and submit it.  I fixed the mistakes, replaced sloar storm with gamma ray, and wrapped up the beginning.

"Hello, Traaz.  I see you forgot my credits.  You have 24 hours to live.  Say goodbye to your family, tell off your boss, do what you want.  Just kidding.  Did you really think I would let you do that?  Goodbye, Mr.Traaz." -Uknown


TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
April 6, 2012 - 10:11am
If you want, there is a Frontier Fiction project here on the site.  You could join that project and then could post the story there in the Documents section.  Then you could add chapters or other stories as you wanted to.

Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

BorgLegend's picture
BorgLegend
April 6, 2012 - 11:22am

I posted it!  The name of the series is "The End."

"Hello, Traaz.  I see you forgot my credits.  You have 24 hours to live.  Say goodbye to your family, tell off your boss, do what you want.  Just kidding.  Did you really think I would let you do that?  Goodbye, Mr.Traaz." -Uknown


AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
April 6, 2012 - 5:04pm
BorgLegend wrote:
Meteorites!  If they could (theoretically) wipe out the dinosaurs with changing the climate and smacking up the planet, then they could wipe out the frontier, and maybe leave a few survivors!  I just need to figure out how so many meteorites could hit all those planets...


A supernova would be a great appocolyptic event that could effect several solar systems and in a perfect storm trigger additional supernovas that caused further destruction. Say a blue giant for example goes Nova. the surrounging systems would definitely be effected and in the SF universe the frontier systems are pretty close togehter.

I was also doing some research on galaxies and ran into this article about galaxies physically colliding with each other and merging. There was a term for this event but I cannot remember it now but I am sure you could google it and find the info. Two galaxies colliding with each other would qualify as appocolyptic in anyones book.

Karxan's picture
Karxan
April 7, 2012 - 1:22am
BorgLegend, somewhere in here W00t posted a link to somethings about making memorable character. I can't remember the link right now, but I will look for it. I have tried writing a few short stories and did not get far. My daughter though is writing a fantasy story with a friend. One thing I believe that will help you is to find someone to bounce your ideas off of. Whether here in the forums or a friend at home. I actually have had a few conversations around the dinner table with my daughter so she could bounce ideas with me. I enjoy it. So find someone close who gets you and use them to test your ideas on. Just my 2 cents. And as Rollo said have fun.

Karxan's picture
Karxan
April 7, 2012 - 1:24am
BorgLegend, somewhere in here W00t posted a link to somethings about making memorable character. I can't remember the link right now, but I will look for it. I have tried writing a few short stories and did not get far. My daughter though is writing a fantasy story with a friend. One thing I believe that will help you is to find someone to bounce your ideas off of. Whether here in the forums or a friend at home. I actually have had a few conversations around the dinner table with my daughter so she could bounce ideas with me. I enjoy it. So find someone close who gets you and use them to test your ideas on. Just my 2 cents. And as Rollo said have fun.

Karxan's picture
Karxan
April 7, 2012 - 1:39am
Sorry about the double post. I found the link I mentioned. http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/6387. I followed the link and printed it for myself and my daughter. Lots of good ides in it.

iggy's picture
iggy
April 7, 2012 - 4:01pm
@BorgLegend, @TerlObar, I really like using a galactic core gamma ray burst.  As an engineer I could buy in to that without questioning it.  I'd be interested in a little two sentence explanation from a scientist in a rescue party or such.

Concerning thinking and acting like an alien, that is a good skill to gain for science fiction writing.  Go pick up Nor Crystal Tears by Alan Dean Foster.  The book is written from an alien's point of view as he meets a human for the first time.

Keep writing.  My younger brother has written a few books, not published yet, but he keeps at it.  Several authors have told him that he should expect to burn a million words before he gets a good book written.  On the business side, publishers are looking for authors who have many books to offer.  They want to be able to sell on the authors name.  They want to have books that inspire the readers to buy another book by the same author.  As such some authors don't get published until they have submitted enough work that the publisher thinks of them as a good risk with a ready reserve of material for follow up books.
-iggy