• Writing

    Star Trek Sunday: Voyages, Volume 1

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    I first had the idea to write a few Star Trek stories of my own a year or so before the 50th anniversary of the first TOS airing. Life intervened, of course, as did other interests and responsibilities, and by the time I managed to get the first draft of the last of the seven initial stories, it was only about two weeks until that anniversary and it seemed like there wasn’t a lot of stress to get them ready for anything. Editing the stories was done in brief spurts across the next couple of years.

    In the meantime, I’d also drafted a novel-length story, Fractured Unity, and did most of the editing for both that and the shorter stories in one stretch of time, during which I also converted A Matter of Honour from audio drama script form into a rough novel-length story.

    A second batch of stories followed that second novel. There are only four in that batch, but two of them peak into novelette territory and the other two push deep into novella (short novel) length. I’m just starting to edit the first of those.

    And I have a third group of stories planned, with the germs of ideas, moving back to shorter lengths again, generally in the 5-10k word count range, depending on how much the characters make me explore.

    After that, we’ll see.

    But I guess that means there will be at least three volumes in the Star Trek: Voyages group of collections for me.

    And the first one is available for download right now. If you’d rather, they can all be downloaded individually on this page or you can read them on Wattpad. This file is if you’d rather have them all in one spot. It’s a shorter collection in terms of overall wordcount, but still gives you more than 66k words of reading across the seven stories. The next volume will probably wind up being a little longer and since I haven’t even started writing the third batch of stories yet, it’s hard for me to guess at the overall length there.

    The usual caveat when playing in someone else’s universe without explicit permission or direction: the stories in this volume are works of fan fiction taking place in the Star Trek prime universe, ranging between late in the Original Series timeline and just before the beginning of The Motion Picture. All of these stories are freely available to download or read on Wattpad. The rights to Star Trek and all associated names and characters are held by CBS-Paramount and no infringement is intended.”

    Live long and prosper.

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  • Life

    What if the Multi-Verse Really is a Thing?

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    As the days continue on through the strange, quiet wasteland that our society is trying not to slide towards, my mind takes weird twists and turns here and there.

    This afternoon, I found myself contemplating multiverse theory and the idea that somewhere, in some other universe, there was a version of me who never made the move to gaming in the first place but found yet another retail chain to climb.

    In some other universe, there’s a version of me who, a couple of years after we moved here and things were looking difficult, took that job offer in Toronto and actually decided to convince my wife that we should move back to the city. And another version of me who did that and was successful at both.

    And a version of me who was paying just a little closer attention and realized that he wasn’t going to get around the corner on his bike before the car decided to accelerate through the intersection.

    And one who left the retail book industry before the deep cuts began after the take over.

    And one who actually learned to study in university.

    And one who picked the right major that made him want to learn to study.

    And one who didn’t have toast for breakfast this morning.

    That last one might be the weirdest of them all. I mean, no toast? What’s that about? Seriously.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Writing

    Writing in Multiple Directions

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    While I’m getting ducks in a row, I’m still trying to get lots of creative work done, too. There are plenty of goals to be attained, but I’m putting in work on a couple of things that aren’t part of the normal daily goals at the moment.

    First, I’ve been thinking about the idea that it’s possible for a very small number of people to produce an animated movie with current technology. Realistically, you need a script writer, an animator, a sound effects person, and voice talent adequate and numerous enough for the task. Draugr Rising is a novel with, if I’ve counted correctly, nine characters. It’s an adventure fantasy story borrowing a bit from Norse mythology, and taking place in present-day Toronto. I’m not saying it’s going to become an animated movie, but it seems like an easy choice for an experiment if I wanted to go with a story I already have the novel of. First step is conversion to a screenplay format and then editing that into what would be a reasonably paced movie. Then, maybe, I can think about what it would take to get there.

    Second, I’ve looped back around to the Star Trek fan fiction and started the revision notes phase of the second batch of shorter stories. Shorter than novel-length, anyway. Two of them are deep into novella territory, more often called a short novel these days, though I still often think of a short novel as under 60k when the SFWA definition that most genre folks refer back to says a novel starts at 40k. It wasn’t always that way and as we push forward into the new golden age of virtual pulp and short fiction, it probably won’t stay that way. Changes are already in the wind.

    At any rate, I’ve dived back into Pride of Andor, the tentative title for a story that will wind up being in the 26-29k range once it’s fully polished. The primary protagonist is a character of my own who used to serve on the titular ship but I’ve been using as Security Chief on the Enterprise for a while.

    And, of course, I’m still pushing forward hard on the regular editing. I just finished the last second draft in the Troll World Series and I’ll let those rest for a couple of weeks while I do the finals for the Warforge: Caledonia triad.

    And I’m planning a significant non-fiction project, too, but the shape of that depends a lot on the new life path I keep not talking about. Soon.

    In the meantime, stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Martial Arts,  Reading

    Reading Formats and Martial Arts Books

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    When it comes to fiction, I’ll generally consume it in whatever medium is convenient: traditional paper, ebook, audio, hypertext. It’s all good, it’s all valid, it’s all fun.

    But when it comes to non-fiction, and especially to my martial arts reading, I have a vast preference for paper, which isn’t to say I don’t do a lot of reading online, but when it comes to heavier or longer stuff, I’d really rather hold it in my hand or put it on the table or desk in front of me.

    Because I highlight stuff, make notes, mark stuff for additional research, and circle or underline things for emphasis so things jump out at me when I pick up the book again or decide to make my own notes from it. I’m studying this, not just reading it. It’s more involved and it takes longer.

    So I won’t, usually, buy an ebook of a martial arts text even if it’s vastly cheaper or otherwise out of print. I’ll wait until I find a used copy, someone mentions they have one I can borrow, or it comes back into print. Whenever my supply of marital arts reading gets low, I’ll look at the first eight or ten books on my ‘to read’ list that I don’t have, check prices and availability, move the OOP stuff out of the next 10, check on the OOP titles that are really appealing in the moment, and order a book or two to carry me through for a while.

    I’m within spitting distance (what a weird expression) of finishing my current book and down to only one left to read after that, so I went through the list a few days ago to complete the ritual. A book I’ve wanted for a long time that I can’t remember the last time I saw as available when I checked was listed as in stock and at a price tag that surprised me a bit. Into the cart it went, arriving this afternoon in the mail.

    If you’re interested, the book is Fortress Storming by John Burke and is supposed to be as detailed a breakdown and analysis as has ever been done in book form on one of my favourite kata, Bassai Dai.

    It may have moved to the top of the reading pile. Mostly because I’ve been waiting for it for so long, but maybe just a little bit because of the last sentence in the warning in the front of the book, something I haven’t ever come across before in a technical martial arts manual, though I’m sure I just haven’t picked up the right book before now. “Everyone should be aware of the Law and how it pertains to ‘Use of Reasonable Force’.”

    My interpretation of that is two-fold. First, the author is being responsible to his audience and reminding us that some of the stuff we practice in martial arts can be very dangerous. Second, he’s telling that audience that he considers at least some of what’s in this book to fall into that category.

    Now, I know there’s some nasty stuff in Bassai Dai, and I know that I’m probably only scratching the surface of what’s there to find, even remembering that I practice two different lineages of this kata. There are a lot of things in the kata that only make a little bit of sense or I haven’t figured out how to look at yet and there are a lot of things hidden in the transitions that I just haven’t seen. That’s the beauty of karate and, I expect almost every martial art: there’s always more to learn.

    And I’m hoping this book will show me more than I know now. I expect it will and there will be pencil marks and highlights to trace the path.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Life

    And So It Begins

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    I have, ultimately, made the decision on the basic path I want to follow for the next few years and, as of this afternoon, I’ve had the first phone and email exchanges to explore whether my preferred option is even possible.

    Yes, I know I said I’d take a little time to breathe. I think I also said that there’s a bit of potential time pressure on one path and, well, that’s the path that will give me the most of what I want, that will let me have a shot at the largest number of my dreams. I’m genuinely excited just by the idea of being able to pursue this path and not a little terrified that it might be possible. To the point on both counts where it’s costing me sleep for the last couple of nights.

    I’m also, I’m sorry, not going to say what it is yet. When I have the ducks lined up, when I have the T’s dotted and the I’s crossed (or something like that), I’ll make a big deal out of it, especially if I can make it onto the path I want right now.

    In the meantime, creative work continues. So does house work and getting stuff off the progress list. Just a little slower while I try to change my life.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Movies

    Star Trek Sunday: The Point of It All

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    When I first thought about writing this post, it was going to be a grand argument about how Star Trek was the expression of a fundamental need in the human spirit, that it explored not just strange new worlds but the very nature of humanity itself. At its best, Star Trek holds up a mirror to humanity and pushes the boundaries of what it means to be human, to remind us that we’re stronger together than apart, that it’s important to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, and that we should always strive to be better than we are.

    But how do I compete with the words of Gene Roddenberry himself?

    I don’t, obviously, because he struck to the heart of things that later blossomed into the philosophy of IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, something that’s become central to what Star Trek is and means, something that should mean we walk through the world with eyes and hearts and minds open.

    But I can certainly thank him for the ball that he started rolling, the piece of culture that’s been with me since before my first concrete memories and will almost certainly be part of my dying hours in some way.

    Live long and prosper, everyone.

    “Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. […] If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.” ― Gene Roddenberry

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  • Life

    I’m a little distracted.

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    As I suggested yesterday, I’ve bene thinking it’s coming close to time to upgrade myself, to find my way to the new version.

    To review: insert “COVID completely shut down my industry” speech here. I fully expected to return to work eventually. Actually, I fully expected to return to work before now. When we left work near the end of March, we were collectively predicting 8-10 weeks. When that much time had passed, with the pandemic not under control yet but trending in my province like it was going to improve and the precautions we were all taking were making a difference, the people I had contact with were now anticipating no later than Labour Day.

    I’m no longer anticipating going back. That wasn’t my decision.

    I do understand it, looking at things from a corporate financial perspective. If the business itself is still unknown and my piece of it isn’t going to open for a while even after the business gets to relaunch, why keep me dangling? It may make a great deal of sense to give me a little severance and hire someone else to do the job in however many months from now they actually need someone.

    Whenever that is. My predictions on things haven’t exactly been hits so far and I look at how the government is moving on regulations, do a little back of the envelope math, and come to the conclusion that it’s going to be a while yet.

    So I’m not angry and I’m not unhappy. Ultimately, I’m not even disappointed. I’m already looking at this as a good thing for me.

    But it does leave a big gap in my world at the moment. There’s this large chapter of my life that’s unexpectedly over and if I’ve been feeling that I might need something of a change in the next few years, the timeframe on that change just leapt ahead into the present.

    Here’s what I know:

    1. I’m suddenly free to choose a new path.
    2. I like being home more and available for my family more.
    3. I have an incredible and supportive family.
    4. I have dreams I want to pursue.
    5. I need my life and activities to have meaning and, ultimately, to help me make some small piece of the world a better place.

    The question then becomes what path and what dreams? I have a little breathing space to consider my options but some of those paths would be better jumped on just due to what time of year it is, so there is time pressure involved, or could be. This is a chance to reboot, reinvent, rebuild, but do I want to stress myself trying to make the decision too quickly? Am I already? It’s not like I haven’t been thinking about things, fleshing out those dreams, for years, so maybe making the decision quickly shouldn’t bother me so much. Maybe I’ve been on the way to making this decision for a decade or so.

    And really, I think things actually come down to only two basic paths, maybe even with a little space for sightseeing and detours, and they both contain a lot of the same stuff, just blended differently.

    Which means, maybe, I’m asking myself a different question.

    Can I have all the dreams?

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Life

    Staring Down the Throat of 50

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    At the end of the year, I’ll turn 50 and I’ve been thinking for a while that it’s probably getting close to time to reinvent myself. While I’ve done some work in that direction during the COVID shutdown, I’m lately feeling like I should get a move on. Time waits for no one and all that. So I started thinking about the things I’d like to accomplish in the coming decades.

    And then I started thinking about what version of myself this will be.

    If I think about it too closely, Lance 1.0 was my childhood and probably all the way into my university days. Small and large upgrades and changes happened here and there as I grew towards becoming my own person.

    Lance 2.0 would have booted up the moment I decided I was finished with higher education for the time being and followed my fiancée (now wife) to a new city to start what would become my retail career.

    Lance 3.0 would likely be the earlier husband and father days, guiding me through the experience of married life and having small children, and lasting until my final departure from retail after more than a decade of successive positions from frontline to manager to support crew.

    Which would make Lance 4.0 the version change when I moved into the Gaming Industry in 2005, growing and learning, adding new skills and experiences. Somewhere in version 4, I got back to Martial Arts, began to take my writing a lot more seriously, and figured out a lot of things about myself and the world. (My kids, I’ll always be figuring out as they’re on their own journeys.) I’ve taken my career farther than I expected to and had a lot more learning experiences along the way than I really could have asked for. I’ve worked with and for a lot of great people, and a much smaller number I’m happy aren’t in my life these days. I feel like I’m version 4.9X right now and we’re due for a major version change.

    Which means the question becomes, what do I want to be when I grow up?

    The natural extension, once that’s answered, turns into, what’s the path I need to follow to get there?

    Or, to stay with the metaphor, what will Lance 5.0 look like and what upgrades are needed to start that version?

    I’m starting with a list of all the things I’ve ever wanted to be in my life, no matter how crazy or out there they might be. The next step will be to figure out which of those appeals to me most, and it may be more than one, to make the next phase of my life as meaningful as I can. Then the basic path. Then all of the steps needed to reach those goals, making sure I let myself sightsee and take detours along the way, because it is at least as much about the journey as the destination, and the destination may only be another sign post along the journey. In fact, it probably is. There will always be more things I want to do and see and try.

    <flexes brain muscles> Let’s see what comes next.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Life,  Philosophy

    I’m taking a break from social media.

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    A personal break, for a week or so at least, maybe longer.

    I’ll continue to post and interact on an author level on my FB page and a little on Twitter and Instagram, and there are a couple of closed groups for martial arts that will stay on the check list, but beyond the take the birthday reminders that Facebook gives me, I’ve had enough personal social media for a while. I’m good for now, thanks.

    Why, you ask?

    I suppose there are lots of reasons, but as time goes on during this pandemic and the altered reality we’re getting from it, I’m coming up with four trends I dislike in my personal experience.

    1. The Trolls. People posting crap or delivering deliberately inflammatory comments to see what kind of reaction they get or specifically to start fights. This is moving beyond drive-bys on pages to people in my friends list who are trying to entertain themselves. When you point that out, whether by meme or comment, it tends to disappear. When you try to be the voice of reason, the comments don’t disappear but instead you get a target painted on you. Seriously, if all you want is conflict, eventually, I’m going to follow the path of Snooze or even Unfollow, and I’ve lost your voice, probably having decided I didn’t need it that badly.
    2. The Lies and Alternative Truths, some of which real, thinking people actually believe. I don’t care if something agrees with what you already think and I don’t care how sincerely held that belief is. I care if you’re willing to discuss it rationally with the possibility that either one of us might change their opinion due to the actual facts involved. If you’re not entering into a conversation where that’s possible for you, why do you think I want to participate? The right to express what you want doesn’t come with the right to have an audience for it. Could be an Unfollow in the future here, too. It’s tiring.
    3. The advertising. TBH, the algorithms employed to show me things that I might like, suck, especially on Facebook. FB, for example, gives me a range of seven possible reactions now and treat them all as if I Like everything I touch. There’s no reason to show me more things like the ones that made me angry or sad except if it’s somehow better for your platform if you get me riled up. Why is that? So I stay longer? Hmm. How would that benefit you unless it’s to keep me around to look at more advertising. Do you mean, gasp, I’m the product?
    4. I find myself hate-scrolling too much. The feed is infinite and if I’m using it as a time killer, I should be finding other ways to amuse myself, maybe by finding constructive things to do. Instead, I just keep scrolling and hate that I’m doing it. Especially since, sooner or later, it’s going to drag me into an emotional reaction over something in points 1, 2, and/or 3 that I really didn’t need. Looking around at the world, I have enough things to be angry about in the real world. Why do I need more from my social media?

    In the society we’re currently living in, in-person socialization is a lot harder than it was. That’s not going away for a while yet. Virtual is how we round things out, but it’s not working for me right now. I doubt I’m the only one.

    Social media has so much power and potential. Why are we wasting so much of it? I feel like I’m helping waste it, so I need a break.

    In a moment of delicious irony, I’ll be cross-posting this to my personal account before I Felicia my way off screen. If you’re seeing this from there and have any interest in what my creative endeavors are bringing me to lately, give my author page a like or follow me on Twitter. Everything I write about appears there fairly quickly, and I think I’m pretty responsive (well, not as much on Twitter). Instagram is more life and pets. Some of the stuff that I write about isn’t directly about my creative work—politics, life, pets, opinions—and things get more nuanced, like this tiny essay which posted by itself on social media would have gotten boiled down to something like: “Personal social media is bad for me right now and I think I need a break.” Not wrong, but hardly a real picture of what I’m thinking.

    In the meantime, I’ll get some time back, assist my mental health and stress level a little more, and keep reconnecting with meat-space.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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  • Life,  Philosophy

    The Ten Commitments

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    I’m fairly open about my lack of religious beliefs and have been for a while. I’m not afraid to use the word Atheist because, when you come down to it, all that means is a lack of belief in a god or gods. I’m in a place and a stage in life that I don’t need to be afraid of the label.

    I’ve also generally preferred to be identified by what I do believe rather than what I don’t, which is why I’m not afraid of the Humanist label. I actually kind of like it. In short, humanism is an outlook attaching primary importance to human matters (and by extension nature) rather than divine ones. Freely translated: the problems that plague human beings and humankind need to be dealt with by humans. We need to look to ourselves for solutions and work to make them happen.

    Seems simple enough, but the openly-professed non-religious are still very much in the minority. A big minority that no one has figured out to cater to yet when looking at politics, but a minority nonetheless.

    There are a lot of humanist organizations around the world, large and small, and frequently someone comes up with the idea of mimicking something from a religion, usually Christianity, to attract some attention. This normally works as well as you’d expect, as well as the same tactic works in the opposite direction, but every so often, something clicks.

    At just about this time last year, the American Humanist Association Center for Education released the idea of The Ten Commitments. The content of that clicked for me.

    Now, before you roll your eyes too hard, maybe we should look at what they are:

    1. Critical Thinking
    2. Ethical Development
    3. Peace and Social Justice
    4. Service and Participation
    5. Empathy
    6. Humility
    7. Environmentalism
    8. Global Awareness
    9. Responsibility
    10. Altruism

    Not a lot of “thall shalt not” involved. Not any, really. These are more qualities or traits than they are commands, or even guidelines. Things we cultivate, things we aspire to, things we wish to be.

    So while the label is a little cheesy, the list is a set of traits I agree with, things I’m working on building up higher in myself. There are other things, but this is a good list. For me, an 11th commitment might be kindness. There are a lot of things in the world that upset me these days, and it’s a struggle to meet some of them on an even keel. Most people, maybe even all people, deserve kindness. Some of them make it hard, but that makes the attempt even more important.

    Anything you’d like to add?

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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