Saturday, February 18, 2006

my new blog is www.readersden.ca

Today marks the end of The Twisted Mind Emporium, but the beginning of Reader’s Den, my new blog home.

I think everything is set up over there - at least for now.

So, without much of a ramble, please come join me over at the new blog where I will be joined by Carol Anne, another writer and fellow book lover.

New Blog = Reader’s Den

Friday, February 17, 2006

would the real second last post please stand up

No fooling this time. This, these very words you see before you, mark the "real" second last post ever for The Twisted Mind Emporium.

Holy crap - writing that almost had my tear ducts acting up. Guess this little ol blog has gotten under my skin. However, I’ll be a man, and face the music. As long as the music is from Kate Bush, I have nothing to fear. Britney Spears - that’s another story. *Shudder*

So, in actuality, the new site is live today and functional (I just checked, very exciting). I’m holding off one more day to make sure the RSS feed is laid in correctly so your Feedreader has something to sink its teeth into, my right column is configured the way I like it (so as not to confuse people) and the auto-pinging feature is set up so I don’t have to do it manually like I have been all along here.

There is a story behind the site switch don’t’ you know. And yes, I have to share it, cause I like to write stories - even true ones.

It all started about three years ago. I was minding my own business, lurking on a website devoted to a certain Buffy actress. I decided to post on the forum since the people there seemed normal and were having fun. I posted crazy, though not offensive, stuff. Little did I know the father of the actress also lurked at that same site and joined the forum not too long after I started posting

Anyhow, I made many posts, amused many people (I hope) and then one day the pressure of performing on a regular basis became too time consuming, or so I though. So, in dramatic fashion, I produced a grand farewell post (number 1000) and thought I had really called it quits.

The outpouring of rage and sadness from my new cyber-friends at the site was truly touching and I got all choked up, much like I’m getting thinking of exiting this site for good. So, the actress’s dad send me a personal email asking that we stay in touch. We exchanged our actual emails, eventually talked on the phone and over the past years have become quite good friends.

Now I do not suggest in any way meeting people through the internet. It is just not the best place to do anything of this sort. It was a chance both of us were taking, and thankfully it worked out very well. But if either of us had been a psycho, well different story, one likely to make the headlines of some trashy paper.

I did go back and post on the forum where I am still an active member today. But that is not the end of the tale I began. This actress’s father is big into the internet in a business way and got to badgering me to share my talents with the world via cyberspace. After enough prodding I started this place and it has helped me keep writing most days even when I would rather do anything else.

Anyhow, recently, he offered me a golden opportunity to start my very own (actually with another person - no, not the actress) website at a great price and well, bye-bye Twisted Mind Emporium hello —

— Oops, almost gave it away.

Anyhow, enough with the chatter. I’m pretty confident that tomorrow, if you come to call here, you will see the last post and the link to the new site.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go wipe my eyes - I seem to have gotten something in them . . .

Thursday, February 16, 2006

mama never told me

Wow, I had no idea setting up your own website could be so trying or difficult.

I assumed you just register a domain name (check), get a host server (check), upload a copy of Wordpress (check), change the template to what you want and voila - fully functional website.

Boy have I deluded myself but good. And I have a newfound respect for those who have done it.
Still, things are progressing on the new site even though several setbacks have me stymied at the moment. Kind of like walking barefoot across a gym floor strewn with broken glass and razor blades. I’ll get to the other side, but it ain’t going to be fast or pretty.

I’m just very fortunate to have a great friend conversant in all things website geekaneeze to help me out, or I would most likely be tossing in the chips and staying put right here.

But what is the fun in that, eh?

I remember sneaking cigarettes from my grandmother back when I was around twelve years old. Yeah, I was cool. I would take those few stolen Number 7s out of her pack and head to the "rocks" as we called them in the back forty of the small town where I grew up.

I remember getting caught. I remember blubbering like an infant, even though I was a cool dude of twelve - how crushingly humiliating to have your cool dude veneer stripped off to reveal the immature child beneath. My parents, thinking back now, were not really snarly, angry mad at me, but rather disappointed at my behavior, especially the stealing - My attitude changed, let me tell you, after that life altering incident.

I guess the point my muse is trying to make is that we go about our lives with these assumptions until something comes along and slaps you up side the head - then reality dawns. I was the cool cigarette smoking dude of twelve - until. And likewise I was the making an internet site is easy dude - until.

What I find interesting though is that in a couple of months, when the new site is smoking along and Oprah wants me on her show - okay skip that part, it will most likely be Springer - I’ll look back on this whole setting-up-a-site-thing and most likely laugh about it.

I mean it is pretty annoying right now as it happens, or rather doesn’t happen. But it will pass, like a kidney stone. Maybe one day I can even sell it on E-Bay . . .

Never underestimate the power of the mind.

It can lead, mislead, impede or succeed - all in the blink of an eye.

Narf.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

new site progress and viruses

Much progress is happening on the new site and things are rapidly shaping up. March 1st as a launch date may be pushed up to this weekend (insert big happy face – yah, too lazy to go find an image right now) if all goes well.

And our family, namely my wife and daughter, are suffering from yet another bloody virus. You see, my little on goes to school. A school I am sure is full of sick virus carrying vessels just itching to share their contagious replicating strains.

I have so far managed to fight off the latest vile invader, but feel sure that it is a losing battle in the long run.

Still, I’m happy about the new site.

Oh, and the domain name is -

- registered now and (I know, bad fake-out) and should be up and running this very day.

Well, more content to massage, more viruses to fend off.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

temptations and chairlifts

I am so tempted to link the URL for the “new” site so you can get a sneak preview of the replacement for this site.

But I just know the new site is going to go through about twenty more versions before it launches, so I must refrain from doing so.

I’m really working hard at making it a GO by March 1st and trying my best to make it as cool as I can.

So, for the record, call March 1st the official launch date if you will.

Not sure what or how much I’m going to post on this place until then (creating the new site is taking a fair toll on my time), but will try to maintain some content until next month . . .

. . . which reminds me of skiing yesterday with the little ones. It was our first time going on the chair lift and the kids had a ball.

Some already had been up with their parents, but my little one a few others had not. The wind was cold as we swayed in the chair twenty feet above the run below us. Very cool experience for my little girl as I watched it all through her eyes.

She was so excited, like the first time she went on a Ferris Wheel. Oh to be that young again - Great stuff.

I am so happy I decided to volunteer for this.

I’m even getting my old ski legs back a bit.

Well, back to the new site creation.

Monday, February 13, 2006

not quite dead yet

Well I certainly had high hopes of switching sites today – but it is not to be.

Looks like it will take me another week or two to sort out all the details and create a site which I’m happy with as far as looks, layout and content and long term potential.

And I’m finding Wordpress a bit more of a learning curve than I had thought it would be. Still, I want to be posting at the new location by the beginning of March or sooner even if I haven’t mastered the new software yet.

It should be fun to watch me struggle for a month or six at the beginning. But one thing I really like about Wordpress is how flexible it is, even on the fly. You can change just about any aspect of the layout easily without touching any of the content.

And - the most exciting part of this move to the new site is that my lovely assistant will be joining with me on this project.

How frakin cool is that?

Use this answer and repeat after me - Way cool!

So The Twisted Mind Emporium will live a while longer and bring you the quality entertainment you have come to expect, love and bookmark. Oh, and you are getting sleepy . . .

Anyhow, I’m not going to give away URL info or site name or anything like that yet for the new digs, but the day of the switch is coming.

Now I’m off to a ton of Wordpress sites to learn some more of the ropes and check out a couple hundred dozen themes or so.

Stay tuned – um, you know, if you want to.

I’ll be back.

Friday, February 10, 2006

second last post ever

Fighting viruses is not fun and even though I did the day job and carried on as though all was normal, I have felt internally "wrong" for a few days.

Today my gastrointestinal disorder feels a little better, and so, I post again - and quite possibly for the second-last-time-ever here at The Twisted Mind Emporium.

Let me explain.

Through a fortuitous turn of events (and a very generous friend whom I am not sure how I will ever repay for his continued kindness) I have been offered a limited time offer of my very own unique URL to call home and WordPress to run it with.

So, it will be bye bye EBlogger. This comes at a time when I feel I have mastered its nuances. I will be plunging directly into WordPress. I assume it will be like a dive into the shallow end of the pool - with the pool drained for cleaning. We (if you follow) and I will see how it goes.

This move fills me with elation, trepidation and expectation. Top that off with sorrow at abandoning this site, and you get the idea.

This site will remain in perpetuity, of course, until Google (the owner) decides to snuff it.

I had toyed with the idea of keeping both sites rolling - but quickly derailed that train of thought. My first duty is to my "core" writing and if I try to maintain two blogs as well - you can see the "burning up and crashing down", can’t you?

So . . .

. . . my next post should be directing you to the new digs. I have yet to decide on the new sites name. It will most likely have more to do with writing (mine) and less to do with Twisted things, like dried earthworms on the sidewalk in spring . . .

So . . .

. . . come Monday (if stuff happens, or later if stuff doesn’t) I should be able to post up the redirect.

Now I’ll away to go create the next best thing to this site - Its bastard offspring.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Science Fiction Book Review: The Einstein Intersection

The Einstein Intersection
Yup, an oldy - but a goodie? It did win the Nebula, but that was back in the drug crazed sixties, man . . .

This book by Samuel R. Delany is certainly different than your run-of-the-mill science fiction.

It reminded me of a cross between A Canticle for Leibowitz, Chronicles of Amber and Robert Graves Greek Myths Part 1.

It has the flavor of being written in the psychodelic sixties, and even though I haven’t read a lot of Dick, I have a feeling this novel shares the same odd perspectives and mind twisting . . .

Twisting um, something. Maybe you need to be on drugs to fully appreciate it.

You see, this book is all about aliens who come to a dead earth and genetically take on our forms and those of mythical creatures. It is the story of Orpheus all over again under the skin and a quest for a lost lover above the skin.

And you can probably tell I’m having a rough time describing it properly, but it is a rather unique novel. Something else it reminds me of is "The Book Of The New Sun" by Gene Wolfe loaded with odd references I probably missed. I did know who Elvis is though, king of the great rock and the great roll.

Did I enjoy it? Mostly, but the references to Jean Harlow escaped me somewhat. A neat juxtaposition of ideas and cultures and pop icons all rolled up into a strange Orpheus quest gone weird.

It’s not long at 147 pages so won’t take up much of your time. But you may be left scratching your head at the end of it wondering what exactly just went on.

I will leave the "should I read it" decision up to you.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My ST:TNG Novel Drone - Chapter One

Well here it is. Not exactly Wednesday morning, but close enough.

Actually every other week I will be posting another chapter of this, my first and only Star Trek The Next Generation novel. It consists of 13 chapters and is not quite up to the proper length of a published Pocket Books Star Trek novel.

It is entitled Drone and takes place several months after Picard has been changed back from being a Borg (Into season 4 of the show). (And no, not the tennis star, the cybernetic ass kicking menace in the Next Generation universe.)

No I don't have Paramounts or Pocket Books authority to post this. But I am not making any money from it either. Oh, and if you are from Pocket Books you could always sling a contract my way and I would be happy to make it the proper length and do the rewrites. Your call.

Well without further rambling, here it is.


Drone: Chapter One
by Paul Darcy

Holodeck three was filled with children’s whoops and screams accompanied by the sounds of running feet and panting breaths. The occasional passers-by on deck fourteen could hear the uproar through the almost soundproof holodeck doors. Another children’s soccer match was on between decks, and the squeals and enthusiasm of youth saturated the artificial environment. Intermittent shouts accentuated the smack of a white ball as it was kicked between players of the same team in the hopes of setting up a play which would lead to a goal against the opposing side.

Julie-Anne Lasalle smiled when she completed a good pass forward to one of here team members who took it, ran it past two defense players and made a shot that sailed just wide of the goal. These Thursday afternoon games between the young people of different decks were enjoyed by everybody. Julie-Anne's team - Warp Seven for deck seven - was in second place this year and competing today against Warp Three to retain that standing. She was one of the oldest players at age ten while others were as young as six. Being a non-contact sport allowed this range in ages because size did not matter nearly as much as speed and skill. Some of the youngest players were considered the best while some of the older players, like Julie Anne, were not very adept. Julie Anne didn’t mind. It was all for fun anyway and she knew her real talents lay in robotics and micro-servo technology. It was a bit of a strange field to be fascinated with at age ten, but it was Julie-Anne's greatest joy and she spent almost all of her free time pursuing it.

Commander Data was one of her greatest fascinations. He was a live sentient android, and she would purposefully wait in the certain corridors hoping he would by just so she could see him, and on the extremely rare occasion when he was not too much in a hurry or too busy, say hello to him. He would always politely respond back though they had never talked at length about anything. He was a marvel and she had hopes of one day being able to duplicate Noonian Soong's greatest work. But until that day she had a great deal to learn about positronic brains and advanced cybernetics. Even though she was only ten, Julie Anne felt she had already made great strides in understanding Soong’s theories and had already put most of them into practice, if not always successfully. Her latest project was proof that she was moving in the right direction with her application of studies.

Julie-Anne's mind broke from her thoughts as the whistle signaling the end of the game blew. They had lost today by one goal, but would still retain their standing in second place. Being the last two teams to play today the simulation ended and the playing field dissolved into the reality of the cubic holodeck room traced out in yellow gridlines. It was always a bit disconcerting to Julie-Anne when reality, or rather the holodeck simulation of reality, faded before her eyes.

Saying goodbye to her teammates, Julie-Anne headed in the opposite direction from everybody else. Every Thursday after the game when all the other children headed back to the saucer section’s main living quarters, she would take a walk down the corridors she thought she may find Data in before returning to her family's quarters. Although she encountered several officers who smiled kindly at her she saw no sign of Data on her roundabout walk and after twenty minutes arrived at her own door. She stepped up to it and it automatically swished open. Inside she met her parents who were getting ready to go out for the evening to a medical social event, her father being on the medical staff.

"How was the game dear?" Her mother asked fastening a necklace around her neck while her dad adjusted his shirt before the mirror.

"It was fine. We lost, but are still in second place for now." Julie-Anne tugged off her shirt and was about to throw it over a chair when she was stopped by the voice of her father. "Julie, what did we tell you about leaving your clothes lying around? Please go put your clothes away in their proper locations and remember to clean up your room tonight." Julie-Anne groaned at this. She was tired from working on her secret project all week and didn't feel like doing anything, especially tidying. Well, she felt confident that now her secret project could take care of her father's request anyway. "And Julie-Anne," her father began again, "I will be in to check and make sure you did clean up later, so don't think I won't." He gave her a stern look though his words were rather gentle and she retreated to her room.

"We are going now dear, so be good and do what your father told you. We'll be back in a few hours." The sound of the doors opening and closing signaled here parents departure. She removed the rest of her clothes and threw them on the floor to join many other articles of clothing and had a quick shower.

Julie-Anne dressed slowly, the game had really taken a lot of her energy today. Once fully clothed she sat down at her desk and opened the big bottom left drawer where her secret project was located. On a pile of haphazardly thrown computer chips, wires and mechanical pieces sat Apur, her secret project. Apur actually stood for Automatic Pick Up Robot and Julie-Anne was proud to have designed and built him all by herself. It looked like a small anti-grav unit with a few outward sensors and two delicate manipulator arms sticking out from it's cylindrical body. Actually, Julie-Anne thought, that is what it was but the latest programming of its central processor made it a him, almost sentient. At least she thought of him that way now.

She lifted Apur from the drawer and placed him on the desk. "Apur, I have a job for you." Julie-Ann had programmed those words to activate Apur and he immediately came alive with a light humming noise as his anti-grav unit, sensors and central processor powered up. Apur whirred slightly and rose from the desk, flexed it's manipulators as though stretching and spoke, "Julie-Anne, how are you?"

"I'm fine Apur, how are you?" Julie-Anne was excited despite being very tired.

The little robot, after an appropriate delay answered, "All of my functions are operating within normal parameters." Julie-Anne had used Data as a model for Apur's responses. Apur was, after all, almost a sentient android.

"Apur, I would like you to tidy up, placing everything where it should go. Oh, and don't be seen by anybody but me." Julie-Anne was keeping Apur a secret for now, then she would surprise her parents and teacher once Apur was perfected.

"Acknowledged, Julie-Anne. I will endeavor to fulfil your assignment to the best of my abilities. I hope you will be pleased." Apur's last statement startled Julie-Anne. She had not programmed him to say that. Her latest sub-routines must be starting to work, the ones which would enable Apur to think and learn for himself. She was very happy about that.

Julie-Anne made herself comfortable on her bed and watched as Apur floated about the room gathering her clothes and placing them in drawers or the laundry dispenser if they were dirty. The last thing she remembered before falling asleep was Apur humming softly carrying her Warp Seven team sweater to the laundry.

Apur worked steadily for an hour until all of Julie-Anne's room was tidy. No more clothes lay about, all drawers were closed and the few dishes left about were cycled back into the replicator. Apur hovered for a moment as if deciding what to do. Then suddenly Apur flew toward the door which swished open before it and entered the family room. After organizing a few loose items into places it determined they should go it moved toward the hall door which swished open when it sensed Apur. With the door open Apur did a quick sensor sweep and finding no life forms in the near vicinity flew quickly out the door and down the hall.

***

Ensign Roche, in some pain, held out his left hand to Doctor Crusher, his index finger twisted into a position it was never meant to be in. Dr. Crusher applied a hypospray to the ensign's neck, and his discomfort lessened. "How did you say this happened again?" Beverley asked, standing next to the biobed Roche was sitting on. She set down the hypospray and picked up the sonic bone welder she had retrieved from sickbay storage when the ensign had first come in.

Ensign Roche flushed. He hadn't given the cause of the accident and was embarrassed at having to explain it to the doctor. "I was wrestling an orc when I got my finger stuck in a link of chainmail. When I managed to throw the orc from the precipice, this happened." He displayed his broken finger once more. "I sometimes forget how real those holodeck simulations can be."

"Wrestling an, orc? Oh, never mind. Hold out your hand like this please." The doctor held her free hand up, fingers extended. "Now hold your finger straight with your other hand. That's it. Hold still." Ensign Roche complied as Crusher held his wrist firmly and began passing the head of the sonic welder over the fracture. Beverley worked the welder with a practiced hand, then abruptly stopped. "That's odd," she said quietly to herself but loudly enough so that Roche had overheard as well.

"What is it doctor?" Roche couldn't believe there might be a complication in so straight forward a fracture.

"Oh, I'm sorry. It's just that the welder isn't supposed to do this." Beverley examined the skin of the ensign's broken finger which had turned red as though burned. Roche looked also. His finger was straight and appeared to be whole except for the redness. "Isn't it supposed to do that?" Roche wasn't sure why the doctor was concerned.

"No, not at all." Beverley took up a medical tricorder and scanned the finger. "The skin was definitely burned and the fracture is only partially mended." Crusher snapped the tricorder shut and called for LaSalle who was on duty and in the next room. In a moment he came in. "Yes, doctor. You need me for something?"

"Yes, could you get me another sonic bone welder, this one appears to be malfunctioning."

"Right away." LaSalle moved quickly from the room and returned a half a minute later with another sonic welder. He handed it to the doctor. "I gave this one a quick diagnostic, it checks out okay. Shall I take the other one and run some tests?"

"Yes do, and let me know what you find out." Beverley turned her attention back to Roche. "Okay, let's try this again." Roche held out his hand once more. A few passes with the sonic welder and the bone was completely mended with no more burning of the skin evident. This unit had worked perfectly. "Your finger is fine now, except for the slight burn but that should heal naturally in a few days with no complications. Take it easy on those orcs for a while." Beverley gave her patented smile and Roche hopped off the bed still feeling a bit silly for the accident but a whole lot better.

"Thanks, doctor." And with that Roche left sickbay.

The doctor gathered up her instruments and went into the next room to find LaSalle. He was standing at a computer terminal looking at the results from the tests of the suspect sonic welder. Beverley came up beside him.

"Did you find anything wrong?" Beverley asked.

LaSalle pointed to a readout. "As you can see the unit is functioning perfectly. However, it is calibrated for direct bone contact for use during an operation."

"Of course, the unit would start knitting the first substance its waves came into contact with and by doing so it burned Roche's skin. I wonder how this unit got into the wrong place?" The doctor began to reason out how this welder could have been mislaid from the operating room.

"Well, accidents can happen. At least it was nothing serious." LaSalle added.

"This time." Interjected Crusher. "We had better run checks on all the other units before we use them again. I'm supposed to be healing people in here not causing injuries."

"Right away, doctor." He and Beverley went to the storage cabinets and began removing the instruments for testing.

***

Riker had been spending a lot of time in command of the Enterprise lately. He was on the bridge again standing in for the captain while he was in his ready room. Riker knew the captain's recent abduction by the Borg had taken a lot out of him even though he stoically tried not to show it. The fact that he had spent more time than normal off the bridge since the incident was all the proof Riker needed to indicate that the captain wasn't yet fully recovered. The captain's visit to earth had done much to regain him to his old self, but he would only be completely healed in time, if ever.

Riker rose from the command chair. He knew just where everybody was located on the bridge without having to look. Worf would be behind him scanning the readouts intently, Troi sat to his left and Data, unflappable as always, sat at ops with Ensign DeLong beside him at the helm maintaining their course and heading. Riker fought off a yawn thinking this would be another routine, extra shift. Riker began to think about the captain again then forced his mind onto the current mission. "Mr Data, how long before we reach Starbase 126?"

With precise movements Data's fingers played over the ops console. After the briefest of pauses he pushed the ops console forward and pivoted in his chair to face Riker. "At our current velocity of warp five we should reach Starbase 126 in two days, sixteen hours, sir." Data decided to skip the minutes and seconds. He had long since realized that humans preferred estimates unless absolute accuracy was required. Data had assessed that at this time complete accuracy was not necessary. He was correct judging by the absent expression on Riker's face.

"Thank you, Mr. Data." Riker turned around and headed back toward the command chair. Data swivelled back into his former position and regarded his panel once again since it was obvious Riker did not want to converse further. To distract himself Riker began to think about a recent Holodeck program he was setting up. Now that Wesley was off to the academy, Riker had a little more spare time to himself in which to pursue other interests.

Riker tried to get as comfortable as he could in the command chair and his thoughts drifted again. He was thinking about Wesley and what mischief he would be getting into at the academy when Worf's stentorian voice snapped him out of his reverie. "Commander, a urgent communication from Starfleet command, priority one!" Riker gave Deanna a slight grin as if to say, finally something to do. He touched his com badge setting off the familiar chirp, "Captain?"

"Yes Number One, what is it?" Picard replied crisply over the channel.

"Sir, we have a coded priority one message coming through from Starfleet Command."

"I'll be right there." Almost as soon as Picard finished talking the ready room door swished open and the he strode purposefully onto the bridge. He took in everybody with one glance then assumed a position between Data and Delong. "Mr. Worf, on main viewer please."

"Aye, sir." came Worf's rumbling reply. "Communication coming through, now." Worf touched the appropriate keys and the starfield background displayed on the main viewer was immediately replaced by the visage of a Starfleet admiral. The admiral's hands were clasped tightly in front of him on the desk. His thick grey hair barely concealing the creases of concern showing on his brow.

Picard's expression turned to one of recognition, "Admiral Rhoulin, it has been a long time. What could be so urgent to take you away from the institute and the research you were doing. The last I had heard you and your team were close to a breakthrough in the Bendethli treaty strategies." Picard waited patiently for the admiral's reply.

"Something has come up which needs all our immediate attention. I have been temporarily reassigned. To cut it short Jean-Luc, your orders are to proceed to these coordinates immediately." The admiral touched a keypad on his desk in front of him.

"Ensign Delong?" Picard inquired.

"Transmission received, sir. Information will take one moment to decode." After a short pause Delong continued. "I now have the decoded coordinates, captain."

"Then, Mr Delong, will you plot a course for the new coordinates and engage, warp nine." Delong followed his orders and the ship abruptly changed course and increased velocity.

Picard tugged down his uniform and faced the viewer again. "Now tell us admiral, what is going on?" Picard's face began to mirror the admiral's look of concern. The man he knew on the screen was talkative and friendly, at least he was the last time Jean-Luc had seen him at Starfleet several months ago. He must be very agitated to cut any conversation so short. Deanna rose from her seat and joined the captain. Riker also took a step forward and the three of them stood waiting for the admiral to continue.

Admiral Rhoulin swivelled a computer terminal on his desk toward him and touched a couple of buttons. "Some very disturbing news I'm afraid, captain. At O-eight hundred hours yesterday we received a coded message from the ore freighter, Luffton. The freighter was en-route to Tri Seti Six to deposit its cargo when it received a weak sub-space distress call. The distress call originated from the USS Tecton, a geological survey vessel conducting research in the newly formed Altronin asteroid field. The audio and video were heavily garbled from some unknown interference. We have cleaned it up as best we could here and I'm sending it over to you now, encrypted. We here at Starfleet are fairly certain that this distress call is legitimate and of the greatest importance to Starfleet security. You will understand why when you review it." Rhoulin touched a few more buttons on his terminal.

Riker leaned toward the captain as Rhoulin typed in his commands at his terminal. "That's awfully close to the Romulan neutral zone, captain."

Picard nodded his head in agreement and addressed Rhoulin again. "Admiral, are the Romulans involved in any of this?" Picard had had to many encounters with the Romulans to not suspect them of clandestine and provocative activity along the neutral zone. As Worf was always quick to point out and most often correct, this could be some sort of ploy by the Romulans.

"We at Starfleet had thought as much when we first heard of the incident. If this distress call is genuine, and we believe it is since all attempts to contact the Tecton thus far have failed, then we could be in a lot more trouble than dealing with the Romulans." Troi could sense the admiral's worry and concern. The admiral was truly frightened.

After a slight hesitation, Rhoulin continued. "Your mission is to find out what happened to the Tecton and report back to Starfleet Command as soon as you know. If our suspicions are correct, this could be a serious incident which could threaten the entire Federation. I hope we are wrong, but the Tecton's captain reported the approach and attack of another vessel. It was described as cube-shaped. Jean-Luc, we could be dealing with the Borg."

Troi held her breath, sensing the unease with which the captain received this information. Data tilted his head slightly as though suddenly doing twice as many computations in his positronic brain. Riker didn't want to believe the Borg could be back so soon. Star Fleet’s recent engagement at Wolf 359 had severely damaged the fleet, another attack by the Borg now could mean the end of Starfleet and the Federation. Even with the Klingon's help, they just weren't ready to take on the Borg again so soon.

The tension on the bridge grew unbearable and for a few moments the only sounds to be heard were the steady rhythms of the ship.

Picard was the first to speak after a quick inhalation of breath. "Thank you, admiral. We will relay any information to Starfleet as soon as we determine what happened."

"Best of luck. Rhoulin out."

Picard turned to Worf. "Main viewer off, Mr. Worf."

Worf complied, "Aye, sir."

Picard tapped his communicator badge, "All senior staff to the conference room in thirty minutes." He turned to Data, "Mr. Data, review the distress call from the Tecton and prepare a briefing." Data rose smoothly from the chair to be replaced by a waiting relief crewman. The captain pulled once down on his tunic, glanced once at his bridge crew, and strode purposefully toward the turbolift disappearing through the doors before anyone could utter another word.

Deanna and Will exchanged concerned glances. Today would not be routine at all, and suddenly Riker wished that it was.

- End of Chapter One. Tune in Feb 21st for Chapter Two. -

I write the history

Hacan
The universe may be vast but it is seldom uncontested. Even the most remote sector of space holds some value. Something to own, something to die for.

Such was the backdrop this weekend as four of the most powerful galactic powers gathered to prove their supremacy over the others. Only one would rule all. Only one would regain the ancient throne and dictate how the galaxy would be run.

I am Lucern, ruler of the Hacan. We are a proud people and our claws and teeth are sharp. Our prides construct vast armadas of dreadnaughts to lay claim to that which is rightfully ours. Trade should rule the galaxy and we were to make sure that inevitability should come to pass.

Three other lesser races also would contest the throne. The Jol-Nar, and highly technological race but weak in battle. The Yrassil Tribes, what I would call a detestable race of sneaky underhanded thieves and cheats. We would have taken great glory in crushing them under our paws had they provoked us. And lastly the ragtag bandits calling them selves the Mentak Coalition. They are the real scourge of our galaxy a collection of cyber-enhanced humanoids of every race, but they do hold great power and their cruisers, if massed in sufficient numbers, are a terror to behold.

The first couple of years saw each race expanding outward although the Jol-Nar’s closest planets were all but uninhabitable despite their vast technology. We did not weep for them and as their close neighbors proved unfit so they encroached closer to our space.

Early in the second year we made a grave tactical error. We could have stopped, for a little while at least, the buildup of the Yrassil Tribes. Instead we used that power to thwart the Mentak. I would not make such a mistake again and thankfully the error was not an utterly hopeless one.

The first shots were fired between the Mentak and the Yrassil. True to the Mentak’s way they attacked with a large cruiser force and drove off the Yrassil. This, as you can imagine, enraged the Yrassil almost beyond reason and was a boon for us. Despite our disrupting the Yrassil’s diplomatic abilities on more than one occasion no open war broke out between us. We, the mighty traders of the universe did manage to deny then any trade with other races.

It would prove a good choice since the Yrassil, like a virus, quickly populated every world they could get their fast transports to. Meanwhile the Jol-Nar, unhappy to share their technological supremacy, denied the same to others for a whole year. It was tough, but we managed to build up our forces.

Wormholes too close to our homeworld caused concern, so planetary defenses were a must as well as dreadnaughts which we built. In the final years of the race we were clearly in the lead and headed for the Imperial Throne. The Jol-Nar had build two gargantuan death star platforms and despite the presence of our total dreadnaught fleet we became concerned.

However, galactic peace had been declared for an entire period and we had only two more moves to complete before I would be crowned Imperial Leader, all others bowing before me.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Jol-Nar mysteriously disappeared from our sensors. Maybe an experiment gone wrong? A calculated plot?

However their disappearance came to be, I was quickly crowned Imperial Leader, but of the Jol-Nar we heard no more. Ships were sent out to scout their last known locations, but all we found was empty worlds and empty space.

I fear they have retreated to regroup. But if they ever do return with less than peaceful intention, they will have three races to fight with the Hacan at the front.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Horror Book Review: Necroscope III The Source

Necroscope 3 The Source
A project in Russia gone horribly wrong.

Harry Keogh, Necrocope, searching for his lost child and wife.

Forces of the supernatural and the extranatural collide. A battle to the ultimate death on a world far removed from our own.

Sound interesting? If it does you will likely enjoy this, the third book by Brian Lumley, in his Necroscope series.

It's part spy novel, part horror novel, part science fiction novel, part super-hero novel, and part action adventure. And Mr. Lumley pulls it all off in a most delightful way.

The world which spawns the Wamphyri (Lumely's version of uber-vampires) is accidentally connected in Russia when an energy experiment goes wrong, and what comes through the gate leaves dozens dead and more reeling from terror. Nothing like that should ever be allowed to escape the gate again, and the Russians try to make sure that happens. But of course, as in all good horror books, that is not to be.

Meanwhile Harry, the Necroscope, is searching all the places of the world and beyond (using a Mobius Stip to dimensionally travel about) for his lost son and wife. And he talks to the dead (hence he is the Necroscope) so knows they are not among them.

All the threads of the novel lead Harry and others through the gate to the world of the Wampyri, and the questions readers have been longing to know are answered as to the source of the evil.

And as usual, I will not give away the plot. Suffice it to say that Harry finds what he is looking for, though it is not what it appears to be, and things get a whole lot worse before there is even a glimmer of them getting better.

My final words on this novel and the series so far; very fun read but not for the squeamish. Mr. Lumley does not hold back on the graphics, but it all fits the world he has created.

If you like action adventure horror, you are sure to find these books amusing.

Friday, February 03, 2006

TGIF and the hit

He stands at the intersection, in the shadow of the streetlamp. A cigarette, you assume a Morley, hangs from his lips, wisps of smoke rise into the night.

You presume he is waiting for something, or watching, or just having a break from whatever it is he does.

Suddenly a shot rings out in the neighborhood. The figure doesn’t even flinch. One last puff on the cigarette and he drops it to the ground, snuffs it out with his polished shoes.

A few minutes later you catch the sound of hurried feet. Another figure, equally as dark, appears under the streetlight. A few quiet words are exchanged, and then the two depart into the darkness as though nothing in the world was the matter.

***

Sam was a Regenemorph, and not from this world. The men who wanted him wanted him for only one reason; to kill him. The tests they had performed on him were over, he proved invalid.

But life, any life, has a need to continue, even at the risk of greater evils unleashed. Sam was no exception. And despite his best efforts to evade his pursuers, they were still able to track him.

On his body somewhere there must be an implant. But he was alone, would receive no help from his world and could trust none in this one. He was left to die, or live as he could.

The closet door was only two thin sheets of plywood painted blue. He could hear the apartment door gently forced open. He stopped breathing, his senses on high alert. Two quiet steps, then his trap was sprung.

The twang of a bolt, then a muffled grunt, satisfied Sam that his trap had connected with human flesh. Another groan was followed by a meaty thump to the apartment floor. Sam waited another minute, pushed open the closet door, and looked out.

On the floor a figure lay sprawled. He had purposefully left the lights off and so couldn’t quite make out who this person was. It may have been the one following him, or somebody else. Three steps farther into the room and Sam realized his mistake.

It was his landlord. And the instant he realized it his enemy appeared, surrounded by the stark light of naked bulbs from the hallway.

“Thought you could evade us, did you?” said the enemy. He held up a gun, its barrel leveled at his head.

Sam had only one second to act. He shifted his brain down into his chest just as the blast of the gun took off the top of his head. Crashing to the floor, Sam spasmed and appeared to die.

The enemy walked across the room. Sam’s one remaining eye, half open and clouding with blood, could make out the Nike swirl on the enemies shoes. Sam stopped his heart and pinched the arteries to his major organs. He could survive ten minutes this way, no more.

Reaching down the enemy took a knife to the back of Sam’s neck and sliced deep. After a moment of carving the enemy removed a small metallic chip, held it out towards the hall light, then took out a small glass vial and placed it within.

It was several minutes before Sam restarted his heart. He was injured, but not beyond hope. His enemy had departed.

That’s how I found him, and how I know his story. He has recovered mostly, due largely to his own regenerative powers and less to my unskilled abilities.

***

Several years have gone by now since then. I’ve never heard from him or of him again. The only reason I thought about it at all today was, under the streetlight on my corner, I saw a smoking man.

I double locked my door. The last time I looked out the window the man was gone. But now the back of my next is itchy, and my neighbor must be restless because I can hear him walking about.

It’s three in the morning.

I wait behind my locked door for dawn.

I will not sleep this night. I have nowhere to go.

The End

***

Written in ten minutes it was.

Mr. Muse is having fun today.

And to top it all of it's Friday too!

What could be better?

(And yes, way too much X-Files watching lately . . .)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

WTF!


Holy ole crap. The last three days of posts have read like a prelude to a suicide note.

Give me, and you, a frikin break! If this were to continue any longer I’d have to change this blog to “The Tortured Mind Emporium”.

So, enough with the self-pity and angst and bullshit. Time to do the time warp again and get out of the gutter and into the light . . .

And I know you must be dying to know why I fell into this quagmire? Okay, so you don’t care, but I’m going to “anal”ize the situation myself and see. You can read along if you like or go check out Google news.

I have two sorts of minds. One I call Mr. Anal. That’s the organizer, the one counting beans, setting the alarm clock and generally being anal about every little detail of my life. The other is Mr. Muse. He is the one goofing off, enjoying himself, playing games and writing twisted tales and stories.

Lately Mr. Anal has been taking Mr. Muse (the creative, friendly and twisted part of my personality) and shoving him into a cage. The cage constructed by Mr. Anal is air tight, devoid of all features and called the writing-for-cash cage. And Mr. Muse, usually a happy go lucky fellow has been getting upset, unable to express himself – like a bee inside a jar with no air holes.

Last night I realized this with the help of my lovely assistant (my beautiful wife of 17+ years). What has been going wrong is Mr. Muse doesn’t like to be cornered, ordered about or instructed on what he can or cannot do. He doesn’t get along too well with Mr. Anal as you can imagine. So when Mr. Anal begins to order Mr. Muse’s life, Mr. Muse gets sour. He just does. You see?

So, this morning, I’ve taken a metaphorical axe to the cage and broken Mr. Muse out. He is much happier now even though Mr. Anal is sulking a bit. Mr. Anal’s iron rule of Mr. Muse has ended. Well, tough shit Mr. Anal. You can keep your alarm clock duties, but leave Mr. Muse alone.

There, that is done.

And now that Mr. Muse is free to go about his play, more creative inspired writing is sure to follow. In fact (Mr. Anal likes facts so is okay with this) starting this weekend I’m going to get to work on a creative book (one of the three I’ve mentioned on Wednesday update day) that Mr. Muse can go crazy over. Mr. Muse is itching to begin after his stay in the cage.

I like to help Mr. Muse whenever I can which, I see now, means keeping both eyes on Mr. Anal to make sure he knows his place and doesn’t overstep his bounds.

And because Mr. Muse has been so much abused of late I’m treating him to one of his favorite activities – twice in one week.

Games. Huge board games with tons of playing pieces. Saturday Mr. Muse will enjoy Twilight Imperium 3 and then, three days later, War of The Ring.

I hope that, in some small part, will make up for the transgressions of Mr. Anal.

Now let’s hope I never get caught in a transporter accident, because I just couldn’t deal with those two loose and on their own. You just know Mr. Anal would find a huge-ass wrench right away and be sporting eyeliner.

Not a pretty sight.

Not a pretty sight at all.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

this week in review

Well, here we are again. My gosh, how fast a week flies by.

On to the update of things wonderful and not so wonderful - Yah, that was dramatic and for no purpose. You can skip that sentence on a re-read . . .

The script moves along with another two scenes fleshed out this past week. I skipped writing on Monday night after the skiing. Once I hit the couch after a day of helping the grade one nibblets, I was ready to veg - so that’s what I did.

On the cash-for-writing front I managed to research all markets (at least in the huge Writer’s Market) for my three book ideas. I have a good idea now how many markets are out there for my particular (or should that be peculiar) wares. I just need to get those wares in order now with a captivating query proposal for each.

Easy - like taking the beach at Normandy . . .

Next week’s workload will be to try and write three more scenes of my script and research magazine markets and come up with some short article ideas.

That’s it.

Brief, eh?

And I’m contemplating posting my entire Star Trek Next Gen novel right here. It takes place a few months after Picard was un-Borgified in Season 4. Thinking I may start to stagger the updates with that. 13 chapters of heart pounding thrills and chills all set in the Next Gen universe - and free! I mean, what more could you ask for?

Sorry, no Buffy crossovers in it – but Barclay plays a pretty big role.

I’ll probably stagger my Wednesday updates with it.

Stay tuned.