Andrew Girle's Blog

Crime and Speculative Fiction Blooking

Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Pseudo NaNoWriMo – looks like I’m Mister Ten Percent

Posted by Andrew Girle on November 29, 2012

Ten percent is great when you’re on commission.

Not so good when you’re shooting for 50,000 words and manage 5000 or so in 30 days.


On the plus side, I doubled the number of words in my current Minim Opus (see what I did there?)


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Not NaNoWriMo

Posted by Andrew Girle on October 29, 2012

My last post on here was at the end(ish) of July.

I hope nobody was holding their breath for an update!

A couple of my writerly friends and I have decided to use the NaNoWriMo concept to get our collective (water barrels/posteriors… oh what the hay… BUTTS) into gear.

The plan is to write 50K words in the course of the month.

I have the characters, structure, world building and rough outline of the story already done – no flying by the seat of THESE pants.

Still, 2000 words (give or take) a day is going to be fairly intensive. There will be little or no editing done, and what starts as 50K may end up 25K in the cold light of day. We’ll see.

Wish me luck!

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Space fighters!

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 30, 2012

Anyone who ever watched a WW2 movie with dogfights between fighter planes, then saw Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica will know that dogfights in space are just awesome.

Of course, with no atmosphere, dogfights in space are also not going to happen like the movies. Sorry. Don’t believe me? Others have spent an enormous amount of time thinking on this concept, so get yourself a drink of your choice and head over to Atomic Rockets – make sure you do it on your own time, because if you are genuinely interested, you’ll spend a lot of time there!

Now one reason advanced for fighter planes and aircraft carriers in our history is the problem of horizon, and weapon range. Ships at sea are limited by the curvature of the Earth (radar provides a bit of extra reach); having aircraft to patrol puts your ‘eyes’ massively further out, and equipping them with missiles allows ships to engage the enemy without ever having to fire a shot themselves.

In space, it is argued, there is no maximum range for your weapons (no atmosphere, remember? Energy beams go on forever, and shells / missiles can keep going until they smack into something). The apparent limiting factor for weapons is the amount of ammo you can carry (for shells and missiles) and the amount of heat you can dissipate before you melt (for energy beams).

Likewise, just like the ocean away from a coastline, space is pretty empty. Seriously. Spotting a target against a star field is not difficult, nor is using infrared to pick up the heat radiating from it (don’t believe me? Go back to Atomic Rockets – you missed some bits. I’ll be waiting.).

So, we have weapons with unlimited range, and no limits to visibility. Alas, this spells doom for fighters as we know them, right? I mean, bigger ships with better defenses and armour are so much more survivable, so fighters are a waste of effort, right?

Maybe not.

Because nobody has been able to prove Einstein wrong, nothing can go faster than light. Yeah yeah, I know, it’s science fiction, but hey – let’s at least accept that science has a role to play. Targets obviously don’t WANT to be hit, so they are going to be manoevring – where your target was at the time of firing may not be where it will be when your ravening beam of directed energy crosses the gulf of space. So to try and hit your target, you need to predict an area, a patch of space that it is most likely to be in, and fill that area with shells / missiles / laser beams / coilgun accelerated titanium skulled frogs, or whatever. It’s called deflection, and fighter pilots have been doing it in dogfights since the first pistol was carried aloft in a flimsy craft in WW1.

Now, I’m not an engineer but I can pretty much bet that due to ammuntion constraints / recharge rates / heat dumping, that area is going to be pretty small, unless you accept very low probabilities of a hit.

Big ships are going to be less able to manouevre (well, maybe not, they may have bigger motors, but don’t bugger up the narrative flow NOW of all times), so if they want to keep their own chances of being hit down, they have to maintain a longer range. Fighter class ships will be lighter and zippier, so they can keep that chance of being hit at an impressive minimum.

Here is where it gets clever. The fighter can pick a range near the big ships where it is unlikely that they can be hit, but the target, being so much larger, is still well within the fighter’s engagement envelope. And even if they can’t carry heavy beam weapons (unless they are powererd by fusion collapses, but that is part of my story so you’ll have to wait for that one) they can carry enough shipkilling missiles that they can’t be ignored. Nor can their kamikaze capacity.

So what do you, as the target, do? Why, carry your own fighters of course, that can go out there and keep the enemy away from that engagement range sweet spot. And lo and behold, fighters are BACK!

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A teaser, from a sci fi story I’m working on.

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 25, 2012

Yes, I know you won’t recognise all the characters. I just enjoyed writing the scene so much I though I would share.


5. The Captain meets his crew

The police prisoner transport squealed to a halt on the tarmac at the base of one of the LD841’s landing struts. A heavyset officer in shell armour walked along the flank of the boxy vehicle, opening the individual transport cells with his palm print.

From the passenger door, the Second Engineer stepped out. He brushed his grease-grey overalls clean of the clinging local dust and squinted at the row of dishevelled crewmen and women blinking at the bright morning sunshine. He shook his head. Each of them sported lumps and bruises; split lips and torn clothing.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began in a mild voice as the police transport moved off. “You are a disgrace.”

There was a low murmur in response from the group, but nobody’s lips moved.

“Quiet in the ranks!” He bawled and began to stalk down the line, each pace bringing him level with another battered face.

“I’ve been Fleet since I was sixteen years old. I’ve seen more action than all of you put together. Don’t challenge me on that, I looked you up.” He reached the end of the line and spun on his heel.

“My father was Fleet. My Grandfather was wet-hull Fleet on Earth! And …” his tirade was interrupted by the blaring of private ground car horn as it weaved across the landing field. It stopped and Ramone stepped out, his undamaged ship suit crisp, but his eyes bleary. He blew a kiss into the car, and Rose drove off, her snake tattoo glistening in the sunlight as she waved goodbye.

“Ramone Rodriguez reporting, sir!” bellowed Ramone, drawing himself to attention and snapping a salute so crisp you could hear the air tearing.

“Fall in, Rodriquez.”

Ramone marched with perfect, precise steps to the end of the rank, did an immaculate about-face and stood at ease. The Second Engineer glared at him and shook his head.

“As I was saying; all of you are a disgrace. You were given a seventy two hour shore leave. That time expires in a little over two hours. As Watch Officer Discipline, the very last thing I expected to have to do is get your sorry little arseholes out of gaol, before time. Never, in twenty years relative, have I been so disappointed.”

He paused at Goofball, and glared at the egg sized lump on her hairline. “Fighting.”

Two more paces and he looked Ramone up and down. “Fornicating.”

He spun on his heel and slow marched back along the rank, until he stopped at Sean. “And what in the name of the Martyr’s bleeding arse is a charge of …” he took a slim data tablet from his pocket and tapped the screen, “… randomly supplying intoxicants with intent?”

Sean pulled himself up straighter, staring directly ahead out of a swollen blackened eye. “I stood a round for another jump team, sir.”

Tap. Tap. The screens flipped. “It says here that you were handing out stim packs on the street, outside licensed premises.”

“They tasted like rodent piss. We gave them away.”

The Second Engineer slid the tablet back into his pocket and shook his head slowly in disbelief.

“Have standards slipped so far? Two hours left. Two full hours.”

Nobody said a word.

“There is going to be a full dress inspection at 0800. Here. Then we lift. Anyone not here in full ribbons and perfect creases gets left behind. Senior Paramedic Sean Mulholland report to me; the rest of you, fall out.”

Sean turned to face the Second Engineer, who simply said “Catch,” as he lobbed an oblong. A slight juggle and fumble occurred before Sean realised what it was. An old fashioned leather wallet. He flipped it open to see a wad of notes inside.”

“Sir?” was all he managed to say.

“The Base mess is five hundred paces that way, and I wish to remind you that you are still officially on shore leave. Don’t let the standards fall any further.”


At 0800 the next morning, the Second Engineer roard, “P’rade! P’rade, atten-hut!”

Two dozen boots slammed into the steel hull plates and a dozen faces winced through blazing hangovers.

First Officer Flynn Rothman stepped forward.

“Thank you, Buffer. I have the parade.”

The Second Engineer saluted smartly and replied, “Sir, you have the parade.” He spun on his heel and marched off to the side.

“Ladies and gentlemen, allow me formally welcome you aboard the LD841. Further, let me congratulate you on managing such neat shaves over the top of the bruising.”

Rothman let his gaze roam across the crew. Every uniform was perfect; the collection of service ribbons and medals on display would not have shamed a crew three times the size.

“This is a new ship, of a new class with a new mission. Many of us have served on capital ships, undertaking rescue and retrieval missions when we weren’t prosecuting the war.”

The First Officer paused. He became aware of one of the parajumpers staring at him. She was tall, with pale skin and dark, dark eyes. In fact, he realised, she was staring at his sleeve, where his wounds stripes were. He blinked, then carried on.

“Our mission is search and rescue. Dedicated search and rescue. Crews that go down in enemy space, or ground combat teams that need urgent medivac. Crews in engagements where nobody can be spared from the fighting for the rescue effort. The broken angels for whom there is no hope.”

“We are unarmed. Not defenceless, but unarmed. The heaviest weapons on board are the side arms of the paramedic teams. We have the legs of a smuggler and the wings of an eagle. Ladies and gentlemen, between us we are going to make this ship soar.”


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Magic systems, built from scratch

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 6, 2012

I have hit a stumbling block: I don’t want to have a magic with wands instead of guns (there goes most peoples ideas of magic!); nor do I want to have an Earthsea magic so incomprehensible that readers need to be stoned to follow it.

I want magic that is possible enough to our understanding of the world; that stretches the imagination without dulling it.

One of my background notes for ‘Grimnoires and Gumshoes’ refers to natural magic – the patterns in a stripes of a tiger (or zebra!) create confusion in the beholder, so that bright yellow animals are effectively invisible in a dull green jungle. Where belief in the power of an object can be sufficient to imbue it with that effect – so a horse shoe over a door can ward evil, by virtue of hundreds if not thousands of years of belief.

But DAMN, fireballs are sexy.

Even just writing that has given me an idea for working ‘explosive magic’ into my world of natural magic; in the same way that rapid exothermic reactions are part of nature (explosions, for the unscientific reader). Maybe the magician merely needs enough sex appeal.

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Of editing and other things

Posted by Andrew Girle on January 30, 2012

I’m currently on holidays from my day job. I had planned to use the time productively and write copiously; of course this has not happened.

I am applying the edits of No Working Title that have been provided to me, and am character building for the Grimnoires and Gumshoes mashup. I keep getting this vision of an Elf trying to hire my gumshoe to track down some guy called Tolkein, but things keep getting in the way.

I know, too cliched, but still!

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Just went to a book signing….

Posted by Andrew Girle on October 22, 2011

Not mine, but of a good friend – Kev Webb and his illustrator, Ant Puttee – together, they have put out Dream Raider. Follow the link on the left ( <— THAT side ) to get to their site and order a copy of the book – it is terrific.

It took place at That Book Place at Jimboomba, and from my couple of hours there I was very impressed with the proprietors and the ambience. Consider this a two-thumbs-up, guys!

Now, back to writing so I can do a book signing there someday as well!

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Writing plans…

Posted by Andrew Girle on September 10, 2011

Listening to a writing podcast recently, I realised that apparently there are two kinds of writers – Discovery and Outliners. I think I tend towards the outlining, in that I have notes on the plot, notes on key scenes and the eventual ending, and then fill in the blanks.

THEN in the ‘cast, they started talking about what is more important, dialogue or description. Of course, the majority of the time the dialogue is. One of the commenters, Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary fame, apparently writes his comic by doing the outline, then doing the dialogue, and finally deciding how that will block out into four frames for the daily comic strip and what needs to be drawn.

Doing the dialogue first is something I have never tried, and which I am going to have a chop at.

If any of you out there are devotees of doing this, please let me know how you came across it!

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The Talking Sword – hiatus

Posted by Andrew Girle on August 17, 2011

I have smashed against a brick wall in my development of the talking sword stories. That wall is an inability to avoid preaching morality when I come to the culminating scene of the current storyline; as a result I have put it to one side to pull out and ponder. The story is still there in the back of my head, but (as they say on Writing Excuses) the voices are just not yammering to have their story told.

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The Talking Sword – Sword of Justice, post 14

Posted by Andrew Girle on June 23, 2011

As winter drew to a close a plan began to take shape in Lucca’s head. Firstly, she reasoned, she had to get close to
Auric to seek her revenge. But to do so, she would have to adopt a disguise – no Celt would be granted an audience. But if she disguised herself as a Roman woman she would not be able to carry the sword. It was too bulky to disguise, and worse, if she was captured with it her life would be forfeit, it being an
ancient rule in Roman lands that women were not to bear a soldiers arms.

This left the option of disguising herself as a Roman man, or more precisely youth. Lucca was tall for a Roman born woman, making her about average height for a Roman teenage male. She was about the right age for a foot messenger, one of those in the employ of wealthy merchants whose task was to run from place to place with packets of documents.

While technically they too were not supposed to carry weapons as large as swords, everyone knew the borders were dangerous places and the sight of a
messenger openly bearing a sword was not unusual. Of course, there was also the possibility that the sword could be disguised, but that could come later in the

The other advantage was the loose tunic that messengers wore. Lucca was quite distinctly a young woman, and to make her disguise work she would have to bind her breasts with cloth strips. Even so, she would need the extra concealment of her figure that the tunic would provide.

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