Sunday, May 4, 2008

Space Pirates

Okay, break's over.

Yesterday, my brother called--he had babysitting detail, so there were bursts of random noises in the background, and occasional older-sibling scolds when the baby ventured where she should not--and we talked about nothing and everything: his college finals, the latest in computer gaming news, the family, my qualified early success planting stuff (haven't killed anything yet), my job, and the novels.

For a week, I've been working on a single scene in the second Dragon novel, deleting as many or more words than I have kept. After my brother's call, I decided to spend my mental energies on a different piece of writing--in this case, the space pirates, who travel in an obsolete tub and use old Earth technology, like pencils and paper, hand-held radios, and so on. Don't have a title yet, but I do have fun coming up with crazy stuff to add to the tale.

Below is a slice from Chapter 3, which I now present without context or explanation:

He radioed the engine room. “Alerio, any chance you and Corrigan can whip up a little Vega Surprise?”

“With or without the cinnamon sprinkles?”

“Nothing fancy. It’s just gotta work. We’ve got a runner on our six.”

“Aye, captain. One Vega Surprise coming up. Tell Finney to gimme a minute.”

Finney called out, “I can give you thirty seconds.”

No reply from the engine room, just static. Good man, Alerio. Not one to waste time with words when action was needed.

“If that runner has guns on it—”

“Don’t even think it, Finn.”

She reached up, slapped her palm over an entire row of toggles—“Get ready”—counted to three under her breath, and flipped them up.

The ship shuddered, hesitated, then surged forward, downward, twisting left then down again, and then Finney pulled the stick, bringing the Martina Vega’s nose up into a sharp incline. Kristoff was plastered against his seat, fairly certain he had left his innards and most of his good sense somewhere behind that rock Finney had just dodged.

“Wa-hoo!” erupted from the radio. “C’mon, Finney, do that again!”

Dragging his radio to his mouth, not sure if he would retch before he finished speaking, “Shut up, Haldis,” ordered Kristoff. “Galley okay?”

“Sahir looks green, but we’re good.”

The runner had fallen behind and, if it were possible, looked confused. A small moon, a massive crater on its southern pole, hid the Vega in its shadow—and, as long as anything flaming didn’t choose that moment to shoot through the field, the freighter could put the entire moon between itself and the runner. Such a large mass would interfere with the Orpheus’ scanners long enough for the Vega to leapfrog behind another mass, and possibly run fast enough to reach Port Henry ahead of Zoltana, offload its cargo and refuel, and be away again before the constable caught up to them.

Of course, the harbormaster might be suspicious of a crew so eager to turn around a cargo of liquor, ship parts, low-priority medical supplies, and miscellaneous crates of goods specially ordered by the local citizenry. He’d want to know what was so urgent about such commonplace things. Kristoff could try fobbing him off with a story about a sick mother or some such lameness, but he’d rather not have to say anything at all.

Wasn’t that Jink Turner fella a stevedore? Maybe he could be convinced to help out a bunch of poor, downtrodden smugglers like the Vega crew. Maybe he could get together with the Port Henry stevedores, play on their sympathy for a fellow dockworker, help him offload the cargo jig time—

“Whoa!” Kristoff gripped one arm of his chair and with his other hand grabbed the bar above his head. The ship rolled to starboard, tilted down then up again, and swooped behind another blob of space stuff.

So much for supper.

c. Keanan Brand, 2008


Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

It's good. Very good. I am not even a fan of science fiction or anything set in space, but the pared-down writing, the fast pace, the tight, realistic dialogue, kept me reading.

Dialogue, in my opinion, can make or break a book. It *has* to be believable...I can't tell you how many times I have stopped reading a book because I kept thinking "nobody talks like this! Nobody has conversations remotely like this!"

So, Keanan you have officially passed the Lavinia dialogue test, with flying colours.!

Not that I am an editor...but a reader.

Your break sounds like it was productive...I hope you are able to keep riding that creative energy wave that you caught...

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Is that a new banner? I like!

Eaglewing said...

Welcome back!

I like the story! Sounds like a fine adventure.

The Texican said...

"I can git na moor power Captian", said Scottie as he took a swig from his flask and stared at the ancient flux capacitor. Well, maybe I mixed a few movies up there. :)

Eamon said...


I finished a science fiction / fantasy / children's book over a year ago, now.

I am now re-writing it (having already sent it to various agents in the UK)

I, also, have pirates in mine too (space pirates ..).

Perhaps you could tell me what you think (and when I have time, I will do the same with yours).

“They’re coming. I’ve seen their ship” Flora shouted out when she was back in the rocket.
‘O.k. Well we still have a few minutes. Don’t panic. I’ve nearly finished. Just need to set up my stellar.”
Just then she saw the rocket again. It was landing in the park opposite the house. Although the park was thick with trees, the moon was bright and she could make out, quite clearly, the image of a set of bones on the stern of the rocket, and amidst the bones, was the image of a skull - a sneering Jolly Roger – shining, ominously, under the light of a nearby street-lamp. She couldn’t speak. Her knees nearly collapsed. She groaned, and managed to raise a finger in the direction of the park.
“Don’t worry” Pixelorick responded, smiling. “Don’t panic. We’ve still got time.”
He then slid a thin but long machine out of the wall.
“What’s that for” Jet asked
“Shows a map of the stars for each galaxy…”
Pixelorick then handed Jet a wiry object that looked a bit like a bent, TV aerial.
“O.K. Jet I want you to hold this for me outside. Hold it up high now.” he continued,
“That’s perfect. Just hold it up straight, and keep still, please.” He said, as various lights on the star screen began to flash.
Flora was drawn into the monitor. The flashing lights turned into serpentine-shaped clouds that whizzed passed the panel at a tremendous speed.
“Just a bit longer.” Pixelorick shouted out to Jet.
Suddenly the shapes in the screen disappeared and were replaced by a cloudy mass of stars. The image was so life-like that Flora felt as if she could put her hand in and touch the stars themselves.
“O.k. that’s it. Thanks Jet. Better come in now.”
Pixelorick hurriedly pushed the screen and machine back into the wall; hurriedly pulled up the steps into the rocket; hurriedly shut the door; and hurriedly began to flick various switches on the main switchboard.
‘O.k. Sit down now, and make sure you’re both strapped in.”
Just then Flora noticed a shadow at the gate of the courtyard. It was a man. He moved along the gate into the light. He was wearing a long, black cloak that fanned out at the bottom with jack-boots and a cutlass at his side. Underneath a pair of bushy, black eyebrows, she caught the glint of his eyes. They were coal black and broody-looking. His jaws were thick-set and jowly. He had big shoulders, strong legs, and a swathe of hair on his chest, arms and neck.
And then with the power and fury of a wild animal, the pirate suddenly leapt up over the gate, and using the iron fender as a springboard, jumped off, leaving the bars shaking in his wake.

“He’s coming, quick, hurry up.”
‘O.k. sit back tight now.’ Pixelorick called out.
He flicked the largest switch on the control station, and the engines began to hum into action.
There was a violent crashing noise beside Jet, on the outside of the rocket. One of the planks of wood, in the wall beside him, buckled.
‘He’s trying to get in. Hurry Pixelorick.”
Pixelorick seemed unperturbed. He pulled a lever down, and, finally, the rocket began to rise. Then there was a violent rattling sound at the main door.
The rocket was still rising, slowly, but at a more even, controlled pace now. It took a few seconds for them to reach the top of the gate. Something hit the side of the rocket. Then a beam of blue light flashed in front of the small window beside the door. Flora stretched her neck out to the window: she could see the pirate, below, with a gun in his hand. He was firing at the rocket.
‘O.k here we go.”
There was a flash of bright light outside as the rocket took off, passing a church spire, then the top of a mountain, up higher, until there was only dark sky around them, and black space and stars above.


Thank you, Lavinia--(deep bow)--for the dialogue honors.

I, too, have a dislike for saying more than needs saying (unless, of course, the character is chatty), and have found it easier to write action and dialogue than, say, the emotional stuff. That's part of the reason I had to abandon the other novel for a bit.

(The banner is a cropped version of the photo I first put up there, and the road just happened to fit under the title. A perfect match.)


Eagle, thanks! I have a blast with it, and it'll probably end in some crazy place in the universe, with events and characters I haven't foreseen.

There is one character, though, who likes to visit antique shops and pick up radios, televisions, and the like. He's on the side of the law, but he thinks it's cool the Vega pirates operate so well with antique tech. He just might defect to their side!


(laughing) Yep, Tex, you did mix it up a bit, but that's part of the fun.

I've already tossed a little Shakespeare into the dialogue, so who knows what'll come up next?

I'm thinking about digging up quotes from some of my favorite science fiction characters, and using them as inside jokes in the text.


Eamon, I've glanced at the section you sent me--looks good!--but I'm supposed to be back at work soon, and can't comment in depth.

Can you send what you have to this address?

Thanks! I'll get back to you ASAP.

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

I'm confused....that prose that is in eamon's comment..who is the author...eamon? keanan? or R2D2?

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Keanan, are you going to post any more from your story?

Anonymous said...

Good writing... I can follow the story... so thats a good thing. I wish I were more adverse and could express myself better. I would like to be a screen writer, but I don't have the patience and endurance...have you ever dreamed of being a screen writer?...
good to have you bad, Keanan!
I printed your poem, Those Times Between... I love it!

Anonymous said...

I meant .. "good to have you 'back'...haa haa ... duh!


GOOD to have me BAD? (laughing) Just kidding, Bach! I fumble-finger my typing all the time, and amuse myself with the results.

Yes, I have considered screenwriting. There are a few of my favorite novels that have never been filmed, and I'd like to see them come to the screen.

Lavinia, that bit of prose belongs to Eamon (in the past, we've mentioned exchanging stories for mutual critique). What's not to like about a character with a name like Pixelorick?