Work In Progress

I’ve hinted before that I write fiction myself, and once actually posted an excerpt from a story I wrote, titled A Quadrillion Occupied Planets. I am a procrastinator by nature with a short attention span, so I find finishing long works annoyingly difficult. I have, however, finished several short stories, which I find fun. So I’ve decided to write a several at once and put them into a collection, which I’m titling A Quadrillion Occupied Planets, and Other Stories (because I think that’s the coolest title). The stories aren’t really connected under any sort of theme except perhaps a sort of general Christian morality. I’m trying to make them all somewhat fantasy/sci-fi related as well. So far that rule has been broken once, but I’m including that same character in a later sci-fi story, so hopefully it slides. When I get what I feel like is a substantial amount finished I’ll submit the collection to publishing houses.

Here are the current stories in the collection:

  • The Vision of the Professor (a working title that might not fit by the time the final draft is finished): The story I’m currently in the middle of writing. A Priest named Fr. Nicholas (who appears in an earlier story I wrote) is visited by his old Theology Professor, Dr. Simon Calvin (also recurring).  Dr. Calvin has received a message from another universe, and has created a machine with the ability to travel there. The idea is that Fr. Nicholas and Dr. Calvin expect to enter a Narnia-like world and be its saviors much like the Pevensies but instead find that the whole thing is nightmarish in quality. I have an idea of what the world is going to be like and what’s going to happen, and I have high hopes for this story.
  • A Quadrillion Occupied Planets – A short story that’s more of a philosophical reflection. It is something of a criticism of the idea that a decrease in the percentage of violence worldwide necessarily means we’re reaching towards any sort of moral high ground. I like it.
  • In the Land of the Blind…A Parable – I wrote this story years ago and have been revising it and retooling it for years, but the main core of the story has always remained. I consider it a fantasy set in a world where all of the inhabitants are blind, and it is about what happens when a man claims to be able to see out of one eye for the first time in generations. I personally am very attached to this story, which has gotten moderate praise from the readers I’ve shown it to.
  • Coming out of the Confessional – A satire of traditional “coming out of the closet” stories. The main character is also the narrator of The Vision of the Professor.
  • Take Up Your Cross – A progressive “historical Jesus” college Professor type goes back in time to rescue Jesus before Judas finds him at the Mount of Olives and instead ends up arriving on the day of the Crucifixion.  The main character also appears in The Vision of the Professor. I’m going to be a little arrogant for a moment and say that I honestly believe this is the best of all of the stories I’ve written so far. The one person I showed it to agreed. The story is very “Lewis” in nature. One of the character names is lifted from That Hideous Strength and it contains a direct quote from Perelandra. And by the way, yes, Dr. Calvin was named in honor of robopsychologist Susan Calvin from Aasimov’s robot stories. It seemed to fit.
  • Ideas for Future Stories – A modern follow-up to the classic Poe story The Masque of the Red Death (I wrote it years ago on Halloween and I remember being very happy with it, but sadly I’ve lost the manuscript since) as well as a semi-autobiographical account of what it was like to run a particularly brutal cross-country race. The last one really doesn’t fit with the collection at all, but I’ve chewed on it for a long time now. Perhaps it will go into a future collection of sports related stories.

If anybody is interested in contributing ideas I’d be happy to hear them.

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9 Responses to Work In Progress

  1. Ilíon says:

    I am a procrastinator by nature with a short attention span …

    I can relate.

  2. Ilíon says:

    Here’s an idea for a story, if you want it —

    The Burglar Across the Hall

    The characters are basically the cast of ‘Castle‘ … with the minor twist that they live in an America even more awash in bureaucracy than ours: most “working” people are unionized government bureaucrats, and “work” like it. The major twist is that in this America, *everything* has been decriminalized, except one thing only: it is a crime to not have the “proper” paperwork

    Anyway, as it starts (*), ‘Castle’ and ‘Beckett’ are examining a corpse in an apartment (**). They’ve decided to call it a suicide — even tough to you and me it looks like a murder — ’cause then they don’t have to track down the murderer to make sure he had the
    “proper” permits (they don’t themselves state this so bluntly). They express amazement that someone would go to the trouble of killing himself in his apartment, when there are suicide centers of “every corner” (the quote are because that’s an exaggeration: they’re only on every other corner).

    The ‘Ryan’ character walk into the room and says, “The burglar across the hall thinks it’s a murder …”

    “Beckett’, clearly annoyed (as per the reason for their “decision” that it’s a suicide), interrupts to ask ‘Ryan’ if he checked the burglar’s paperwork. She also expresses annoyance that a mere burglar (who *isn’t* a member of the governmental union of bureaucrats; he’s “private sector”) thinks he knows more about solving a crime than she does. ‘Ryan’ explained that the burglar heard loud noises, and so on.

    Anyway, in the end, it turns out that it *was* a suicide … and that the guy didn’t have the “proper” paperwork! He’d carefully set it up to look like an “illegal” (that is, no “properly” filed permits) murder, partly to cover his “crime” of not buying the “proper” permit, and partly to thumb his nose at the whole social set-up.

    (*) this was a strange dream I had as I was waking a few months ago

    (**) it was called in on Monday, but they’re only just now on Wednesday getting around to visiting the apartment — an example of the out-working of the bureaucratic mindset in this America where nearly everyone is a unionized bureaucrat.

    For instance, a bit later, while still at the apartment, they decide not to send the evidence to the lab (until Monday), because Friday is the day the lab “workers” will be striking … and so there is no point in sending the evidence on Thursday.

    • While I may not use the Castle characters (heh), I enjoy the general concept of bureaucracy gone mad. It’s very Harrison Bergeron-esque, which is one of my favorite short stories. I may tackle something like this – much appreciated.

      • Ilíon says:

        No problem; with those characters is just how I dreamed it.

        It’s kind of funny. As soon as the ‘Ryan’ character reported on the burglar’s opinion, I (in my dream state) suddenly knew a lot of the background information about bureaucracy gone mad, that the only “crime” was in not having your paperwork filed with the bureaucracy, that “today” was Wednesday and they just hadn’t been bothered to get out to investigate the body since Monday. I “learned” about the weekly scheduled strikes when they couldn’t be bothered to send any evidence to the lab until the next Monday.

        ==
        Anyway, your stories sound interesting, especially “The Vision of the Professor”.

        If you want to put a real spin (*) on “Take Up Your Cross”, make the Professor in some way responsible for Christ’s crucifixion (*)

        (*) “spin” in that given that he’s a “progressive” trying to “rescue” Christ, and ends up contributing to the unfolding of the events, I’m thinking many people will find the result “unexpected”
        (**) which, according to orthodox Christianity, isn’t “spin”, but rather just the way it is for each of us.

      • If you want to put a real spin (*) on “Take Up Your Cross”, make the Professor in some way responsible for Christ’s crucifixion…

        I’m hoping it will be published one day so I don’t want to give away too much, but in the story Dr. Calvin does play a major role during the Way of the Cross.

      • Ilíon says:

        … it turns out that he’s Judas Iscariot?

  3. Ilíon says:

    oops … sorry about the bolding

  4. Ilíon says:

    Trying to post links to BlogSpot posts doesn’t seem to work on WordPress blogs. So, I’ll try to offer it like this — http:// iliocentrism. blogspot. com/2014/11/two-moons-for-shambilar.html (remove the extraneous spaces)

  5. Pingback: More Details About The Acceptances | Malcolm the Cynic

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