Fifteen Years of the Arbiter Chronicles

So, it’s not like an official anniversary or anything. I kinda missed that. But the public first heard of my characters from The Arbiter Chronicles back in October, 2000–15 years and a half a year or so ago, when we performed my first radio drama at Farpoint.

TLFrontTaken Liberty, my first Arbiters novel, premiered just ten years ago, officially in March, 2006. A few months ahead of that, the Prometheus Radio Theatre podcast premiered in the Fall of 2005.

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The Sacrifice Play Kickstarter is LIVE!

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Sacrifice Play – A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles, is the third novel based on my Mark Time and Parsec Award-winning Arbiter Chronicles science fiction series. It’s in final editing stages now, weighing in at about 60,500 words.

Sacrifice Play cover art by Caio CacauThis time out, the Arbiters are passengers on a military vessel that’s been assigned to test a dangerous new technology. If word of that technology’s existence gets out to the public, the Confederate Navy believes their very way of life could crumble. They’re willing to kill to protect the secret, and the Captain of the CNV Haakon Rodriguez decides to sacrifice his own ship and everyone on board for the good of all.

The Arbiters, aboard the doomed ship, um, disagree. It’s a battle of wills and a battle against the clock as they race to save the ship from its own captain. Caio Cacau’s gorgeous cover painting of Metcalfe and Carson should make it plain that the stakes are high this time out.

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Check Your Premises, Not Your Privilege

I try to keep an open mind about different world views. That just seems reasonable to me. Like the five blind men and the elephant, we each see a different piece of the truth. It would be a bit silly for me to stand here, screaming “I have scientific proof that an elephant is just like a snake!” while I hold its trunk and you hold its ear, and neither of us sees the whole animal. It would be just awful if I then added that you are evil and a threat to our society because you were part of the “elephant-is-like-a-carpet” set, and thus a snake-denier.

Yet that’s just the kind of thing that’s happening right now in the United States, as a loudmouth, a gold digger and a senile idealist walk into a primary. (God, I wish that was the opening to a joke! If it is, the joke is on the American people.) People are just being nasty to each other.

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Who Are the Ugly Americans?

So today I want to talk about bigotry.

Google “North Korea 15” and the first article under “In the news” will be this one. I saw it last night on Facebook, and I saw a lot of people cheering its author on. They used phrases like “ugly American” in their cheers.

There’s a problem with this article, though.

Its author is a bigot.

The author claims that the government of North Korea, one of the most evil regimes on Earth, has taught us all a valuable lesson about white, male, cis-gendered privilege.

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A Visit to Monticello

More pictures than words this week. After the craziness of snows and floods and Farpoint over these past many weeks, we were so overwhelmed that we felt the need to just get away. We’d visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s mountaintop home, sometime before 2008, and had always intended to go back.

Monitcello from the South LawnOur first visit was a day trip, which was a bit hectic. Monticello is almost four hours away. This time, we decided to do two nights in nearby Charlottesville, giving us time to relax and reflect alongside visiting the home of one of the only two U.S. presidents whose name I can utter with affection, much less without being riddled by disturbing facial tics.

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Review – The Gospel of Loki

Cover of The Gospel of LokiI’m a huge fan of mythology, and have myself written some humorous, modern spins on classical myths. As far as stories go, I’ve always preferred the focused narrative of the Prose Edda, the source for what we know of Norse mythology, to the more dense accounts of Homer, or the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, which recount the Greek myths. The Prose Edda is a story you can sit down and read. The Greek sources… well, not so much. I’ve watched Greek drama because my English teacher forced me to, or as a favor to a dear friend who still owes me big time. A ripping evening of entertainment these things are not, but I’ve never found a boring retelling of the Norse myths.

And, of course, the Marvel movies’ portrayal of Loki by the talented Tom Hiddleston has made the trickster god something more of a celebrity these last few years. A young, sympathetic Loki has even starred in several of his own Marvel comic book adventures, ably scripted by Keiron Gillen and Al Ewing. I really enjoyed those.

So when I found The Gospel of Loki on the shelf and read the first few pages, I was hooked. What could be more refreshing than to hear the tales of Odin and Thor from the perspective of Loki, the villain of so many of the myths? I remember thinking, “If she (Joanne Harris) can keep up this tone for the whole book, she’s got a winner.”

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Not the Golden Age

I recently watched a fun little documentary called “The Trek Not Taken,” about Star Trek spinoffs that were discussed, developed, in some cases written and even taken to the point where sets and costumes were built, but not released to an audience.I really enjoyed it, and thought it was nicely done. There was a point I took exception to, however. I bring it up here, not to criticize the producer of this video in any way, but more to examine how I, as an aging fan, tend to see things a little differently.

The makers of this video posited that, in fifty years of existence, Star Trek has gone through several “dark ages” and one “golden age.” These ages aligned with the times that a Trek TV series was or was not in production, so the first two dark ages were 1969-1973 and 1975-1987.

Interestingly, although four Trek films were released during that second interval, it’s the opinion of the documentarian that only televised Trek saves fans from a dark age.

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Exactly How Does Deadpool Change the Game?

This movie was billed as “a game-changer” by its star, Ryan Reynolds. The game is changing, he advances, because the recent spate of super-hero movies have been “serious and… gritty and dark,” and Deadpool is not.


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No Claws, No Bamfs, No Shatterstar – Marvel Masterworks X-Men Volume 4

This volume includes issues 32 – 42 of the original run of X-Men, published between July, 1967 and March, 1968. This span marks a transition from the X-Men as they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby—Students in matching yellow and black (or was it blue? It’s hard to tell in comics of that era) uniforms—to the four-color team made famous on down the line by Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Tom Palmer.

X-Men 32 Cover showing original costumes

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Announcing Sacrifice Play – An Arbiter Chronicles Novel

Sacrifice Play - A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles - Promotional Art

Sacrifice Play is the third novel in The Mark Time and Parsec Award-winning Arbiter Chronicles series, picking up where Unfriendly Persuasion left off.

Imagine a technology so dangerous that you could be killed just for knowing it exists…

Lieutenant Terrence Metcalfe and his team combat a starship captain so driven to complete his mission that he sets his ship to self-destruct and kill everyone on board.

Sacrifice Play – A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles premieres at Shore Leave 38, and will be the eighth book released by Firebringer Press. It’s also one of two Firebringer Books slated to premiere at Shore Leave, alongside Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity.

Sacrifice Play will be released simultaneously in trade paperback and audiobook, and will be the focus of the first-ever crowdfunding effort by Prometheus Radio Theatre and Firebringer Press. Details will be announced soon. Stay tuned to this link!

Arbiter ship design by Ponch Fenwick.