Star Trek Fanfiction

Data: Sir, I’m picking up a numeric value from the life form.

Picard: Is it less than zero?

Data: Negative.

Picard: Right, and is it?

Data: Negative.

Picard: That’s what I said.

Data: The number is not negative, sir.

Picard: Positive?

Data: Negative.

Picard: So it might be negative?

Data: Negative.

Picard: Yes, could it be?

Data: There’s no way it’s negative sir.

Picard: So, is it positive?

Data: Negative.

Picard: You just said it wasn’t.

Data: It isn’t.

Picard: It isn’t what? Positive or negative?

Data: Affirmative.

Picard: You’re making zero sense.

Data: No, captain, I’m sensing zero.

A Voice from the Past

I was recently going through some of my old papers, and I found the journal of a forty-niner. Forty-niners were the people who participated in the gold rush which began sometime in the mid-1800s. It’s been a while since I took a class on California history, but I still have the forty-niner journal we were supposed to write for homework. Since we were eighth-graders, not prospectors 150 years in the past, we had to make it up, but I think I did a good job showing what a week would have been like for a real historical forty-niner:

Went to diggings. Dug. Found a little dirt.

Found frogs today. Told shopkeeper they were gold. He gave me a thousand dollars for them.

Shopkeeper was mad at me for fooling him. To make him happy, I gave him more frogs.

Shopkeeper said he’d get me. I gave him more frogs. He settled down.

Shopkeeper became frog store owner. Sold frogs. Told people they were gold. He got rich. I told people that they were just frogs and I’d get their money back if they paid me. They did. I said “just kidding,” and took their money.

Today frogs turned into handsome princes. I sold them, telling people they were gold.

I am a chef!

Today I invented a new recipe. I call it Pizza Jolokia. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 pizza
  • 1 naga jolokia (a.k.a. ghost) pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the pizza. If you are a snazzy chef who knows how to cook things that don’t come in a box (the kind of chef who probably looks down on recipes with only two ingredients), you can do this part from scratch. If you are a normal person you can use a frozen pizza or get it from a restaurant. Just don’t put too much junk on it. By “junk,” I mean “things that aren’t usually found on a normal pepperoni and sausage pizza.” I used a pizza margherita. It was frozen but it came from a posh hippy store so it was extra quality-like.
  2. Chop up the pepper. Make the bits small enough so you can distribute them around the pizza. With ghost peppers, a little goes a long way, and many people would argue it goes quite a ways too far.
  3. Put the bits on the pizza in a relatively even distribution.

Note that steps 1 and 2 can be done concurrently, since you can chop the pepper while the oven is doing its thing.

Outtakes from a scene in an unreleased story

Here’s a look behind the scenes at my attempt at writing a story that is not goofy. It may come as a shock to those who know me, but sometimes I am not quite able to attain a perfect state of solemn seriousness, and as a result you get the stuff on this blog, and not a Russian novel. But I did try to write a somewhat serious fantasy story a couple years ago. It was about a young thief named Alador in a medieval-ish fantasy city. In chapter 1, I think he did some sort of theft thing. Alador was also a university student, and as chapter two began he was waking up from a nap in the university library. I had a few false starts beginning that chapter, but just for fun I kept my failed attempts instead of erasing them.

Alador awoke as a shadow darkened his corner of the library. He looked up and saw his DOOM!! It attacked him. He tried to fight back, but it was difficult to defend himself against such a generic foe. He couldn’t figure out if it was stabbing him or flinging him into a pit of acid. Doom could come in so many forms. This time, though, he realized, it wasn’t his doom after all. It was someone else’s DOOM!!! It went and doomed some other poor bloke. Alador went back to sleep. And awaited his fate… or did he?

Alador awoke as a shadow darkened his corner of the library. He looked up and saw a strange-looking man looking at him. Looking at the strange-looking man who was looking like he was looking at Alador, Alador looked looky look look look.

Alador awoke as a shadow darkened his corner of the library. He looked up and saw a strange-looking man standing a few feet away. The figure was wrapped in shadows, and his features were so obscured that the only thing Alador could determine was that he was strange-looking.

Eventually I did finish the first paragraph. The second paragraph got off to a rocky start as well:

Alador was afraid the man was going to draw attention to him. He didn’t advertise the fact that he was a thief, since he only wanted clients, not guards, coming to his door. Or rather, he met them somewhere safe. Yes. Not at his house.

Tuckerbombing

Do you know what photobombing is? If you have, do not read the rest of this paragraph unless you really want to. Photobombing is when someone uses stealth or surprise to get into a photo, contrary to the wishes of the photographer and photographees. In so doing, one manages to appear in photos that were not intended to have one in it.

“That’s nice,” you say (unless you were one of the people who skipped past the previous paragraph). “But what is tuckerbombing?”

Tuckerbombing is like photobombing, but for tuckerization instead of photos. Tuckerization is when an author puts someone’s name into something they are writing, as a character in the book. Sometimes authors will do this for friends or family, or give away the privilege as a reward for a charity or something. But what do you do when your favorite author doesn’t know you from Adam, and you are too cheap frugal to contribute enough to a necessary charity? Tuckerbombing!

But how do you tuckerbomb? Photobombing is easy; you just need to jump into the picture as the photographer takes it. Unfortunately, this method won’t work for tuckerbombing. Suppose Brandon Sanderson is typing away on the next book in the Stormlight Archive, and you want to be in it. Jumping in front of his laptop right as he types a sentence will not result in you being written in to the story. It may result in Brandon calling the police because you’re in his house though. I don’t recommend this method.

Rather, you must subliminally lodge your name in the author’s subconscious, so they accidentally name a character after you. This is easier said than done, however. If you are rich, you could pay to run a commercial on Hulu or TV in which you say your name repeatedly, and hope the author watches it. But that is expensive, and will make everyone hate you. And some authors like Brandon Sanderson seem too busy to watch much television.

A slightly cheaper approach is to show up at a book signing with several hundred copies of the book. Make the author personalize each copy, so they have to write your name hundreds of times. This will get your name stuck in their head, and maybe your name will show up on an annoying yet financially beneficial character in their next book.

A better and cheaper approach is to go to conventions or signings with the author, and casually work your name into the conversation, repeatedly. Like if Brandon Sanderson asks the crowed if they have any questions, you can say something like this (we’ll assume your name is Bob Smith): “I, Bob Smith, enjoyed reading your novel which is called “Mistborn” (not “Bob Smith”) and which has many awesome characters, like Vin who is not named Bob Smith, and whose brother is also not named Bob Smith. I was wondering how Bob Smith, I mean you, came up with the idea for this character, and for not naming her Bob Smith. Also, what made you decide to make her an urchin, and not someone who makes the weights at the ends of pendulums, that is, a bobsmith?” It’s hard to think of any drawbacks to this method.

Finally, one other way to tuckerbomb is to repeatedly use the same author in all the examples in a blog post about tuckerbombing. This author’s pity respect for your determination will no doubt compel him to tuckerize you in his next book.

Guest Post: The Magic of Love

So here’s another guest post, this one a romance story by my other sister, Heather.

Once upon a time there was a very handsome centaur who lived in the dark forest. The forest was dark even during the day because the evil wizard cast a spell on the forest to make it dark. This meant that none of the vegetation could survive so the dark forest was actually a dark patch of dirt.

The handsome centaur was single. All his less handsome friends were married already, so his parents constantly suggested girls he could ask out. The handsome centaur always had excuses why he didn’t want to date people. One was too old. Another was too young. Another was too goofy-looking.

One day the handsome centaur was walking through the dark forest when he met a beautiful centauress. Which is like a centaur except female. She was very pretty and not too old. The handsome centaur fell in love immediately. He started blabbering and waving his arms about. His mind had disconnected because she was so beautiful. The beautiful centauress was grossed out and left. The handsome centaur never saw her again and he died heartbroken and alone which only goes to show that romance novels are hard to write.

THE END

Guest post: Iowa Smith and the Mummies

This story of adventure is by my sister, Karen.

 

Iowa Smith looked at the chasm. It was very deep. He wished he hadn’t dropped his torch into it because the ancient Egyptian royal tomb was very dark. At least the mummies had glowing eyes.

“Wait,” he said to himself. “Mummies are dead and not generally luminescent.”

He realized that these mummies were cursed. “An evil wizard must have cursed them so their eyes glow. That must make it very difficult for them to see in the dark tomb.”

He asked the mummies very politely if they would light the way to the exit so he could find a good wizard to undo the glowing eyes spell. They agreed, and Iowa Smith soon found a good wizard and made the mummies’ eyes stop glowing. Then he went home.

One day, there was a knock at the door. Iowa Smith opened the door and found a mummy.

“We can’t see the tomb now because it is too dark,” it said.

“Well then,” said Iowa Smith, “I will help you find a way to see your tomb.”

Iowa Smith booked a flight to Egypt and arrived at the ancient tomb. He scrutinized the structure and tried to think of ways to make it lighter.

“You could remove some of the stone blocks from the roof to let sunlight in,” He said.

The mummies looked aghast. “This is an ancient Egyptian historical building! You can’t just take it apart!”

Suddenly, the evil wizard appeared. “You removed my evil spell!” he cried. “The mummies’ eyes aren’t glowing anymore! You will pay for this!”

“Gosh, are you really that upset?” asked Iowa Smith. “Perhaps you could put the spell back. But this time, maybe you could cast it on something besides their eyes. Their noses, for example. Then everyone would make Rudolph the red nosed reindeer jokes and make them feel bad. That would be very evil.”

“Hmmm, that is a good idea,” said the evil wizard. He cast his spell and made the mummies’ noses glow, then vanished in a puff of evil smoke.

The mummies could now see where they were going. They thanked Iowa Smith and paid for his airfare to go home. Everyone lived happily ever after. The end.

Seattle Joe: a detective noir tale

Seattle Joe sat in his office in downtown Seattle. He was a detective. A dame walked into his office.

“It’s an honor to meet a distinguished British person,” he said.

“I’m not that kind of dame,” she said. “This is a detective story.”

The dame had a point. He could see she was going to be trouble.

She said, “I have a job for you, Mr. Seattle.”

“I already have a job. I’m a detective.”

“I know, which is why I have a case for you.”

Joe didn’t like cases, but he knew they were expected of detectives, so he didn’t hesitate. “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.

“It’s my husband,” said the dame. “He’s been stolen.”

The Castle

Once upon a time there was a castle. The castle was happy and had a king and a queen and a princess and the people who served them and got ruled by them. It had lands round about, where it kept its peasants. It even kept some outlaws in its forest.

One day the people decided to move to the big city instead of living in a castle. The castle was upset that its people were abandoning it. It hatched a plan.

The night before everyone left, the castle snuck out of the land and found the big city. It stopped right outside the city and got some roller coasters so everyone would think it was a medieval-themed theme park.

Everyone in the city came out and had fun at the theme park. When the people from the castle arrived at the city, they decided to visit the new theme park. As soon as all the people from the castle were in the theme park, it said “Ha ha” and quickly ran home with all the people in it. They realized how cruel they had been to leave the castle and felt sorry for it. Also, now the castle totally had roller coasters now so they all agreed that if happily ever after was going to be lived, this was definitely the place to do it.

The best books I read in 2013

In 2013 I read a lot of books, thanks to my commute to work and the miracle of audiobooks. Here are some of the great ones I read this year. It was supposed to be a top ten list, but I narrowed it down to thirteen and didn’t want to leave any more out and hey, lucky number. So now you get a top thirteen list for the same low price! The books are listed in some particular order.

The Casson family series by Hilary McKay

These books are funny, heartwarming, and British. They follow the lives of a family with all ages represented, except elderly. Think Beverly Cleary’s Ramona for older readers, only more British and funny. Saffy’s Angel was published first, but I recommend going chronologically, starting with Caddy’s World. I highly recommend reading the audiobook versions Audible has; the narrators do an amazing job with the voices. Because really, you need good British accents to go with the funny British dialogue.

The Once and Future King

This is an odd book. It’s a bit all over the place in tone, as it is in five parts and some are very different. It begins with the part that was made into the Disney movie The Sword in the Stone. Then it gets a little silly, then more serious, and then ends with more of the philosophical stuff that the first part had (which Merlin taught via various transformations into aminals, if you remember the Disney film). I’m not describing it very well, but overall, it’s a really good retelling of the Arthurian legend, with a bunch of 20th century philosophy mixed in.

The Paddington Bear series

Paddington is super classic, so everyone’s probably heard of him, but have you read all the books? You should. They are funny, and enjoyable for adults as well as children.

The Riyria series

This is the best new fantasy series I found last year. It’s got swords, magic, political intrigue, wonderful characters, and masterful pacing. It was originally self-published, because apparently traditional publishers have questionable taste in books, as has been shown by the popularity and critical success of this series. After it did really well, it eventually got picked up by a publisher. It has great characters and each book has its own arc as it tells an overall epic story. Now two additional, prequel books have been released which take place back when the two main characters first met. I read them in publication order, but in the future I’ll read them chronologically; either way works. Although the main series (called the Riyria Revelations) is six novels, you will now find it as a trilogy of two-book omnibuses, so it’s a very good value indeed. I recommend the audiobook, which is available from Audible.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

This is the final volume in the largest and most awesome epic fantasy series ever. If you’ve read the Wheel of Time series before, then I don’t need to tell you to read this book. If you haven’t, then you should start with book one, The Eye of the World.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I decided to give Dickens a shot, because he is super famous and I figured I’d see what all the fuss was about. Previously, I’d only read A Christmas Carol. This tells the story of a chap named David Copperfield. It’s Dickens, so all sorts of depressing stuff happens, but there’s humor and inspirational awesome bits too, as well as many great characters, so while it’s not as exhilarating and fun as the Wheel of Time or something like that, it’s great and I can see why it’s a classic.

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson

If you read my feature on the best books I read in 2012, then it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve chosen a Shirley Jackson book. She’s my favorite author (taking the distinction from Robert Jordan, who previously held it and who in turn had taken it from William Sleator). This is not as good as We Have Always Lived in the Castle or The Haunting of Hill House, but’s still fantastic if you like psychological gothic fiction.

The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson

Basically, ditto. I don’t want to get into plot details because I think they are best discovered as you read the book. Kudos to Penguin for getting these back in print.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I like Steinbeck’s books; they remind me of Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century books and Michael Sullivan’s Riyria books, even though they are not fantasy or science fiction. I don’t feel qualified to explain why this is a good book, but it is. It’s about people who lived in California back in the day and is pretty epic in scope, covering about a generation while focusing on a couple families.

Hikaru no Go by Yumi Hotta

This is an excellent series, and I’m including it here with the caveat that while it is in fact a series of graphic novels, the animated show is better because the music and voice acting are really good. It’s about a boy who meets the ghost of a go player, who wants him to let him play go (the boy is the only one who can see the ghost, so the ghost needs him to place the stones on the board for him. It’s a great lighthearted drama and coming of age story, and it has a lot of go in it. Go is, in my humble opinion, the best game ever and anyone who disagrees is a dummy head. As opposed to chess, computers cannot beat strong human players yet, so it’s a deeper game. It’s big in Asia where it’s played professionally, but not as well-known in other parts of the world (although the US has now 3 pros with its own new professional system). I play go and study it under one of the strongest players in the US, and you probably will want to give it a try as well if you start watching or reading this series. It has that effect on people; the world go-playing population about tripled when this came out. You can watch the animation on Hulu or read the books on the Kindle (they are black and white so you can use a Paperwhite).

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

This is a novel that is basically Hikaru no Contract Bridge, only instead of a ghost it’s a blind grandfather. It’s by one of the best children’s authors ever, and I think it’s his best. But I like mind games like go and bridge, so your mileage may vary. One thing he does that is cool is that it provides two explanations of whatever bridge concept is relevant to the story: one is short and just gives the basic understanding you need to understand the scene, and the other is detailed so if you want to take the time, you can learn what is going on in detail. That means if you don’t care about bridge you can just read the short versions, and if you think it’s interesting you can learn more. The story and characters are great, and all the characteristic Sachar-ness that made other books like Holes so good is there in full form.

Snow Day by Robert Hawks (writing as M. T. Coffin)

Looking at the cover, you wouldn’t expect this book to share a list with the likes of Steinbeck and Dickens. It looks like some Goosebumps rip-off about an evil snowman. To be fair, the Spinetinglers series is a Goosebumps imitation. However, it’s written by several authors, and one of them, Robert Hawks, was far better than a series like this has any business having. Also, take a good look at the evil snowman before opening the book, because you won’t see any more of him inside. It’s got nothing to do with evil snowmen. It is brilliantly written, with weird and awesome chapter titles that double as the first sentence of a new viewpoint or scene, and I think it was my first introduction to non-linear storytelling. I read it when I was a kid and it was weirder than the usual Goosebumps-type material I’d been expecting, and it left an impression. For that reason, I recently tracked down a copy of it and read it again. I was still impressed. I went and found some more books by the author, and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

This is another classic that I’ve always wanted to read. A graphic novel called Bone and another novel on this list, The Card Turner, both mention it, which motivated me to give it a try. It’s really good. Some people think it’s slow, and since Melville doesn’t do what Sachar does and let you skip the detailed whaling explanations (Sachar mentioned that he was trying to avoid that pitfall of this book), you better be interesting in whales and whaling, or at least willing to learn about them. There’s a good story and a lot of philosophizing, and even some humor at times, so as long as you are interested in the random tangents, philosophy, and whaling, it has a lot to offer. I can understand why not everyone can get into it though. One thing that really helps keep it interesting is the brilliant performance by William Hootkins that I got from Audible. The guy is an amazing narrator and really brings the story to life, even the bits about whale anatomy.