The Art of Creativity, Systems, and Miracles

With a basic story premise approved, it was time for me to move on to the how and the what of story writing. This has been proving something of a challenge. There have been many attempts over the years to find and market the ‘perfect’ method of writing a book. A quick search will bring up several systems developed to standardise and so focus a writer’s approach. For some writers these aids can be very useful – providing a logical framework to hang their work from. For others, sad to say, it’s an ineffective way of compensating for lack of talent. I know in this politically correct age I’m not supposed to write stuff like this, but no amount of practicing the piano is going to make me Beethoven, and I’m never going to win Got to Dance, The Voice, or any other TV talent show. Hopefully, I do possess the basic … Continue reading

David Braben: ‘Hi TJ, This All Looks Great to Me.’

It’s taken four days, multiple emails, much head scratching, lots of hacking and slashing, and the ejecting into the darkness of the first plot, but finally I have a go from His Royal Brabaness for Out of the Darkness (Mk II). Thargoids still feature, but due to game constraints a hefty wedge of tech and the main story premise had to be ejected. Replacing them with something engaging wasn’t easy, but the new plot now sits (by necessity) much more deeply in its Elite setting and there’s lots of potential for a gripping story. I feel sorry for Frontier. With the change in emphasis I won’t be pushing so many unusual tech ideas, but there will likely be a storm of emails and possible forum postings clarifying the minutiae of galactic workings. They’re really busy, so I’m sure we writers are not always their favourite people. You can imagine the conversation over coffee: Michael Brookes: ‘So, … Continue reading

The Thargoid Guide is Done, so Now I Wait and Sit on My Bum

It’s finally done! The Thargoid Guide is now being circulated around the Elite fiction writers’ forum so that everyone writing about our insectoid friends can start putting some words on paper, including yours truly. Playing a part in the creation of an alien race has been both challenging and enjoyable. It’s taken a lot of effort on the part of everyone to get this far, and we are all hoping that readers and gamers alike will enjoy the results when the fiction and game hit the shelves in 2014. There is still some polishing to do, but the result will be a team effort, with contributions, suggestions, and amendments provided by everyone involved along the way. Obviously this means that many of my initial ideas have been dropped or changed from the original draft as Frontier’s vision for our space-borne antagonists became clearer. I can honestly say I am not … Continue reading

‘Elite’ Game Remakes and Fan Fiction vs. The Official Version: Visions of a New Tomorrow

Rejoicing they flew: white lines, block-filled triangles, and shaded panes of colour; the sounds of the void beeping and burping in one ear before separating and enveloping them in textured audible reality. But they were cast into the outer darkness – for years nothing but a blanket of false hope to shield them from the coldness of uncertainty. It could have ended there, their humanity leached into the uncaring nothingness around them. Broken, cold. ‘We cannot die,’ a voice inside them said, ‘for if we die then The Dream will die with us as our Messiah sleeps, dreaming of rails and screaming children throwing up Slushies on the crowds 50m below. So, while He dreams of ticket sales and ice cream, we will attempt our own resurrection.’ And Alpha was born. Alpha was silent, ugly, temperamental. Alpha was no fun to play. So they emailed, forummed, read, and coded, and Beta was born. Beta was … Continue reading

There’s Thargoids on the Starboard Bow, Starboard Bow, Starboard Bow, There’s Thargoids on the Starboard Bow, Starboard Bow, Commander!

Here we are, nearly halfway through February as I type this, amazed at how well several of the other writers working on their Elite: Dangerous novels are getting along. There’s talk of outlining, approval from Frontier, plan-draft critique and all kinds of progress. You are lucky, lucky people because there’s a dedicated crew of word-monkeys typing madly to bring you a wall of Elite fictional goodness as you read this (between peeling the odd banana and picking insects from their armpit hair, but everyone is entitled to some time off). While their creativity flows in a torrential outpouring of brilliance, what have I been able to eke out of the unforgiving bedrock of my imagination? Nuggets. Thargoid shaped nuggets. The thing about aliens is that they are, well, alien, which means they need defining/refining if they aren’t to come off the page as humans in rubber suits. (I love the original 60s Star Trek series, … Continue reading

First Encounters: Working with Frontier’s Indigenous Life Forms

  Over the last couple of weeks there has been a flurry of emails winging their way through the ether (sorry, that’s steampunk, wrong genre) discussing Out of the Darkness and how it fits into the Elite: Dangerous universe. One unforeseen, and very positive, outcome was that the lovely Frontier indigenous life forms (FILFs) have asked me to contribute some ideas for the game universe by compiling one of the E: D writer’s guides. Developers and writers will use the guides when creating content for the game and the fiction that goes with it. Of course, I jumped at the chance! Being given the opportunity to work with these talented FILFs is a privilege, but I imagine you are sitting there thinking, Why should I care? Well, it was the ideas for the backstory and setting for the book that they liked which means I seem to be on the right … Continue reading

Progress Report: Medical Emergency Averted

After a prolonged course of orifice evacuation with the distilled biofluids of the Tinginian Bloatworm, and the ingestion of some immuno-enhancing Cocoa Bars, I am gradually returning to a normal level of function. Although I’m still behind, I’ve managed to catch up with a few things: The Backer’s Wall on the main website is complete. (Please feel free to contact me if there is a problem with your entry.) The standard eBadge is now available for download. (Those in an eligible reward tier, please see your personal messages on the Kickstarter website for the link.) I’ve redesigned this blog so it’s readable. The executive backer eBadge design is nearly finished, as are the certificates. I hope to send these out before the end of January. As for the writing, I came up with a background story arc that I could use as a setting for the book, but it turns … Continue reading

A New Strain of Ackanphi Plague: Current Inoculations Proving Ineffective.

This will  be  a brief post. By now I was hoping to have finished sending out everyone’s short-term rewards and have the website done. I wanted to turn my eyes to the stars and dream of things as yet unwritten… Instead I’ve been laid out with the worst stomach flu I’ve had in years (now on Day 7 and showing no improvement so far). I will catch up with everything when I feel human again, assuming the pathogen isn’t sentient and this isn’t just the first stage in my loss of self-determination and the subsuming of my will to a virulent cellular consciousness. Now you have read this post, please thoroughly wash your eyeballs and refrain from blinking in public for at least 48 hours.

Welcome to the “Out of the Darkness” News Blog

Welcome to a new blog, a new website, and the start of the long but exciting road to publication of Out of the Darkness, a gritty science fiction story set in the Elite: Dangerous game universe. Thanks to the generous backing of the Elite community on Kickstarter we achieved 122% funding: enough to buy the rights to set the story in the Elite universe and to make professional editing of the manuscript prior to publication a realistic possibility. Thank you again to everyone for your backing and support of the project. Where next? Practically I have several things I want to achieve in the short-term: Fulfill the short-term rewards I made to my Kickstarter backers. Finish this blog and website (as part of the above). Immerse myself in the Elite universe to gain inspiration for the story and to ensure it fits with how the universe has evolved from the earlier games. Keep you updated with any significant … Continue reading