It’s a Long Way…


Comic Scifi Droid Superhero Character

The real David Braben. What you see is latex and goat hair.

Quotation rumoured to be from an internal Frontier draft memo, ‘Maintaining Correct Relations with the Minions’, Chapter Two, ‘How the Writers MUST See Us’:  

‘Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic… regarded this earth us with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.’
H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds.

As other Elite: Dangerous writers finish with editing and prepare to face Frontier’s vast and cool and unsympathetic intellects, the forums echo with the sounds of rejoicing. Yet, the reverberations are falsely hearty, covering the drip, drip, drip of insidious fear and slight loss of bladder control.

Singing on the Frontier

On the fringes, out in the Darkness, things are quiet, but far from still. There is much editing, but creativity still spasms long enough to summarise progress in song, and to bring a little merriment to the outer-reaches:

‘It’s a long way to Typo-rarely,
It’s a long way to go,
It’s a long way to Typo-rarely,
To the sweetest book I know!
Goodbye Prosaic-silly! Farewell Letter’s-scare!
It’s a long, long way to Typo-rarely,
But my heart’s right there!’*

Beta-1 is finished! The second half will be winging its way to my faithful readers and editor-in-chains to be chewed, digested, and excruciated. Any pain they feel will be visited back on me ten-fold as I incorporate their suggestions.

The basic story is there. It needs cleaning up, polishing until it shines like a Thargoid’s chitinous bottom. Am I on target for April? I don’t know. (There’s honesty for you.) It’s going to be close, with additional editorial sweeps, Frontier approval, and a proof-read, type-set, and cover needed before release.

Ground Thargoid Genitals, or Federal Gold Reserve?

Reader feedback, taken from emails, so far includes:

‘Story gripping – looking forward to next half’

‘Quite glad I started reading it from the beginning again actually…[reference to Christmas plans removed] …FWIW, I’m actually finding it more exciting this time around.’

‘It’s got a very solid structure, great characters, surprises even at the end by not relying on conventional story resolutions.’

‘I am at page 169 and the narrative is still coming along strong. Sure, there are some wording suggestions I make, but other than…[edit note removed: spoiler] …it’s a great first draft.  Solid bones and structure, good language use, pacing etc.’

Of the quotes, one is from someone who doesn’t often read fiction, and three from people who aren’t Elite, or even SF, fans. ‘Surely that disqualifies their opinion!’ you cry. I don’t believe so. If what I write receives a positive reception from the uninitiated heathen and the early beta reads well enough to engage a potentially hostile audience, then it’s doing something right.

I’m not resting on my laurels—there is dissent in the ranks. One reader used the word ‘persevere’, which isn’t a good sign. There’s more to do, but, so far, that’s 4 to 1 in favour, even before Out of the Darkness has a proper sheen put on it.

Shining-it-up won’t come easily. There’ll be a cost:

Picture David Braben on a group Skype call to all the Elite: Dangerous authors. He’s wearing a man-tard, knee-length knitted leggings, and his hair swept back in a towelling Alice band. While Michael Brookes guides the webcam, shouting, ‘You tell it, David!’ Mr Braben strides up and down, passion lending force to his words:

‘Writers! You got big dreams.

You want fame?
well, fame costs.

And right here is where
you start paying, in sweat.’* **

And with that eye-watering word-image, I’ll leave you. Beta-2 calls.

* Extracts recycled from a blog comment and the Frontier forums. I wrote them, so I can. Why? Because writers are green too, and it means I can finish this post quicker and get back to work. What more could you want from your very own pen-elf?

 ** Quote altered from the script of 80s TV series, ‘Fame’. If it’s copyright infringing to quote five iconic lines that most kids back then knew by heart, then email before launching a multi-million pound lawsuit.



‘Comic Scifi Droid Superhero Character’ © benchart –

‘Alien DJ’ © Scott Maxwell –

Aliens in envelope, ‘correo’ © Ronda –

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2 Responses to It’s a Long Way…

  1. John Harper says:

    Good luck with Beta-2 T.J. Do you have a feeling yet for an end date or are things just coming as they go?

    • TJames says:

      Thanks, John. There’s just too many unknowns to predict an end date, yet. I’m hoping the next draft will be good enough for Frontier to approve the content, but as the story’s galaxy-spanning (well, almost) and incorporates a lot of novel (pun not deliberate, but I’ll leave it in) ideas the approval process is going to take a while. I’ve got some professionals on board to help me polish the final version, but that means a few more run throughs after this one. Basically, it’s done when it’s done…

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