sci fi

Blackcoats: A Brief Overview

Cryptids, alternate dimensions, zombies, lizard-people—all that stuff is real. That’s where the Cryptid Handling and Extranormal Secret Service comes in. Adam and Holly are two teenagers drafted into C.H.E.S.S. against their will after being genetically experimented on by rogue government scientists. Now they’ll have to learn to work together if they hope to make it out alive.

Blackcoats is a new series, though I’ve been working on it for years. It began as an attempt to create my own Animorphs-inspired series, throwing in a healthy dose of Chuck, Fringe, Men in Black, and Spider-man. The end result is basically Alex Rider meets Maximum Ride.

The first book, Dead Man Walking, will be out on Tuesday this week, and the following book, The Next Mutation, will be out two weeks later. The third book, One World Over, will come out two weeks after that. All are available for pre-order on the Books Page. The plan at the moment is for the series to be comprised of five books, which will closed out the story and tie up all the loose ends. I have plans for further books, but whether or not I write them depend on if the demand is there and how well the initial five books sell. Like Animorphs, the books are written in first person POV, with each book being told from a different character’s POV. The first five books only rotate between Adam and Holly, but that will change if a sixth book is made. As of this writing, the fourth book is fully outlined and the fifth books is heavily outlined as well, though it won’t be finalized until the fourth book is finished. The goal is to have the fourth book out by the end of the year, and the fifth book out by June 2022 at the latest (though hopefully before then).

The books take place in the same world as A Spark Ignites, but other than the Inventor appearing in both, and a few blink-and-you-miss-it references and cameos, Blackcoats is it’s own separate thing. If you haven’t read A Spark Ignites, you’re not really missing anything, but if you liked Blackcoats, then maybe you should check Spark out.

Messages in Writing: Put Down the Hammer

I’m a big sci fi guy. I used to love Doctor Who, although lately I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it. Meanwhile, I recently binged my way through The Orville, which I loved. Both shows are written by writers with similar politics, trying to explore political and philosophical issues through the lens of sci fi (as good sci fi generally does). So why was it that I enjoyed The Orville while being turned off by the recent season of Doctor Who?

The major difference between the two shows is how they explore their subjects. The Orville will raise an issue, explore it from both sides, tell you what each character thinks, and leave it to you to come to your own conclusions. It lets you think. Doctor Who on the other hand (I’ve noticed this with Supergirl as well) will show an issue, demonize anyone who holds an idea different from the writer/main character, hits you over the head with their ‘answer,’ telling you exactly what you should think. Even if you agree with everything they’re saying, its still patronizing.

The Orville is sci fi. Doctor Who is propaganda.

This realization made me realize what I hated about one of my shelved manuscripts. It was pushing a message, where my answer was the ONLY answer. And it just sucked. Rule of thumb, tell a good story before telling a good message, and second, don’t tell folks what they should think (or at least don’t make it so obvious), and instead let them come to the conclusion on their own. If you’re a talented enough writer, they’ll end up exactly where you want them anyway.