Friday, July 27, 2012


The seventh and final chapter in Monorama is "Quagmire," and it is the most blatantly incomplete story in the collection.  In another life, it has the subtitle "A Fragment from Darkness Falls on a Dark Land," which might make it sound slightly less mysterious.

It is the oldest piece in the collection, dating back to 2002, part of an aborted longer form short fiction that I attempted at the time, several other fragments of which still exist (and if you're crafty enough on Scouring Monk, you can find them, and several other ancient things as well).  It's the most interesting part of the nearly 30,000 words I still have from that effort, and probably represents the most editing I did for the whole collection.

"Quagmire" is best represented in this form because the whole story was later modified as a carefully constructed foundation myth (read: lie) at the center of a vast science fiction epic I'm still working on with the umbrella title Space Corps.  It's the only story that I've got from it that only features aliens, and was until earlier this year the only one I've actually written.  I've had the curious inability to be tangibly productive for this whole affair, though I'll soon start work on Seven Thunders, the book that lies at the emotional center of the Space Corps saga.  No, this is not a plug.  This is simply to say if you're wondering where the rest of "Quagmire" is, the answer's more complicated than you might have guessed.

I chose to include it for two reasons.  One was to get some Space Corps material in print.  The other was because "Quagmire" is fundamentally different from everything else in the collection.  I tend to not write like that anymore, but it's a sign that I am at least capable of it, and the fact that it throws the reader in the middle of things one way or another is just icing on the devious little cake.  (Basically, the Alliance of Five discovers that negotiations for peace can be complicated by unforeseen factors.  "Alliance of Five" is my updated term for these guys, by the way.  It used to be worse.)

One character pulls out what's basically a cross between a lightsaber and a Green Lantern ring, and I must tell you now that this is the only time this weapon has any kind of significance in any Space Corps story.  It is meant to distinguish the character who wields it.  He pops up in many more stories.  The guy he pulls it on is another reason why I retain fond memories of "Quagmire," because I love his name (even though that was one of the things that's changed over the years), and he, too, pops up again.  If it weren't for this encounter, it's unlikely that "Quagmire" would have found its way into the collection.  It's not big, but it stands out in my memory as a moment where I made something cool happen in my own fiction.  What writer doesn't cherish something like that?  Everything else happening around these two characters is somewhat tangential, and doesn't even begin to explain what's going on.  If you think of the first time Dylan Hunt met Tyr Anasazi in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, then maybe the scene does its job.

"Quagmire" throws a lot of characters at you, and explains why they're all there, but it's incapable of explaining in itself why you should care.  It's just a snippet, hopefully exotic enough that you wonder what else is out there.  In that way, it's exactly like the rest of the collection.


  1. Tony Space Corps sounds like a huge project. That lightsaber ring thing sounds pretty cool.

    1. It's a ridiculously huge project. There's enough material for a dozen books, depending how I package some of the stories.


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