Back in May I decided to take another shot at DL Hammons's WRiTE CLUB. Turns out my entry wasn't selected to compete. Fine. That wasn't ultimately all that important to the 500 word story I wrote for it.
(Read it here.)
"Slightly Fitted" began as a challenge for me to overcome something I'd told Nigel Mitchell in my reaction to one of his 100 word stories. Every writer has pet peeves. One of mine is the word "scream." Except on rare occasions, it's just not a description I care to read much less write. After leaving a comment to that regard, I guess I started rethinking that. So I decided to write a scenario where a character heard a scream.
While I was thinking about it, I remembered another piece of micro fiction I'd written over at Sigild, "Facts in the Disappearance of Elmer Haskell." If you take the time to read it, you'll see how incredibly minimalist it is (and very, very short). It was just an idea I had that I never really explored, or particularly wanted to. Except finally I kind of wanted to. I started thinking about it. Elmer turned out to have a sister who went searching for him. I was no longer interested in Elmer himself, or exploring why he disappeared, but the rest of the context.
And it seemed like a great time to once again revisit the Space Corps sandbox.
As my long-suffering readers will probably know, Space Corps is my sci-fi saga. I'm pinned my whole literary future on the absurd belief that I will get a major publisher interested in it. Fame and fortune, movies, all of that. I've developed Space Corps for decades. I made a focal point of Seven Thunders, and wrote the first full-length Space Corps manuscript a few years ago. I sent Seven Thunders to a major publisher. In a little over a month, I will probably get to stop waiting for a response. It's just more slush pile material to them. For me, it's everything. Yeah, I've self-published a good bit of material at this point. I understand that it's ridiculously common at this point for writers to expect self-published or small press books to be legitimate conclusions to their literary journeys. But I want more. Especially for Space Corps. It's a dream.
"Slightly Fitted" is part of a curious development for Space Corps. Most of what Space Corps will be was developed years ago. Refined, sure, over the years, and continually so, but the books in the series I hope one day exist and can be found in any good bookstore (or digital platform) looked like they were all outlined, the story complete. Until I realized it wasn't. I had never actually developed the story of how humanity entered the intergalactic community.
As a Star Trek geek, First Contact was a crucial moment. I adored Enterprise. I love seeing how things begin. In more recent times I've been writing snippets of stories like "Slightly Fitted" that have helped shape this beginning to the Space Corps saga. I snuck one such into The Kennedy Curse, an anthology that for me represents a kind of official literary debut.
Now, Space Corps has primarily become the story of humanity's relationship with the Danab. I could tell you a lot about the Danab, but suffice to say that they're big nasty aliens and there were two major wars fought between Earth and them. Seven Thunders pivots around the second. All these snippets have been shaping the first.
The other thing "Slightly Fitted" explored was the idea of immigrant life. Writer G. Willow Wilson fascinates me for any number of reasons, but one of them is because she's a woman who converted to Islam. So there's a little of that in this particular story, too, and the reason why the main character is a little girl. I could write a lot more about this situation, how it more directly ties in with "Disappearance of Elmer Haskell," for one (which also transforms whatever I used to think I knew about that one). The book outline I've crafted for the new final Space Corps story doesn't necessarily feature any of these elements, but who knows?
What most interested me about "Slightly Fitted," though, was naming a Danab city. I loved what I came up with: Gugu Kendi. "Gugu" as in actress Gugu (goo goo) Mbatha-Raw, who recently starred in Belle but who was also completely adorable in Larry Crowne ("Tis gratis!") and was featured in the short-lived Undercovers. Since the last book will be saturated in all things Danab, this was a fine way to really start getting a feel for them.
(A city name that includes a word like "goo goo" for big nasty aliens? To me, intriguing.)
For me, Space Corps is indistinguishable from sci-fi worlds that exist in movies and television, the ones I love (Star Trek, Star Wars). It's not really something I think about in relation to sci-fi worlds as they exist in other books. I haven't really read a lot of sci-fi books in that regard. Seems kind of stupid. I'm pretty sure I haven't written Seven Thunders in a fashion that's similar to other conceptually similar books (military and/or space opera). Par for the course with the way I write. I think I managed to make it more accessible than, say Pale Moonlight. But what do I know?
Hey, I'm an idiot for my own material. We all are. It's so personal to me, though, that I don't think I could self-publish it, the way I've been going. I don't want it to languish. I think it sells itself. Can't get into WRiTE CLUB, but hey (I thought most of the writers from this year were terrible anyway). Crazy stupid dream.
But they all are.