A Change of Pace



Sometimes a writer feels as stale as two-week-old bread.

Or perhaps just fed up with what they’re writing. Especially if they’ve been writing a series.

Well, in my case it more like writing a bunch of singletons and mini-series in a single universe. Or multiverse. And you finish one and stare at the screen and say. “No. I’ve done everything, it’s all over. There nothing left . . .”

In real life, normal people take vacations.

Which are good for writers, too. Except that were mostly spend it absorbing new places that would be perfect to write into a scene, observing new people and thinking about how that type would be so useful . . . Especially the obnoxious ones that are so fun to kill in print . . .

But writers occasionally need to take their writing on a vacation. A challenging, difficult vacation.

Jump to a new genre. An entirely new type of character. An entirely new sort of problem.

It’s not easy.

My books are mostly Science Fantasy. That is to say, I try to scientifically explain, well, handwave, magic with “genetic engineering” and so forth. And really, portals to parallel Earths aren’t any less disproven than FTL.

But inside that setting of mine, I have written stories about escaping from slavery, survival in the wilderness, murder mysteries, spies, thrillers, love stories, comedies . . .

So I have trouble “Getting away from it all.”

So . . . The first thing I have to do, is leave the Multiverse, and write in a whole new Universe.

Hard SF? Straight SF, Space ships and Pirates. Absolutely no magic allowed. Okay, “In the Rift” was fun to write.

Time travel. Right. “Time Loop” worked.

Artificial Intelligence? The computer that took over the . . . cooking world?

Okay, I need to go further astray.

Romance. Oh . . . the obsessed focus on the relationship is very difficult for me to keep to. While I’ve come close in “One Love” it doesn’t follow the expected genre plot structure.

Historicals? Mysteries? My grasp of history is weak. . . trust me, you DO NOT WANT to see my attempt at Cadfael fanfic. And while “Dancer” worked all right as a mystery, my arranging of clues to find was pretty clunky and disorganized. I got by, by having the POV Character a bit ditzy.

Anyway, all this blather is just to explain that I have not lost my mind. I am clearing my mind. By writing a story, working title “Superheroes vs the Space Aliens.” And the main character is an aging Super Villain.

Is the world ready for this? Here’s a sample:



The dancers were prettier than ever, and Will got enough of the skimpy-sized watered-down senior drinks to get buzzed. Enough to get fresh with the lady he met in one of the casinos. Buzzed enough to let her take him “somewhere private.”

Fifty years ago, he would have sneered at her.

Forty years ago, he might have been tempted.

Thirty years ago it would have taken twice as much alcohol to get a buzz.

Twenty years ago it would have taken twice the dose of knockout drops to slow him down.

Ten years ago the knockout drops might have actually worked.

Tonight they worked.



He blinked and focused on the peeling paint of a water-stained ceiling.

Someone was cussing. Something about bloody weird credit cards . . . He was woozily amused. He carried some of those himself. Made them . . . ages ago. I wonder where they got theirs? He looked around the dingy officey looking place. Cheap battered furniture, massive electronics on the desk and floor. Pretty girl . . . well, she was younger than he was, they’d had a drink . . . and walked to the next casino . . . no wait, she’d said something about privacy . . . Then nothing.

Knock out drops?

He sat up indignantly. “Knockout drops? I’ve gotten so senile I can fall for a doped drink? Bloody damn hell. I hate getting old.”

The woman spun around. “Damn, you used up half my bottle, getting you out. Why are you awake?”

“Cause I’m a mean old cuss. And my credit cards won’t do you a lick of good.” He scowled at the man, who’d spun around at the computer filled desk. And back at the woman. She didn’t look nearly so good in normal lighting.

Will frowned at them. “Now you’re pretty easy to classify, but your boyfriend looks more like a computer nerd than a pimp.”

Double glare. “That’s my brother. He’s a BRILLIANT scientist, he just needs money for his experiments.”

The man nodded. “The FDA testing protocols are damn near impossible for an individual. And when I was with the university, they wanted the patents in their name. Corporations wouldn’t be any different. It’s not fair!”

Will rubbed his eyes. If the woman looked older on sober inspection, the man looked younger. “FDA? Federal Drug Administration? You working on the next generation of antibiotic, or are you going for some genetic thing?”

“Genetic engineering is illegal.”

Oh yeah. Because of the monsters The Corporation created. Like, well, me.

“I’m looking at age extension therapies. Telomerase, mitochondrial replication, and stimulating in vivo stem cell reversion.”

“In vivo . . . ” He boggled a bit. Medicine and biology aren’t my fields. I’m more into doomsday machines of the explosive variety. But that doesn’t sound too bad. “How far have you gotten?”

“Well the animals that survive are doing great.”

“The ones that survive? What percent survive?”

“Twenty . . . almost.”

“Umm, that’s not real good.” He lurched to his feet. “Show me.”

“Why, so you can tell the police?”

“Police? ME! Go to the police!” Will, previously known as Doctor Inferno, looked around, but couldn’t find his cane to shake at the brat. “Sonny, you don’t know who you’re dealing with. And I’m not so senile that I’d tell you. Anyhow, I have a soft spot for a mad scientist. World needs more of them.”

The front office might be shabby, but the back would make any mad scientist proud.

There were blinking red and blue lights on anonymous equipment, and test tubes and beakers. Cages of animals with beady eyes. Refrigerators and little brown bottles . . .

“Don’t mix those up, I need to keep them straight, which animals get which version.” The boy was trying hard to look tough and mean.

Will grinned. “Is this where you say ‘Now we’ll have to kill you’ with a mad cackle?” The former evil super villain straightened his stiff back as far as it would go and felt every one of his three hundred and eighty-nine years.

“Errr . . . “

“The proper mad scientist thing to do is use me for an experiment. Where’s your latest stuff?”
Will followed the direction of his gaze.

“It’s not so much that it’s new as that I think I’ve got it all together in a single intravenous injection. But . . . “

I must still be drunk. Or under the influence of the knockout drugs.

He made them give him a massive dose.

23 comments

  1. I take it the treatment works, for certain definitions of working? Else we’d be out one narratorโ€ฆ

    But does it work, or merely ‘work’? Makes him a little better, but not much?

    Reminds me of a bit from Cryoburn by Lois Bujold, Miles and Mark talking about the Durona Group’s anti-aging experiments.

    Miles: “The Fountain of Youth?”
    Mark: “More like the Fountain of Middle Age.”

    1. Are you asking for Pam to “Let You Have It”?

      Be careful about what you’re asking for, you might get it. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  2. First, let me say. I usually intensely dislike Bad Guys As Protagonists, as well as Bad Guys Who Aren’t REALLY that bad… In Doc Inferno’s case… I’ll make an exception. Well done! More please!

  3. Maybe the world does not want and is not ready for this brilliance, but the world needs and deserves it.

    Show them. Show them all!

    Mwahahaha!!!

      1. I was able to nap, and may have gotten a little bit more lucid. ๐Ÿ™‚

        I think the story sounds very promising, and I am looking forward to it.

  4. Last night, I finished Double Dragon. I’d call that “different”. It’s at least as different as Lawyers of Mars, but in a different way. And I just reviewed it, since if I have time to leave this comment, I have time to leave a review.

    I’m not sure if it your writing style or your characters (so I’ll embrace the power of “and”) that make your books so much fun to read.

    The other day, I mentioned that you held my record for most read books by a single author in a single series. The obvious follow-up question – what is the series about? – left me flummoxed. As you mention, you’ve been all over the place with Wine of the Gods. It’s not really “about” any one thing. I can see why you would want to move on, but it is such a sprawling (multi)universe and you have already created so many characters and worlds, that there is room for any number of stories in it.

    1. Yeah, every time I think I’ve had enough . . . someone like Ice ambushes me.

      Double Dragon was hauled out from under the bed, re written a few years ago, forgotten when I killed two computers inside of a few days. Then I tripped over it again . . . “Hey wait! This thing’s ready to go!” So I published it before I forgot again.

      And for those with a soft spot for redheaded boy wizards, I’ve got a collection coming out RSN.

  5. A young and amateur Mad Scientist, an old and retired Mad Scientist (presumably the antihero protagonist), an amoral Adoring Kid Sister, an anti-aging serum, used on someone who’s already escaped his age too much for anyone’s good…

    This is gonna be fun!

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