Help Desk Turns 20

Submitted by C B Wright on

In 1993 I’d just graduated college and I decided I wanted to do two things: play punk rock music and publish a radical political newspaper or magazine. To do the first I needed a band; to do the second, I needed a printing press.

I had no idea how to actually put a band together. Putting a band together required people skills—while I’m not exactly a recluse, I’m not good at forging alliances. I’d done some solo recording in the past and hoped that would entice like-minded musicians to sort of drift my way, and then Step Three, and then Profit.

That never happened.

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 18

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN Our Hero Must Wrestle With Offers, Refusals, and the Inherent Tensions Between Them

“So,” Grif said, leaving the noisy din of Dyorbid’s behind him as he stepped out onto the walkway, “I think that went rather well.”

Amys fell into step beside him, saying nothing. Cyrus, Ktk, and Morgan followed, Morgan trailing behind as he watched Ktk and Cyrus argue over the merits of the latest Tachyon Induction Drive from Tylaris Drive Mechanics, the ATID 515. Ktk was saying it didn’t see the point in releasing a newer drive that was larger than the previous three models when the primary selling point for the 500 and 510 was size and weight reduction.

Grif glanced at Amys and raised an eyebrow. “You’re quiet.”

Amys shrugged.

“Right…” Grif shook his head and sighed. “Well, I still think it went rather well.”

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 17

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN Loyalties are Questioned, and Deception is Practiced with Depressing Regularity

Baron Minerva Tyrelos fumed beneath her respirator mask as she began the long trek back to her palace. It was ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. If Vindh was telling the truth, then somehow he’d managed to stumble onto one of the most explosive secrets in Trade Baron space… by accident. A small-time smuggler had just managed to find one of the most powerful gamepieces that could end—or escalate—one of the most dangerous conflicts to visit the region in a century or more. If it was true, it would be trouble. The people who murdered Mogra Tylaris wouldn’t be willing to sit back and let Mogra’s brain be dumped into a clone. They would take steps to see that it didn’t happen… and while she believed the Alliance wouldn’t do anything overt, she was absolutely certain that something covert would be coming in due time.

But the risk was far overshadowed by the potential reward. If Vindh actually had what he claimed he had, then it could change everything—and if she controlled it… she hated politics, but she knew how to play the game, and she knew the game was important. If a cloned Mogra Tylaris could make a credible claim for the Tylaris Barony, and she was able to make that happen… well, Mogra would owe her a great deal. She would be able to leverage that for all it was worth, and it would be worth quite a lot.

And Mogra would expect it, she thought to herself. Hell, he would be disappointed in me if I didn’t make him pay through the nose.

Grif Vindh vs. Malcom Reynolds

Submitted by C B Wright on

There have been a number of reviews for Pay Me, Bug! that have compared it to Firefly. I love those reviews, because a) Firefly is awesome, b) I wrote PMB! a year after Firefly’s painfully short-lived run (it came out in 2002, I wrote PMB! in 2003) and yes, the show did leave its mark on me so some comparison is apt, and c) Firefly did a lot of things, story-wise, that I want to do when I write—so being compared to it is a good sign.

(Though I should note that while I was writing PMB! I found myself more influenced by Farscape, and I specifically took inspiration for Grif and Amys’ relationship from an episode where John Crichton and Aeryn Sun impersonate bounty hunters and go by the names “Butch” and “Sundance.”)

There is one part of the comparison that fascinates me, which is when Grif gets compared to Malcom Reynolds. Superficially it’s a good fit: they’re both mavericks, they’re both smartasses, they’re both loyal to their crew, they’re both always getting into trouble. But I think the comparison can really be ONLY superficial. Fundamentally their characters are so different that I don’t think, at the end of the day, they would ever really get along.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought it would be fun to write about why I see it that way, and it mostly has to do with how I view Mal, who has become one of my favorite characters on television and, I think, is the proper heir to Han Solo’s Mantle of Scruffy Nerf-Herder Awesome. So without further ado, here are my Reasons Why Grif and Mal Aren’t the Same, and Why They Probably Wouldn’t Get Along.

A Rake by Starlight - Chapter 16

Submitted by C B Wright on
WHEREIN the Business Partner Evaluates the Merits of the Pitch

Baron Minerva Tyrelos was young for a Trade Baron. She wasn’t a girl by any means—in most professions, she would be considered someone with an extensive resume. But politics, as a profession, skewed old by default; with technology capable of extending human life by decades even without the use of age-slowing anagathics, the “default setting” was beginning to be viewed more as a minimum requirement. Most of the other Trade Barons had been around for a long time, and most remembered when she’d been a girl.

So when her father died, and she assumed his place, she found the transition difficult to manage.

Pages