Sunday, April 27, 2014

Centurion Six Revisited

I updated the Sketch in My Notebook tab this morning to include the "Centurion Six" project, mostly so that newcomers to the blog can have some choices if they decide to try to dive into some of my crazy-assed short fiction.

I probably should've done this a while ago, but I was initially planning to include "Centurion Six" in the short story collection that has since become "War Stories from Wanderhaven", and with that in mind, I didn't want to make the story too easy to find on the blog.  I wanted to tease its existence, frustrate people with their inability to find all the pieces, and then entice them into buying my book when/if it ever comes out.  But "Wanderhaven" has become a whole different thing now, and if I ever do get around to putting out a print version of Dr. Necropolis/Centurion Six, it won't be for years.

The concept here was to do a prose novel (novella) webcomic-style, one page per week.  But that turned out to be difficult to do for two reasons.  First, as I got deeper into the story, I started developing ideas that required re-writes to some of the earlier chapters--a normal part of the writing process but problematic in a story that's published as it's being written.  And then, too, I'm not a professional writer.  I'm an engineer who writes when he can.  So although I laid out a schedule that I thought would keep me on track, some days I wasn't on my game, and I therefore fell behind my production schedule pretty quickly.

The good news is that the first "issue" of this project is finished, and it's a complete done-in-one story.  Beginning, middle, ending... no problem.   They're probably places where I need to smooth out the prose, but in my humble opinion, both the scene and story structure work, and that's good.

The problems started with Issue 2.  I wanted to dive into the issues of the larger world and really explore some of the social stuff of the near-future, but I never sat down and fleshed those ideas out on paper.  I didn't build the world.  And then, suddenly, I was into the part of the drafting process where I actually needed that stuff, and it was a problem.  So I fell behind, and then I got distracted with other stuff, and...

Maybe I'll come back to this at some point, who knows?  I still play around with these ideas occasionally, and I definitely want to finish "The Return of Dr. Necropolis", which is is essentially just a different part of this same project.

Anyway, here's what I've got so far.  Call it Military-Superhero Science Fiction.

In the near future, tailored genetic mutations become the new weapons of mass destruction.  Easier to hide, cheaper to control, and with far less long-term clean-up costs than so-called “dirty” bombs, non-persistent chemical agents, or even conventional munitions, soon every tin-pot dictator, cult-leader, and nefarious non-state actor on the planet is developing some kind of “ultra-human” capability to push its agenda or just keep its people in line.  Against this, the United States initially deploys small numbers of home-grown uniformed ultra-human soldiers, augmented by an array of costumed vigilante “superheroes” with whom it has a close but unofficial working relationship.  Unfortunately, the mid-21st Century is a litigious place, and in time, this unofficial relationship becomes untenable.  Costumed ultra-human battles create massive property damage as well as frequent civilian injuries or even losses of life.  Moreover, vigilante superheroes are themselves little better than non-state actors once they become involved in international affairs. 

All concerned soon realize that a better strategy is needed.

The Enhanced Forces Division (E.F.D.) is a pilot program that seeks to answer America’s ultra-human security needs.  In exchange for scholarships in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a handful of the country’s best and brightest ultra-humans—many the sons and daughters of the well-known costumed superheroes of yesteryear—are recruited into the New York State National Guard where they are trained, commissioned, and placed on assignment in New York City. These young officers represent America’s first, best line of defense against the genetic monstrosities the outside world now has on offer.

 For the officers themselves, he E.F.D. is more than just their job.  It's their family.  This is their story.

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