Coming June 3rd

Prepare to read this in your best movie trailer voice:

In the 30th Century, history changed.  An army of microscopic robots survived extinction; now they’re sweeping through the galaxy unchecked.  They’ve destroyed thousands of worlds, they’ve taken countless lives, and they’re evolving.  They’ve sampled the human brain, studied it, and modified their neural network, making them smarter and more imaginative.  Their military strategies have become more innovative… and more effective.  Earth’s space fleet is barely holding on as colony after colony falls to the Swarm.

But now history is changing again.  The Swarm says they’ve realized the evil of their ways, and they wish to repent for their sins.  They’re asking for humanity’s forgiveness.  Should the humans forgive the Swarm for all they’ve done, or is this another of the Swarm’s innovative tricks?  Find out in the next Tomorrow News Network adventure: “Children of the Swarm.”

P.S.: Be sure to check out the Swarm’s previous invasions in “A Stranger Comes to Town” and “The Wrong Future.”

Update: I had originally planned for this story to come out on Friday, May 31st.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I have to postpone it to Monday, June 3rd.

Update as of June 3rd: Okay, I thought I was back on schedule, but apparently I was wrong.  I don’t want to make excuses for this delay except to say that 2013 has not been very kind to me.  The story will be ready by the end of the week (probably Wednesday).  If you’ve subscribed to this blog, you’ll get an update when it’s posted.

Preview of “Mother Mars”

I’m sorry to say no story in the Tomorrow News Network series has suffered so many delays as the one I’m currently writing, and unfortunately I am forced to delay it one final time.  It requires just one more weekend’s worth of editing before it will be ready for you, my loyal readers.

So mark your calendars: “Mother Mars” will come out on Monday, April 29th.  And it’s going to be awesome.  In the meantime, please enjoy this brief preview.

2.2 Mother MarsAn android appeared on the viewlink, its silver face glinting under perfect studio lighting.  An orange planet with angry, red bruises appeared over the android’s shoulder accompanied by the words “Tomorrow’s Mars” in bold text.

“That’s not Mars,” Snu said, frowning at the image, but the other academics shushed him.

“We now turn our attention to Mars, the fourth planet orbiting a star named Sol,” the android said.  “Less than a year ago, Martian scientists discovered chronomagnetic energy and began receiving our broadcasts.  We welcome the Martians to our family of viewers.”

Some of the academics burst into cheers.  Others called for silence so they could hear what else the android anchorman had to say.  Snu continued to study the small, dusty planet that could not be Mars, could not be the lush, verdant world where he lived.

“Today is the 500th anniversary of the Martian Scientific Revolution,” the anchorman said.  “It is a time to celebrate the past and look forward to the future, so in that spirit we now bring you this special report.  Tomorrow News Network journalist Talie Tappler joins us live from the future.  Talie, what will Mars be like in another 500 years?”

On the viewlink, a creature apparently called Talie stood in the midst of a rust colored wasteland.  She looked like an Earthling, though she seemed more evolved than the current species native to Earth.  She was significantly less furry, with only a crown of curly, golden hair atop her head.  She wore a midnight blue jacket and matching skirt.  Snu could not identify the fabric, but it was obviously manufactured–not animal skin–its quality perhaps superior to even the finest Martian textiles.

There was no denying it: Talie was a primate humanoid, as alien and ugly as any other Earthling, but when she smiled at the camera, her grin conveyed a sense of arrogance that transcended the barriers between species.  Snu guessed she would fit in among the academic class.  In fact, the academic class, the highest, most esteemed segment of Martian society, might be too base and lowly for someone like her.

“Thank you, Anchorbot 5000,” Talie said.  “We here at the Tomorrow News Network usually report on the major news of tomorrow, but sometimes tomorrow is just another day, and sometimes the day after is no different.  Tomorrows and tomorrows pile up on top of each other with little to distinguish them, but as time goes by, subtle changes accumulate, causing enormous effects.

“Just a few hundred years worth of ordinary days transformed the Martian landscape into what you see behind me, but don’t worry!  One day, twelve thousand years from now, Mars will have a second chance at supporting life.”

The video cut to a shot of the vastness of space, and the camera panned to that same little, orange and red planet.

“That is not Mars!” Snu said.  “Where are the oceans?  Where are the phosphorescent jungles?  Where are the cities and orbital space stations?”

The camera zoomed in, revealing the planet’s blemished surface.  Snu’s eyes fixated on a wide, jagged scar near the equator.  “That cannot be Mars,” he began to say, but his voice faltered.  He shrank back in his chair, carefully setting down his drink.  Snu recognized that scar.  Even without the rivers that ran through it or the patches of green surrounding it, he knew that place well.

A fleet of spaceships approached the planet.  As advanced as Martian science was, it had never produced ships like these.  Snu could not imagine the costs required to launch something so big and bulky into space, much less the nine big, bulky ships the viewlink now showed.

The video cut to a shot inside one of the ships.  Snu cringed, hearing the chatter of alien voices.  Dozens of Earthlings–not the primitive brutes of today but the refined species of tomorrow–crowded around a viewport.  One of the Earthlings made a comment, and the others laughed.  A few held each other.  Others playfully pushed each other around.  A pair of embarrassed parents chased after their children, but the children were having too much fun in zero gravity.  And outside, Snu caught glimpses of that lifeless planet with its distinctive, jagged scar.  As the Earthlings gazed upon the Mars of their present with eagerness and anticipation, Snu stared at the Mars of his future with increasing dread.

Talie appeared, her legs crossed daintily as she drifted about the room.  She began to interview the colonists.  One Earthling called Mars a lifelong dream.  Another wanted to tell her relatives back on Earth that she loved them and missed them.  A third said he was an exobiologist assigned to study Martian life.  Snu gasped with hope, but the man knew of nothing more complex than bacterial life on Mars.

“Bacteria!” Dr. Kikron yelled.  “Is that all that’s left of our civilization?”

The other academics echoed Kikron’s indignation.  They shouted at the viewlink.  Their brains, visible beneath their transparent cranial domes, swelled with rage.  A few stormed off, unwilling to hear any more.

Meanwhile, Talie’s report continued, her smug smile growing wider and wider as the Earthlings landed on Mars, constructed a biodome, and began cultivating Martian soil for their own vile-looking fruits and vegetables.

“The humans of this era have a saying about their new home,” Talie said.  “They say that on Mars, you can jump three times higher and the horizon is three times closer.  This is literally true, of course, since Mars is approximately three times smaller than Earth with one third of the gravity, but it’s also a statement of the unbridled opportunities this once dead world offers.

“Reporting for the Tomorrow News Network, I’m Talie Tappler.”

A scholarly attendant rushed in, his robe and headbands disheveled, his eyes wide with fear.  “My lords!” he said.  “We’ve received word of riots in the capital city!  The people believe the world is coming to an end!”

The academics hurried off to attend to their duties.  Only Snu and Kikron lingered.  The two rival scientists glanced at each other in a moment of shared apprehension.

The viewlink once again showed the sphere of Mars, a monochrome world devoid of life.  Snu turned away.  That jagged scar in the planet’s crust–it was a canyon, the largest canyon on Mars or anywhere in the Solar System.  Decades ago, Snu had made it the subject of his first scientific research, and he’d memorized geological charts of the entire region.  According to the Tomorrow News Network, the Earthlings would call it Valles Marineris, but the ancient Martians had another name for it, a name they still used despite its superstitious overtones.  They called it the Lips of Mother Mars.

Life on Mars

NASA scientists recently announced that life on Mars is possible.  At the very least, they’ve determined it’s not impossible.  We’re still a long way from finding actual Martian life, either in bacterial form or as some kind of prehistoric fossil, but this is a big step forward in Mars research.

Four View of Mars In Northern Summer


I happen to believe that anywhere in the universe that life can develop it inevitably will.  I don’t have much scientific evidence to back that up, other than the extremophile species here on Earth and the mold that keeps spontaneously evolving in my fridge.  But that’s okay.  I’m not a scientist.  I’m a science fiction writer.

The story I’m currently writing is about an ancient civilization on Mars.  This being the Tomorrow News Network series, you can bet something disastrous is about to happen to that ancient civilization.

And for the record, if NASA had announced that they’d proven life on Mars was impossible, I’d be writing this story anyway.  A good motto for any science fiction writer is, “Never let science get in the way of a good story.”

Coming January 28th

The latest edition of Tomorrow News Network comes out on Monday (January 28, 2013).  Here is a quote from Talie Tappler:

For obvious reasons, it’s hard to determine who invented time travel first.  The Acelera built time machines billions upon billions of years ago, but they got the idea from visitors from the future, and those visitors stole the technology from someone else.  Dozens of scientists have filed patents with the Intergalactic Trade Commission, each a few days before the one before, creating not only a legal paradox but a paradox in the space-time continuum.  To further complicate matters, time itself exists in constant flux, history changing and changing again without anyone noticing because our memories change with it.

So who invented time travel?  Well, the Tomorrow News Network’s top researchers found the answer…

And on Monday, we’ll find out what that answer is!  Be sure to come back and read Talie’s latest adventure: “Who Invented Time Travel?”

Preview of “Who Invented Time Travel?”

The first Tomorrow News Network story of the New Year is nearing completion.  It’s called “Who Invented Time Travel?” and will be posted on Monday, January 28th.  Here is a brief preview.

* * *

Like Dorothy caught in a tornado, Alice spun through a vortex of light, seeing colors unlike any she’d experienced before: golds more than gold, reds more than red, whites brighter than white.  A few hazy images flashed by, ranging from cavemen to spaceships.  Alice gripped William’s hand tighter.  In this chaos without warmth or gravity or common sense, he was the only solid thing to hold on to.

Then with a sickening lurch, Alice fell, landing on a mound of earth and rolling down one side.  She heard William crash somewhere nearby.

Alice didn’t know much about physics–she was a philosophy major–but she could confirm they had indeed traveled through time.  A moment ago it had been night; now she stared up through leafy greenness at a day-lit sky.

Something cracked.  William groaned.  Some critter squeaked in panic and scurried off.

“What happened?” William said.

“You tell me,” Alice replied.  “I thought you said work in the lab was boring.”

“We’re studying quantum entangled iota particles, subjecting them to identical stimuli to observe their reactions.  According to one hypothesis, tachyons might connect the iota particle pairs.”

“Okay, you were right,” Alice said.  “That does sound boring.”

Alice attempted to sit up, but her head kept spinning, going both clockwise and counterclockwise at once.  She shook her head.  That only made it worse.

She heard more of that cracking sound as William tried to move, the sound of something both brittle and moist breaking open.

“Tachyons travel faster than light,” William said, “which means they also travel backwards through time.”

“So a bunch of tacky-things exploded, and now we’re time travelers?”

“I guess.”

William didn’t say anything else.  Alice heard another moist crack followed by an astonished grunt.

“William?” she whispered.

“Are these… eggs?” William said.

Alice crawled on her hands and knees and looked over the top of the mound, only it wasn’t a mound.  It was a nest.  Alice had landed on the side, but William lay right in the middle, surrounded by shattered eggshells and thick, sticky yolk.  Several dead embryos the size of half-grown chickens oozed in the dirt.  A pair of Tyrannosaurus parents stood over William, dumbfounded expressions on their faces.

Where’s Today’s Story?

Today I was supposed to publish the tenth and final story of the year, but it’s not quite ready.  I need to take this weekend to perfect it before I can let you see it.  But trust me, it’ll be pretty awesome.  So instead, here’s a “preview.”

Cue ominous movie trailer music and prepare to read this in that movie trailer guy’s voice: In a world where time travel is possible and time travel journalism is normal, one man will see his own future and try to change it.  He will break the laws of causality, he will risk everything to save Earth from total destruction, and he make Talie Tappler cry.  On November 19th, prepare for the epic conclusion to the Tomorrow News Network series: “The Wrong Future.”  Staring Talie Tappler, Mr. Cognis, Secretary of Defense Zane Riscon, and introducing a really creepy guy named Vison Sedrin.

So on Monday, I promise the story will be here, and you guys will love it.  In the meantime, if you haven’t read “A Stranger Comes to Town” you should probably get on that.  There’s a bit of foreshadowing.

I can also tell you that next year I’ll be writing another set of ten Tomorrow News Network stories.  We’ll have more cyborgs, more dinosaurs, and more time traveling journalists.  Also, a special guest star appearance by Albert Einstein!  So follow this blog, bookmark it, or whatever it is you have to do to stay tuned.  This is going to be a lot of fun.

Update: “The Wrong Future” is now finished!  Click here to start reading it.

The Orion War at the Easton Riverside Arts Festival

Two weekends ago, I was invited to read a scene from Tomorrow News Network at the Riverside Arts Festival in Easton, Pennsylvania.  The festival celebrates a wide variety of artists, from musicians to painters to sculptors… and even writers.  I heard a lot of very talented people read a wide variety of stories, from romances to memoirs to poetry.

For your viewing pleasure, here is my reading from the Tomorrow News Network story “The Orion War.”  (Please forgive how bad I am at public speaking.)

Prefer not to listen to the sound of my voice?  I don’t blame you.  Click here to just read the story.

In other news, the story originally meant for publication in September will be coming out on Wednesday, October 3rd.  Talie Tappler will be visiting a quiet, small town in the old, American West.  What could possibly go wrong?

Writing Process: Drawing Characters

An important part of my writing process is getting a sense of what the characters in my stories look like.  So before I get too deep into the story, I draw all the major characters.  Every Tomorrow News Network story features Talie Tappler (you can find pictures of her all over this website), but each month we also meet some new people, the unfortunate people Talie is covering for the news.

This month’s story is called “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts.”  The story is exactly what the title promises: a life and death struggle between dinosaurs and astronauts.  To get started, I drew some concept art in my little sketchbook.  In the pictures below, you can see all the astronauts and two of the featured dinosaurs.

That’s how I get started.  How about you, my fellow writers and other artistic folks?  What do you do to get your projects started?

P.S.: “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts” was originally scheduled to come out Monday, July 23rd, but I’ve decided to postpone it a few days.  It will now come out on Wednesday, July 25 Friday, July 27 (I promise the date won’t change again).  With a story this awesome, it deserved a little extra time to make sure I get it right.

Coming June 15th: Death to History

After centuries of war, racism, and social injustice, after centuries of one religion versus another, of death and destruction upon the whole human race, one man has united the various nations of Earth.  One man has brought peace to the whole world, and the world has thanked him by electing him President of the new Earth Republic.

But this man is not who he appears to be.  Only his long lost sister knows the truth, and because of what she knows about this man, this hero to all humanity, this first President of Earth—because of his terrible secret, he must die.

Coming June 15th: Gina Zaphiro will assassinate Earth’s President.  She will murder her brother.  The future depends on it.

Coming in April

When I decided to write this series, promising a new story every month for ten months, I knew it would be a daunting task.  In addition to writing the stories, I have to do the illustrations and web design to go with them.  Fortunately, so far I have managed to stay on schedule and I can announce that April will bring a lot of exciting new material.

On Monday, April 2nd, I’ll be adding a new profile to the Meet the News Team section.  This character was already mentioned in two of the previous stories and will play an important role in the story for April.  I think it’s time you met Talie’s boss.

Later this month, I’ll also be posting a little more information about the human race’s nearest neighbor and greatest enemy, the Hykonians.  They crashed at Roswell in “99 White Balloons” and still held a grudge against us in the distant future of “The Orion War.”  So who are these people and why do they hate us so much?

Most importantly, April’s story will come out on Monday the 16th.  It is entitled “The Opera of Machines” and will give us our first look at the Tomorrow News Network’s headquarters.  You can expect a brief preview scene on Wednesday, April 4th.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so please check out the first three stories in the series by clicking on the links in the Table of Contents section of the home page.  Comments are always welcome!