Welcome!

This blog, by writer and aspiring novelist Stephen G. Parks, is about science fiction, space, creativity, and occasionally wildly off-topic ideas such as ethics, politics, music, or journalism. Take a look around, maybe leave a comment!

RECENT BLOG POSTS:

Putting the Cart Before the Horse - Malaysian Real Estate Style

When I first arrived in Kuala Lumpur, my employer gave me a list of real estate agents to contact - these are people used to helping foreigners, and who apparently ‘know what we want.” I thought that was odd at the time, but just dismissed it as expat hubris. Three years later, I completely understand those remarks. READ MORE

Transformative cover songs

One thing that my partner and I disagree on is cover songs. As often as not, her first exposure to an old song I love is through a cover version made popular much later. Again, as often as not, I find the cover version to be lacking any transformative soul. Often I find them to be desecrating a great old song.

I don’t know how many times we’ve started listening to a song, and she’s said, “I know this song. Sarah Brightman sings it!”

To which my invariable response has been, “Maybe she does, but she didn’t sing it first, and she certainly didn’t write it. How about we enjoy the original singer-songwriter?” READ MORE

What Can Scalzi’s First Novel Teach New Authors?

Whether you love him or hate him, John Scalzi is incredibly influential and is probably the highest-paid science fiction writer today. in 2015, Scalzi signed a ten-year, 13 book, $3.4 million deal with Tor publishing.  Part of my learning process is to deconstruct successful novels to see what I can learn from them. It makes sense to look at John Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War. READ MORE

The Value of Expiration Dates

One of the on-going discussions in our household is how valid expiration dates on food really are. My partner tends to treat them as sacrosanct. I, on the other hand, feel that common sense should be applied to them, as I feel they’re often abused to make you throw away and re-purchase edible food. READ MORE

The year in writing (so far)

Recently published stories:

  • My First Cosplay  (published July 17, 2016)- How would aliens handle the ‘dressing up’ part of Hallowe’en?
  • Forget Me Nots (published July 25, 2016) A countdown to the end

I’ve noticed that some writers like to keep tabs on how their year as a writer is going. I’ve never done that before, but the ones I see doing it are ones that seem more committed to writing, so I figured that was good company to keep. Here we go!

Short stories I’ve written so far in 2016 (1,500 - 4,500 words each):

  • Death vs Taxes - why does the IRS want to meet the Grim Reaper?
  • The Curator - a diligent zookeeper is trying to save a nearly extinct species, but both of his last two humans are male
  • The Wind Wasn’t Right - Deep space accident investigation leads to a fry cook in Hong Kong
  • Sylvester Down - A luxury yacht travelling out past the moon is attacked.
  • Graceful Degradation - everything fades: songs, books, photos, memories…
  • Zeus Beheld - So the Greek Gods went on a five year voyage around the galaxy, but didn’t understand time dilation, and return 3,400 years later.
  • Dee for the Win - A young man tries too hard to be the best racer in his village.
  • Plus I have opening lines or scenarios for 15 more.

New short stories on this site (100-word 'drabbles')

Continue reading...

Does automation liberate or enslave society?

A few things in the news lately have got me thinking about the first books I read by Isaac Asimov - Caves of Steel, and its sequel, The Naked Sun.

So what in the news brought this all to mind (books written in the 1950s, read in the 1970s)? There have been a few news stories recently that point towards the obsolescence of humans: McDonalds and Wendy’s are planning robotic stores; Amazon has discovered that replacing warehouse workers with robots saves time, space and money; an AI wrote a movie script; Truckers are worried what autonomous trucks will do to their livelihood, and the insurance industry can’t figure out how self-driving cars will impact your insurance premium. Continue reading...

Speculating on the Game of Thrones End Game

Like everyone, I watch Game of Thrones and wonder how it will end. I know according to Cersei, it never ends, but that’s beside the point. The TV series will end, and it will look for some closure somehow.

Lately I wonder if enough of the pieces are in motion that we can see how it works out. from here on it’s pure speculation written after seeing Season 6, episode 6. if you’re reading this later, events may have precluded some of my ideas. Read on...

Songs as Sources of Inspiration

I guess every point of refuge has its price
- The Eagles, Lyin’ Eyes.

Song lyrics - go figure.

Like many new writers, I first started my chapters with song lyrics - the embodiment of the idea I wanted to express. Like most writers, I got over it, but still, for longer works, I do usually have a playlist that represents moods or concepts, if not ideas, that I want to express. These aren’t necessarily favourite songs by any means. They just capture, or evoke in me, an aspect of a story that I want to share.

I Want to Believe

Star Trek Beyond has been on my mind a lot lately. Paramount’s treatment of Star Trek, and specifically the JJ Abrams reboot of the concept in 2009, has been irritating me more and more. I know I’m not alone. You see it on Reddit, you see it in film sites. Old-school fans aren’t happy with how the franchise has been treated in the JJ Trek universe and much of that unhappiness came into focus with the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond.

But a few things have happened recently that offer optimism.

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