Thursday, November 03, 2011


I wrote a short piece of fiction for the Star Fleet Comms podcast contest called "Inspired by the Images of Eve". That piece was called "The Rifter" and I'm very happy to report that it was the winner of the contest after judging by Max Torps, Noise, and Penelope Starr.

There were 87 entries including mine and the quality and variety were both very high, so I'm tickled pink at being selected for first place.

I remember trying to write my piece. I looked at the image and was more struck by the structure on the asteroid in the background rather than the ship itself. I'm often drawn to the NPC structures and wondering about who built them, why, who lives there, what do they do, how do they die... etc. So my story popped fully formed in my mind about how this small colony finds a delerict Rifter and decide to try and refurbish it for a colony intra-system transport ship.

However, I quickly realized that I was going to use too many work for world-building and describing why such a change would mean a vast improvement in their quality of life (e.g. not being beholden to transport businesses that charge high rates to bring supplies and take their ore). So I switched the outline to simply salvaging it as everyone understands that concept without much explanation.

Then as I started outlining the story I realized I could not be a verbose in describing scenes and explaining back story as I usually do for my Fiction Friday stories, so I started trimming and condensing, using very specific scenes and events and dialogue to set the scene. It was very hard.

After I finished the first draft I was still 500 words over. Out came the axe again, cutting scenes that involved describing how the salvage sales would improve the life of the miners, and a scene that dealt with the aftermath of the capsuleer's attack on the colony, and finally cutting out a scene where Jorge and his son bond over planning the dismantling of the ship. And I was still 20 words over! One more sentence sacrificed to the altar of word count constraints.

In the end, I felt what I was left with was the bare minimum in terms of telling the story on the points I wanted. But I almost re-wrote it anyways.

The problem was little Tess. I debated if it was too heavy handed to have her as a character. I used her in the beginning to establish that the colony had at least one full family, that the adults were good human beings with close bonds, etc. And then in the end I used her to underscore the inhumanity of the capsuleer. But I worried that it was too obvious, too inhumane, and that the readers would rebel against the end of the story. I ended up going with it, and it looks like it worked since I won, but I think it was a close thing to balance. I like to try and avoid black and white morality stories but sometimes they can work.

Anyway, thanks to the Starfleet Comms crew for the contest and picking my entry and the winner. It is a great honour and really made my week.


  1. Congrats! And well deserved. I haven't read all of them myself, but there are some good ones among the ones I have. I enjoyed your story and didn't think it was heavy handed at all.

  2. Grats dude, haven't read it yet but will be going through them now.

    Fly dangerous o/