A Horizon Q400 like the one stolen by Richard Russell, the Seatle plane thief.

On the evening of Friday August 10th, 2018, Horizon Air Ground Service Agent Richard Russell approached an unattended Horizon Bombardier Q400 parked in a cargo and maintenance area of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. After using equipment to rotate the plane toward the runway, Russell boarded and started the engines. Soon he was taxiing despite the protests of Sea-Tac Air Traffic Control.

The Seattle plane thief’s flight struck a chord with me. Although I caught the story just a few short hours after Russell ended his life, I deliberately avoided listening to the recordings of his conversation with ATC.

The following week, a couple of coworkers decided to listen to the audio. Walking out of our shared office would have looked strange, so I sat and listened to the Seattle plane thief’s final hour while filing my flight packets.

Continue reading “Richard Russell”

 

Corrupt GVEA Logo

One of the hallmarks of my writing is an unflinching appraisal of the problems within our society, and what it says about where we’re headed. This commentary is heavily influenced by my own experiences. Enraging, traumatic, frustrating or humorous, in the end it’s all story fuel one way or another. What follows is a humorous look at some recent battles with my electric company.

Inspiration struck last night when I noticed that my ISP hadn’t charged my credit card when they should have.
GCI rep: We’d be happy to look into that for you. What’s your passcode?
Me: Heck if I know. I only have to call you guys once every couple of years. I’m really surprised your new e-bill system lost my payment– you guys are usually the opposite of GVEA.

For reference, Golden Valley Electric Association is my electric company and the gold standard of suck. Shortly after that conversation with my ISP’s billing department, my neighborhood was struck by a blackout.

GVEA: THAT’S for having the gall to criticize our broken payment system and lousy service.
Me: For freak’s sake, it’s barely even windy!
GVEA: I’m sorry, our outage line is currently out of service.

Continue reading “Commonplace Corruption”

Happy Labor Day!

Those of you who know me or have been following this blog for a while know that I rarely take a day off. I write, blog, or otherwise work on author stuff both before and after my day job. I don’t generally take weekends off either. In honor of Labor Day I have decided to take a weekend off from putting out a standard, full-length blog post.

Those of you who follow me on social media may have heard that I was working on a couple of potential posts for today, one of which was tentatively titled A Small Dark Stone. That flash fiction has turned into a longer story. I may post it here at a later date, but for now it’s still a work in progress.

In the meantime, check out some of my other writing. Middle Finger to the World  is a cyberpunk reflection on the trajectory of a broken life, and Interference is the first chapter of a longer future noir story currently under construction. It will feature sentient androids, human biases, and a freelance IT specialist caught up in a dark and gritty murder mystery. More flash fiction can be found under A Taste of Things to Come.

If you’re interested in checking out some of my longer work, Necrotic City  is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other fine booksellers. Most recently it has been hailed as “Robocop meets Dante’s Inferno,” and you can read the full review here.

Hel’s Fury  is a short story about love and injustice in a grim future Alaska where technology has advanced, but human rights are still stuck in the 1950s. It’s featured in the charity collection Trumpland: An Alternative History of the Future.

Be good to each other. Standard posts will resume next weekend.

Johnny always was an odd kid.

He got beaten at school almost as much as he did at home– and that was saying something, since he rarely left home without fresh bruises. The beatings gave him a fatalistic streak, but they never seemed to break his spirit. Even when he was spitting out teeth, he always had a middle finger up and a defiant “Fuck you!” on his lips.

We lost touch after high school. I went into the trades, and Johnny went wherever kids raised by violent single dads go. I heard he got busted for something stupid and did a stretch in Arizona. I heard he found true love, got a minimum wage job and tried to go straight. Found out he had cancer. Lost his girlfriend after he tried to kill himself. After that, I didn’t hear about Johnny anymore.

When an angular shadow shambled out of a dark alley, staggered into me, and darted away crowing with glee and waving my wallet, I hadn’t thought of Johnny in years.

Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Middle Finger to the World”

Cover of Stormhaven Rising by Eric Michael Craig

In the wake of the discovery of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, the United States government scrambles to contain the news before it can spark a panic– but some secrets are too big to keep. Soon they aren’t the only ones rushing to devise countermeasures.

Their most viable competitors are the Chinese, and a global megacorporation to end all megacorporations: Stormhaven, founded and run by uber wealthy reclusive genius Colton Taylor. (Think Elon Musk, but considerably more altruistic and an all-around decent human being.)

Set in a near future where the US Department of Defense and NASA have only become more encumbered by bureaucratic gridlock (and in NASA’s case, insufficient funding,) private sector technologies have evolved leaps and bounds beyond that of the public sector. As such, Taylor’s Stormhaven may be the only real hope Earth has. There’s just one problem: private spaceflight is strictly forbidden, not just in the US, but on a global scale. In light of the strained political climate of impending doom, the last thing the US government wants to do is grant Stormhaven permission to reach space.

The tense and at times disastrous narrative that evolves from this situation is equal parts grim and inspiring. Stormhaven Rising represents an interesting blend of genres: part political thriller, part hard scifi, and part impending disaster. Together they make for a fun and fascinating read.

Continue reading “Review: Stormhaven Rising”

Writing from a state of exhaustion

As a night owl and someone who typically requires nine hours of sleep, I’m well acquainted with exhaustion. It’s been a constant companion for most of my life.

In addition, exhaustion and depression go hand in hand for me. Exhaustion sucks the light out of life. The world becomes a grey, flat place where I can’t remember being happy. The future is a grey landscape, dull and pointless, stretching on without end. I can’t imagine enjoying anything, and I can’t imagine that changing.

You might scoff and assume that this is laughably easy to cure. In my case, you’d be wrong.

Continue reading “Writing From A State of Exhaustion”

Weathered old building at a relay site. Photo by Nocturnal Lynx Photography

What follows is the first chapter of a new work in progress called Interference. It has yet to be seen whether this will wind up being a short story or something longer, but right now my money is on something longer.

  Content warning for brief references to torture and grievous bodily injury.

Kay’s treads just weren’t made for off-road travel. After nearly losing his balance and sliding back down a particularly rocky slope, the battered librarian climbed to his feet and took stock of his surroundings.

Rocky soil stretched up the rutted trail in front of him, framed on either side by scrubby alder and arctic birch. Ahead, over the shoulder of the hill, the antennas of a radio tower farm stretched into the cloudy sky. Kay removed a crushed alder leaf that had become caught in the hinge of his right elbow and allowed himself a moment to stare longingly at the antenna array, lost in its hypnotic song.

Continue reading “Interference, Chapter 1: Kay”

 

A huge wasp nest in a birch tree.

This has been a week full of unfortunate events and unpleasant discoveries.

The company I work for is having a rough time and there have been rumblings of internal upheaval, yet somehow the gears of corruption and good-ol’-boy favors keep turning. On the home front, I discovered a basketball-sized wasp nest hidden in the woods west of my house.

As you might imagine, both situations involve unpleasantness I’d rather stay far removed from. But when you discover a hive of scum and villainy right in your own back yard, what do you do?

Continue reading “Unpleasant Revelations”

Tweet advocation the privatization of libraries.

On Saturday July 21st, 2018, Forbes triggered a flood of outrage from the literary, academic, and library-using communities by publishing an opinion piece advocating for the replacement of libraries with for-profit retail outlets. Specifically, Amazon retail outlets. While Forbes has since pulled the article, it can still be found here.

The owner of this controversial opinion is Chair of the Department of Economics at LIU Post and guy whose name sounds like someone’s about to unleash an army of evil dead, Panos Mourdoukoutas.

In a piece that sounds like it was written by a fourth grader badly in need of an editor, Mourdoukoutas argues that libraries have become obsolete. Their services are provided by other (coincidentally not free of charge) entities like Amazon and Starbucks. No, really. I’m not joking. Stop laughing.

Continue reading “The Library Question”

Conflict ahead sign

Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”