Colonization Scenario Three: How I’d Select

Posted: 22nd November 2016 by onyxhawke in Colonization, Series
Tags: , , ,

When I first mentioned doing this series to a certain nerdy red head I know they asked how I’d do it. Partly for my amusement I mostly demurred, for the sake of this series, I decided I’d go part way towards answering. The partway is only because I don’t know the conditions both economic and political that would compel me to create a colony and shuffle off the generative mudball. Another part is the fundamental understanding that whatever plans someone has when thy draw them up, when they build the ship,  or when it’s filled and launched are essentially used toilet paper once the hatch is closed and the ship starts moving.

I’m assuming a fairly small colony size of 5000 to 7000 people and the ability to take and backup effectively unlimited data for education and entertainment of the colonists and their descendants. And while most of the colony would be selected for traits they had, there would be some number 3-7% selected for things no one else had or did, maybe in spite of a couple detrimental traits. A rubric that considered health, mental composition, skills, and such would need to be made sorting people into three groups: A: Go B: Maybe C: Nope, nope, nope. The basic high and low points are here, but I have the sneaking suspicion the final list would be longer.

So things that would rule people out of my theoretical colony:

  • History of cancer
  • Over age 45*
  • Unwillingness to have children
  • Rape or child molestation conviction
  • Severely limited diet
  • Evangelical type personality (theocratic, political, social, or even just about a particular type of entertainment)
  • Lack of curiosity
  • Non-production/low reality profession: actors, politicians, religious leader, and the like who were largely insulated from the world and lack useful skills.
  • Other major diseases and disorders that will severely limit lifespan or ability to learn and share knowledge
  • Being a sheeple

Things that wouldn’t be a major factor in decisions but would want to be kept to minor levels of the population and would probably pull someone into the maybe category:

  • Schizophrenia- This appears in roughly the same percentage of the population worldwide across racial, religious, gender, and social lines. Leaving and having 10-15% of the colony be diagnosed is probably not the best idea, but even at 4% which is double the norm, it might not matter if they  are all generally functional and have useful skills.
  • Asthma and other largely environmental ailments.
  • Paralysis; Got skills? Can you still talk and teach or program or mix chemicals for medication?
  • Non hereditary vision issues.


What gets high points for the go list:

  • Being a problem solver
  • Multi disciplinary knowledge: Are you a molecular biologist who is also a great saxophonist? Do you know particle physics and classic American literature? Do you have a degree in absolutely nothing but can wire a building, fix a leaky pipe, and take a wood working project from selecting lumber to finished project? Do are you a third degree blackbelt, accountant, and accomplished beef rancher? All of you will find room on board.
  • Are you mentally resilient?
  • Are you the type that doesn’t need anyone to tell you there’s a problem that needs fixing? This might seem different from the top one, but having the ability and proactively using the ability are two very, very different things.
  • Is “Not my circus, not my monkeys” or a near equivalent part of your personal ten commandments?
  • Can you work well with people you dislike or even detest?
  • Are you personally responsible?
  • Have you successfully taught and practiced in the same field?


As far as thing went for choosing people within a given field, for things like medicine I’d lean heavily towards people with a focus on immunology, parasites, and contaminants as a new planet and all the bugs in or on the people, plants, and animals on board are likely to encounter or create those things most heavily. For metal workers, it’d be people who worked mostly with alloys and things of that nature. For general biology types, people who had a focus on the edge of classifying species, defining their habitats, and life needs.

The people heavy in the “go” list would make up 85% plus of the colony, but there’d be spots allocated for their spouses, or child or kooky coworker who could translate the various forms of near gibberish that is the dialect of any given field into standard English. There’d also be about 1% selected as what hockey coaches call “glue guys” and sociologists would say were people who were gifted at applying social lubricant. Random people who weren’t excluded, and very rare specialists would make up the rest of the 15% that weren’t on the automatic go group.


You can find the most recent post in this series here, and the first entry here.

Scenario Two: Creating A New Culture & Phenotype

Posted: 19th November 2016 by onyxhawke in Colonization, Series
Tags: , ,

Assume you’re building a colony ship and you have unlimited power over who gets on the ship and who does not. Your casus belli is a desire to create a new “race” of people, and a new society. You’ve already selected the art, food, text books, interior layout of your colony, and a hundred other details outside of the actual colonists.

Because you’re smart in addition to just being powerful, you know that sending a homogeneous group is absolutely contraindicated for created the new way you envision. Picking random individuals is likewise too prone to chaos and lack of cohesion to form a new society while you’re still living, breathing, and able to carve the next generation of leaders in the colony. You’ve done your research on what foods will grow best in the new world, and on the ship on the way and you decide you want:

  • a heterogeneous pool of people
  • small groups of people whom you can draw cultural and biological points from
  • enough homogenization over the first three or four generations that no one develops or maintains a group of racial purists
  • a single large, but centerless group of people who have similar backgrounds so that things like organ transplants can be accomplished in generations zero and one if needed.

What do you, ship owner, colony founder and social engineer do in this care:

  • select about 35-45% of the population from one genetic group who are unrelated (no siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles or parents) and don’t have any social connections (works, school, church) to each other. For this example we’ll pick San people, one of the oldest ethnic groups
  • In that group of San (or Saan) you select for folks who really are most attracted to people with markedly different appearances.
  • And next you decide that the smaller groups making up the population will each be no more than 12%, all of them selected with at least a sibling of either gender and or a group of cousins.
  • Both groups will all be 19-28, single, childless, healthy, and because of the need to ensure genetic variety interested in the opposite sex and must want children.
  • All persons selected must also speak at least their own, and whatever your designated colonial language, you might have picked Klingon, Esparanto, Lapine, Dothroki, or something boring like English, Sotho, or Korean before the ship takes off.
  • The seven(ish) social/racial groups take off with you at the helm.

What happens next is of course the big, big question.

The two previous posts in this series are here and here, and the next one which will pop up Tuesday morning is here.


Any time there’s a colony inception, there’s a reason. For this one you’re the welfare and social services administrator for all the people in a large region. There’s welfare queens, ex-cons, junkies, people with disabilities, folks turfed out of their jobs by social and or technological developments, petty criminals still in jail or on probation, and their kids, and in some cases grandchildren.

Here’s your solution:

  • Take all the money needed to keep the future colonists on the books for their expected lifetime.
  • Invest said money in a colony ship
  • Load them up
  • Load the ships databases with everything they could possibly need to know

What’s the reason? Arguably you’re doing it because you think you can get all of these people currently on public assistance a higher standard of living five, ten, and twenty-eight years from now than their public support will accomplish. Or maybe you’re in the pocket of a major developer who wants to gentrify a swathe of the downtown.

Not that you have the why and the who. There’s the other questions to answer. How many of these folks would end up going? If we take New York and the numbers from 2012, roughly 245,000 people received  public assistance. For New York that’s 3.4%, slightly above the national average. If we take a look at the Bureau of Prisons numbers, almost half of prisoners are in the hoosegow for drug offenses. Only 3.1% were recently locked up murder, aggravated assault, or kidnapping. For the New York specific population of roughly 78,000 excluding the gives ups about 320,000 adults. If we’re going to limit the export to people under 40, and add 4% (or roughly twice the states average)* for people’s own children and others living with them we get about one third of a million people.

When you take out the need to worry about making enough to afford to live, maybe some of those folks on disability can do twenty hours a week or even fifteen at whatever they trained or educated themselves in before succumbing to injury or illness.

So where does the story come from here?

Well, maybe it’s how you convince all these people to change the planet they pursue life, liberty, and happiness upon and hop on your Jefferson Starship and take their inalienable rights to another world. Or maybe it’s making up the skills gap among those who volunteer to go along who are outside the structure of public support. Maybe the story is in keeping the drug pushers from taking over the new colony, or figuring out some way to provide advanced enough food production and storage for several years, but simple enough equipment for the colonists to maintain.

Look for more soon.

*I’m not surprised Utah has the highest average children per family, I’m just surprised it’s as low as it is. I do wonder how they calculate children in the officially non existent plural marriages some Mormon groups practice.

Deep Roots

Posted: 7th November 2016 by onyxhawke in Colonization, Series, Uncategorized

This should be the start of a series on one of my favorite ideas in science fiction, and the major factors that go into it. In my extremely humble opinion we don’t see this explored enough in writing, and not much talked about in television and film. There are a ton of fun things that can done with it, and more ways to influence it than can probably be charted. I speak of course of extra planetary colonization.

In tv shows like Stargate Atlantis we see one of the more common ideas; the scientific outpost. A small group that is put together to learn stuff, but not really to be sustainable out of its transported and locally available resources across multiple generations. Stargate Atlantics is qell executed, and not shocking in it’s utter focus on the two things it needs to accomplish, learning stuff and keeping the people reasonably safe. We don’t see cooks, in fact we seen tons of packaged food. We don’t see teachers because they don’t have any children. This is a perfect example of the function of the group following the purpose.

But there are a lot of factors that go into a colony, and even deciding how to set it up. For a colony going elsewhere you have to decide on:

  1. Colony size
  2. Materials going with them
  3. Why is this colony being formed
  4. Distance & time to destination
  5. Social structure
  6. Culling and acceptance criteria of the colonists
  7. Non survival cargo
  8. Biological Diversity of crops and livestock
  9. Leadership
  10. Colony ship design
  11. Environment of the destination

There are nearly innumerable interactions between these and I’ll be doing a series of posts on them when time and brainwaves can be focused. The next post will be published tomorrow here.

One thing that makes me put down a book or a submission is a world where the behavior of the inhabitant doesn’t bear any resemblance to what you can expect of people as a whole with a their cultural history. The Pearl Harbor attack affected the American psyche because it was the first attack on American soil of its kind, overwhelming, devastating, and completely unexpected. By the time the IRA bombings were winding down, the British had become if not accepting of them, but fully cognizant both physically and emotionally that all they could do was move forward with life because giving in or giving up didn’t accomplish anything.

After the second world war, Japan reset the point at which history began in their schools. Why? Because it fit in with the existing culture. Specifically the pride/shame foundation of the nation as a whole, and their warrior elan of the upper crust and military survivors as a collective and cultural tradewind for the nation. After World War Two, Japanese history was retconned to what would allow them as a culture to go on. Pride, family, saving face, shame and a need to cling to the cultural fundamentals they knew had kept the nation alive for thousands of years.

When we look at this map

Cultural expression map

We see a very familiar form of measuring human behavior. It’s existed at least since man decided to map out the four humors. If we take what the article on Harvard Business Journal says as a guide, and look at the formative stages of a couple of nations we get some interesting perspectives.


  • Largely isolated historically.
  • Its largest neighbor has been a serious threat.
  • Monoculture.

United Kingdom:

  • Slightly separated from, but  its neighbors.
  • Lots of interaction with other cultures.
  • Multiple social groups that made up the whole and coexisted.


  • Continually integrating new bits and bobbles of other cultures and languages.
  • Generally secure from conventional threats
  • Historically idealized view of the ability to interact with and have profitable engagement with most people.


  • Historically under attack from forces that should be overwhelming.
  • Fused by a common purpose even if the various Judaic groups within it have varied origin.
  • Cultural preferences to get the other guy to back down so both can disengage.


  • Internal division that are both localized in the form of feuds and global in the
  • Limited natural resources that make conflict both expensive in the immediate term and difficult to recover from as either winner or loser.
  • Inimical neighbors.

I would adore seeing more fictional cultures have the people living in them (as a whole) fit their origin point (their nation). If we look at Barrayar, they like Philippines have had inimical neighbors, internal division, but are largely beyond that and with a long period of isolation. It’s not surprising they are not very fond of outsiders, made extraterritorial gains, and have a culture that in many ways revolves around their military industrial complex. That complex is an outgrowth of their desire for both order and security.

Not many wormhole jumps away is Beta Colony. They live in a very hostile environment, they are relatively wealthy, and the founders of the colony were selected from a group of people to be very similar and form a monoculture. They’re population was and remains highly educated and in areas designed to overcome the issues of their homeworld. Their response to unprovoked violence is to fix the issue because that’s what doctors, engineers, and social workers do. They send some to (involuntary) mental adjustment because they view that as better alternative to execution, exile or imprisonment (correctional or psychological institutions are both prisons).


So, I got bored the other day.

This is always a problem. But I got bored while trying to find a way to come up with a way to get people to actually post reviews to books I know are being bought and read.


So with the launch of Frozen in Amber from the sensation Phyllis Ames…

Frozen in Amber by Phyllis Ames

I’m launching an experiment…

Be one of the first 7 people to review one of the books mentioned in this post and get one of the others (your choice) mailed to you free.

  1. Review must be dated after this post.
  2. Review must be over 250 words.
  3. You must post the link to the reply post.
  4. Review can be positive, really positive, glowing, incandescent, or negative but it must be clear to me that you read the book.
  5. No more than 3 reviews for each book will be counted, so you may not want to go with your first reaction.
  6. If you don’t indicate which book you want I will pick one at random.
  7. The person with the most interesting over all review will get another bonus book.
  8. No more than one review per person.


The Wide World's End by James Enge


A Murder of Mages By Marshall Ryan Maresca

So post a review!

Direct link to the reply post (on LiveJournal) is here: clickable version in the rules.

I really did like a lot of the elements that made up Avengers: Age of Ultron. The issue as the title might just have tipped you off is that it wasn’t a very Marvel Marvel movie. It was however very Whedon, if you’re one of those afflicted folks who worship the ground he hovers just above you won’t see a problem here. And that’s a topic for another day.

The humanizing elements of Age of Ultron were pretty awesome. Hawkeye’s family was a slice of the American-pastoral pie Norman Rockwell would have been weepy eyed with pride at serving up. The early two thirds of the Black Widow – Hulk arc was engaging. The “why” for every character everywhere along the way were key-in-lock tight with who that character was.

Unfortunately, not much of it, specifically the pastoral interlude did what they were supposed to do. Anyone paranoid enough to keep their family so off the grid only one in six of their teammates knows they exist at all is unlikely to bring them up during slightly iffy times. To actually bring several near strangers, two of them very unpredictable (Stark and Hulk) and excellent at violence, to his home during what was shaping up to be an extinction level event is so utterly out of character it’s absurd. Yes this is where they make contact with Nick Fury, but that could be done literally anywhere on the planet, and most of them would have better served the Avengers logistic needs.

We didn’t need to see Hawkeye hug his own kid and gaze at the picture of his family to know why he’d save a kid at great personal risk in crunch time; he’s a bleeding hero and that is what they do.

The emotional dance of the seven veils between Banner + Hulk and Black Widow was lovely, but that’s all it was for her. I think this movie made her less likeable honestly. The kiss and then push off the cliff of Banner to fulfill her need for Hulk was an unequivocal betrayal of Banner. Would not blame him a bit for never speaking to her again. Worse, it wasn’t needed. Banner proved he’s willing to let slip the dogs of war at need. He wasn’t leaving, he wasn’t going to standby and do nothing. He may be the most reluctant hero in the Marvel universe, but he’s a hero.

After the human elements that Whedon kludged into the script for I’m-Joss-Whedon reasons there are all the Marvel things he left out or utterly fouled up about the story and universe. Honestly the failed human elements were largely buffoonery, the anticannon deviations were even less justifiable than the changes to X-Men Days of Future Past, and less successful as well.

First and foremost Ultron was a collaborative effort led by Hank Pym aka Antman (among other names) and Tony Stark. Bruce Banner had diddly-squat to do with it. Introducing him and his sometimes other-half would be the perfect way to build audience for his movie. More, Hank and his sometimes other-half are in and out of the Avengers enough and well before Scarlet Witch you’re not futzing with timelines too much. Going with Pym and Janet as the new team members would have allowed for the romantic elements without having to strain credulity pushing Banner and Widow together.

Next: going to Wakanda without bringing up The Black Panther is some amalgam of criminal and blasphemy that aught to have shoving matches between powers secular and divine over who gets to put the torch to the wood around your stake. Worse, with a Black Panther movie I the works, it’s bad capitalism not to even mention the man, myth, and legend.

Was this the worst comic-book movie translation ever? Of course not, Green Hornet was actually released for some reason. Was it the least faithful to source material? It might just have been. This is the type of movie I feared when I heard he was involved in the first Avengers. Whedon’s latest incursion into the Marvel universe leaves the same variety of seedy impression Shamalayan movies do; that they are unable to differentiate between making a movie great and making sure every viewer knows who made the film. As part of the pantheon that is the current cycle of Marvel movies, this movie fails. It fails for not having the breaks put on before it hit production, and for being a Whedon movie not a Marvel movie.

Were there things I liked? Yes. But much like the third Dark Knight movie, I’m unlikely to see this anywhere near as many times as the adjacent movies because not only is it not as good it taints the others simply by existing.

So, shocking as it is, I read. I read Big 5, I read the ingredients on my food, I even read independently published and some small press stuff.

As you probably know, I’m not a big fan of ereading. I have a tablet that’s got a great screen, but never felt the need for a specialized reader. So i decided to try something on my phone. Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage didn’t seem like too much of a commitment.

Perhaps the most surprising given my dislike of anything shorter than 90k words or so, is:

Starship's Mage a Novella by Glynn Stewart

This is a lovely hybrid of space opera and whatever you call mages in space. The science side and the magic are done well. There are two additional installments right now on Amazon (and other venues) and firmer-than-rumors- of other chronicles. Each is about 20k words and a good chunk of world and story. The main character is a recent graduate of the mage academy who runs afoul of some unpleasant folks when he’s just doing the best he can. Really fun stories.

The first was fun, and after reading it I figured I wouldn’t hate myself too much for trying something longer.

So I went for:

SanClare Black a novel by Jenna Waterford

SanClare Black is fantasy, the world isn’t the stock “vaguely England with dashes of France or German for variety” that we see in so, so many fantasies that so, so few do well. Jenna Waterford has a fantasy world with working trains, steam ships, the odd fire arm, and a gigantic tear in space/time in the middle of the world. Wizards, family feuds, and social conflict are all drawn deftly to enhance the characters and inform the world.

About 20 pages into SanClare Black I realized I could adjust the color of the font and text in my ereader. Going with sepia text on black was amazing. I zoomed through the rest of SanClare Black and picked up the other two Starship’s Mage installments. All four reads were quite good.

My devious and ubiquitous spies whispered in my ear that July 19th is Glynn Stewart’s birthday, and like most writers he’ll take sales as the sincerest form of birthday well wishes. The hoarders of hearsay also bespoke Jenna Waterford’s birthday as July 28th. I can safely promise you that even if your taste somehow isn’t met by either writer, there are thousands, upon thousands upon thousands of much, much, much worse books in the world.

One of the things that my time in the industry has taught me is that there is an avowed love of easily quantifiable books with very, very small variations (like sparkly vampires) that make them just slightly different from a dozen other books with similar premises tan came over the transom the same day. Neither Starship’s Mage or SanClare Black are something fit into the neat categories the book buyers at chains like and understand.

I suspect that if traditional publishing and the chains want to remain viable they are going to have to become a touch more flexible on the subject of subgenre. I’d truly like to see something like the keyword cues one science fiction and fantasy publisher uses become universal with say a range of seven to ten keywords required for each book. For those of you who are up for something new, when you read these come back and suggest keywords for them, I’m always interested in what readers think.

So, cooking, its something we do. Arguably all sentient races will have some form of food variation and arrangement that they engage in, which may or many not include the application of heat. Last night I experimented with a staple; stuffed, roasted chicken. I wanted to do two things; combine things I never had before, and make a stuffing that was lighter than traditional bread based stuffing.


  • One whole chicken, rinsed.
  • Greens (mix of chopped kale and chopped collards, raw)
  • GARLIC (real garlic, not powder, not pre-chopped out of a jar)
  • shallots
  • carrots
  • FRESH mint leaves
  • Jim Beam Maple*
  • 2 slices thick bacon or four slices regular*
  • mushrooms (white button, about 10 golf ball sided ones)
  • red quinoa
  • millet
  • margarine (or butter, or some form of spread, I used a non dairy spread)
  • spices: Turmeric, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage,


One of the things that always amuses me in far future science fiction is when they mention going out to eat and getting cuisine that’s from Tuscany or is Jamacian, or Bavarian. I just find the idea that cooking styles won’t fuse, mutate and rearrange beyond recognition as humans spread to a hundred stars or more. Just from life here on our own dirtball we know that onions grown just outside Toldeo, Ohio are going to taste different from the same variety of onions grown outside Austin, Texas or Kingston, Jamaica. A whole different planet? Assuming they grow at all, the local conditions will dictate a different taste.

Take the quinoa (about 1 1/2 cups) and Millet (about 2 tablespoons) combine in a sauce-pot with four or five medium or large garlic cloves (crushed then chopped) and bring to a boil in roughly twice the water as dry ingredients for five minutes. Allow to cool, dump into a large mixing bowl.

Cook the bacon* in a skillet on medium-low, retain grease in pan. Slice the mushrooms top to bottom and brown on one side in the skillet (lightly salt), sprinkle turmeric on the other side.  Remove from pan place in mixing bowl with quinoa and millet.

Do not dispose of the skillet.

Turn on oven, preheat to 350f. Prepare roasting pan (make sure you have a rack).

You’ll need about a gallon (not packed) of chopped, rinsed greens (this time was roughly 2/3rds kale, 1/3 collards. I’d prefer the reverse, substitute spinach if you love it. Put half of this into the mixing bowl with the quinoa and mushrooms.

Chop very finely (to slightly larger than peppercorn size) about a cup and a half of carrots. Add to the mixing bowl.

Add about 3/4ths a teaspoon each of sage, rosemary, thyme, 1/2 a tsp each of salt and pepper to mixing bowl. Add about two or three more garlic cloves also smashed and chopped fine.

Rinse and finely chop the mint leaves add to bowl.

Rinse the chicken in cold water.

Hand mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl. (If you are any judge of volume you’ll note this is way more than actually fits into a chicken, shut up and keep mixing.)

Stuff the chicken.

Take the rest of the stuffing, put it in an oven safe glass bowl, cover with foil, put into the oven and remove at the same times as the chicken.

Rub the chicken down with margarine or whatever spread you use. (Unless its vegemite or marmalade because that’d just be weird.)

Peel and cut into large chunks 2-4 carrots per person and drop into the pan.

Add an inch or two of water to the skillet you cooked the mushrooms in. Warm on medium for one to two minutes so that it loosens the bacon grease, mushroom bits and spice, pour into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Add about 2 tablespoons of margarine to water and carrots in the bottom of the pan.

Remove the skin from the shallots, cut into thirds. Place in pan with carrots. Add some salt and pepper, and if you’re so minded, another garlic clove or three. Add about 1 tablespoon of lime juice to pan.

At this point your oven should be preheated.

Cover pan, cook until meat thermometer says 150f (yes I know.), baste the birdy.

Now that the chicken is nearly cooked, take that other half gallon of greens you’ve nearly forgotten, dump them into the pan.

Keep covered unto the thermometer says 165f, remove cover from pan and allow to brown.

When browned, remove from over, remove chicken from pan, allow to stand for 5+ minutes minimum then slice.

You now have something that will look like this on your plate**:


Wherever we end up as a species, here on earth with the last human taking one last breath or twenty one millennia from now dying a few billion at a time in a galactic war, I doubt we’ll ever lose the love of sharing meals with each other.



*The bacon and Jim Beam Maple are to make the cooking more enjoyable, no need to add them to the mix.

** For whatever reason chicken or white meats always look slightly pink with my camera, I suspect the lighting.


Also, note there will be bloggage tomorrow to, and its even about books.

The Thorn of Dentonhill is now available for preorder.

If you’ve somehow missed the drop dead gorgeous cover, this is it:


The Thorn of Dentonhill is a damn fine book. I’ve had the privilege of reading three additional books in this universe and pre-ordering by YOU will impact how many books are printed, sent to stores and how fast I can talk the nice folks at Daw Books (@dawbooks) into buying more.


So go preorder. As of right now Amazon is the only site I’ve found it on. I checked some of the others. If you really must hold off and order elsewhere the two ISBN’s that identify this book are:


  • ISBN-10: 0756410266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756410261

And you can of course find out more from Marshall himself over on his blog.



So there’s this movie out, a pretty unknown and minor character set in the Marvel universe called X-Men Days of Future Past. It’s got most of the people from the the trilogy and First Class. Now on to the spoilers.

My biggest problem with this movie is completely insoluble; I hate the Days of Future Past story line. Time travel in whatever its manifold forms is always about someones regret, personal, national or in this case as a member of a species.  In this case the narrative shape that the took bends the universe into shapes that would make even a circus freak cringe. To my memory, Bishop is more than just decoration and kinda the whole storyline should revolve around him. He actually traveled back physically. In this Old Wolverine is psychically shoved through time from the far future very dark days of the Sentinel War into his 1973 brain.

The excuse is that only he can survive the mental trauma of going that far back. And here’s where this version departs from what most fans know. He wakes up and sets about convincing Beast, Professor X, Magneto and the unnamed Quicksilver to do What Must Be Done. Shockingly there is drama involved, and one of the best scenes involves a very period song.

The entire story line both in the comics and subsequent forms is an excuse to retcon the X-Men timeline (which doesn’t always sync with other Marvel titles) in major ways. In this case Bishop’s powers are tweaked, his role shrinks to a pinhead in favor of the universes best known and possibly best loved character Wolverine, which is largely a Hollywood copout. Bishop is interesting, but here he gets less time than Cerebro.

Bishop isn’t the only one who gets shunted aside. As far as screen time Storm gets less of it than Iceman or Colossus, Rogue I don’t even think gets to speak, and none of the interesting mutants who should have been around in 73 are even brought up, much less brought into the story.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of anything that obliterates the abomination that was XMen 3, but all we see or hear of Jean Grey and Cyclops is about a minute at the end of the film.

I really wanted and expected to hate this film. The original DoFP storyline is hinky, this one is only better in the name recognition sense. Yet for all that I didn’t like about it, its god damn fun. The period song scene happens fairly early and if you don’t laugh even once during it it may be time to admit you don’t have a sense of humor. The recasting of most everyone from the trilogy and first class worked well, Peter Dinklage proved he could play more than just an imp, and Mark Camacho as Tricky Dick  was a great bit of work.

As long as you aren’t (somehow) hung up on the belief that a movie should be a one to one translation of its primogenitor its well worth a watch. I won’t say its as good as Avengers or the Iron Man movies, but I’ve certainly spent time I enjoyed a lot less in a movie theater.

In the final equation for all its faults, this is a good flick.


Good Day,

I’ve had the privilege of meeting many very smart, talented and interesting people in the years I’ve attended conventions and been part of the professional end. It’s been an undiluted pleasure to meet people like Elizabeth Bear, David Drake, and Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve met artists and editors, publisher, agents and publicists. The one unifying thing each and every one of us has in common; an abiding desire for the industry to be taken seriously.

Well, newsflash ladies, gents, undeclareds and undecideds; the current crock in crockery isn’t how we get there. The name-calling, that most of the folks I know on either side wouldn’t tolerate from a seven year old in their charge. The sexual sniping is something that one would expect from the middle school kids who known there’s something going on down there but haven’t figured out anything other than its messy and makes them uncomfortable. Yes, that is how it looks to (me) the movie companies, fans, and anyone else who might be considering your intellectual property.  Do you really think anyone wants to work with a chronological adult like that if they can avoid it?

I don’t care about the sides. I didn’t when it was still a “discussion” about who should or shouldn’t be kicked out of SFWA. I didn’t when it was almost possible to view it as a purely intellectual debate over the content of the SFWA social media and other outlets. Sadly, it hasn’t been about either of those things in weeks. It’s become dogmatic drivel slinging as a litmus test for who’s cool and who isn’t. That isn’t supposed to be what SFWA is for. None of the sniping promotes the welfare of writers. None of it is getting more accountability from publishers. None of it is getting more recognition for self-published writers. Not a damn bit of it is attracting new readers and con-goers. The garden path y’all and hootin’ and hollerin’ down just eats creditability, time, and creativity.

But I get where it’s coming from. I’ve read many of the people busy pissing in the punch. Many of you were unpopular in school, and some of you still are in your non-publishing lives. Bullying, exclusion, and self-doubt were the other three horsemen when you walked the halls of whatever high school you longed to escape. Today, you’re striking out as you couldn’t then. It is great you’ve found your fighters stance and steely eye.

Unfortunately that fight is over. You can’t avenge yourself on you fellow outcasts, they didn’t push you from the herd in school. More importantly, you job is to entertain. You aren’t trapped five days a week 180 days a year in the same building with anyone. Some of the people you’re hissing and spitting at you’ve never met, and have probably spent less than a week in the same building as in the last decade. Is it worth it? Is it productive? Does it make you a better writer or protect the livelihood of some other writer? Nope, not a chance, and hell no. It’s all lost product.

There are a lot of people in the industry I like spending time with. Some like that guy way on the left who isn’t over tall and that lady on the other end with the funny accent wear their politics like a suit of armor. Some like Lois Bujold have politics that are nigh on impossible to guess. Why do I like people so far apart? Wit. Verve. Drive. More importantly, I don’t do cliques, I don’t care about what clique someone might be in because it doesn’t make me, my friends or my clients any money. I didn’t do cliques when I was a kid, didn’t as a teen, never been tempted.

So for the love of writing, reading and profits can we all just please, please, please and thank you pretend to get along?

Just before Christmas I came to a tentative deal for two books with the fantastic folks at DAW books. Seeing as the wheels of publishing turn slowly, it took a tiny bit of time to get all the details nailed down. Since then poor Marshall has been sitting on the knowledge he had finally gotten his dream. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone because the contracts weren’t signed, witnessed and returned. After you read this (or before, it’ll still be here) go congradulate and comiserate with him, you can find him in several places on the intertubes.

Q: So who is this Marshall Ryan Maresca fellow?

A: Marshall Ryan Maresca is a fantasy and sci-fi writer living in the Austin area.  And he’s just sold two fantasy novels to DAW!
Q: What are a few books that made you fall in love with fantasy and science fiction?
A: A few early favorites are David Eddings’s The Belgariad, Asimov’s Caves of Steel, Richard Adams’s Watership Down, and Zilpha Keatly Snyder’s Below the Root.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: What specifically?  Hard to say.  It doesn’t take much, I can tell you that.  I’m pretty easy.
Q: What’s the hardest lesson you have learned about writing?
A: It took me a while to figure out that enthusiasm alone for my settings or ideas wasn’t enough to truly make a story.  I had to push through a phase where I wasn’t really writing, I was essentially being a fandom of one for a thing that was only in my head.  I had to sit down and really figure out how to outline and structure a story with a driven center.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve learned about publishing?

A: Patience.  Still working on that.
Q: With the explosion of self-publication what made you seek an agent and traditional publisher?

A: Frankly, self-publication is too easy.  I couldn’t see the value in taking that route.  There’s a bit in A League of Their Own that I like to bring up, where Geena Davis says that the game “got too hard”, and Tom Hanks replies, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”  That sums it up quite nicely.
Q: What was the process in getting your agent like?

A: I first became aware of him quite a few years ago, when he did a public challenge of pounding through as many slush entries he could in a single day.  I sent something to him that, in retrospect, had very little business being shopped around. But I had to learn that.  He– quite rightfully– passed on that one.  But he stayed on my radar, and when I was querying for Thorn of Dentonhill, he was at the top of my list.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  That draft of Thorn was, for all intents, unsellable: a 70,000 word manuscript in a genre that really demands at least 90K.  I can only imagine that a number of agents passed on it without blinking when they saw that statistic at the top of the query.  But Mike read the whole damn thing and came back with, “This is great, BUT it’s far too short.  Fix that and get back to me.”  Up until that point, I had been clueless about the fundamental flaw in the work.  So I got back in there and figured out how to make it longer without causing fundamental damage to it.
On top of that, there were plenty more queries, sending partials and fulls upon request, and a lot of form rejection letters.
Seriously.  A lot.
Q: When you went agent hunting how long did it take you to land the aforementioned scoundrel?
A: Well, that’s a complicated question.  I started the query process for Thorn in 2009, and I heard from Mike there in October.  It took me a few months to rework it, and then send it back to him.  And then the process of further querying brought more drafts, and in early 2011 I sent him a even more revised version, which he accepted in May.  So: two years, give or take, where the manuscript went through a lot of evolution in the process.

Q: NightWing and Hawkeye get into a battle to the death; who wins?

A: First of all, both those guys operate on a No Killing code, so I don’t know how this battle to the death came about.  But, accepting the premise, I’ve got to put my money on Hawkeye.  He’s a crafty bastard that everyone underestimates.  Plus: he beat Death itself and saved the universe from complete destruction using nothing but a carny trick.
Q: Who are your three favourite superhero’s?
A: If my answer above didn’t already clue you in, I’m a sucker for archers: Green Arrow and Hawkeye.  Some people will mock them for being, you know, just a guy with a bow, while next to them are the likes of Iron Man or Superman or such. But you’ve got to flip the script on it: they’re just guys with a bow… who are good enough to be standing next to Iron Man or Superman.  For a third, I’ve got to go with Nightcrawler: pure panache and style.
Q: What form does your writing procrastination take?
A; Maps and worldbuilding for other things.  My space opera setting has grown quite literally exponentially while not writing various projects.

Q: Your bio says you do some acting, would you want to play any of your characters in an adaptation? If so who?

A: Oh, absolutely.  Probably one of the minor bad guys in Thorn— Nevin or Bell– or Captain Cinellan in A Murder of Mages. But just about anyone would be fun, because… well, I write with the perspective of a guy who’s played “Citizen #4” in Julius Caesar.  You’ve got to make even the most minor character dynamic.
Q: What movie have you seen the most times?
A: This is the hardest question here.  I’ve seen many movies many, many, many times.  And quite a few of them were really not worth the repeated viewing.  I don’t know if I’ve seen it more than any other, but the movie I can always pop in and be utterly engaged in is Die Hard.  And like I said above, that’s a movie that makes even the most minor character dynamic.
Q: What can you tell us about the books you sold?
A: Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages are street-level fantasy novels set in the same city.  In Thorn, Veranix Calbert is a magic student at the University who spends his nights slipping off campus to wage a one-man war on the drug dealers in the adjoining neighborhood, and their boss Willem Fenmere.  Using his magic skills in his fight, Veranix draws the attention of Fenmere, mystical circles and street gangs, and they all want a piece of “The Thorn.” With professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might fall apart, and the assassins and mages after him could end it completely.  In Mages, Satrine Rainey is a working mother and an ex-spy who fakes her way into a Inspector position in the Maradaine Constabulary.  She gets partnered with Minox Welling, an eccentric genius and an untrained mage.  Together, they have to solve a series of gruesome murders, in which all the victims are mages.  Both books stand on their own, but as they take place in the same city, there are little hints and connections tying them together.
Q: When they build a statue to you, how will you be posed?
A: Slumped in front of computer, writing.
Q: Where on the internet can we find you? (List all social networks that are publicly you, website, blog and whatever)

A: My webpage is, and my blog can be found at  I’m also on Twitter ( and Facebook.

Why Are You Reading This?

Posted: 7th January 2014 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
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You heard me!

Why are you reading this?

Oh wait. Let me guess. You’re that one person who has already bought, read, reviewed, and shared, on all your social networks The Broken Dragon? You know the latest in Irene Radford’s long running universe from DAW books?

That’s the book with this lovely cover:

BrokenDragon radfordI mean, honestly, between you and me (and the convieniently obsequious electrons helping us), I can’t think of any other reason for someone to be here right now reading this. Let’s be realistic, laundry, work, and the cat will still be there in a few hours, the book must be read (and the other stuff), now.

So stop reading. (Just share this post, eh?)

Things to Do At Worldcon: Rayguns Over Texas

Posted: 27th August 2013 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
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Find yourself a copy of Rayguns Over Texas, an anthology of fantastic fiction. There is a foreword by someone named Bruce Sterling who’s been in print since the 80’s, it is edited by Rick Klaw, and more importantly if features the writing of the amazing Marshall Maresca, along with more than a dozen others including Aaron Alston, Joe R. Lansdale and Michael Moorcock.


An anthology featuring Marshall Ryan Maresca and others

An anthology featuring Marshall Ryan Maresca and others

If like the rest of the explored universe you’ve been waiting impatiently for another fix of fantasy by marvel maker James Enge, you can breathe again.


James Enge's Wrath Bearing-Tree released August 20 2013

James Enge’s Wrath Bearing-Tree released August 20 2013

In fact please, please breathe its very hard to run, walk, skateboard, or drive for very long. You certainly wouldn’t be able to do it long enough to make it to the store much less read the book.

In through the nose, out through the mouth.

One of the things that you learn as you study history is that at some point someone has tried to explain everything from positions that don’t hold water. As a young nation, which America still was in the early 1800s it was wildly xenophobic. Worse as a large part of the movers and shakers who built America were from England their reaction to the Irish either Protestant or Catholic wasn’t always pleasant. The Irish in turn lashed out. Despite getting to vote fresh off the boat, no bars on employment and often language barriers as even the Gaelic speakers were integrated into the police, fire, political and union machinery, they lashed out at blacks to bolster their position.

This link is a pdf that I tripped over the other day that takes a look at things: click here

One of the “lost” events of the civil rights struggle was the kidnapping, mutilation and murder of a 14 year old boy in the Mississippi delta for failing to follow the rules he, a visitor, was wholly ignorant of. Worse was the travesty of a trial afterwards. Simeon Wright is the cousin of that lost boy Emmett Till, and he tells the story as he lived it.
Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett TillSimeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till by Simeon Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My only complaint about this book is that it isn’t long enough.

Simeon Wright plainly, and unbiasedly tells his part and memory of a dark, dark period of American history. Life in the Mississippi Delta in 1955 was precarious even if you’d grown up their and knew all the rules, Simeon Wright’s cousin from Chicago didn’t, and his life ended in the delta floating down the Tallahatchie river wired to a fan for whistling at a white woman.
Well told, good use of pictures and no grandstanding.

View all my reviews

Not so incidentally, the Emmett in Pyramid Power by Dave Freer and Eric Flint is named after Emmett Till.

Water, Ice, Snow

One of the things a lot writers have to do is jump outside the known, into the stark cold reality of “making shit up” and not just making it, making it up and making it sound good. If you’ve never left the southern tip of Miami, or live on a beach in Panama, you probably haven’t spent much time in the cold and snow. One of the wonderful things about snow is that it doesn’t merely fall from the sky and stay on the ground. It blows.

blowing snow,

Trying to make it through the snow, on the ground is only part of it. It reflects light. It changes the shape of things, it can make it impossible to tell how far you are from something.

two lamp posts and trees

It can make landmarks you pass every day much harder to make out. same lamps and trees

Even without the differences of night and day, the changes can be dramatic.

Land, Sea, Air

The boundaries of land, sea and air can get a little blurry.

If you missed it earlier, Irene Radford’s newest book is available. Go get a copy, and wrap thyself around it.

Silent Dragon Is Available!

Posted: 9th February 2013 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
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For those of you who somehow forgot to preorder, and missed Irene Radford’s blog post, and didn’t get to a book store, Silent Dragon came out this week. This video is a lovely interview DAW put together with the author.

The book is available in paperback, and multiple ebook formats.

Silent Dragon by Irene Radford from DAW books Feb 5 2013 release