My long in production fiction podcast, Tales by the Bluelight, is finally coming to your podcast feeds on June 26th! I'll post here when it happens, and you can follow up on facebook for updates!
I remember when my family went bankrupt during the Great Recession. This isn’t an uncommon story, it’s practically the story of America. I’d already known we had less money than other families. Reduced lunch at school told that story enough. There was an element of shame involved, when I lied about not being able to join friends on outings I couldn’t pay for. Eventually, shame grew into a facade of bravado, and I started to take risks I hadn’t considered.
After all, if you’re going to lose even if you work yourself to the bone everyday and do everything right like my father did, all because of higher powers outside your control, then why not shoot for something you truly want? A goal, a dream. To be a pilot, perhaps, or even a writer.
* * * *
Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t the movie I thought it would be. I went in expecting a fun romp, but came out of with a strong pull on my heart that wouldn’t let go. This is my movie, and by golly am I glad it exists, but it’s also one that is already being unfairly looked over for reasons completely outside the bright light shone onto the walls of theaters everywhere. It’s not going to find it’s audience at the moment, but it’s going to find its audience in time, because counter to my expectations, Solo a Star Wars Story is about something.
It’s about being poor and downtrodden.
But it’s in space.
Which makes it a lot more fun.
The signals are clear from the get go: the opening title cards of Solo aren’t in the traditional scrolling format of the main Star Wars movies, the non-existent blink-and-gone of Rogue One, or the Newsreel of Clone Wars. Rather, these title cards come straight out of Cyberpunk. The easiest comparison is to Blade runner, with its flash card information to electronic tones. When these end, we don’t get the traditional shot of space, we get a shot of a dark engine and wires, as Han tries to make a spark strong enough to hotwire it.
Han lives on Corellia, a poor industrial world, rather like the rust belt I grew up in (but in SPACE). The sky is coated over with smog. We’re in Star Wars, but this is a different side of Star Wars. We’re not even allowed to see the Stars yet. With him is Qi’ra, his teenage sweetheart and childhood friend. Together, they’re begging for someone to make a fanvid set to “Livin’ on a Prayer”. They’ve formed a little impromptu family of the two of them, and they plan to escape and survive. They won’t live in this hellhole forever. They’ll get out.
Their life together is one we’ll see repeated throughout the movie: Han and Qi’ra live under a selfish leader (in this case named Proxima) who exploits the downtrodden for their own gain. They have little power, and their only power comes from understanding the rules around which their masters have built their powerhold, and exploiting them. Han and Qi’ra escape, but the plan goes wrong and they are separated on two sides of an Imperial checkpoint. Han may be bold, and he might be able to escape some thugs sent by a crimelord, but he can’t defeat a government. He and Qi’ra are helpless against this immigration border, no amount of clever tricks or violence will stop an army with a wall when it’s government has decided the lives of the people on one side of that wall aren’t good ones. The pain of separating this family is a terrible one, totally morally bankrupt, and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could approve of such things in our own world. And yet, some people thought the Berlin Wall was a good idea.
So now we’re left with Han alone. Unable to survive from here on out, and now alone, he does the thing plenty of poor folks do who need to escape their situation: he joins the military. The cut from Han joining to him fighting in a dark muddy hellscape is one of my favorite things in the movie, and the whole sequence set within the Imperial Military adds more to the Star Wars saga than a lot of things that look more impressive: here we get to see how awful and hollow being in the Empire really is. Officers shout trite propaganda slogans about serving the Empire that they even sound tired of yelling. Soldiers take off time by watching other soldiers get eaten by slaves. Han doesn’t care about the Empire, it’s just another big powerful force that’s trying to press him down. But he’s seen tons of those. It’s nothing special. The difference is its big enough he can get lost in it, and so can other criminals. We’re introduced to Beckett and his crew, impersonating Imperial officers, who exploit the unquestioning nature of the Empire to blend in, and get Han thrown under the bus to survive.
Here is the first turn of the movie, and it’s a nice one. Han has no desire to kill anyone, or to be involved in a war. What the empire is fighting over is invisible to the audience, and Han. But as Han is thrown into a pit to get eaten by a monster, we get the movie’s first real acknowledgement of it’s overarching message. In the pit is a wookie slave, forced to kill and eat imperials who don’t follow the rules. Fighting won’t work, and Han recognizes something here: both he and the wookie are victims of the same shit universe. Even as the wookie beats him up, he convinces the wookie they can escape together, and they do, achieving something neither could have alone. They reach Becket, who is impressed at their moxie, and Han and his new wookie friend Chewbacca escape the empire.
Which brings us into the main plot. We’re thrown into an adventure, where we see Han is very good at piloting, and not as good at everything else that isn’t piloting as he thinks he is. We’re also introduced to Enfys Nest and the Cloud Riders, a group of marauders constantly trying to steal the takes that Becket’s crew is after. It seems to be a standard space western, and good fun.
And we also meet Qi’ra again. This is the second turn of the film.
Qi’ra has gone from Han’s childhood friend to a more weathered femme fatale since we last saw her. Han dreamed of coming back to rescue her, a masculine dream where he could rescue the princess and save her, but the world didn’t work out that way. Saying she “saved herself!” sounds too nice, neither Han nor Qi’ra have actually gotten anywhere good, they’ve just managed to survive by the skin of their teeth. They’re poor, and the world has been shit to them, and they’ve both had to do what they’ve needed to. We’re not allowed to see what Qi’ra had to do alone, but we can see she’s ashamed of it. It’s heavily implied she’s murdered people, tortured people, and engaged in survival sex. These haven’t been choices Qi’ra made because she wanted to: she made them because she needed to live. Qi’ra is a strong woman, but like Han she is no better than a commodity to the people who lord over her.
People’s bodies being commodities is a constant theme throughout the film: this is a film about the physical reality of being oppressed, not about a spiritual battle between light and dark. Barriers block bodies from other bodies who love them. Bodies sell themselves into the military to escape destitution. Bodies sign up to be used by crimelords to escape destitution. We see bodies sold into slavery, checked in the teeth like cattle. Bodies with the top of the head, and hence the brain, cut off and replaced by computers serve drinks to crimelords. Bodies everywhere, and each one of them is a person who lives and feels and hurts. And the broader universe keeps turning because they are small, and not Jedi or Sith or Generals or Royalty. These bodies have to survive somehow. And by god, does it leave a mark.
Later in the film is one of the most poignant moments, of the film, where Qi’ra throws a bomb, and screams in solace and rage as she kills slavers on Kessel. Without making this movie unwelcoming for children, we can see all Qi’ra has suffered in this moment. Her righteous fury at the kind of people who hurt her her whole life boils over, and we have to confront it. We have to see that pain as she cries out. No masculine fantasy could save her. She had to survive, and survive among men who hated her. And she did. And her body is here, and breathing, and screaming, and by the force does she scream.
The characters in this film are all broken people in different ways, each covering over their cracks with facades. When those facades crack, the movie truly shines. As a surviver of some traumatic experiences, Han reassuring Qi’ra that he doesn’t care what she had to do to survive, he still wants her, was a great moment, and one of my favorite in the film. The cracks start getting wider still, and by the finale we’ll see something from each of them.
Kessel features the next turn in the film. We’ve picked up Lando and L3, since they have a ship and the crew needs that. Lando is similar to Han in a lot of ways, but he’s made it. He’s still living on the fringe of society, and he’s had to make dreams with Crimson Dawn like the rest of the crew did, but he isn’t in anyone’s debt anymore. Lando’s flaw is now that he’s reached that point, he’s forgotten what it took to get there. L3, the droid co-pilot to his ship, is frustrated by the servitude of Droids. It’s been a running theme throughout all of Star Wars: the audience can see clearly that droids are people, but the characters treat them as less than people. We’re told Lando has feelings for L3, and he cries when her body gets wrecked on Kessel, but he still talks about how he’d wipe her memory if she wasn’t so useful, leaning in to tell Han that in aside, like a man trying to get another man to join in with him on a sexist joke.
That we can see that this is hypocrisy, and the characters can’t, is the point. It’s been the point for decades, but here it’s shoved in our face. On Kessel, we see droids and organic beings all being used as slaves, and get two parallel stories showing their plights are the same. Chewie breaks off from the mission to save his fellow wookies, and L3 breaks off to save her fellow droids. A revolution begins, and the people who oppressed both of them get some comeuppance. L3, as noted, is nearly destroyed in their escape though, and only her memory is saved by placing it inside the Millenium Falcon itself.
There is a certain horror to the way the characters put L3 into the ship, she had no control over it after all, but L3’s desire for revolution and change perfectly fits the symbol the ship becomes. She is the Falcon, and she will become the savior of freedom in the Galaxy. But even she is a commodity, like any other character in the film.
The finale of the movie see’s nearly every character Han trusted aside from Chewbacca betray him. Becket betrays Han, and Han is forced to kill him before Becket can kill Han. Lando abandons him mid-showdown with Enfys Nest. Qi’ra, despite hating the world she’s lived in, cannot imagine leaving it. She takes her superior’s place in Crimson Dawn upon killing him, and takes on the role of helping run the very people who hurt her. Her parting words to Han are telling, “When I imagined you out there, it made me smile.”
Han’s life is a fantasy to Qi’ra. It’s beyond her own reality, and seeing that Han had survived without compromising as much as she did hurts. “You’re the good guy,” she says, and Han replies, “No I’m not, I’m a terrible person!”
But she’s right, in the end. And in letting Han go, she avoids letting him see the scars.
A lot has been made of a big twist towards the end of the movie about who was running Crimson Dawn, but that’s tertiary to our point. It’s not the twist I’m concerned with, at least. Really, the big twist of the movie is the reveal of Enfys Nest: a teenage girl of color who took over the role of freedom fighter from her mother. One could guess she might be as young as Han was when we met him back on Corellia. This is the point the movie truly turns. Everything we thought was going on was wrong—this isn’t a story of a group of rag-tag heroes trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, this is a rejection of it. The gang Han is a part of are the same kind of people who pushed him down his whole life. Crimson Dawn and Becket are no different than Proxima in her lightless pool on Corellia. They’re all content to use downtrodden people to make some sort of gain. Caught up in the adventure narrative, we’ve missed the real struggle of the movie.
This is the true brilliance of Solo: it’s not just that Han is poor, and Qi’ra is poor, it’s that the moral of the film isn’t “You can pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you work hard enough!”, but rather, “If you’ve suffered, do what you can to help others not suffer like you did.”
Han doesn’t reject Enfys Nest, nor does he give up on his dream. He doesn’t want to be a rebel (at least not yet) he gives away the money that could secure a life of peace for him because he has known suffering, and can’t abide to let other people suffer just like he did, even though they’re different from him. Neither different upbringing, nor skin color hold him back. He doesn’t let his own suffering be an excuse to be selfish, and not be good. He helps. It’s an important message, and one worth remembering.
Often times, in circles of people who want to improve the world, there is a sense that everyone should be fully devoting themselves to it at all times. This is impossible, of course, but it also sidelines the little sacrifices people make who don’t have the luxury to devote every moment to that. Solo is a movie about the unity of the downtrodden in the face of oppression, but one where the freedom fighters continue their battle against evil while the protagonists go off to try to make some more money to eat at the end.
We can all do something, and you don’t even have to be a hero or special or particularly clever. You can just be a decent person, and be unselfish when the people who have devoted themselves to heroism need you to be. You can go to work, and struggle, and hurt, and just be a normal guy, but a good guy.
And maybe your life won’t be a fairy tale, it’ll be filled with mud and pain, but maybe in ten years you’ll trip onto an old wizard and the chosen one and accidentally win the heart of the princess anyways, who knows.
The first copy is an amazing book, and is signed by a ton of the 10kd crew:
James Wylder (me, editor in chief, creator of 10,000 Dawns)
Rachel Johnson (cover and interior illustrator for "Death and Doubing Cubes", short story illustrator, writer for 10,000 Dawns: Poor Man's Iliad Vol. 1 and 2)
Andrew Colby McClung ( writer for 10,000 Dawns: Poor Man's Iliad Vol. 1 and 2, setting designer)
Jordan Stout (writer for 10,000 Dawns Poor Man's Iliad Vol. 2, setting designer)
Miguel Ramirez III (writer for 10,000 Dawns Poor Man's Iliad Vol 2, setting designer)
Raen Ngu (Short Story Illustrator, setting designer, and concept artist)
Alex Rose/Arc Williams (Theme Song Writer, Social Media Intern)
Olivia Hinkel (Short story illustrator and concept artist)
Elijah Efsits (Social Media Intern and 10kd Live Performance)
Plus it features original hand drawn illustrations by Rachel Johnson and Raen Ngu!
The second book features signatures by myself, Rachel Johnson, Miguel Ramirez, and Elijah Efsits, as well as a hand drawn illustration by Rachel.
So how Can I Help?
Every $5 you donate gives you one entry to get one of the two books. I'll randomly select the winner when the time comes. The more you donate, the more entries you get to win.
Entries will close on May 21st, but if you want to keep donating after that, just contact me.
When donating, please leave an email or phone number for me to contact you. If you can't do that, just email me at email@example.com after you donate with your information.
And really, even if you just donate $1, it helps.
All of the money will go to Arc Williams.
Let's help her out <3.
(if the above button doesn't work, you can paypal money to firstname.lastname@example.org )
Years ago, a group of friends got together to make a sci-fi universe they could tell stories in.
We called it 10,000 Dawns.
Now you can learn all about that Universe, and the stories of the people who live in it. Watch a war across the stars to liberate the moon Titania, delve into your own mind in alternate reality, meet time travelers, and go on wild adventures!
You just need to pledge on Kickstarter to get it all finished.
Featuring beautiful cover art by Brianna Crozier (Bri Pi Art), and stories by Tim Sutton, Simon Bucher-Jones, Nathan P. Butler, Eric Asher, Kylie Leane, Jo Smiley, Michael Robertson, Sarah E Southern, Evan Forman, Nicholas Scott Kory, Jordan Stout, Elizabeth Tock, Trevor Allen, Colby McClung, and Kevin Burnard!
Back it here:
I made some 10,000 Dawns valentines for you to give to your friends and sweethearts :). Have fun! <3
Its that time of year again: when people start nominating for Sci-Fi's premier awards, the Hugos. While I have a lot of works that could be nominated from 2017, I know most of them don't stand a chance against bigger known works. So I'm asking for you to consider my most beloved singular work of 2017 for best Novelette: "Rachel Survived."
Written as an unofficial tribute to the Faction Paradox book series for its 20th anniversary, the story is a fun romp that delves into our own control, or lack of it, over stories.
If you're nominating for the Hugos this year, please consider "Rachel Survived" for best Novelette. You can read it for free below. Thank you for your consideration.
Once before, in 2012, I undertook a massive poetry Marathon on New Years to expunge the old year from me. I have done so again. Patreon backers, as well as people who checked my social media, could request a poem, and I would write one for them. Thus, all poems are named after their requester. They'll likely be reworked and renamed in the future, so take them as they are: A celebration of the new year, and a laying to rest of the old. Take the future on, together. We'll need each other for it.
And of course, this all all brought to you by my wonderful backers on Patreon.
So without further Adieu...
New Years Poetry Marathon, 2017
I had half a heart of stars
coughing up pinpricks
into a basin
like the pitchers of libation
in low end Grecian celluloid
we mark these days by where we are
in this parchment sky with sextant eyes
hovering over the water
I take a deep breath
that sweet sickness
over a torrid ocean
Couldn’t you burn?
I asked, impatiently to the fire
shoving the wood with my boot
cursing as its too hot through the toe
I’m full of bad ideas like that
dropping another log on the fire.
And a tireless pile of leaves.
We stand on a precipice.
That sort of finality where
you drift off to one side,
held on by my hand
the hollow crack
is a cacophony
a screaming father
a you who wasn’t you
a drifting memory
of controlling boyfriends
and dead identities
you held onto.
We stand on a precipice.
And I let your hand loose.
Only you don’t fall
like the sun itself
your skin peeling away
to reveal the bright
There were Greek Gods
Sitting on a mountain
and calling the shots
you open a floodgate of pages
and you unleash them
Dionysis drinks on your streetcorners
there’s Poseidon hogging the pool
Zeus fly’s Delta whenever he can
(which explains a lot about Atlanta)
Hera’s LuRaRoe business is doing
as well as your high school facebook friend’s
Apollo headbobs at a concert
Artemis is there to, but only with the girls
And you’re there.
Always been there.
Singing an old legend anew
The bard of old
with a tea mug
we called down raindrops
and they fell
and kept falling
to our outstretched hands
and Lethe layered fingers
closing in on the rooftops
like that mattered
what is warmth
out in the realm of adventure?
overlooking a wasteland
turning out majesty
carpet a picnic basket
the moon shines spotlight
sandwiches and bottles
popping like fireworks
higher than any star
Has she always been jealous of cats with tails?
Foot by foot across the back alley fence
tails high as a flag to signal YES
The balance is here!
The balance we find
straddling that line between the yard and not
unafraid to fall
eyes dizzy with surprise
even with all legs down
we don’t keep our feet on our path
I remember after I saw the body
still and fresh
so posed like he’d taken a breath
or a wax doll
I went to sit
watching the reel of his childhood
memories I’d met him too late to join
they asked me if I’d like to try the
and I can’t remember if they were
but they were damn good
and so was the coffee
and I felt alive in the midst
of that beautiful life turned to wax
his grandmother recommended a desert
and it gave my mouth the warmth of his youth
when he too would have come in from the wind
and seen a plate
sneaking it off before back to play
I came there for death
but left unable to ask
for a recipe
it had been too filled with the love
of all his kin
for me to ever taste that life again
Its the motto I hold
when she comes into the room.
She churns the passersby till
she turns them into buttered up
But I keep my eyes up.
Greeting me as old friends
I try to avoid
the massive tattoo of Hellboy
that blesses her bosom in spirit to
make DaVinci and Michelangelo
over who gets the needle next
an immaculate aura
opening its Mignolia petals
signaling to all
where the heart of glory lies
but for now
I just don’t look at it
cause that would kinda be rather rude
I used to not know the difference between an Emu and Ostrich
I do now, obviously.
I’d hope you do to.
Those big flightless wings co-piloting their way along
eyeing the other things in their enclosures
their talons like velociraptors
imagine a chicken breast and a knife
and I imagine their feet and my chest
they try to tell us chickens are the mighty of the earth
but they forgot the birds big enough
I sometimes wonder if they make saddles for them.
Nicholas Scott Kory
Oh sing me a song
and I’ll tell you a tale
of a captain, a ship, and a star
sailing away on the light of the moon
with tides that were astral and fun
they bounced along quasars
and even their names are
around us in all of their wins
for a ship is a running
forever it gunning
for ports, and for treasure and loot
Oh, so sing me a song
of these astral tides
a tale I will bring you anew
sailing away on the light of the moon
we knew they would learn about you
Once upon a future dreary
while we pondered fairly clearly
I asked you what the point of this
muddled mess of color light and
scraping sound dismay to senses
toil to thoughts and broil to minds
could be in a world where nothing was
to be burned down at the roots
So you said and so it was
cutting on right through the fuzz
That kinder days were kinder still
when we acted with our own goodwill
They only tell you dreams are good
Not the toil, Not the soot
And I believed them, when I could
The clapping masks thoughts of would
your failed sales make your funds caput
They only tell you dreams are good
take off your sandals, as you should
true genius walks on knives barefoot
And I believed them, when I could
I have a purpose, pull away the hood
To become a measure of output
They only tell you dreams are good
Losing blood, you always say you stood
craving, thirsty, they tell me not’s afoot
And I believed them, when I could
I quench my thirst in petrol, fire to the wood
My toil foils all as soot
They only tell you dreams are good
And I believed them, when I could
I’ve never been across the way
and seen the desert and the birds
you cut your hair short
like a shush to an insult
the world had been yelling
since the day you were born
revolting with anger
while it smiled like it was cute
that everything was shit
Stop being so fucking cute
the rest of us are out here
in shags and brambles
while you walk in
with white silk robe
and half-drunk champange glass
stained with red lipstick you smile with
its just not very fair
that I look like I need a donation
while you’re out there
kissing the sky
A singular splotch of brown on white
the blur of sack-cloth
can’t feel their purple toes
but its only a few more feet
a few more yards
they aren’t found till morning
till their precious package
pulled from frigid fingers
plays it seems
and the brother is mourned
the books put on the shelf
no one knowing
till scholors poured eyes
and drank ink
it was the only one
saved in the snow
On my breast I wear your Porg
for months, my bag bore your badge
and you mark my clothes
with rolling visions of something beyond me
keep reaching out your hand
push it past my ribs
I’m only here in passing
Porgs last forever
I think it was outside a restaurant
in the backroads of Philadelphia
the throng moved around me
and my tape recorder
that never had a tape
back when we dreamed
of something different than our future
and our footsteps felt momentous
but we still have feet
and we’ll walk on
till someday we meet again
outside some forgotten backalley cafe
then, you’ll tell me a different story
that you wrote with your own stride
They say you’ve got jokes
but the jokes are no good
please sir, come around
and make me understood
There once was a man from St. Louis, whose life seemed so fortuitous,
beyond just the punchline
two writers walk into a bar
it was always known
that a voice was nothing
without a wink
to make sure
I spilled my ginger ale
on the most elegant bad pun to grace North America
You set up the keyboard
“My mom’s in the backroom”
Head tilt. Hand gestured. Got it.
No trouble at all then.
Sheet music litters the floor
note by note we craft
and go back and forth
on lyrics I’d look back on
with a cringe and a throw
the papers snow on my tongue
I never thought I could grow out
of being in a High School band
hand sifting through a bin
finding each piece
to sit upon neck or hand or head
fine tuning the look
till the room is a sheen of gold
There was a room
and that was a place
filled with breath
from you to the board
and from the pupils to their desks
chalk by chalk and ink by ink
you scoured minds cracks to plaster in
and built something from cells
There was a room.
And that was a book
filled with ink or pixels
from years of wisdom to words
never stopping the life of teaching
just changing the medium
from breath to eternity
It was another thing crossed off that list
just getting on
pouring that bowl of oatmeal
with the daily spoon
and the mastication of carbs
into another start
and repetition ensued
till we all got along
and the days blurred together
till incongruity struck
in a dazzle
of something beyond predictability
long past boiling water
You’re an engine, and I’m at the light
hoping to catch a glimpse at the crosswalk
As I run with burning legs
to even meet you where you’re going
cutting the lawns and crossing the creek
as your tracks turn the landscape crosshatch
and I arrive
to see your caboose tailing away in the distance again
ever ambling on
two inches, measured in gaps
a tremor in the hand
the J key awaits beneath
for lowered touch
to spring again and go back down
its such a simple job
up and down
becoming something of characters
winding its way back to
forgotten pip-squeaks of strawberry
barely growing on the lawn
their berries weak and strained
at liberty of its fact
the key goes down
with memory to kneel
as fertile harvests came of weeds
and the darkness in the sky
was written out by the author
before it could latch into mind
Uncle Jon Cobblers
all that stood between
man and ultimate glory
roll 20 or 1
Did you forget on the last hanging tree
when the black squirrels sang and the
cackle birds fleed? Did you forget
what we told you to see?
In the hollow, the trunk,
filled to the brim with bones and with tea
holding the earth as an ossuary
you find a bone, and find a home
within that fertile wall
the dirt does fall
the worms do maul
but tis nothing
with a face of bone
South of the Bend
and up the stream
back where the water
still followed a dream
and a rhyme and a rhythm
and anything yours
before we cut back on believing in words
before it was cold. Before it got hot
you opened your hand
and walked through the dark
as they stumbled around you
dashed rocks and a stream
you crossed the river
eyes closed, but you did
And you’ll do it again, you’ll do it again.
You agreed to it.
Folded as Houdini in a box
carried like carrion
used as a chair
till you ripped that stage apart
with your untempered voice
forged in something hotter
as the stage lights up
in our illumination
in precious metals
and strange accents
In 2012, I became a werewolf
my skin split open, and I clawed at the earth
tearing at it all
foam seared lips, and panting teeth
I gnashed for you
and for all my rage
the earth failed to budge
as I shoved it in furious aching
I left behind my skin,
somewhere with a sea
dropped into salt ocean
burning cuts to larger myself
smoke out the impurities
and poison my ability
to listen to the sounds in my chest
and call it anything but meat
I closed that box,
left it hidden
wrapping the locks
and soaking in tonic water
anything that was left from me
but it shook
In 2017, the moon rose again
over men who fancied themselves
having only been the jester
over screams and disillusion
and I gnashed at the ground by rote
clawing with a sad sigh
till I found my skin
and robed myself again
to walk the halls enclothed
in something resembling myself
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
As a special treat this year, we're giving you two brand new stories featuring Lady Aesculapius, whom you might remember from the short story in "An Eloquence of Time and Space". One is by me, James Wylder, and the other is by rising science fiction star Michael Robertson!
You're in for a treat. You can download the stories below, in PDF, epub, or Mobi formats, or just keep scrolling to start reading.
From all of us at 10,000 Dawns to you, go be merry :).
"We're coming into range, Captain."
Rita Andros leaned forward in her chair. Through the darkness of space, a vast metal structure was slowly coming into view. It was shaped like a long rectangle, the shortest sides of which had openings for ships. Giant blue neon letters on its longest sides identified it as 'JARREK & JARREK'S SHIPYARD'.
"Start transmitting our security clearance and take us in slowly," said Captain Andros. "Ms Chandra, scan the station and give me a status report."
"Aye, Captain." A woman to the captain's right wearing a matching uniform began tapping away at keys in front of her. She was one of six Centro officers who formed the main bridge crew. Captain Andros sat in the middle of the wide hexagonal room, with three sitting at control panels on her right and two on her left. The asymmetry drove Ms Chandra insane. "Jarrek & Jarrek's. Established in 2449 as a shipyard for repairing and refuelling Centro-friendly vessels, it's since expanded to provide cosmetic modifications."
"Cleaning, paint jobs, even decals." She turned away from her screen to address the captain more informally. "They do things like stick big letters on the side of your ship to spell stuff, or weld on logos or pictures of celebrities."
Andros raised an eyebrow. She opened her mouth, and for a moment no sound came out. "Who would want to put pictures on the outside of their ship?"
"They do a lot of business with younger captains from the Rim's richer families," Ms Chandra continued, choosing her words diplomatically.
"Ah," Andros smiled. "'People with more money than sense'. What's the status on our imminent attack?"
A white-hot explosion burst from the shipyard. The ship shook. Smouldering metal shot through space towards them.
"Red alert!" bellowed Captain Andros. "Mr Best, can you navigate this debris?"
An enthusiastic young officer grabbed the controls. "Aye Captain!"
With thrusters on full power, the ship skilfully dodged and weaved through burning chunks of shipyard, including giant metal As, Bs and Cs, and various garish decals. The crew clung to their consoles as the letters flew through the vacuum and passed by their window:
L A D Y A E S C U L A P I U S
The image of a mysterious woman's face floated through space towards them.
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.