Alterpedia Historia – Schisms

(I hate that I have to say this, but this is a fictional account of the history of a fictional world. I do not believe these things, nor should you, as I am making them up. If I receive any comments that I did not do my research into these events, you will be mocked.)

In the Agent of Argyre series of books, there is an organization called the Alter Control Task Force. Though ostensibly an organization for policing activities of the Alter race, an attempt to prevent an eventual race war, they are actually representatives of a city-state on the ocean: The Republic of Argyre.

The Republic of Argyre, an artificial island anchored to an oceanic ridge in the pacific, is a city-state established by Alters for the sake of harboring their kind and establishing a relationship with the mainstream human population. Despite being an artificial island and attached to no primary landmass, the city’s structure is capable of potentially supporting all 12 to 15 million active Alters on the planet.

How did a race of people who’ve lived in hiding for centuries manage to construct such a city? Why would they build their city in the middle of the ocean? Where did they get the resources for such a task? In the Alterpedia Historia, we will answer these questions and discover the history of the Alters. Today we address…

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Peculiar Inspiration

For a long time I’ve held that anything can be used to improve your writing. As I’ve said more than once, “all things are kung fu”. And this is often something that I tell other writers I meet because I want everyone to find new avenues to follow. To my shock, some of those people have come back to inform me that I actually know what I’m talking about, which is in part why I got started working on this blog. But sometimes I’ve drawn lessons and inspirations from things that most people just wouldn’t have ever considered rationally.

The reasons are simple, despite the fact I’m knowledgeable in the field, I’ve never had a formal education in it. There’s no shame in this, neither did Neil Gaiman or Ray Bradbury, but it does mean that I had to learn through odd methods. Neil jumped straight into journalism and writing non-fiction to help him learn how to write things in a clear, direct fashion and get readers interested. Ray taught himself by going to a library zealously until he could learn everything he needed. But me? I don’t live in a place with a good library nearby. I’ve never had access to reasonable resources.

So what I have used to teach myself are the internet, shelves of old books given to me by family, and the knowledge that everything in life can be studied. For instance, you can learn a lot by talking to people you have very little in common with – especially if they conflict with your world view. You can also learn a lot by talking to complete strangers, even if the world is full of people afraid to do that as of late. There’s always something to be learned by wandering through places you’ve never been. And sometimes, while many would tell you to read everything and watch everything, it’s often overlooked that “stupid” entertainment can still be a great teacher too.

Case in point? Professional wrestling.

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The Status Quo Of Factory Fiction

Not long ago, James Patterson received the Innovator’s Award from the LA Times. This award, now in its 36th year, is one given to those with innovative business models or uses of technology to further the narrative arts. Essentially it’s given to people who happen to come up with a new idea that makes an impact on the literary world. And while I don’t know the exact reason the award was given to him this year, I can probably guess it’s because he’s the most successful author in the world… that doesn’t write books.

And for those of you who follow this blog regularly, you shouldn’t be surprised by my taking that jab at him. For some time the joke has been that I treat Patterson as if he was “he who should not be named” – taking a quick jab in his direction, refusing to name him, but posting his photo so you know what I mean.


I know I’m not alone, I know a lot of people have criticized him for the same reasons that bug me. Normally I would just move on with my life after making that kind of comment so I can go on doing my thing. But a recent rumor (that I won’t be spreading today) got me thinking about Patterson and realizing something I hadn’t before:

I don’t dislike James Patterson or his brand – I dislike what it means about our industry…

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Redefining Space Operas

First created in the 1800s, originating with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the sci-fi genre is one of the babies of the literary field. Prior to this moment a lot of science and fantasy stories were considered one and the same since, at the time, science and magic were pretty much the same thing. Those were the days of alchemy and astrology that, while making progress, were deeply rooted in the ancient beliefs that had very little evidence backing them. The scientific method as we know it didn’t even really exist until the 17th and 18th centuries. So when Mary created a story around the idea of reviving the dead using chemicals and electricity (which…kind of came true centuries later), it was unprecedented for a reason.

And because of that, while sci-fi is about 200 years old now, it’s still evolving constantly. Science Fiction and Fantasy both became separate entities as magic and science started to drift apart from each other and establish their jurisdictions. Come the industrial revolution, not long after Shelley’s work, and the genre’s potentials became incredibly clear and led to an explosion of variety that she likely wouldn’t have seen coming.  And, just as the “Golden Age” was about to begin in the early 20th century, something new came onto the scene.


Prior to the 1930s there was a genre known by some as the “horse opera”, a kind of melodramatic western story that entered the same sort of cheesy territory we now see in your daily Soap Operas. These were grand adventures and a tad overbearing in how earnest they were. Even for the turn of the century these were often considered campy. But then someone considered: what if you were to take those sorts of stories and put them in space?

And the space opera was born.

Though it’s arguable where in the genre itself really started, with early examples being cited in the late 1800s, it wasn’t really until the 1920s where melodramatic shit in space hit mainstream success and the genre really started to become a “genre”. Edgar Rice Buroughs probably had a lot to do with inspiring this, as his John Carpenter series was essentially Tarzan on Mars. But while he kicked off the popularity of such ideas he never really wrote a space opera himself, instead having stories that most would categorize as “planetary romances” (a subject for another day). But when a comic strip publisher wanted to get the rights to his stories they failed and needed to create their own.  Hiring Alex Raymond to do it for them, what he came up with was one of the most enduring space operas of all time: Flash Gordon. It was cheesy, campy, and full of melodrama that surpassed the likes of even superhero comics (which were just getting started at the same time). But it sold… and it sold well.

flash gordon

Literary versions of the space opera genre found success as well with the likes of the Lensman series from E.E. Smith and the Foundation series from Isaac Asimov. And these stories began to form the language and visuals to be associated with the genre. All of them had the same sense of grandiose adventures in space, littered with space battles, interstellar politics and intrigue. And for decades the styles they established were what really defined “space operas” as people told stories of wars happening among the stars. But then, this all hit a tipping point when some guy got really lazy with his title and actually released a movie just called “Star Wars”.

The style hasn’t quite been the same since…

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Proper Golem Skincare

Golems, nature’s most huggable landslides. Often upstanding members of the community, these gentle rock hard giants give new meaning to the description “cut like granite”. But with their stony exterior comes a severe problem. As the summer sun comes around and it’s time for everyone to show off their beach body, you’re left wondering if you can really be presentable. Dry, scaly skin is one thing, but skin with the same texture as the beach you’re standing on just might be too much.

sandy skin

After all, in today’s climate you just can’t risk looking natural. In the age of spray-on tans, wrinkle creams directed at 20 somethings, and cosmetic procedures designed to make you look like a doll – flaws are unacceptable. Once upon a time it was unusual to look like a Barbie doll, but now people are paying for it. And, let’s be honest, you never thought you’d live to see the day where people could honestly have a debate on whether or not someone got butt implants.

butt implant

So let’s go ahead and attack that nasty skin problem of yours, shall we? And remember, only do some of these if you’re a Golem because they would just be stupid otherwise.

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