Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Concept to Ink 2 - Paul

Time-lapse progression from thumbnail sketches to refinement in Photoshop to final inked product. I'm trying to do something different with each of these, so I spent a little time working on hard shadows for this one.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Concept to Ink 1 - The Detective

(place your bets on how long it takes me to realize I gave her an extra finger on the right hand).
Time-lapse video of me taking rough sketches of a character for my upcoming novel "The New Aleph" and turning it into an inked composition.
The novel is available for pre-order at WorldsofMebar.com

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Log Lines for New Project

There's a story about Mark Twain where he received a telegram one day that said:


He replied to this by sending back:


Which highlights an important truth about writing, that often the shorter a piece of written fiction is, the more difficult it is. Especially to make it good. The shortest form of storytelling that people see all the time, and don't realize it's a form of storytelling, is the log line. 

Here's a quick example of a log line for a movie that a few people probably watched:

When the chief general of Rome's army is betrayed and sold into slavery, the only way he can get his revenge is to rise to fame as a gladiator in the Colosseum.

I bring this up because it shows the problem I have with developing the log line for the novel I'm working on. Words like "Rome" and "gladiator" and "Colosseum" are familiar and carry a lot of information about the world, setting, and situation. 

The world, setting, and situation for my novel are all odd, and there are no words out there to help me establish context. Imagine how much more clunky that Gladiator log line would be without all the familiar context. 

In fact, here's an example. The movie Alien has a complex story that takes place in a very unusual setting, so the log lines for it can get pretty long (this one from IMDb):

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, their landing on the source planet finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious life-form. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

So, you can see how it can get a little long-winded. Anyway, enough rambling. Here's what I have right now as a broad-strokes pitch for my novel:
  • MEBAR is a system of worlds created centuries ago by people who are now held by some to be gods. A detective looking for her family, a resurrected murder victim, a water-fey machinist, and a forgotten rogue god each start down dangerous paths to escape the arbitrary justice of the successors to MEBAR's creators.
Because it's a novel, it can get away with having four main characters. Movies usually can't. But, having four characters makes it even more difficult to boil down the story. This summary doesn't really explain the stakes or character goals. 

I sort of need to do a log line for each of those characters mentioned:
  • After a homicide detective's family vanishes, she does everything she can to try and find them. She discovers that the answer is held by powerful beings she previously thought of as myth.
  • A young man wakes up in a white room moments after being murdered. He's told by a strange young girl that he's going to be brought back to life so he can tell everyone that the gods of MEBAR must be killed.  
  • A disenchanted young woman wants nothing more than to become a machinist and have people overlook that she's a water fey. But when a new world leader rises rapidly to power, threatening chaos all over Pan, she sets her mind to smuggle outcasts like herself to another world.
  • After centuries locked in stasis, a normally easy-going man discovers that the worlds he helped create are as corrupt as he feared they would become. He'll have to be more careful this time if he wants to overthrow the successors of those that imprisoned him. 
Not sure what the solution would be for a final, definitive log line. Maybe I need to pick one of the characters and combine that with the first half of the broad-strokes log long. Not sure, but I'll be working on it....

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ao Shun Basics

With the interest people have had in the Ao Shun since the PopSci article came out, I figured I should put together some stuff on here for people to look at.

For starters, I'll post the actual application I sent to the magazine (minus my messed-up math related to travel times, obviously...I'll put together an improved breakdown of how that would actually work in a future post):

 / Ao-Shun

Deep-space research vessel

Designed by Andy Wright

Designation:                            Ao Shun Deep-space research vehicle. 
Type:                                       Long-range, interstellar transport.
Crew Compliment:                  4 - 36
Duration:                                 Indefinite (limited food stores + supplies for self-sustainability)
Gross Tonnage:                       23,000 Metric Tons
Acceleration:                          10 m/s/s, ~ 1 gs
Length, Overall:                      1025 meters

Main Hull:                               275 meters (contains engine, reactor, fuel, etc).
Module A                                113m x 8.25m x 8.25m, 3 decks: living quarters, control facilities
Module B                                 113m x 8.25m x 8.25m, 3 decks: rec, labs, greenhouses, cargo
Bussard Collector:                   750 meter long, spiral field extender array. 

Bussard Collector:
The hydrogen collector is a 750-meter-long structure made up of electromagnets that extend a magnetic funnel about 10 kilometers out ahead of the ship. This invisible “funnel” gathers free-floating hydrogen from deep space and shunts it straight into the engine.

It’s constructed of a carbon fiber/carbon nanotube/titanium mesh.  It needs significant amounts of titanium in order to sustain the compression force exerted on it by the fusion rocket during the acceleration cycles.

Main Engine:
Fueled by Bussard hydrogen collector. First stage ionizes the hydrogen, second stage pre-accelerates the particles, and the final stage initiates a fusion reaction to further energize the particles as they exit out of the back of the ship. Engine also has a “reverse gear” for use during deceleration, which uses a magnetic sling-shot to send the pre-accelerated particles back up to the front of the ship, where a second fusion reaction chamber and exhaust are located.

Sensor package at the front of the Bussard Collector which also has high-powered lasers and particle cannons to either vaporize or redirect incoming debris that may threaten to damage the ship.

Gravity Compensation:

During acceleration, the ship is cross-shaped, with the modules close to the center hull to minimize stress on supports. The floors of the modules face the same side as the engine exhaust. The acceleration force of the engines provides force on the floor that exactly imitates the feeling of gravity. To shorten the trip, the ship could possibly be set to higher acceleration rates during sleeping periods.

During cruising or orbit periods, the ship rearranges to compensate for microgravity.

First, the modules rotate around where they attach to the connecting corridors, transitioning from being perpendicular to the main hull to being parallel to it.

Next, the modules rotate along the axis of the length of the ship, turning the floors outward, away from the center hull.

Next, the modules extend away from the center hull, the connecting corridors extending like accordions. This lowers the necessary speed of rotation as well as the force differentials between the floors and the ceilings of the modules (both of these help minimize motion sickness from the spinning).

Finally, the modules spin around the center hull.

During the first half of a journey, the ship will spend the entire time accelerating. After hitting the half-way point, the engine reverse-thrusts to decelerate during the second half of the journey.


Short trips (accelerating at 10 m/s):
·         2.5 days to Mars
·         12 days to Neptune

Long trips:

Ship accelerates constantly at approximately 1 g (10 meters per second per second) for the first half until reaching 80% of the speed of light (which takes about 11 months). Then the ship would cruise until nearing the destination and then decelerate at the same rate.

Monday, July 25, 2016

PopSci article is out!

The article with my interview and talking about the Ao Shun is out! It looks like I beat out a team from the Technical University at Munich (they got second):


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Ao Shun Won 1st Place!

So, in April, I submitted some details about one of the star starships (ha...alliteration) in my book Banner to a contest that Popular Science set up this last spring:


I never heard back after I submitted, so I actually thought they'd rejected my submission because it was too far-fetched. Then I completely forgot about it...until I got a mysterious email saying I won first place in something.

I still have trouble believing it happened...(I'll post a link to the article once it's published)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Merlin is coming...

Late tomorrow I'll hopefully be blasting the pilot out to the world...stay tuned: