Carbon Run II: Does Antarctica rise?

Antarctica without ice

Antarctica without ice as envisioned by the British Antarctic Survey

I’m planning a second novel with a climate change theme under the Carbon Run title. The new project doesn’t have a working title yet, although it’s definitely a Carbon Run II. Let’s call it CRII for short. It’s not a sequel, in that I’m not interested in following most of the character’s lives after Carbon Run ends. I’d rather start with a fresh set of characters. I’m not averse, however, to having a Carbon Run character show up in CRII.

Here’s the basic premise of CRII: Around the year 2100, global warming has gotten so far out of control that only the lands above 60° north latitude and below 60° south latitude are friendly to humans. In the north, that leaves the Arctic Ocean surrounded by the extreme northern lands of North America and the Eurasian continent. In the south, the only land below 60° south is Antarctica. All the earth in between, where almost all the human population lives today, no longer supports humanity. It’s either too hot or the weather is too extreme for agriculture on a large scale, although the vagaries of the climate allow small pockets of people to survive. Continue reading

3 things Raymond Chandler taught me about writing

One of my beta readers said that a draft of The Vault of Perfection, the sci-fi novel I’m currently revising, reminded her of Raymond Chandler‘s novels. It’s a compliment I hardly deserve, but it came as a surprise, because I’d never read any of his books. I knew he had pioneered the “hard-boiled detective” novel, penning The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and others. But I knew the work primarily from movies I watched on TV as a kid.

That led me back to the motion pictures, which are some of the best film noir dramas of the 1940s. Humphrey Bogart, one of my favorite actors, starred as Chandler’s detective Philip Marlowe in the 1946 version of The Big Sleep. It’s Bogart’s lispy voice I associate with the cynical, wisecracking gumshoe, which has been parodied in everything from A Prairie Home Companion (Guy Noir, Private Eye) to a whole slate of comedy movies. Continue reading

Going back into ‘The Vault of Perfection’

Global Seed Vault at night

The Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen Island is an important location for The Vault of Perfection.

It’s said that whiskey improves with age. The same goes for cheese, and love, sometimes. And writers advise that you should put down a draft for some amount of time and go back to it, hoping that it survives the interim. That’s what I did with the second novel I’ve ever written, The Vault of Perfection. I wrote it during the first half of 2013, and now that I’ve finished a second draft of Carbon Run, I’ve reopened the last draft of Vault and like what I see, mostly.

The Vault of Perfection is a science fiction adventure about Nick Sorrows (pronounced SOH rows), an investigative reporter whose best friend, an elderly neighbor named Lars Haugen, is violently murdered in his hospital bed. The action takes place in the present day, and the science fiction focuses on human evolution, genetic engineering, and an unseen war between factions of an ancient, non-human race. The major characters include Angela Brightwine, a mysterious and brilliant biotech researcher, and Jon Danziger, an environmental attorney turned eco-terrorist. Some of the action takes place at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also known as the “Doomsday Vault,” on Spitsbergen, an island in the Arctic Ocean. A friend who read an early draft compared it to Raymond Chandler’s novels (though I could never approach the skill of that great writer). Continue reading