A blog where Stephanie M. Belser test-drives her fictional stories.
Expect the occasional
"stall, spin, crash & burn".

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Under Construction

(A FF challenge)

The astronomers were puzzled. Stars were disappearing. They were not proceeding to either brown dwarfs or blowing up. They were fading away and then just winking out, with barely some faint infrared signature remaining. It wasn’t random, there seemed to be a pattern. The stars were not that far away, at most 100 light years. They were largely in a single direction from Earth.

Nobody was too concerned. Not until the satellites that were observing the Sun began to detect a very faint decrease in solar output. It was barely detectable, but a small drop in the Sun’s output could cause an ice age. A larger drop could result in the “Goldilocks Zone” shrinking in, placing the Earth in the “too cold” region.

Monday, July 11, 2011


When I was young, my father liked to read mysteries. His favorite writers were Mickey Spillane, John D. MacDonald and Ross Macdonald (Kenneth Millar). I probably read "A Deadly Shade of Gold" half-a-dozen times. Those books formed my concepts of what a fictional detective is like and how he or she should act. To this day, I can't stand wimpy PIs and the English cozies leave me cold.

Millar and MacDonald died in the 1980s. Spillane died in 2006.

The one thing I didn't care for were the last few Spillane "Mike Hammer" novels. Max Allan Collins collaborated/finished up three of Spillane's manuscripts (so far). I read them over the weekend. The only clinker of the three was the "Goliath Bone". The book is set in the last decade.

Collins or Spillane rewrote the back story for Hammer, because they had to, I guess. If you read the `40s-`50s books, you know that Hammer and Pat Chambers, Hammer's friend, were cops together on the NYPD. Hammer was a NYPD sergeant who went into the military after Pearl Harbor. Chambers stayed in the NYPD and rose to be a captain of homicide detectives.

The problem is, though, that in the "Goliath Bone", Chambers is still on the job, which would make him probably the only 90 year old cop in the NYPD. Collins changed Hammer's back story so that he went into the Army underage, then spent two years on the NYPD after he got out before he became a private investigator. That change maybe took a decade off Hammer's age, but he would still be either pushing 80 or past it, when he is running around Manhattan, getting into fights with bad guys. And the change in the back story leaves hanging the question of how a rookie beat cop would then become buds with a homicide captain. (Not to mention that the ending truly sucks.)

The other two, "The Big Bang" and "Kiss Her Goodbye" were set in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively, and they work better. "The Big Bang" has two glaring anachronisms, but you can determine them for yourself.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Grand Finale

(Yes, another challenge)

Each year, the city held a Fourth of July fireworks display along the riverfront. At one time, local merchants paid for it. Nowadays, the fireworks were paid for by one of the local casinos. Maybe the local tribe wanted to buy some goodwill for the wave of petty crime and embezzlements that had been taking place since the casino opened. Maybe they wanted to mollify the families who had lost their savings and homes when one of the so-called adults had gambled them all away.

I didn’t know. I didn’t care. I had a job to do.