Writer’s Desk

Hello, dreamers.  Once again I’m more than a bit late with a weekly post, but writing continues apace.  Here’s what’s in store for this week:


Work on the Pathfinder rewrite has been slow, but that’s to be expected. Indeed, I should say that’s how it should be.

As a writer, one of the hardest things for me to do is erase my work, especially on a project I care deeply about.  Even if you have this constant, nagging feeling that it just isn’t quite right, it always seems OK when you read back through it, and when you take something out you can’t help but feel you should hold onto it.  It makes sense, really; it’s hard to spend time and effort creating something only to crumple it up and throw it away.  However, you have to look at the entire piece, and ask yourself “Does this really work?”

This rewrite has been months in the making, so I’ve had plenty of time to think about it.  The core idea, really, has been a need to be, as I put it, “on the ground”.  Much of Pathfinder, early on, revolved around major figures: leaders, top scientists, etc.  However, I feel a story is truly interesting when you start with ordinary people.  Rather than showing how major movers in society govern, start with the little people, and follow their transformation as they begin to influence events.

Initially, I found this hard to do.  The answer, unsurprisingly, came from my short fiction.  From the start, I’ve had the idea writing several short fiction pieces that take place during the events of Pathfinder.  Over the course of planning for Pathfinder, I’ve compiled countless pages of notes exploring how technology and society function in the story, in a vast volume entitled “The World in 2094”.  It began to feel wasteful to produce this complex world few would ever see, and thus the Pathfinder Short Fiction series was born.

Ironically, I hatched upon this idea before learning that the Expanse novels by James S. A. Corey were also accompanied by short fiction tie-ins.  This was mildly disheartening, but as Asha Dornfest said, “…new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you.”

In fact, my recent work on the Pathfinder SF has been very helpful. The stories are helping me to explore the realities of everyday life in 2094, not just on Earth, but elsewhere in the solar system.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to use this experience to add depth to my characters in the novel.

This segues nicely into my next project…


Asteroid mining, most experts tend to agree, will be a reality of life in the future.  Massive wheeled space stations, interstellar spacecraft, habitats on Mars and the moons of the outer planets, and the staggering amount of infrastructure needed to build it all will require vast quantities of raw materials.  Such quantities of metals and rare earth minerals simply do not exist on our planet.  This, in order to build the future, we will need to seek resources elsewhere.

Mining activities in the asteroid belt play a major role in The Expanse.  As such, I found myself wondering how asteroid mining would look in my universe, in 2094.  This forms the basis of Icebreaker.  The story, which will either serve as the second or third Pathfinder short story, takes place in 2100, six years after the Pathfinder 7 spacecraft is launched toward Vega.  Icebreaker revolves around Robi Novak, a Hungarian chemical engineer serving as the resident explosives expert aboard the mining vessel Albion.

While The Expanse shows a future in which various corporations and private prospectors handle mining, things are done differently in my more collectivist future.  In Pathfinder, asteroid mining is handled by a vast fleet of Mobile Resource Operations Controllers, or M-ROCs.  M-ROCs (like the Albion) are massive spacecraft, capable of operating independently for extended periods while functioning both as mining vessels and spaceborne refineries.

In addition to providing a glimpse into the somewhat remote existence of those serving aboard such vessels, I hope to use Icebreaker to provide a stark contrast with the more desperate, corporate-controlled world of The Expanse.


This week, I plan to devote a great deal of my time to the Pathfinder short stories, including one that I’ve already started.  The first Pathfinder short story, Poseidon takes place aboard a Poseidon Deep Space Vehicle.  

By 2094, exploration and colonization of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn is already underway.  The task of moving the vast amounts of equipment, raw materials and personnel necessary is performed by DSVs: the largest spacecraft ever constructed as of the 2090s.  DSVs are massive spacecraft propelled by solar sails kilometers in diameter.  Designed for endurance rather than speed, they remain in constant motion to conserve energy.  Poseidon follows the daily routine of Commander Todd Helfrich, commanding officer of the DSV Endeavor, on the vessel’s two-year journey to a staging base on the Jovian moon Callisto.

That’s all for now, dreamers.  Much remains to be done, but I relish this new direction, and look forward to seeing where this new novel takes me.  Until next time, dare to dream.


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