Future Projects Future Projects

Ever wonder why I gripe when I come up with a new story idea? Here's why -- I already have all these and haven't had time to write them.

These are things I've started, but am not currently seriously working on. I do hope to get back to them all eventually. I'm not listing short stories because there are simply too many of them; only longer works. Except for the Bound Lands, I'm also generally not listing more than one volume per new series; I'm not going to write a sequel to, say, The Dragon's Price before I finish The Dragon's Price.

(I'm making an exception for the Bound Lands, and to a lesser extent for Ethshar, because stories in those settings don't need to be read in order.)

I posted the first-draft openings of several of these on my blog, and I'm linking to those where they exist.

There are some projects I've started that I'm not listing because I don't think I'm likely to ever get back to them, or because they're still very vague.

If any of them looks especially interesting, and you'd really like to see it get a higher priority, it couldn't hurt to let me know.

 

Rise and Fall of the Emerald Eagle

I recently came up with a plot for a superhero novel set in the same city as "One of the Boys." It involves a skilled high school athlete who has no superhuman abilities but decides to put on a costume and fight crime.

No opening scene online

 

Scattered Sparks

Late in the day on January 28, 2016 an idea hit me over the head, and I started writing it the following afternoon. For centuries the Golden Empire has been protected by a gigantic network of spells called the Heart of Magic, but one night the Heart is disrupted and explodes. All that accumulated magic is scattered across the empire as little sparks of power or knowledge -- and all the hazards it's kept out for almost a thousand years can all pour in at once. A farmboy named Tav catches one of the sparks.

No opening scene online

 

Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror

Actually, the first sequel to Tom Derringer & the Aluminum Airship, is complete in first draft. This takes Tom and Betsy to California in pursuit of a secret agent who had worked for the late Emperor Norton; they follow him into the tunnels of the lizard men deep beneath Los Angeles...

At least four more sequels are planned; I've started writing one of them.

Read the opening scene

 

Beyond the Gate

I wanted to ring some variations on the old idea of "modern day folks transported to a fantasy world," and came up with this.

Read the opening scene

 

My Neighbor Fred

Urban fantasy about an ordinary guy who has a creature from another universe turn up on his doorstep asking for help. I originally wanted to call him George, but there were good reasons to change it, so now he's Fred.

Read the opening scene

 

The Dragon's Price

Fantasy novel, probably very dark, intended to be first in a series called "Signs of Power." Malborn Knightsbane is an algophagic sarcomorph -- that is, he was born with the ability to reshape his own flesh, but only at a cost.

He lives in the Restored Lands, a realm that was poisoned and almost destroyed long ago by magical wars, and which survives only through divine intervention. A higher power sent dragons to provide magic that would heal the land, at least in theory -- but it's been centuries, all the dragons but one have died of old age and exhaustion, and that one survivor is old and ill.

The Dragon's Breath still causes certain children, like Malborn, to be born with Signs of Power -- birthmarks that indicate magical abilities. These abilities are supposed to be the means by which the Restored Lands can be cleansed once and for all, but that cleansing hasn't happened yet.

Malborn doesn't care about that stuff, though; he's just trying to find his way in a hostile world.

Sequels may be possible, with the working titles The Dragon's Heir and The Dragon's Breath.

Read the opening scene

 

On A Field Sable

Third in the Bound Lands series, after A Young Man Without Magic and Above His Proper Station. Alas, Tor didn't buy it, so it has no publisher, but I have more than 200 pages written.

It's a different viewpoint than the first two; instead of Anrel Murau, we follow Mareet Saruis, a Walasian peasant girl who finds herself in the custody of a Quandish magician, with two years of her memory erased -- two years in which (as we saw in the first two volumes) the Walasian Empire has begun to disintegrate.

Read the opening scene

 

Assassin in Waiting

Set in the Bound Lands, but a hundred years earlier than A Young Man Without Magic, and in Ermetia, rather than Walasia or Quand. Ermetia has two governing hierarchies, one of magicians headed by the Council Arcane, and one of non-magicians headed by the Council Terrestrial. At the top of both is the king, who is chosen from the eligible members of the royal family by the Council Terrestrial, and whose will is law -- so long as a certain official, the Royal Executor, chosen by the Council Arcane, is present. The Executor has no authority himself, but royal commands are not binding if he is not present, and should he decide that the king is harming the realm, he has the legal right and duty to kill the king.

When the old king dies, Prince Dalvos is named heir to the throne, and to the surprise of both, his best friend, Lord Burren, is named as his Royal Executor. Alas, Burren gradually comes to realize that his friend, his childhood playmate and lifelong companion, is a very bad king...

Read the opening scene

 

The Siege of Vair

Another story set in the world of the Bound Lands, though this one's actually in the Cousins, just outside the Bounds. A group of people are caught in a besieged city -- not their own; they were visiting when the war broke out.

Read the opening scene

 

Swordsmen of the Fallen Empire

Another story set in the Bound Lands, but centuries before any of the others. What will become the Walasian Empire is still the Old Empire -- but its rulers are vanishing mysteriously. The elite swordsmen of the Imperial Guard are left to cope with the chaos as their superiors disappear.

Read the opening scene

 

Untrue Names

When I first came up with this plot, which involves magic based on true names, it was intended to be Volume Three or Four of the Annals of the Chosen. But then I cut that series down from a planned five to seven volumes to a mere trilogy when I realized I didn't enjoy writing it, and Untrue Names was dropped.

I regretted that, because I thought it was a cool idea.

But then I realized that Walasian sorcery also used true names, albeit in a somewhat different fashion, and that I could therefore set the story there, instead, with relatively minor plot changes (mostly replacing the Chosen with a group of household servants).

So it's back on the menu, but instead of a Dark Lord's booby-trap affecting the Chosen, it's a Walasian sorcerer's experimentation on his household staff that results in the spell being cast. In the original outline the Dark Lord couldn't reverse the spell because the Chosen had killed him; in the new version the sorcerer dies in the collapse of the old Walasian regime. In both, though, the story revolves around a group of people who are each carrying an enchantment that they know will be triggered by a specific set of circumstances, but they don't know what the spells do, or what the triggers are.

Read the opening scene

 

The Wizard's Key

There are actually even more Bound Lands stories in various stages of development than I've included here. This is the most recent addition to the list. It's the tale of two sisters, one of whom has inherited a magical ability that runs in their family -- but it's the other one who has been tasked with a magical quest...

No opening scene online

 

Veran the Fair and the Thieves of Borgran

I was invited to write a story for a Roger Zelazny tribute anthology, so I did -- "The Lady of Shadow Guard,", a prequel to Zelazny's wonderful Jack of Shadows. Obviously, as part of researching it, I had to re-read Jack of Shadows, which I remembered very fondly but had not actually read in maybe twenty years.

Re-reading it got me thinking about how Zelazny's Darksider magic worked, specifically the places of power -- a topic that had previously resulted in Among the Powers, when I gave it a science-fictional treatment.

This time, though, I had a different take on it, and came up with an idea for a setting and magic system with lots of story potential. I plotted a story called Home Is Where the Heart Is that I still haven't even started writing.

And in an apparently unrelated item, long ago I was asked to judge a writing contest, and I stupidly agreed. Most of the stories ranged from dreadful to merely dull. One, however, was a very badly-written story that happened to have two or three really cool ideas in it, one of which fascinated me so much that I was determined to swipe it someday, preferably with the serial numbers filed off sufficiently that no one could possibly recognize it.

For some reason, not that long ago that old idea I wanted to swipe came back to me, and I plotted out a story called Bait based on it.

Then it occurred to me that the setting I'd made up for Home Is Where the Heart Is would suit Bait really well, and I started working on that version.

It mutated, as stories often do, and Bait became Veran the Fair and the Thieves of Borgran -- the story of a beautiful young woman who finds herself being promised to whoever can perform a quest, and who decides to perform it herself to guarantee her own freedom.

Read the opening scene

 

The Innkeeper's Daughter

An innkeeper's daughter finds herself caught up in a prophesied hero's question to defeat an evil overlord. This one is deliberately jammed full of fantasy cliches, but I hope it twists them around enough to be interesting and different. It's also got a few romance tropes thrown in -- one working title was The Sword of Love.

Read the opening scene

 

Mirrors and Shadows

A young woman starts encountering strange and impossible things, all of them involving mirrors, shadows, or smoke, and is gradually drawn into the affairs of the last true magicians on Earth. This is to be (I hope) the first volume of a trilogy, followed by Shadows and Smoke and Smoke and Mirrors.

Read the opening scene

 

Queen of the Night

A teenage girl is being transported to a magical kingdom every night, where she has been summoned to save the land from an evil usurper. This girl, though, doesn't particularly want to be there, and furthermore her father has noticed what's going on and takes a very strong interest.

I suspect this will turn out to be a novella, not a full-length novel.

Read the opening scene

 

Earthright

Set in a future where Earth has very strict immigration laws, journalism grad student Amelia Hand puts her Earthright, her right to live on Earth, up as collateral on the loan she needs to finish researching her thesis. She has a very limited time to track down her subject, get everything she needs from him, and get back to Earth.

It really doesn't help matters when she gets tangled up in investigating a corporate colonization scheme gone wrong.

Incidentally, this is part of a series -- the second novel (I think) would be Technoplague, and there's already a published short story, "That Doggone Vnorpt," published as by Nathan Archer. It's possible the novels, if I ever write them, will also be credited to Nathan.

Read the opening scene

 

One Hundred Suns

During an interstellar war, the warship Nadezhda Durova is flung into distant space with her jump drive still functional, but all her computers fried. The crew tries to find the way home by locating stars in the right general direction that have about the right spectrum.

They find about a hundred and begin to check them out, one by one, and find things they didn't expect.

I began writing this one a long time ago -- the 1980s, I think -- and the tech is so out of date I practically need to start over, so there's no excerpt to show you.

No opening scene online

 

Fetch

There are certain people who can enter the afterlife and bring things back. Donnie Mudgett's Uncle Jerry says Donnie is one of them, and wants to hire him. The on-the-job training doesn't go entirely smoothly...

Read the opening scene

 

Myth America

Another really old one. From the 1980s, I think. It's a road trip story, except that the road trip is also a quest to save our reality before it falls apart. The car is based on my own first car, a 1957 DeSoto.

Read the opening scene

 

The Wizard's Path

I was mulling over fantasy tropes, and got to wondering why wizards never have families. Oh, they might have a spouse or kids, though even that is unusual, but when do you ever see a wizard's parents or siblings? They never seem to have friends, either; if they have neighbors, it's usually not a good relationship. So I got thinking about why this might be. Was there a reason wizards had to be loners, or at least limited to the company of other wizards?

I could think of several possible reasons, depending on how their particular sort of magic worked, and one variation I liked was the idea that it's not safe for a wizard to stay in one place for very long, so they have to leave their friends and family behind.

And that led me to ask who would want to be a wizard if it meant you could never, ever settle down permanently. Which turned into the outline and opening chapter of this story.

It might be YA, but I'm not sure.

Read the opening scene

 

George Pinkerton and the Plague of Zombies

George Pinkerton, monster-hunting librarian, was originally created as the star of a long series of bedtime stories I told my kids. He became the hero of three published short stories: "George Pinkerton and the Blood-Sucking Fiend of Brokentree Swamp," "George Pinkerton and the Bedtime Ghost," and "George Pinkerton and the Space Waffles" I also wrote a couple more than weren't published. One of them was a version of "George Pinkerton and the Plague of Zombies." All of these previously unpublished George Pinkerton stories, including the short-story version of "George Pinkerton and the Plague of Zombies," have now been posted to my Patreon page.

I was thinking of expanding that story and turning it into a middle-grades novel.

These days, though, I think it's more likely I'll just write some additional stories and put them all in a collection, probably entitled either The Adventures of George Pinkerton or George Pinkerton, Monster Expert.

George Pinkerton never intended to be a hero; he's a small-town librarian in Indiana who happens to know a lot of folklore, and who happens to be in the right place at the right time when a deranged houngan unleashes an entire graveyard of the walking dead on the town. Saving Springfield, Indiana from the zombies is what gets him a reputation as a monster-hunter.

No opening scene is online, but the complete text of "George
Pinkerton and the Blood-Sucking Fiend of Brokentree Swamp"
is.

 

Meant for Each Other

Intended to be a "Young Adult" novel.

In the world of the Extermination, the wizards and magicians who made life so very difficult and interesting for everyone else finally killed themselves off a few centuries back, but there's still plenty of old magic lying around, causing trouble. This world was the setting for the short story "Arms and the Woman," but hasn't appeared elsewhere.

An old prophecy says that at an appropriate time, two children will be born with a certain birthmark -- one male, one female. They, in turn, will produce a child who will save the world from a horrible menace created by a long-dead wizard. It's all been magically predetermined by a couple of ancient magicians.

However, they couldn't know exactly what the world would be like so far from their own time, so there was no way to determine exactly which infants would bear the marks. There was no way to predict that one would be a refined and fastidious princess, the other a rowdy, uncouth peasant -- and that they wouldn't like each other.

Read the opening scene

 

Graveyard Girl

Intended to be a "Young Adult" novel.

Emily Macomber is in high school when she inherits her family gift -- or maybe curse. Any time she touches someone, she sees how that person will die. Not when or why, but she'll have a vision of the moment of death.

Which is quite creepy enough even before she sees several of her friends lying dead in the ruins of the high school gym. Fortunately, she can sometimes change what she sees...

I actually thought I had a complete finished novel here. My agent didn't agree; he says it's only the first half of a two-part novel. It's therefore waiting for me to rework it and add a second half.

Read the opening scene

 

The Turners

Another "Young Adult" novel.

Sixteen-year-old Steve Everett knows he's adopted, and thinks it's mildly peculiar that the government is still sending social workers to check on him after fourteen years; he also knows there's apparently something a little odd about how he looks at the world.

Until his Aunt Lucy shows up, though, he has no idea that his real name is Jason Turner, that he was born into a family that can see and move in more dimensions than normal people, that the government saw this ability as a security threat, that his parents were murdered by the government, and that he's been watched all these years because he's bait, intended to lure the other Turners out of hiding...

Read the opening scene

 

Ethshar

I do intend to keep writing Ethshar stories, but due to their low market value, they'll only happen when I can afford to waste enough time to write one.

For more details about my plans (though it's probably in need of an update), see Unwritten Ethshar Novels.

Meanwhile, I have two that have gotten far enough that I posted openings on my blog:

Stone Unturned

Azraya of Ethshar

 

Five-Ninths of Catastrophe

Yes, I'm planning to write a sequel to Vika's Avenger someday. It seems that the Biologist had a back-up plan, a doomsday device involving nine genetically-engineered components. Tulzik, Azl, and Hrus have to track them down and prevent them from destroying Ragbaan -- and it only takes five, not all nine, to trigger a catastrophe.

Not sure about more in the series, but I did have a rough idea for a third with the working title A Sea of Slaves.

No opening scene online

 

The Exile and the Empire

The never-written third volume of the "War Surplus" series, following The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and The Wizard and the War Machine. At the end of The Wizard and the War Machine, Sam Turner was going into exile, fleeing the wizards of Praunce. This third volume would follow him to a final resolution. To be honest, I never had this one outlined in detail; it's still a bit vague. After seeing the weak reception Realms of Light got, I very much doubt I'll ever write this.

No opening scene online

 

Silver Stars

Sequel to Shining Steel, this follows the adventures of John Mercy-of-Christ in trying to reclaim a planet even more barbaric than Godsworld. Again, I very much doubt I'll ever write this.

No opening scene online

 

Rise and Fall of the Second Imperium

A prequel to Denner's Wreck, I actually started writing this one back in the 1970s -- not sure whether I was in high school or college. It's the account of a previous attempt at conquest by Thaddeus the Black, on a planet very different from Denner's Wreck.

No opening scene online

 

Pentagram Squadron

Many years ago, I wanted to break into comics. Specifically, I wanted to write Blackhawk for DC. In 1985 I submitted a proposal to an editor who'd expressed interest; it was rejected because they'd just handed the Blackhawks to Howard Chaykin to be revamped for a mini-series.

Years later I told Kurt Busiek about this, and he said, "So take all the stuff you like about the Blackhawks, throw out everything DC's done with the characters that you didn't like, and use it to create something new."

Which is not what I actually did, because hey, if it wasn't going to be the Blackhawks then I could really mess around with the premise. Which I did.

The result wound up having very little resemblance to the Blackhawks beyond involving a bunch of pilots; if anything, it came out more like "G-8 and His Battle Aces." (If any of you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it. Old stuff. Not important.) I named it Pentagram Squadron and pitched it to Dark Horse Comics.

They didn't buy it, but I've never completely abandoned the idea. It doesn't need to be comics; it could be novels, or an online serial, or something else entirely. It's got classic fighter planes and dinosaurs and lost colonies and the Bermuda Triangle and pirates and castles and evil masterminds and all sorts of stuff, but I can't really give you a lot of details because it's structured to have a series of revelations, so I can't say much of anything without blowing surprises.

I've made a very brief start on writing it, as prose, but it hasn't gotten very far. If I ever write the rest, it'll be fun. And done right, it should run at least four or five volumes.

Read the opening scene

 

The Research Agent

I decided I wanted to write space opera, and this is what I came up with. Jeret is an agent of the Kletti Confederation whose job is to roam through the various human-descended cultures of the galaxy and find ideas that the Kletti might be able to use -- their culture is very aware of the dangers of "not invented here" thinking, and determined not to miss out on anything that could improve their situation just because someone else thought of it first. Most Kletti are far too pleased with their own society to want to go anywhere else, but there are always a few malcontents like Jeret willing to go wandering, collecting ideas. Most turn out not to be worth pursuing, but a few are useful.

But then one day Jeret stumbles across something new that's not useful -- it's terrifying...

Read the opening scene

 

Three Days Late for the Hanging

I swear I don't know what prompted this one. I didn't have any great interest in writing a fantasy western, but this got stuck in my head and insisted. I'm not sure how long it's going to be -- might be a novel, might not.

The narrator, despite what the other characters think, is not actually the Devil himself.

Read the opening scene

 

Fast Times

Originally intended as a "Flash" graphic novel for DC, I realized it would work better in prose. A young man takes part in an experiment intended to accelerate him to a thousand times normal speed, and it works -- but not quite the way it was supposed to.

No opening scene online

 

The Multidimensional Adventures of Victoria Jane Nesbitt

Vicky Nesbitt teaches fourth grade in East Winsford, Connecticut, and is completely unaware that one of her students is the Chosen One of another universe. On the kid's tenth birthday his people summon him home -- but the magic isn't as precise as one might hope, and it brings with him everything in a twenty-foot radius, including his teacher and twenty-seven classmates...

This one may be an ongoing, open-ended serial or series.

No opening scene online