FanFic Friday: Zod and Superman Meet

I had a fun idea for a rewrite of the first meeting between Zod and Superman. In my head this is Christopher Reeves and Terrance Stamp.

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General Zod was hovering outside the window to The Daily Planet and Perry White could not figure out why.

The obvious answer was Lois Lane. She had covered Superman since his first arrival in Metropolis and the local villain populace tended to think that threatening her would get a reaction from the man of steel.

Except that the General, who had arrived only days ago demanding that Earth submit to his dictatorship, was demanding Superman meet him outside.

From behind Perry, someone was pushing through the crowd and toward the window.

“Kal-El,” Zod shouted. “I demand that you submit to the leader of New Krypton and help me in taming this land. Come to me, son of Jor-El. Come and kneel before Zod.”

Finally, whoever was shuffling behind Perry touched the Daily Planet’s Editor in Chief on the shoulder and drew his attention from the alien on display.

Clark Kent stood next to him with a look of, what was that? Did he look regretful?

“Sorry, Chief,” Clark said. “I should have told you sooner.” He took of his glasses and handed them to his boss. He gave a quick wink. “You should probably let Lois do the byline. She can fill in any of the gaps.”

“What are you talk-“ Perry started to say as Clark tore open his shirt and stepped up to the window.

As everyone stared at the man sitting on the window sill with his legs hanging out, it was the quietest the bullpen had ever been.

The Superman sitting on the window sill.

“General,” Superman called from where he sat. “I would like to have a word.”

He floated from the window and let the remainders of Clark’s suit fall from him, revealing the rest of his real uniform. His trajectory took him gently to within feet of the General.

“Do you wish to plead for them, Kal-El?” Zod mocked.

Superman shook his head. “No. That’s not it at all.” He crossed his arms. “I am going to tell you how this goes and then give you a choice.”

Zod laughed before saying, “Please, entertain me.”

Superman took a breath.

“First, and this is important, so pay attention; whatever name you think you know me by, that isn’t who I am. My name is Clark, son of John and Martha. If you can’t remember that, then the rest of this isn’t going to much matter.” He cast a quick glance back at Perry, his coworkers, and saw Lois in the back, smiling. “Second, for a great strategic military mind, you seem to have missed a key piece of intel that is going to change the way your day goes.”

“And that is?” The General was still enjoying what he saw as Superman’s posturing.

“The science behind why you and are flying up here.” Superman unfolded his arms and pointed at the sun. “Our cells take solar radiation and convert it into energy that fuels these powers. Except, then how do we fly at night?”

“Our bodies store that energy as well, obviously,” Zod sneered.

Superman smiled. “That’s right. Our cells take in that solar radiation, convert it into energy, and then store that energy.” He drifted closer to Zod and only stopped when he was within arm’s reach. “Remind me, how many days have you been here?”

Realization started to dawn on Zod’s face, but he was incapable of admitting any failing and quickly squashed the foreign emotion that ran through him. He hid his fear.

“Three days,” Superman said. “Your cells have been storing energy for three days. I have been here for my entire life.” His voice got so quiet that no one but Zod could hear what he said next. “I wasn’t hiding to protect my secret. I was trying to protect you.”

“I tire of this,” Zod shouted. “Kneel.”

Superman’s face flashed frustration. Why wouldn’t Zod take the easy route? Why did he have to make this more difficult than it was?

“This is your only warning,” he explained. “Leave now, or take a swing. I’m not bowing and this will be your only free shot.”

The General’s face reddened with rage. With all of his Kryptonian enhanced speed, his fist shot out and connected with Superman’s chin.

Superman didn’t move. Zod swung again, but his fist connected with the open palm of Superman. The man of steel had moved too fast for Zod to see.

“I said you get one,” Superman spoke. His tone was still calm, if a little disappointed.

Zod’s eyes flashed red as they heated up. “You will kneel before me, Kal-“

The General never saw the fist that connected with his face and couldn’t understand how he had ended up on the ground until Superman came hovering toward him.

“My name is Clark, and you were warned.”

The Trades: Wind River (2017)

My family is one of recommendations and I am no exception. If we like something, we are both surprised if you haven’t been made thoroughly aware of it yet, and demanding that you correct your egregious ways. We’re also the types of people who, if you recommend something to us, our interest in that subject plummets.

To that end, my family and I (my Mom, Dad, and brother, Mike) have come together and invented “The Trades.” For every one recommendation given a recommendation must be received. Through this simple agreement, we’re all taking steps toward watching movies that we would have lied about seeing for decades to come.

Additional rules have been added over the weeks to keep things civil. For example, we can’t recommend movies from genres that we know the others don’t like (ie: No horror for mom and dad) and since we know each other so well we need to try not to recommend movies we’re aware they simply won’t enjoy.

But…there’s no time stamp on when those recommendations need to be watched by, so I have already started to slip back into my “I don’t really watch a lot of movies lately” mentality. So, I am taking this a step further and am going to review the recommendations that I receive in as part of The Trades.

The first trade was made between my parents and myself. In exchange for my making them watch one of my favorite movies (Predestination), my parents recommended Wind River, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson.

Wind River follows a small rural town as they are struck by what seems to be a murder. A woman is found 6 miles from civilization in the coldest parts of the world and her lungs have exploded from the cold. Elizabeth Olson plays an FBI agent who’s small and female so everyone assumes she’s useless. This gives her plenty of opportunity in this modern day “Western” to prove that she’s more than capable enough. Jeremy Renner is a local predator hunter who is well known for his tracking skills and knowledge of the area. He offers to help Olson solve what’s going on here, and the resulting scenario is both amazing and tragic. These are A-list actors who didn’t phone it in with a modern cowboy kind of story that hit all the high notes of that kind of story telling without feeling dated or misplaced.

The ending blew my mind and sent us off with a farewell that I thoroughly enjoy in hero or western drama styled stories. This was a great movie. 5 out of 5 stars.

For their part, my parents liked Predestination (they aren’t heavily science fiction folks), although the time lines and intersecting parts were obviously confusing (as they are for everyone). They are both Ethan Hawke fans and liked the story.

Looking Forward: 2021 in Writing

My ambitions for 2021.

That being said, a plan is the what, and a schedule is the when. So this post is about the plan, and the schedule is “Try for 2021!”

Here’s the plan with attempted dates, and the only promise I’ll give you is that, I WILL TRY TO MEET THEM.

Satan’s Salesman 2 – This one is almost done! I have a little over 30,000 words and am aiming to finish typing it by March. Then it’ll be off to the publisher. In this one, Shane Lowe is back and being the head of the American division of Perdition Investments isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Not only is everyone out to devour you, but one of his contracts, the one that got him his job, is in jeopardy and now he has to defend his decisions in a court of demons and angels. Between that and his future wife returning from Hell just a little off. The world of Soul Sales is cut throat, and Shane is learning just how cut throat it really is.

Broken Nights 3 – Mike and I are only about a fifth of the way through this one, maybe a little less. We’ve got the plan though: Stella Bernard is finally in the stage in which she can enact her plans to the fullest. She spent book 1 created enhanced human beings. She spent book 2 testing the resistance they could come up against. In book 3, we discover that she has an entire organization that has been kidnapping and testing the enhanced. There’s an entire complex filled with them. A prison for supers and Jason finds himself locked inside.

The Esoteric Cavalry – This is a new one and a first for me. I’ll be writing about the wild west, but with a twist. This wild west takes place in the Andrew Doran universe. The Esoteric Cavalry is the only defense that the United States Government has put in place to protect its citizens from the denizens of the dark. The Civil War is over and the battle scarred Hiram Cartwright doesn’t know what to do with himself. That is, until his commanding officer lets him know that while the war his over, the battle rages on. Hiram and his brother Buford will lead a charge into the western territories to recruit new marshals for the Cavalry and take on the unknown horrors hidden in the still expanding United States.

2 more Mythos Anthologies – I’m working on another fun Mythos Crossover. You’ll learn more later.

Coven – I’ve talked about this before, but I have only been waiting to finish Broken Nights 3 before I start it. In Broken Nights: Strange Worlds, we introduced Coven, the witch with the minds of 8 friends in her head, lending her their power to make her the most powerful practitioner out there. This is going to be a step down from the Broken Nights kind of theme, and follow an idea that is more like the X-Files meets Warehouse 13. Hunting for magical items and people who are breaking the rules, while traveling with with a partner/cop for the magical world (Samuel Dolan, the werewolf P.I. from my short story “Guard Dog.”

No Monster! – My first attempt at a children’s book, based on the imaginary adventures of my 2 year old. Willow saw a pile of leaves once and started shouting “No Monster!” at it. Since then, she’s made it her battle cry whenever she’s mildly intimidated by something that she doesn’t understand. The children’s book will have her confronting each of these monsters and them deciding to join her and help protect her as she faces bigger monsters. A large part of this is me honing my own artistic talent until I’m happy with it. This could easily be the same project I’m working on in 2 years, but I’m hoping to get it finished this year. Here’s a sample idea for the cover and art style I am currently working with. I like the Willow design, although it needs more practice. The monster is replaceable.

Andrew Doran Omnibus (or a more exciting name, I’m still working on it) – The full collection of every Andrew Doran story up to and including Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares. Yes, they are already written, but there’s some work to do still. Putnam Finch is working on a really great cover and sent me this sketch as an idea of what he’s thinking of doing for it. This isn’t the actual work, but just his idea, and damn am I excited!

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Review: The Peaslee Papers by Peter Rawlik

The Peaslee Papers: A Lovecraftian Chronicle by [Peter Rawlik]

This is going to sound counter to literally everything I am, but bare with me: I don’t normally enjoy to completion anthologies that are hardcore mythos.

The reason behind that is that when I read something, I fall hard for it, even the crap stuff, and I demand more. If you give me Reanimator, then hook me up to an IV of the green stuff and keep her coming. We’re reading about Yog-Sothoth today? Then blow my mind up! Unfortunately, large anthologies that tend to be a deep dive into the mythos tend to bounce around the universe and rarely touch back on whatever subject first sparked my interest.

Peter Rawlik’s The Peaslee Papers is something else entirely. It’s similar in effect to what I’ve been trying to be a part of in the group anthologies I’ve joined. Almost like a TV show, in that each story in this anthology acts more as a chapter, telling an enclosed story that actually lends itself toward the larger and all-encompassing plot of the book.

The Peaslee Papers is a biography of the Peaslee family, starting with the famed Nathanial Wingate Peaslee and following his descendants throughout the history of the world. They encounter the Mythos in differing ways (it touches on almost everything) and in ways that I don’t ever see enough of (had some good King in Yellow stuff going on) and are always tied back to the main part of Peaslee’s story: Quantum Leaping with the Yith.

It goes beyond that, though, in that we get to see a hint at the Yith’s very alien, and in many ways, all too human, agenda. He adds to the Mythos at regular intervals without feeling like it was shoehorned in. It wasn’t, it’s been there the entire time, we just didn’t know about it until Rawlik told us.

I’ve been a huge fan of Rawlik’s Reanimators series of connected stories, with my favorite being Weird Company, but this gave me a new dimension. Instead of the more visceral look at at flesh-craft and the psychology behind reanimating the dead, we got a philosophical look at manipulating the universe.

This book is an easy 5 out of 5 for me. I’m about to start his Legacy of the Reanimator anthology, with co-authors, and am looking forward to just as entertaining of a deep dive into the history of Herbert West as we received with Professor Peaslee.

Agent G Omnibus Review

When it comes to terms that end in “punk” I have never been a huge fan. I enjoy the aesthetic of Steampunk, but can never get into the stories, and that Cyberpunk 2077 video game came out and all I really cared about was how much the Keanu Reeves character actually looked like the talented actor.

That being said, I originally picked up the first Agent G book because of the author, C. T. Phipps, without any real idea that the story was “cyberpunk.” Instead, I dove into what I saw as a mix of James Bond’s serious take on the world and the level of body-mod technology akin to Austin Powers’ “machine gun jubblies.”

The world building of these stories is great. Not only is there the prebuilt world that is everything we know about it as normal people, but on top of that is a layer of black ops computer warfare that includes clones and augmented cybernetic enemies. There’s technologies that can hack anything and technologies that combat those hacks, with every new technology being countered by something even more fierce and incredibly imaginative, all while people fight with the moral dilemmas associated with the ethics of cloning, editing histories, manipulating the masses, government take-overs, and the exercising of free-will.

The first book introduces us to this amazing world, slamming us into the backseat as we follow Agent G, a nameless member of a combat elite with more secrets in his past than even he is aware of. He is led to believe that his organization is fighting on the side of right, but as Biggs Darklighter would soon discover, joining the Empire has it’s costs. Along the way, he meets assassins of equally morally dubious standing and discovers that everyone’s labels for good and bad don’t mean anything if everyone is out to kill you.

Another great comparison to this series is Pinocchio. Mostly because these books are the journey of a man who thinks he can be nothing more than a machine for the company discovering the things that make him human.I won’t go into the follow up works included in this omnibus because the only thing you need to know is that the battle rages on. Not just the battle between the company and Agent G, but the battle inside Agent G’s head.

I have said this in previous reviews of Phipps’s work, he soars when he’s working on character development and having a mindless automaton assassin discovering moral quandaries on the level of “do I have a soul” is the best playground possible for C. T.’s skillset. We start with someone who is happy with his place in the world and not really questioning anything. He has his home and his relationships as well as an understanding that his life is programmed to be short and is only as valuable as his next target’s status. Then we move onto him discovering that the world isn’t as it seems and maybe he isn’t either. It is the kind of wedge under a character that’s small, but can lever us into a huge character arc. And Phipps delivers.5 out of 5 stars and I can’t wait to see what more comes into the world of Agent G.

2020 in Writing

As most people are, I am harder on myself than is necessary. It’s probably what people do to drive themselves to work harder. If I’m disappointed in a little progress, perhaps I’ll push myself toward larger progress.

When it comes to my writing career, I tend to aim for the a goal and then land about a hundred yards short. This isn’t some big revelation, so much as it makes me think I’m just a normal guy. To put this into perspective, my usual annual goal is to write two novels. I tend to fall short, by at least one, and probably average out at 1.5 novels. Starting about 2 years ago, I started doing more anthology series, and that really throws off the “goal” because I start accusing myself of cheating. I ask myself if that even counts as one of my “novels.”

I decided to combat that type of negative thinking two ways. The first was to say yes, that counts. Why wouldn’t it? The goal of two novels really means two sellable products sent off to my Publisher. Stop beating yourself up, Davenport, you were successful this year!

The second way is to look at word count. This way makes me a little happier in that it feels more honest and still succeeds. My average novel length is around 55k. That makes my annual goal around 110,000 words. With my short stories and whatever novel was this year’s big push, that means I’m usually over my goal novel length for the year. While the previous way sounds like success, this thought-process actually feels like success.

Other things to remember (for you as well as me):

  • 1.5 books a year is still great. A lot of people only ever put out one book or less per year. If you’re George R. R. Martin you put out even less than that. (And he’s got a tv show!)
  • You set your own pace and any measure of success is pretty darn good!
  • While number of novels published (or short stories) is a fun metric, it’s not an accurate for how much writing you have done this year. On a personal note, I spend a lot of my time starting new projects, world building, writing fan-fictions, reading and writing reviews, and collaborating with other authors on ideas. If I publish two novels, it still doesn’t illustrate how much other effort went into the year.
  • It was 2020, you might have been stuck at home for a lot of it but that doesn’t mean you were writing. You still have a day job!
  • A personal one: I’ve successfully (as of this writing) have written and/or published 10 novels and 6 anthologies. That’s pretty cool.

So, under the “don’t give yourself such a hard time” idea, here’s this year’s accomplishments.

  1. Time Troopers, by myself, David Hambling, Byron Craft, and John DeLaughter. – This one was a mythos anthology with each of the stories connected by Art, a time traveling individual fighting one of the great Time Wars against the evils of the universe. While Art wasn’t the main character, him and the time travel mechanism were an integral part of each story, connecting this vast universe of time lines and alternate futures.
  2. Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares by me. The third complete novel in the Andrew Doran series and long overdue. In this story, Andrew and Nancy discover the the coveted original manuscript of the Book of Eibon is actually a scroll held in place between universes. By moving it to Arkham and the Miskatonic University, they release an ancient Demi-God who plunges them into horrific scenarios from the recesses of their own minds. This story was a two year effort in world-building, as I wanted to do something a little less survivable for our adventurer. It originally started as an entirely different story, Andrew Doran and the Tomb of the Pharaoh. In that story, I was going to have Andrew accidentally ferried to ancient Egypt to locate the original Tomb of Ulthar. The story was going to be divided between then and “now” with Nancy trying to follow clues that Andrew left throughout time to help her bring him home. That one might still happen, but because of Scroll of Nightmares, it definitely is going to need some draft revisions. Besides, as I already mentioned in #1, I’ve already done a time travel story this year.
  3. The Book of Yig: Revelations of the Serpent, by Me, Mark Howard Jones, Peter Rawlik, and David Hambling. This book is completed and in pre-order status on Amazon. It comes out in April and follows a similar formula as my other Mythos related anthologies. Four stories all tied together by a common plot device. In this one, the Children of Yig are eternal, and are taking generations to attempt a coup over mankind. My story, Andrew Doran and the Journey to the Serpent Temple is in this one.
  4. Tales of Yog-Sothoth, by C.T. Phipps, David Niall Wilson, David Hambling, David J. West, and myself, the same team that brought you the Tales of the Al-Azif. This is obviously the mythos sequel to Tales of the Al-Azif, following the same formula and characters as we tackle the entity called Yog-Sothoth. Being a beast of time and space, we have a lot of fun crossover stuff in this one. Also, a bunch of parallel worlds, time travel, and mythos aliens! Andrew Doran and the Forever Gate is in this one.
  5. Not finished, but honorable mention, Satan’s Salesman 2: The Devil is in the Details, had a lot of work done this year as well. Thanks to some motivational plot work from C.T. Phipps and my need for NaNoWriMo fodder, I was able to add about 25k words to it before the year ended and got work started on the cover art with Putnam Finch.

Three Anthologies, one novel, and half of a novel brings this year’s word count to: about 135,000 words this year, not counting the first chapter of my upcoming weird western, The Esoteric Cavalry, or any of my fan-fics or book reviews. I’m calling it a successful 2020!

Upcoming projects that are at least started, include: The Esoteric Cavalry, Satan’s Salesman 2, Broken Nights 3, Coven Spinoff Novel, and a still-in-talks anthology. Esoteric Cavalry, Coven Spinoff, and Broken Nights 3 each have less than 10k written. Satan’s Salesman 2 is almost done. 2021 could easily have 3 novels published if I focus and don’t let myself get distracted…

But hey, even if I do get distracted, that’s ok. We’re all human. Do the best you can. After the 2020 we all went through, as long as you can say you did the best you could with what you had, that’s all you can ask for.