Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fiction: Variations on a Theme

I'm a gamer.  Or, I was a gamer.  I don't have much time to play video and computer games any more. But I'm still a big fan of video games.

I once wrote a short story, Variations on a Theme, set in a video game universe I still love to visit: Blizzard Entertainment's Starcraft.  The company was having a contest, so I figured I'd type something up and send it in.  Little did I realize that my residency in a certain state disqualified my entry.  Not that I would have won.  The dialogue is wretched, and the plot is awful.  But I really like the writing on the first page:


             No music was sweeter than the refrain sung by a chorus of depleted uranium spikes as they tore through Dominion neosteel.  No instrument was capable of evoking more emotion than a custom C-10 canister rifle that thrust its payload into the spine of a High Templar.  No drum could sound a more profound note than a tactical nuclear warhead detonating in the bleeding, beating heart of a Zerg hatchery.
            And no conductor could command the battlefield with virtuosity enough to match that of Galen Hasgrove.
            The Bombardment of the Dylarian Shipyards.  The Scouring of Braxis.  The Liberation of Moria.  All these were Galen's compositions.  Each one was a unique opus, unlike any arrangment that preceded it.  Though overshadowed by his latest triumph, which he had christened, 'Mar Sara's Rapture,' his past accomplishments still did not fail to please the ear.
            Yet each piece was merely a variation on the same theme: the Independence of the Kel-Morian Combine.  No lesser authority than Gen Mah Sakai himself had commissioned Galen to produce these works, and he hated to disappoint his audience.
            His next, and greatest, challenge had already been laid out before him, and nothing short of a masterpiece would satisfy Sakai.  That was why Galen had allowed Combine surgeons to crack open his skull and replace the psychic dampeners that were choking his nerve clusters with technology that approximated the function of a psi-emitter.  For this performance to succeed, the conductor would have to become part of the orchestra, take up his chosen instrument, and play as he never had before.


Everything in the story belongs to Blizzard Entertainment.  Except Galen Hasgrove.  He's mine.

I do not intend to rework this story.  The setting isn't mine, and I'd rather spend time developing my own fantasy world.  But I do think that writing fan-fiction is a good exercise now and again.  It forced me out of my comfort zone (fantasy and sci-fi are similar in some regards, yes, but not identical), and I was constrained by the history of a universe that was not my own.  Starcraft's history is a foreign object, fixed in space and time and unalterable.  Creating a narrative that adhered to Starcraft's conventions made me just a smidge better at writing.

I'd like to write a new fan-fic in some other universe.  Anyone have a suggestion?

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