11 October 2008

Podcast Link

We're live and on the air! (It's just like radio, except without the listeners.)

For iTunes:

For all:


Audio: "Firepower"

Thanks to Larry Hosken for hooking me up with a shiny new GTalk headset. Future audio posts should be on time and of higher quality than the--let's just call it a pilot, shall we?


10 October 2008

Incomplete Data

The inspiration for "Firepower" was the first line. I had no idea where it was going to go from there, but after a few weeks of mulling, I managed to find an angle that resonated with me. Physicists, please feel free to correct my hand-wavy science.

As I said before, not all of these "stories" will be fully fleshed out. I've found that I'm better at writing scenes than planning out deeper structures, which is something I need to work on elsewhere. The point of 512 Words is for me to start developing some of the ideas I've been accumulating, to get feedback on them, and to keep writing.

P.S. Sorry about the delay on posting audio. I'm hoping to have a better microphone by this weekend. If that works out, starting next week I'll publish the audio at the same as the text of each story.



By Curtis C. Chen

The guns stopped working on Thursday.

Reggie couldn't understand it at first. He punched the firing switch three times with increasing anxiety before he remembered to check the power relays.

The plasma indicators were dark. No ammunition. Reggie followed procedure and closed the blast shield before flagging and locking his station. It wasn't until he was halfway down the corridor that he realized all the guns had gone quiet.

He reported to Weapons Control, where a platoon's worth of gunners crowded the small space. Reggie squeezed toward the back and found his friend Jasmine sneaking a smoke next to the vent.

"One stick not to tell," Reggie said, holding out his hand.

Jasmine gave him a cigarette. "Those things'll kill you."

"Speaking of, why hasn't Charlie toasted us yet? Looks like every gunner on the ship is here."

"I hear their artillery isn't working either."


In a loud voice, the chief of the watch told all gunners to report to their respective sergeants for new watch assignments. Reggie and Jasmine drifted out into the corridor and past a viewport facing the enemy fleet. The ships looked like they were standing still.

"Are we still moving?" Reggie asked.

"Surely matching course and speed," Jasmine said. "Mission hasn't changed."

On Friday, the engines stopped working.

Reggie hadn't realized how comforting he found that constant rumble in the background. The silence felt subtle but oppressive, like being trapped in a spacesuit. It gave him a headache.

The noise of the mess hall helped distract him. At lunchtime, he sat with Jasmine and some of her friends from Engineering.

"Ionization isn't happening," one of the engineers said, leaning forward. "We're energizing the chamber, but electrons aren't coming free."

"Then why did the guns shut down first?" asked the gunner next to Reggie. "It's all plasma, isn't it?"

"You need more energy for the guns," the engineer said. "They fire short, concentrated bursts. The engines use a continuous stream."

"So something's wrong with our igniters?" said another engineer.

The first engineer shook his head. "At first we thought Charlie was testing a new weapon, some kind of energy dampening field, but they wouldn't use something that also killed their own power."

"Days I wish we still had missiles," Jasmine muttered.

"So what's your theory?" asked the second engineer.

"Maybe it's this region of space," said the first engineer. "We know gravity curves space and time. Maybe there's a similar force here, affecting the strength of electron bonds."

"You can't change the laws of physics!"

"No, but you can bend them."

"So you're saying we should retreat? That's treason," said another gunner.

"I'm saying we should fly around the strange patch. Our reaction control thrusters are still good. If this phenomenon gets worse, it's going to affect more systems. Electricity might stop working. Maybe even our brains."

"I think your brain's already gone funny." The second engineer stood up. "I'm going back to work. To fixing things."

Across from Reggie, a woman tried to light her cigarette. Reggie couldn't remember her name.


05 October 2008

Audio: "Ghosts of Earth"

Yes, I'm still working on getting a better microphone. And background music.

Here's how I think these audio posts will work:
  • The title of the post will be a direct download link to the mp3 file.
  • There will be a Flash audio player embedded in the post, as shown above.
  • And the podcast, which should appear in the iTunes directory any day now, should only contain the audio posts.
As always, comments are more than welcome.