I've finished my second new tale of 2013. Another adventure story, though this one set in my science-fictional, rather than fantastical, universe. The change of genre has not erased the word-count plague that infects all my adventure writing: this one rings in at 8,152 words.
An interesting thing happened to me while I was writing this one. I realized I had fallen into the aliens trap (i.e., some form of "ancient intelligences created an architecture for the universe at which we can only marvel, quake, and wonder"), which really isn't a serious problem, but is most certainly silly. No, more importantly, falling into said trap made me start questioning the canon I'm building up, through short stories, for my science-fictional universe. What do I want in my universe? Do I want aliens? No aliens? Or just no precursor-type aliens? Do I want wormholes? Or star-drives? Or something else altogether?
This didn't always seem important to me: for a long time, I was actually opposed to rigour and systematization in speculative fiction. But as I go along, I'm getting a better sense of why it's important. As I'm working on the notes for a novel set in my fantastical universe - a world that has been amply, and frequently contradictorily, worked out in various (unpublished - except for two self-published) short stories - I'm realizing that making decisions about the canonical vision of this world are kind of important. It's a little grandiose and egotistical to think that this novel will get published and therefore I'll be bound to said novel's canon for any future outputs in that world, but... hey, you never know. And if it happens, I don't want to have picked a crappy version of the world I've dreamed.
Not to mention that, when you start to really think about the implications of structuring a world around one or another magical/science-fictional conceit, you can envision some pretty cool results for the past, present, and future of that world!
Anyway, it's just one story, and it's pretty good - precursors be damned. Next on my plate is a rather deep revision that needs to be done. I received some solid critiques for the story in question, and the piece really needs quite a lot of polish - maybe even some bone-breaking. It'll be a challenge.
But once I'm done, I have another story idea, for - gasp - a science fantasy adventure story!