I've gotten some pretty nice responses to my writing, but I know the stories are not as good as I'd like them to have been.
Special Delivery was written first, and was based on the precept, "We're sending people to the next available colony, what happens when that colony needs someone with specific skills?" It was also written to see if I could write a competent story in the Swarm universe. Apparently I can, except for the fact (one I was already painfully aware) that I am not capable at all of writing a believable sex scene if my life depended on it. I know this, which is why there's so little on-screen sex in my stories. I know some are disappointed, but that's the way it is. I'd rather give three pages of decent character development than three paragraphs of senseless "ooh ooh ahh ahh".
The next one I took a stab at was Trials and Tribunations, as our beleaguered Tribune Whitefeather deals with a situation considerably outside of his everyday experience. More on that after the story's farther along.
Power Play came next, while I was still editing T&T. My friend is a hockey coach; we were sitting in the stands scouting players when I got the notion, "Wouldn't this be an interesting place for an extraction?" And wrote a hockey comedy. Note the dig at NHL chief Gary Bettman and his obsession with summer-year-round locations for winter sports. When I set Subdecurion Chan's home as being Atlanta, I wasn't thinking of an extraction at a hockey tournament at the time.
Then came Dear Mom and Dad. I was trying to show more about what effect these extractions, in combination with the ticking clock, were having on Earth society. You're drawing vital staff from organizations all over the place: corporations, schools, police services and so on. Things that had been scarce were now abundant because people just up and left everything behind, which has additional impact on society. Some goods that had been in demand suddenly have lost their importance, where you'd build a mansion now you'd build a paintball course to help the stay-behinds practice their anti-Swarm tactics. Plus, there will be an impact on advertising, popular music and other cultural aspects. There was more I could have covered, and I barely scratched the surface of the two main characters' psychological makeup. I don't consider it a complete failure, but it's not as good as it could have been.
After Lift (and yes, it's a pun on "Afterlife") is almost as pure a character study as I could make it. You meet the main character General Covey immediately after his death, through the eyes of the family and friends who knew him. I've only released the first chapter so far, but the rest of the tale will fill in more gaps in just who this General Covey is. I tried to make both him and his fellow sponsors much more than cardboard cutouts, and at least with the General I hope I've succeeded.
I like this universe: there's little chance of the world becoming boring, because there's always another colony situation, another way to attack the Sa'arm and to defend against it, another way to extract, another way for Earth First to try to bugger up an extraction.