Thursday, June 4, 2009

Some sketches.

When this was in production, I tapped a very talented artist, Rikke, to collaborate with me on this. Unfortunately, for various reasons, it fell through. However, she was a big part in shaping the characters and direction compared to this story's predecessor. Here's a few bits of art that she produced.

The initial design of Ellie. Before she had a name, even. Note the use of her nanotech clothes to create the fishbowl helmet, and the introduction of the rocket high heels. A fantastic science fiction idea.

Here's some basic sketches of the main characters in the story. Clockwise starting from the upper left: Keith Quon, Erik Lundgren, Elena Kalas, the ARC unit (name varied between Snaps or something else witty), three sketches of Oscar Spencer, and Jim Codding.

Just a quick sketch of Ellie and Erik enjoying some of Jim's pizza.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

You know it's now or never, take a chance on rock n' roll!

If this were a TV show, the theme song would be Boston's "Feelin' Satisfied."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A snippet

Yeah, I haven't touched this in a while. It's never going to get drawn, most likely. But I can at least put some words to paper, I guess. Just a random section. It's a little light on exposition, naturally... since it happens a little later in the story.


ELENA (Narrating): It's been two years since that day. I still can't shake it. We were about to blow the lid open on the Beniot Corporation, Mars' biggest employer and manufacturer. The stuff we had would have made heads spin... and naturally Bruce wanted to get it out RIGHT AWAY.

[ELENA and ERIK are waiting outside the door to the Chief's chambers.]

ELENA: What's going on in there? It's taking way too long for a usual clearance.

ERIK: This isn't usual, Ellie. They've got to get it right the first time on this one.

ELENA: We've been working on the Beniot stuff for too long. We gotta get it out there!

ERIK: When you could blow away Mars' biggest industrial faction, you triple and quadruple check everything. Bruce doesn't leave anything to chance.

ELENA: I guess I'm just antsy. I know I've put my fair share into this...

ERIK: You and me both.

[BRUCE violently opens the door to the hallway where ELENA and ERIK are waiting. He is visibly angry. The two make eye contact with him, seeing that he, for the first time in a long time, is struggling to come up with words to describe his feelings.]

ELENA and ERIK: Bruce!

BRUCE: This is... is... horseshit! The last bastion of impartiality, gone! I knew it the minute I saw the ships land.

ELENA: Bruce, what's going on?

BRUCE: Fuckin' denied. Full stop. This ship's sailed off into a black hole.

ERIK: Impossible! Why would Phil do that?

ELENA: Who cares what they say?! We can still do it! We can take 'em down!

BRUCE: Nah, nah... Ellie, this is bigger than you an' me. I've got some bad news. We're done for. Janus bought us out.

ERIK: Janus? As in JSS?

BRUCE: The one and only. Phil sold us up the river, probably because they said they would break his neck if he didn't. I know how those guys work.

ERIK: But they can't just come in here and storm us like that, it's got to be illegal.

BRUCE: Oh yes they can. They've got their slimy tentacles in everything. What they do isn't news. Geier's one smart son of a bitch. We did all the hard work, and he's swooping in like a vulture. Just like he always does.

ELENA: Geier?

BRUCE: I've told you about him before, Ellie. Henry Geier and his thugs aren't like us. This thing, the Beniot thing... they would turn a blind eye. The reason is because Beniot kicks em back.... and this is all my fault.

ELENA: What!? That makes no sense.

BRUCE: Beniot knew that I rooted out a leak. So he called in his old buddy Hank to buy us out and gag me. I'm sure they would've killed me if they found me first, but this eliminates a lot of his problems. It means you guys can't go after him either.

ELENA: That's bogus. We can still get him, Bruce! Just give me the word!

BRUCE: No, no... That'll just get you all killed. I can't have that, I've worked too hard for you guys to get tossed. You're the closest thing to family I've got. This one's on me. I'm going to take out those maniacal bastards if it's the last thing I do!

[BRUCE leaves, with ELENA starting to chase after him. ERIK grabs her by the collar.]

ERIK: Don't. He knows what he's doing.

ELENA: Bruce! Don't do it! Come back! BRUCE! BRUCE!

* * *

[Still image of ELENA, still looking out the door, with ERIK at her side.]

ELENA (narrating): That's the last time I saw him. Where did he go? I don't know. My mentor, the man I owe my livelihood to... just disappears.

[Still image of ELENA arguing with some nameless suit at Janus.]

ELENA (narrating): I spent the next few months trying to fit in at Janus. It didn't really work. The mentality was too different. I wanted to investigate, they wanted me to do Kitten Escapades 4. Who do they think I am, Suna?

[Still image, holographic ELLIE is seen from inside an office, as she is displaying atrocities of genetic engineering. Shadowy figures are watching.]

ELENA (narrating): So I told them to get fucked and I rolled my story about Niodon's creepy genetic zoo failures. That ruffled some feathers... Especially since the zoo mogul was a big contributor to Janus' bottom line.

[ERIK and OSCAR watching the same scene.]

ELENA (Narrating): Now I'm back where I belong, I think. Bruce's old trench buddy, Oscar Spencer, brought me in to Genesis. Erik is working for him too. He saw me go down in flames and told Oscar to hire me post-haste.

[ELENA is on the main floor at Genesis, surrounded by the runners, Erik, Oscar, etc.]

ELENA (narrating): It feels the same, but yet strangely different. I know a lot of the people here, but no offense to Oscar, he isn't Bruce. Nonetheless... I guess we have to do the best we can in his stead.

[Still shot, ELENA is outside, looking at the stars.]

[END scene]
* * *

Monday, November 24, 2008

VA List

More for my own reference/idle curiosity...

If this was a cartoon, and I had to cast voices for the characters, this is about what I'd pick.

Ellie: A quiet, reserved voice with a razor wit. Still youthful, but with more maturity than Suna. A Lauren Tom type, if you will.

Erik: Jeff Glenn Bennett. He's a thinking man's voice, for a thinking man like Erik.

Suna: Someone perky. I would say Tara Strong but she's been so overused lately. Hynden Walch?

Oscar: Steve Blum. One of my favorites and I'd be remiss not to have him as a gruff leader type. Yeah, it's typecasting, but he's so GOOD.

Jim: John DiMaggio. Considering that Jim looks pretty much like John in real life...

Keith: Maurice LaMarche.

Ed: Crispin Freeman. Normally I don't care for him, but I imagine Ed as having a Togusa-esque voice.

Snappy: Brad Delp. But he's dead. :( Someone generally light and humorous. Billy West, Rob Paulsen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ideas for pilot story

A scratchpad for some pilot story synopses/ideas.

* * *

Ellie and Suna compete for the best coverage of Mars Day, the celebration of humanity first setting foot on another planet. They continually try to one-up each other.


Ellie interviews the mayor of Gerod City, who has just opened a new sports complex. The building isn't all fun and games, though, as it seems to be harboring a secret.


The owner of a large defense business in the area has gone mad and is rampaging through the city with a powered exoskeleton suit meant for excavation. He speaks only in metaphors, which Ellie tries to decipher to find out why he's gone mad.


For some reason, more and more people are becoming narcoleptic in Gerod City. Ellie needs to find out the cause before a disaster happens.


A cult is brewing that follows the exploits of future musicians Precious Metals and many members of the cult like to rock out a little too much. A string of robberies perpetrated by cult members raises questions about the intentions of the band, and Ellie tries to uncover the truth.


Gerod City is home to the 2168 Symposium of Interplanetary Scientists, where a brawl occurs on the floor between nerd factions. What caused it? Nobody will talk! Ellie has to crack it before Suna does.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Netrunners

Some of the key figures that help out a lot in Genesis is the team of Netrunners.

What is a Netrunner? Netrunners are people who spend too much time on their computers, on forums and video sites, to try and find leads. Dedicated net squads are a key component in an overall strategy to find and report the news.

At Genesis, there are three Netrunners, which all have different skillsets that compliment each other. 

Keith Quon
Age: 38

Keith was the first runner brought on board to Genesis. A graduate from MIT, Keith was one of the members of Assembly Aggregate that left upon the Janus buyout. Back then, Keith was simply a grunt runner, and not in any position to shape the direction of what he was doing. Oscar tapped him as soon as he started forming Genesis, and decided that he would be the lead in his new group of netrunners. Keith was more than happy with his promotion. He decided that it was time to reunite his old team, the Crimson Commandos.

The Crimson Commandos was a group of three players of the famous Starnet game Event Horizon, an online game populated by nerds and online ne'er-do-wells. Keith and his buddies wasted a lot of time back in college playing it, forging a relationship where they were knit so closely they could predict each others' moves.

Keith had to get his two old roomies, Jim Codding and Ed Maris, back together.  This was bigger than just some video game.


Of the three 'runners, Keith is the one best acquainted with hardware and electrical concepts. He spent many of his formative years learning electrical engineering and programming. Owing much to his time at MIT, Keith often makes irreverent comments laced with engineering jargon. He only makes sense to himself or perhaps his fellow runners. Even they sometimes have problems understanding him.

Aside from spending copious amounts of time reading starnet forums, Keith has a large collection of inside contacts in many industries and governments. He often acts as a coordinator between the three runners, and has veto power over what tips they decide to pick up on.

In his spare time, Keith enjoys classical music and puzzles.


Jim Codding
Age: 37

Jim is a rotund, keyboard loving member of the Crimson Commandos. Jim is a bit of an old-school type, both in his lifestyle and in his input methods. He still uses old-fashioned keyboards and pointing devices instead of more modern speech recognition and motion controls. His conservative nature is often a liability, as he is willing to argue, at great lengths, about risks. Coworkers often rib him for being a pansy.

Jim's one of the food lovers in the office. Him and Ellie differ on this in several ways. While Ellie is more on the production side of things, Jim is on the consumer side. He enjoys tasting various flavors, and often orders out things that the rest of the office wouldn't ordinarily eat. He is very adamant on using natural and organic ingredients. His paranoia can know no bounds sometimes, and it's not just with food. All of his computers have several layers of often ridiculous security.

Jim was a cryptography major at MIT and is the go-to guy for when codebreaking is involved. Believe it or not, it's what he does for fun. Nerd.


Ed Maris
Age: 39

Ed is the third of the Crimson Commandos and their communications expert, specializing in satellite and interplanetary comms. The eldest of the Crimson Commandos, Ed graduated from MIT before the others, and went on for an uneventful career with the satellite manufacturer Cinquest. He worked there for fifteen years until he was contacted by Keith to join his new team of information overlords. Though the compensation wasn't as good as working for a defense contractor, he couldn't resist joining back up with his old college buddies.

You'll find Ed often buried in his office, with his large screen multi-monitor setup watching the competitors' feeds. Radios, televisions, computers all line his walls. He prefers the carpetbombing approach, watching the competition and attempting to react and maneuver around them. Thanks to his intimate knowledge of the satellite and gate communications systems, he's the man to go to when needing to scope out what the competition is doing. 

He spends most of his free time with his wife, Jen, and two children Rene and Brent. Unlike the other netrunners, he enjoys the outdoors and often takes his family on camping trips to go fishing and photograph wildlife.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Character Bio: Suna Rondalmos

Name: Suna Rondalmos (pronounced Soon-ah)
Age: 25
Species: Human
Occupation: Anchor/Special Reporter
Employer: Janus Syndication System
Born: Albany, New York
Current Residence: Gerod City


Suna is a special reporter and sometimes on-screen anchor for Janus Syndication System. One of the youngest to achieve this rank, she is one of the "star" talents at Janus... relatively speaking. She is Ellie's rival and, for the most part, nemesis. Suna is quite attractive, and makes no bones about it. She dresses in expensive designer fashions to show off her physical gifts and impress the cameras. She is a little taller than Ellie, and a bit more model-ish in her build.

The way Suna talks to the audience is very different from Ellie's. She doesn't take her job as seriously as Ellie does, and often does not reflect the proper tone a situation requires. Her demeanor on-screen changes dramatically, like she flips a switch when the camera is on her. She keeps up an on-screen persona, much like if she was an actress performing the role of a journalist. Off-camera, her attitude is far different than the perky and cheerful one viewers are familiar with. She can be dismissive and overconfident, even though her actual reportage and investigative skills are not to the same level as Ellie's. She has an annoying catchphrase that she uses frequently: "You'll get it sooner with Suna."

So if Suna is not as talented or personable as Ellie, how is it that, to a layman, she is the more successful journalist? Thanks to the monetary muscle and vast size of Janus, she is able to cover many more events, some of lesser quality. She has the resources and people under her to be able to help bring together a report faster, at the cost of some depth. Low hanging fruit is an apt quality to many of her stories. Nevertheless, she has won a few awards, though Ellie has always been critical of them, thinking they were rigged for her to win.

Suna is the one person that can make Ellie visibly angry with little provocation. Their history goes back a bit, as Suna was already employed by Janus when they bought out the Assembly Aggregate. Ellie came on with some seniority as she had been with a service longer than Suna. Ellie and Suna clashed quite a bit when they were both on the Janus payroll. Suna's kiss-ass attitude with the higher ups annoyed Ellie, as well as Suna's willingness to do easy work. After some time had passed from the buyout, Ellie quit, incensed at what she perceived to be a lack of integrity at Janus. Suna was very happy to see her go, and took much of Ellie's responsibilities, although she never performed as well as Ellie. The two have never gotten along.


Suna grew up as an only child in the city of Albany, New York. Her parents, Arn and Sera Rondalmos, were your average middle class type, able to afford nice enough things and live in relative comfort. Her school years were rather unremarkable, a C student throughout most of her years . She eventually went to SUNY Albany to study communications, and did well enough to graduate at the end of the program. She started working for local Albany TV stations as a Go-fer, and was eventually absorbed into Janus when her current station was bought out. Suna was only 21 at the time, and was not really going anywhere other than doing the lowest level of work. It wasn't until Henry Geier, CEO of Janus, noticed her doing the floor work at the Albany stations that he decided to bring her on to the national offices.

Geier reasoned, correctly, that most news could be delivered by a pretty face and most people would not care about the content and would instead check the news to see the on-screen "talent." He had his subordinates place Suna into a field role, one that she had zero experience in. She managed to stumble through it, learning enough on the go to finally get some legs. Being surrounded by sycophants did not help, as she was reassured almost every day that she was doing fantastically great. Suna bought into this and started believing in what the promos said about her.

It was at this time that Janus merged with AA, and brought Ellie and other crew over. Suna never openly displayed her jealousy, but she resented Ellie for her status - she couldn't see why this less pretty girl was getting more time than she was. Suna wanted her out, as did other people inside Janus who had a "not invented here" mentality. More and more degrading, fluffy stories were assigned to Ellie instead of hard journalism, and she finally quit under the embarrassment. Having won the battle, Suna's thirst for power grew, and she managed to win the Investigative Journalist of the Year award while Ellie was away from work. Some say this was an organized effort by Janus to make it happen, but it has not been proven.

Suna currently does field reporting and the occasional in-studio work, filling in when necessary.


Suna's brash arrogance, combined with her complete and utter reliance on those to help her, combine to create a person who would be totally helpless on her own. Some would openly call her a bitch to her face, but she does have a quick enough wit where she can shout down or berate a person instead of winning on actual facts. Her vanity is both a positive and a negative - she is very attractive but uses it completely for selfish gain, delegitimizing her in some eyes. In many ways she is oblivious to how her actions affect others, but she can be very catty towards Ellie and flirty with the men around her. Manipulation is not a force unknown to her, in fact she is quite skilled.

Suna's main job in the story is to act as a foil, rival, nemesis, what have you to Ellie. She could be considered the primary antagonist, along with her employer, Janus. It's Suna's competition with Ellie that keeps reminding Ellie to keep at what she's doing, so that others have a real choice instead of the empty filler that is Suna.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Gerod City

Gerod (pronounced guh-road) City is one of the main settings of Plan B. It's where Genesis is headquartered and where most of the main characters live. It's a hotbed of culture and technology, since it was the first (and currently the largest) spaceport in the American Protectorate.

Gerod City was founded in the late 21st century in the plains of South Dakota. Given its excellent proximity to the middle of nowhere, it was well suited as a "ground up" city of the future. Renowned city planner Julius Gerod's vision depicted towering buildings of glass, both to supersede New York and Dubai. A central core of residential and commercial towers serve to keep commuting distance down and resident activity up. This is augmented with a vast mass transit system consisting of a ring of high speed rail tracks connected to major areas.

The centerpiece of the city is the main office tower for the Gilmour Group, one of the Protectorate's chief designers and manufacturers of interplanetary spacecraft. Tall, with swooping curves and multicolored glass, the relatively new tower displays the ingenuity of Japanese architect Rei Ishikawa. Competition with the likes of Boeing and EADS is cutthroat, and Gilmour's spacecraft, first designed by company founder Benjamin Gilmour, are recognized for delivering much bang for buck. Gilmour is one of the leading employers of Gerod's citizens and one of the main drivers of the economy. Their production facility and private air and space port lies just to the north of Gerod.

On the south side of Gerod lies the Arthur J. Andelman Memorial Spaceport. Named after Gerod's deceased first mayor, Andelman Spaceport is one of the premiere gateways for interplanetary travel in the Protectorate. Its terminals, at the time of construction, were some of the most advanced in the world, able to handle both terrestrial and spacebound vehicles at the same gates. One could transfer easily from their return trip from the moon to an Earthbound aircraft to travel to nearly any destination. This advantage has been largely negated in recent years as competing airports became spaceports, but none are at the scale of Andelman.

Gerod's population currently hovers around five million people in the city proper. It trails New York and other population centers in terms of raw numbers, but as a media market is just as lively, due to the many businesses that moved there to expand. It is currently home to two major news agencies - Janus Syndication System and Genesis News Service. Janus' central HQ is located inside the center of Gerod, while Genesis' main office lies on the fringe in an underground building. Janus' shining office tower strikes a stark contrast to the surplussed military lands that create the dank environment of Genesis. The location of Genesis was picked mainly for one reason - it was cheap. These two companies compete to provide news and information to Earth and Space. Other news organizations exist, but many have been purchased by Janus to increase their power.

Aside from the high speed rail that connects major areas, people move around by means of walking, bicycles, hoverboards (often enjoyed by youth), electric scooters, and electric automobiles. To move from city to city, electric autos are used by individuals. One can also take a long-distance maglev train. Aviation and boating still exist and are some of the last bastions of liquid fuel, due to the energy requirements of their turbines. Items like used vegetable oil, biodiesel, et cetera have been highly refined and reduced to near zero emissions; what isn't reduced is cleaned up by atmospheric scrubbers. These scrubbers help keep the proper levels of CO2 and other nasties in the air to avoid issues like ozone depletion.

Gerod derives most of its electricity from solar, wind, and nuclear fission. Though they have tried many times, weather grids are still currently unavailable, as they have been proven to be too unreliable. The tech is still being pursued by many scientists with too much time on their hands.

Of course, Gerod features many parks and entertainment options as well. The north side of the city is renowned for its botanical garden, a prime place for people to tend to public gardens or play a simple game of chess. Scattered throughout the city are smaller parks, at least one for each district, and are protected under law from easements or private companies from purchasing them. Gerod himself modeled the park in the South End, sculpting several bronze statues. Artists have since used this area to relax and hone their craft.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What is Plan B?

Plan B is a working title for a story about a failure. The story centers around the exploits of two main characters - Elena Kalas and Erik Lundgren. Elena and Erik work for a news service in a future Earth; their day to day job and the main focus of the story is the trials and tribulations of covering the news of the future.

The end result is a character based story that doesn't take itself too seriously. As an interplanetary journalist, Elena will not just be chained to Earth. Occasionally, her locations will be areas such as Mars, the moons of Jupiter, and other areas within our solar system. For the most part, the events on the future Earth take priority, as it's significantly different from today to remain interesting. The science fiction is mostly to further the plot, I do not plan to "nerd it up." So even if you're not a fan of sci-fi, I'd like to think you would read it because you enjoy character interactions and the humor that arise from them.

Aside from the one-on-one relationship of a reporter and her engineer, there are roles for secondary characters as well. Oscar Spencer, their editor in chief, is an out of the way presence, but still makes it known, often in a gruff manner. Other members of their news service will make their presence known, but usually in utilitarian roles.

The central role of failure, and the reactions to that, are the driving force of the story. The prime failure is Elena's personal failure and the dreams she will never see. Though she is fairly good at what she does, it's not what she wants to do. She still harbors dreams of being a world class chef, which she pursues in her spare time, to varying degrees of little success. Many of the stories will revolve around a central tenet of recovering from failure. The failure of others is the news, the failure of the characters is their motivations, and the results that we see are often their own "Plan B."

The writing style will be mostly wit, and serve to push the narrative forward. Since it doesn't take itself too seriously, it will be both fun and engrossing. The style will be a 40's flair mixed with a 60's chic.

For some dry information that's more of reference to me, read on. Otherwise, you may want to pursue other entries.

--Setting, Technology, How the World Works

First up, the setting. I have yet to decide a really solid timeframe, but right now I'm pinning it somewhere in the mid 22nd century, say 2160s. Man has taken to the stars, not because Earth is uninhabitable or unsustainable (I am being fairly generous here, I am aware of all the things that can go wrong, I am simply choosing to take the best), but because competition between governments and private business had ensued in a new space race.

Though there is no extraterrestrial life (at least, not discovered or contacted with), man has conquered the near reaches of space. Planets up to Jupiter and its moons have been successfully co-opted into a sort of solar frontier. The reasons for this are mostly limitations. Man cannot travel faster than the speed of light with ship-integrated motors yet, for example. In order to be able to travel far distances (for example, Mars to Earth), nuclear ion drive is employed. One can reach Mars within a few days if orbits are optimumal, worst case scenario is about a week and a half. The reason planets beyond Jupiter's moons have yet to be conquered is that the infrastructure is not yet available. Exploration can occur on farther planets, but sustainable terraforming cannot occur yet. Nations are currently looking into Stargate-type technology in order to speed up travel, but it is still in the prototype phase and unlikely to see introduction for many years.

This means that, for now, the main areas of interest are Venus, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter, such as Io, Europa, et cetera. Mercury is, at present, too hot as it is far too close to the sun for terraforming. It has, however, become a mining outpost, and sees significant transient cargo traffic. Crews must cycle constantly to avoid "Mercury Disease," consequences of being too close to the sun's radiation and Mercury's lack of atmosphere.

Venus is less of a cesspool, though humanity has not had as much success terraforming it as they have with Mars. The lack of available water made things very difficult. Though it's not full of carbon dioxide and sulfur, life still struggles to be self-sustaining. Unlike Mars, without constant resupply from Earth the Venus mission would be a complete failure. Nevertheless, Venus contains useful products for Earth and like Mercury remains a strategic mining outpost, taking in much of Mercury's raw materials as well as its own.

Mars, on the other hand, is a complete success in both a tactical and strategic ways. A significant amount of backstory happens on Mars. It is where Elena and Erik first meet, for example. Mars, at this point, is enough like a second Earth, where it is independent... to a degree. Mars' government still falls under the jurisdiction of Earth's interplanetary code, as most of the activity falls under corporations. It is often time a struggle for Martians to get their fair shake from the central coalition back at Earth.

The moons of Jupiter were prime places to create outposts. Once again, resource exploitation is the prime goal, though small pockets of humanity reside on these moons and attempt to use them as "getaways" from Mars or Earth. Many entrepreneurs attempt to utilize these nascent worlds for gain, although most have met with failure. Inbetween these lies the asteroid belt, a barren wasteland that makes travel between the moons and Mars or Earth difficult.

This brings us full circle back to Earth. In the 22nd century, there is no "one world government," though the federations started in the twentieth century and earlier endure, albeit in different forms. For example, the European Union still exists, except with several more member states. The North American continent has turned into the American Protectorate, given the increased cooperation and production between the United States, Canada, Mexico, and several central American nations. Given the expansion of the former NATO, the extra-government American Protectorate exists to serve the interests of the continent abroad, making it easier to share military strength and trade. Though there isn't much war these days, insurgency is always a problem, especially with the unfederated nations in the middle East and Central Asia.

The main threat to most is the machinations of large corporations; capitalism still reigns supreme and the failed plans of many businessmen cause lots of headlines. Though most of the world governments have managed to stay mostly out of the way, once again unfederated nations have become an issue. Small, struggling nations often find it hard to resist the money of a business, and often turn a blind eye to the business interests that fund them.

-- Reporting the News

It's the job of Elena and Erik to expose the goings-on of these corporations, as well as governments and other businesses. This is not unlike modern news media, except it serves as a foil to competing news networks that have been co-opted by governments, or in the case of Janus, have significant influence within their host nation's government and work together for their mutual self interests.

Due to the nature of law, Janus cannot use paramilitary force to dispose of its competitors; legitimate buyouts remain the current option. This doesn't mean that they will not perform underhanded deeds to make these buyouts happen - just that they cannot go in guns blazing. This cycle has gone on until Janus had become the premiere player in the news business, often as smaller companies start up they cannot compete or are simply bought out.

Though it is the future and you would think that holograms or robots would handle newscasting duties, humanity still does not have the technology of sentient androids or independent (e.g., not chained to a projector) holograms. In addition, projection holograms that resemble actual humans too much are often found to be repulsive; they are largely doomed to amusement parks and children's toys and games.

Television has advanced, yet still remains strikingly similar. General broadcasting is out in favor of on-demand video, the few exceptions are things like weather and news. Screens have been replaced with holographic projectors, and many passive parts of the former internet have mostly migrated to the hybrid medium.

The internet itself has evolved to a structure that can handle interplanetary communications; it was rechristened as Starnet as a result. Olden-day neckbeards are referred to as "netrunners" - people who spend little time other than scouring the net for things they find interesting. Genesis employs several of these, and they are a key source for Elena's leads. Without a set of skilled netrunners, news would probably cease to function. Quantity does not equal quality, though, and a close-knit team of skilled runners can outmaneuver a large, disconnected team of individuals.

Another key component is skilled video aggregators. See the entry on Erik for more on this role.

Field reporters, like Elena, often act on their own accord, under the light touch of an editor. Though much "fluffier" news can be acquired via netrunners and a team of writers, actual investigative journalism must be performed by the skilled hand and minds of a professional. A successful reporter will be able to get their segments in on time and focus on the groundbreaking stories. The reporters must also be allocated wisely, and an editor like Oscar with a solid foundation will get results faster and right the first time, as opposed to other news agencies like Janus which simply send out scads of reporters. The "shotgun" approach only works with an organization the size of Janus; smaller organizations like Genesis require the skilled touch of an expert.

--- Technology

The future is semi-plausible. That is, I'm not going all-out crazy here. However, the future is less Star Trek and more The Jetsons in its style. Some key items are nanosuits, which are still in the prototype phase. These clothes can meld together with other nanomachine-embedded clothes and be able to create new forms, such as a full-body sealed suit with a transparent helmet - perfect for diving, environmental protection, and other uses.

Propulsion technology has been miniaturized as well, allowing for things such as rocket boots (or for our female characters, more stylish options).

Essentially, the technology exists to drive the story further. I don't think too much about it, other than making sure I don't make an ass out of myself when it comes to consistency.

-- What's next?

Some more character bios, and maybe some more detailed information. We'll see. Probably a timeline. Who knows.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

People of note at Genesis

Structure goes like this:


President/CEO/Editor in Chief: Oscar Spencer

CFO: Adrian McDuff

Executive Producers:
Jack Abrahms (editorial)
Jennifer Deckard (sports)
Bob Vansen (Interplanetary)
Ted Hatchet (Starnet division)
Gordon Reng (Business)


On-Screen, In Office:
Ira Edison (Prime News Anchor)
Anne Barclay (Junior News Anchor)
Jeff Hennessey (Sports Anchor)
Paula Tashima (Chief Meteorologist)
Mike Burnsides (Curmudgeon)

Engineers (Gerod Office):
Erik Lundgren (video)
Jan Drecht (audio)
Glen Griebek (Information Technology)
Brett Towers (Networking)
Evan Andrews (Manufacturing)

Field Reporters (Gerod Office):
Elena Kalas (lead)
Houston Braniff
Tony Crane
Lana Hill
Ken Cartwright
Jaret Hope
Alice Brendt

Net runners:
Jim Codding
Ed Maris
Keith Quon


Many of these won't actually be seen or they will be shown for very little amounts of time. They are mostly behind the scenes types necessary for operations and are often not necessary in terms of the story.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Character Bio: Erik Lundgren

Name: Erik Lundgren
Age: 42 (earth years)
Species: Human
Occupation: Engineer
Born: Stockholm, Sweden
Current residence: Gerod City


Erik Lundgren is the technical consultant and lead engineer for Genesis News. He partners with Elena to ensure she gets the story every time. Erik is a tall but skinny Swede, and unlike his brothers Ulf and Simon, he was not much of an athlete. About six feet tall, Erik sports a fair complexion and some graying hair. Decked out with a pair of round specs, Erik spends most of his day behind his bank of monitors and computers, watching the developing headlines as well as his information sources.

Erik's dress slants towards the conservative, often wearing collared shirts, slacks, and occasionally ties. What he lacks in style he often makes up with useful insights and timely help. Elena and Erik constantly chatter with each other via wireless link, and it's together that they are able to consistently beat other news services to the punch with accurate, groundbreaking stories.


Erik grew up in the snow covered hills of Sweden, the middle of three children. A graduate of computer science from Stockholm University, Erik moved to Gerod City in the American Protectorate after graduating to join Azunon Systems, a major manufacturer of video processing systems. This is where Erik learned how to build quick and efficient automated video processors, skills which would serve him well later on.

At the age of 30, Erik left Azunon after nine years of service to join up with the Assembly Aggregate, the leading news provider of the solar system. For a time, Erik was stationed on Mars, in charge of working out kinks in the Martian bureau's video aggregation systems. Erik completed this task with flying colors, and spent his time coordinating the video efforts. By the time that Bruce Daltrey had come in person, Erik had years of experience behind him. He spent the next few years working closely with Bruce and his recent hire, Elena Kalas. Working together, Erik edited together many of Elena's best segments.

When Janus Syndication System took over the Assembly Aggregate, Bruce had quickly departed. In the vacuum of Bruce's absence, Erik was approached by one of his fellow Mars bureau compatriots, Oscar Spencer. Spencer detailed to Erik that he was going to leave and start a competing news service, as he could not stand what Janus had done to the once respectable AA. Erik agreed, and left Mars along with him. Spencer founded the Genesis News Service on Earth, at the outskirts of Gerod City. One could never be too close to your competitors, he reasoned, since Janus had absorbed AA's Gerod operations.

Erik came aboard as the lead engineer and video technician, and the Genesis service was soon nipping at the heels of Janus, despite the fraction of manpower. They needed something more, though - and that's when he remembered the girl that always hung around Bruce. He told Oscar about Elena, and said that they needed a reporter like her.

Oscar agreed, and sought out Elena. Soon enough, she was in the building, and very pleased to see her old coworker again. Erik has spent the last year teaming up with Elena to produce the best segments for Genesis, and is a major part of their success today.


Erik's personality is that of a know-it-all who often times burns himself thinking he has an answer before he's examined all possibilities. It's sabotaged their efforts several times, but more often than not Erik is correct. Erik is the "tech guy" and as such repairing gadgets and implementing new systems is up to him, though he does not have much of an inventive nature and tends to be conservative in his approach to solutions for problems. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is a motto he lives by.

Erik rarely goes on location and prefers the safety of his video banks. While one could rip this as cowardice, he prefers to think of it as best utilizing his talents. All of Elena's video and stills captured by the ARC go straight to his monitors, where he arranges them with her reporting and interviews to quickly get coverage on the net and waves.

When not tinkering with his vast collection of failed films, Erik enjoys skiing and painting.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Character Bio: Elena Kalas

Name: Elena Kalas
Age: 27 (Earth Years)
Species: Human
Occupation: Field Reporter
Born: Seattle, Washington
Home: Gerod City, American Protectorate


Elena Kalas is a field reporter for the Genesis News Service. Her day to day task at her former employer, the Assembly Aggregate, was to get ratings - by any means necessary. Early in her career, Elena was more than willing to go along - after all, she didn't know better. It wasn't until her first partner and mentor, Bruce, disappeared in pursuing a story that she started questioning what exactly it was she was looking for.

Now, working with the closely knit band of rogues at the Genesis News Service, she has status as a crack reporter - and complete editorial freedom. Elena continues to unravel the mystery of Bruce's disappearance and expose the corruption and incompetence infecting the solar system.


Elena is the youngest of three children from August and Sonya Kalas of Seattle, Washington. Her parents were accomplished musicians and performed frequently in the Seattle area. Her eldest sibling is her brother Mark, while her sister Eva falls in the middle. When Elena was the age of fourteen, the Kalas clan moved from Seattle to Gerod City, where she still resides to this day.

Elena wanted nothing more than to be a chef. However, this dream was not to be, as she flunked out of several culinary schools after finishing her primary education. Sullen, Elena decided to move on to her "plan B" - becoming a journalist. At Gibbons University in Gerod, Elena completed a four year program of communications and journalism. When her final semester wrapped up, she was placed as an intern in the Assembly Aggregate, under the tutelage and watchful eye of Bruce Daltrey. Bruce was the chief editor of the Mars News Bureau of the AA, working in tandem with men on the ground at Mars to keep both planets linked.

After a few years on the linkups, Bruce had taught Elena much - how to interview, how to pursue a story, and how to write far more effectively than she had learned in college. Then the day came when Bruce was transferred to on-the-ground operations at Mars. He would not leave without a team to join him, and one of the lucky ones to join him was his star pupil, Elena. She soon found herself on a gateway ship to Mars, and started to come into her own on the goings on of Mars' capital city of New Rome. Having never been away from Earth before, interplanetary travel (which was now routine at this time) was a new experience for Elena. She spent three years, until the age of 25, working the floor at the office of the Mars Bureau. It was there where she met an expert engineer and video editor, Erik Lundgren, and the two forged a lasting working relationship.

It all came to a halt one day when Bruce received a tip about a potential big story relating to the main employer of Mars residents, the Beniot Corporation, a leader in mining and manufacturing. It was something so big, that it could bring them down, as Beniot was well known for abusing its workers and exploiting the Martian landscape. He immediately went to his supervisors for clearance to go on site, as he usually does - only this time he was denied. As it turns out, the Assembly Aggregate had just sold its interests to the largest news bureau in the system - the Janus Syndication System. They told Bruce to back down. He did not, and left the building ranting and raving about "the maniacal bastards."

He was never seen again.

In the wake of Bruce's disappearance, things began to change with the swift takeover by Janus. Many staffers were let go, and a skeleton crew operated the Mars branch. Quality of work suffered, and directives from on high made the work more and more unappealing, skipping hard investigative journalism for easy viewers. This was not unlike Janus' Earth operation, which was the leading news provider even before purchasing AA. With the impressive AA network under its control, Janus became more than just a news service. It controlled many segments of media and entertainment, and with an army of lobbyists, also gained a significant foothold in the governments of the system.

Elena found herself back on Earth shortly after Bruce's disappearance, and started work at the main bureau for Janus. Without the assistance of Erik, who was still on Mars, she found her job both boring and taxing. This did not last long, however, as her former style reminiscent of Bruce was not welcome. When she refused to cover Kitten Escapades IV in lieu of exposing a major case of incompetence by a zoo tycoon's failed attempt at genetic engineering, the hammer came down hard and Elena found herself on the street without a job.

This state didn't last for long, though, as she was contacted very quickly by Oscar Spencer of the Genesis News Service. Spencer, a former friend and compatriot of Bruce, had formed his own competing news service in the wake of Janus' consolidation within the industry. Elena took him up on this invitation and ventured to his hidden compound on the outskirts of Gerod. After entering, Oscar was waiting right there for her - and by his side was Erik. He had put in a good word for her, and Oscar sought her out immediately to join their team.

Now that Erik is reunited with Elena, the two are now back to what they do best - ferreting out the truth, and now taking Janus down a peg. They continue Bruce's legacy while trying to find him and complete their team of crack reporters. It's more than just the news, now - it's a philosophy that their competitors lack. Instead of manipulating the populace, they report the truth, and only the truth, and look good doing it.


Elena's personality is a bit reserved - dry wit, book smarts, and resilience. Though she has outgrown most of the naivete she displayed as a youth, the disappearance of Bruce served only to harden her investigative resolve. Her straightforward, smooth-talking conversation can sometimes be interpreted as being an ass, other times it's cutting through bullshit. It depends on who's on the other side!

Elena's job fills two roles - both a writer and field reporter, and she will go on location to delve into a story. She relies on her agility and senses in action, and is not very physically gifted. She makes up for this with some gadgets supplied by her engineering contacts. Her segments are recorded by an airborne robotic camera, or ARC unit. It can record both three-dimensional video and take high quality stills. She is equipped with high heeled rocket boots, which grant her a limited ability to fly, or jump very high. Lastly, she is equipped with prototype nanomachine-bonded clothing, which allows it to change shape and allow a full environmental seal, permitting operations underwater or in hostile environments. With the addition of an oxygen tank, she can venture into pure vacuum, though this is used only in emergencies.

Technology skills are not Elena's forte, and she often relies on the help of others, particularly her "home base" partner Erik Lundgren. She knows enough to navigate Starnet, the system's internet of the future, but for any heavy lifting (e.g. hacking, information gathering, etc) she is dependent on Erik's talents. She remains in constant communication with him via wireless connection.

In her off-time, Elena enjoys dead-tree books, trying (and failing) to cook, and the antique harpsichord left to her by her parents.