Introducing my new substack: The Transcendent Chronicles
Hey, I'm writing fiction now, baby! Bet you didn't see that coming, huh?
This post is a quick announcement that I’ve started writing sci-fi in a new Substack I inaugurated yesterday.
Purposefully, I did not add anyone from this substack as a reader there because I don't want to spam you with unwanted lame fiction. If you're here, I only know that you care about my technical writing. I'm not really sure if you will care about my fiction writing, and to be fair, it kinda sucks.
I don't know if I'm a good technical writer, but I'm a lousy fiction writer. So, if you do want to check that out, go ahead and subscribe. I would really love to know your opinion. But be warned, this is nowhere near close to the quality of my technical writing. Whatever you consider that quality is, my fiction writing is much worse.
Ok, enough self-loathing.
So, in this post, I just wanted to explain why I did this and hopefully get you intrigued about it and hook you as a reader.
Basically, I'm a huge science fiction and fantasy fan. I've read all the big books, played most of the video games, seen all the movies —I'm sure that describes a lot of you, too— and I've always wanted to write speculative fiction, particularly sci-fi.
I always wanted to learn how to write this stuff. I don't know if you remember, but if you read my 1000 subscribers celebration article, I did make it an end-of-year resolution to start writing fiction. And I have tried this before, but all the times I've done it, I've maybe managed to write a couple of stories, and then I've drifted away.
But now, I've been doing computer science for like 15 years, and computer science is a pretty demanding thing, you know. It's pretty hard, like in any technical field, to be anywhere near an expert level. Now, I don't want to brag, but I did finish a PhD in computer science, which is by far the toughest intellectual thing I've ever done, and basically, what I learned through doing that is there is nothing, intellectually at least, that you cannot do if you put enough effort into it.
So I thought, well, I probably will never be a bestseller author —nor I want to; this is not something I want to do as a career— but I'm pretty sure I can learn to write sci-fi to a sufficiently good level, comparable to the competency level that I have in the other stuff that I've put enough effort in my life, including programming, technical writing, and teaching (which are things that I do not consider myself like top class in the world, but I do consider myself reasonably good at.)
If I do this for enough time, I think I can become good enough at it, which basically means that if one of my students, or my daughters, finds one of my stories online and reads it, they will not think that it's from an amateur. I think I can reach that level in about 10 years if I put enough effort into it, and so this new substack is my attempt to, basically, force myself to fail in public enough times to become good at it.
Now, I don't have a lot of time in my daily life right now, so I'm not going to post a story a week or anything remotely close. It's probably going to be more like a story a month, at best. But I'm going to do it in public, and I'm going to learn and iterate on it, so hopefully, in 5 to 10 years, I'll be able to say, oh, I've reached a sufficiently competent level here that I feel comfortable with myself checking off that mark from my list of things I want to do before I die. Makes sense?
So it's a pretty selfish motivation, but I also want to entertain you a bit in the meantime, so please do hop along in this journey, and I hope you enjoy it.
If you’re already hooked, here is the first story.
Now let me talk to you just a little bit about what I will write over there.
I really love interconnected universes and stories that kind of hint at a massive world behind that you want to know more of. But I definitely cannot write a Foundation-level series now, and almost certainly never will.
So my idea was to find this loosely defined but grandiose setting where I can say everything is happening in an interconnected universe, but it is big and abstract enough that I can explore many different places, stories, and themes independently —and then I can throw some connections here and there where I want to.
The Transcendent Chronicles is basically a universe in which humanity is about to perish, and they send a bunch of ships to every corner of the galaxy with a little bit of tech and resources and the hope that some of them will find a sustainable planet and build a colony there.
For a long time, each of these colonies will evolve on its own, so there is plenty of space there for writing disconnected stories in entirely different settings with completely different themes, characters, and plots.
But once they grow big enough, they can start finding each other, waging wars, trading, or building an empire… So, if I ever want to write something on the level of an intergalactic war, there is a space to do that.
Since I'm a huge nerd, at the same time that I'm writing this, I'm doing some world-building. I'm designing the universe, and I'm putting in the planets and the technology and the ships, and I'm trying to be not hardcore like Clarke, but let’s say, mediumcore with the world building. And since this worldbuilding is also a big part of my learning journey to design characters and cool stuff, I want to share it with you.
And then, finally, I'm taking this shit seriously, and the only way I know how to do something seriously is by studying the hell out of it: watching lectures from the top storytellers in the world, reading their books, and doing all the chores. And since my number one passion is teaching, I will write those lessons down and also hand them to you.
So whenever I take notes, whenever I discover something interesting that helps me become a better writer, I will make a medium-sized article lesson on it, and I will also put it in there. Contrary to my technical writing, in which I consider myself kind of an expert in the topics that I write about, these are more lessons taught from the perspective of a student. So, take it with a massive grain of salt.
(All of these will be, of course, totally free —though I’m already planning some extra perks for the crazy enough to want a paid subscription.)
I really hope you decide to come along for the journey. This is completely different from everything I write online, something that I'm doing for the fun of it. Still, I would really love it if you like to be a part of it because your feedback and your interest in it will be the biggest motivation for me to do it.
And if you don’t care about this crap, that’s totally fine. I’ll keep writing Mostly Harmless Ideas with the same passion, and you won’t hear me talking about sci-fi here again. (Well, maybe just a little from time to time.)