My agent, the fabulous Susan Hawk, posted an article over the weekend which is essentially her asking all her authors about revision and feedback and such. My advice is in there, but it pale compared to some of the great things people wrote. Check it out.

Also: Thursday I’ll be doing a huge chalk drawing for Chalk Fest, Glens Falls, NY 2014. Can’t wait (and hope it doesn’t rain)! The theme is Lichtenstein. You may remember the dragon I did last year…

08/20/14 Vote The Obvious

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  1. I call that dragon picture “fairly awesome.”

  2. Meeting the aliens seems to be their greatest chance of survival, in that there are better odds than randomly finding a habitable planet. I mean, think of all the possibilities:

    1. The aliens were bluffing and are too ethical to actually murder the crew.

    2. The aliens have multiple political/social factions, and a faction other than the one that sent the message will find them and help them.

    3. The translation was incorrect or missing nuance.

    4. The Earth agencies that sent them actually had some plan in mind other than sacrificing a very expensive spaceship in order to anger aliens.

    There’s really so many unknowns that you can hardly call meeting the aliens certain death.

  3. D. Assume the alien threat was a test to see which option they would choose, and if they choose to meet the aliens, they pass the test and won’t really be killed.

  4. I didn’t realize that C was an option. That does give them something to think about. It’s horrifying, but… might it be their duty? Just how much of a threat are the aliens? They said not to come to them, but they didn’t say they’d be coming for us otherwise, IIRC. And if we tried to wipe them out, and fell short, they’d surely retaliate in kind.

    Anyway, if I were in the crew, I think I’d still vote D. And of course, as a reader, it’s no contest — D is the interesting one.

  5. C. will accomplish nothing. Would you send an easily traceable message like that from your home address?

  6. If this were real life, it might be their duty to go with A. They don’t know how much of a threat the aliens are. Better to not stir the pot. The lying and sabotage is not making me feel good about this mission either.

    But since this is a webcomic, obviously they have to meet the aliens. How else will they solve the mysteries?

  7. What if there are no aliens, but just a way to make a bunch of unwanted officers into heroes for propaganda purposes on Earth?

  8. Technology outsourcing anyone? What if these aliens are in a state where
    a) No one has been able to figure out how to get “out there, at all”
    b) Do not have the resources (on multiple levels) to produce a star-to-star drive,
    c) Do not have the physiological capacity to survive whatever drives they have come up with, or
    d) Just feel, “why should we do all the work? Let them COME TO US!” (More enterprisingly, an opportunistic race might even say “Let them all come to us! We can be the STAR HUB! a fabulous meeting place, where we can be the brokers …. and…. we still get to leverage off ALL these different technologies!”)
    Is this even a home solar system? One could set this up and see who shows up with what purpose.

    It could be some combination of the above. How do we know there is even a thriving civilization? Could be just one soul, alone. Always alone or the last of a kind.

    Of course all this assumes they really didn’t mean “Don’t Bug us.”

    Yah.. and what Ben above said. Could someone be spurring us to get the heck “Out There?” (Making money!) (and weirdly enough… are the aliens already here doing that very thing, twitch).

    Creative juices got flowing on this..

  9. Lichtenstein? I don’t care! I’d rather be eaten by a dragon than call Brad for help!

  10. @Matthew
    Don’t forget 5. They could get there and just find a robotic probe that sent the message with no clue as to where the aliens actually live. It would explain why the aliens just happen to live in one of the (currently) furthest known galaxies from Earth.

    I think if they wanted to get access to an ftl drive they would have done something a bit more tempting than threatening to kill everyone who visits (assuming the new translation is accurate). Human curiosity would guarantee a visit if they sent a friendly message and they could have likely set up a technology exchange or just take the ftl drive by force without the risk of somebody choosing option c.

  11. Option C jives with a thought Ive been having. That the ship isnt a diplomatic vessel but is a massive missile/weapon with a disposable organic targeting system. We monkeys do love to blow the jeebus out of things that arent us . . . .

  12. I would vote for A. D seems so unoriginal and way overdone.

  13. I missed something, why do they make a solar system sized explosion if the higgs shuts down at speed?

  14. Oh that. Drillgorg, the crew can’t do math IMHO.

  15. D. obviously. At the very least you might, and I stress, might get to meet aliens.
    Should they be hostile you can apologize as they obliterate you or send you back the way you came without the Far Drive in mode.

    C. Destroying them would be unconscionable to say-the-least. I wonder if the aliens have a means of stopping that possibility? If they do they would in fact come to Terra and do the same. And you can bet they are on more worlds than Terrans are. I would not like to do my killer’s bidding by blowing up the ship and the aliens for them. Screw them!

  16. Or the alien message could be a total fake done to get government funding for the ship. The crew of expendables is because nobody actually wanted to go on the first trip.

  17. @Drillgorg, it’s not so much that “the solar system will be destroyed” but that the Higgs-Bosun going critical would release a massive, MASSIVE dose of radiation, enough to irradiate each planet in the system and destroy all cellular life on the planets.

  18. Muzhik, even if you converted the whole ship to energy at 21.5 kilotons per gram of ship, you could only fry one planet and it’s “near” radius.

  19. KNO3, even so, I imagine that somewhere, somewhen, that would really mess up someone’s day.

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