Tag Archives: Science-fiction

Aquatic Meeting

Aquatic passing by

This is a sketch that I did yesterday evening. It is a glimpse of my upcoming SF comic Wind Mistress, featuring a young girl named Adalou. The result may look a bit pale and dreamy, but I boosted the colors after scanning the original drawing !

Drawing a ponderous aquatic creature was a challenge. The oriented light rays help giving the image its depth and placing the volumes.

The Research Iceberg… a hidden danger for writers and readers alike!

As a SF writer, research is an essential part of my work. But I sometimes do too much of it!

Too much research for that novel?

If the finished product is burdened with heavy lumps of exposition, those annoying scattered blocks will slow down the story  – and the reader’s interest.

Many people saying “You know, I don’t like science-fiction” are often more afraid of those lumps, than they would be  of a gripping story with warm-hearted characters affected by  loyalty conflicts.

Even for fantasy world-builders, the internal logic of the magic-or-supernatural workings requires a fair amount of thinking. And, as magical as the world is, the story must be well grounded in reality. How many fantasy novels, for instance, demonstrate a total lack of knowledge about equine biology and maintenance? One of my friends, who raises horses and loves fantasy, is appalled by what she reads.

And some SF or fantasy authors, too proud of their word-building, dump large exposition blocks on the unsuspecting reader! “I suffered for my art, and so must you!

Research is like an iceberg.
The Research Iceberg - a conundrum for the writer... and the reader!

There is the emerged part, the novel that you enjoy. But whatever the number of pages, there is a larger, hidden part underwater.

Not enough research under it and your story collapses under the contradictions, impossibilities, logical errors and paper-thin characters.

But when the universes and societies are lovingly built, the strong foundation even allows other writers to participate in it! Two examples: The Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Honor Harrington series by David Weber have spawned many paper children.

According to the readers’ ages or familiarity with the concepts, the submerged part of the iceberg is around 90%. For a simpler story, you may choose to tone down the emerged part. A story aimed at children will be a smaller icebeerg. A vast work, like the Martian trilogy of Kim S. Robinson will be a huge iceberg!

Hal Clement, in my view,  left more of his research over the waterline… But that was the good ol-days of science-fiction writing! I found Needle, aimed at young adults, captivating, even when the concept of “teen” and “young adult” did not exist at the time!

In my latest SF novel, La spirale de Lar Jubal, aimed at YA, I set aside about 99%  of my painstaking research and physics calculations for the space station, to concentrate on the visual  and dynamic aspects, and on the character’s conflicts.

Nevertheless, I put some visual information at the beginning of the novel.

An example of world-building... with a floating garden!

In my upcoming SF novel, aimed at the “Oh, I don’t like science fiction” crowd,  there are very few numbers, but more active descriptions of stunning settings and actions. The planet and science aspects are explained only by their impact on the characters’ lives.

And I must manage, of course, the sense of wonder…as this Winds of Tammerlan novel cover suggests.

The SOW cover by the artist

Another time, I will explain why science-fiction is like chocolate…

The influence of materials on creation – 2

Here is another page that gave me a lot of work in all the stages! Drawing cluttered interiors is the bane of my art!

AdalouPage14 Lar Dako's kite workshop

This page was finished in greytones with Gimp 2.6 and my trusty Wacom Intuos tablet. The perfectionnist, I even put in a late perspective correction in the last panel!

Read the  rest of this installment in Destination Nexuz3!

The Invisible Hand

The Invisible Hand

(The story of the market, told by itself)


Trade was my father
private property my mother
I am their blind offspring

my invisible hand
weaves the net
where the strong struggles
where the weak sinks
I am my own law
above all laws
the harsh and lush jungle
where offer and demand
copulate in total freedom

I am the market

In my veins flow
gold and silver
myrrh and incense
a river of desire flooding
the Stock Exchanges
I crown ephemeral kings
crashing on the morrow

TSX 300
Standard&Poor’s  500
New-York Montréal
London Tokyo Toronto

I relish the panic
shaking the floor
under the sheep
running for their Freedom 55
all selling at the same time
then jumping off the cliff

Black Tuesday
Ash Wednesday
Techno bubble collapse

I am the funnel
of frantic day trade
the competition black hole
the goodwill abyss
the glue binding
always bigger mergers
blessed by the Minister
catalysts of a wealth
more and more concentrated

capitalism is dead
long live monopolism!


I remember
the merchant fleets
sailing to new worlds
intrepid soldiers sparing no foe
northern spruces cut for timber
tropical forests burned to the ground
tribes decimated by small pox
fur trade  slave trafficking

anemic African colonies
drained to the last drop

vampire derricks are sucking up
Earth’s rich dark blood
spilling it over the oceans
so many Exxon Valdez capsizing
on the beaches
where goo-covered gulls
totter on soiled sands

still I hunger

tomorrow I will bite
into the tender flesh
of the planet
eating my way
to its liquid iron-nickel core

that I will drink
with a long straw


I am the joyful dance
of the sales not to miss
Halloween Christmas
Boxing Day Easter
Mother’s Day Father’s Day
summer sales
back-to-school sales
giant warehouses selling adjusted fares
look at the price wars

my grocery manager is now
a humble cashier at Mega Mart

I am the peddler
of staggering mortgages rates
accordion indexes
volatile currencies
lost homes
ordered bankruptcy
consumers chained
to their credit cards
it’s like the Titanic

the rich in their safe boats
the poor drowning in their debts

I am the supplier
of private prisons
filled to the brim
with bodies fallen
between the cracks
of a social net
cast without conviction
by tamed governments
following a hard right diet
their deficit girdled
by savvy promoters

safe behind their gated communities
watched over by their praetorian guard

I am the call-girl
catering to the cartels
of organized cupidity
sitting on the pyramid’s summit
not seeing the children
at the pyramid’s foot
running from the death squads

I speak trough the mouth
of your machine guns

I am the market
of import-export
made in China
self-made men
who never smell
the decrepit shops
delocalized in Asia
close to the slums

where workers and rats
compete for scraps

I am the Free Trade
built on slavery
and inherited servitudes
of the cane workers
tax-free zones
maquiladoras eating
fifteen-year old
peasant girls worn out
by fifteen-hour days
like their shoes
then consumed
and forgotten

like the eight hundred roses
crushed in Ciudad Juarez

I am the market
of civil wars
in my Name
democracies fall
I freed you
proclaims the Titan
setting up a Tyrant
please taste the freedom
of buying my goods
at the price I ordered

(suspension points)

I am the race
for the nuclear mushroom
to put fear into thy neighbor
and steal his place
on the checkerboard
I am the race to arms
filling bags of munitions
to better kill your fellow citizens
I am the race
for outer space

quick, quick, let’s find
a virgin world to bleed dry


I am the market
of good conscience
of charity well ordered
beginning at home
wealthy foundations
dainty patrons
aristocrats and oil kings
nabobs and starlets
all shining glittering
in those charity balls
listen to those fiscal escapees
singing hand over their heart

we are the world
we are the people

while their right hand
doles out drops of manna
to the poor
their left hand
scatters their savings
speculates on their rents
hides a treasure in the Bahamas
destroys their unions
negotiates with sub-contractors
in order to keep

a steady reserve of indigents
in dire need of their charity

I am the market
of preachers
selling eternity with a rebate
under a red and white striped tent
condemning flesh sins
forgiving venial sins
against hard currency
of born-again Christians
who forgot the Christ
but not the cash
praise the Lord !

all the faithful will ascend
to the fiscal paradise

I am the media’s Big Brother
putting fear in you
with scandal sheets
incendiary headlines
stirring hatred
towards the Other
the shabby
the scruffy
the dirty
the downtrodden
with their proffered hand
but what is the police doing
lock your door at night
and don’t forget

to give generously
to charities

I am the Leviathan
of agrobusiness
patenting Nature
cloning and copying
in the name of freedom
forcing its genetically
marvelous seeds

on workers’ families
doused with pesticides


I am blind
still I can hear

the shop hand whimpering
under the foreman’s weight
children soldiers trashing in their sleep
dreaming of their dead parents
muffled cries of the carpet-girl
nursing her bleeding fingers
shouts of the protesters
defying the tear gas
dry laugh of the machine guns
the last breath of the labor defender
murdered in my name still
as disappeared

Chico Mendes
Iqbal Masih
Digna Ochoa y Plácido
and countless others

I am the theater
of opposing wills
from quarrel to clash
see my hand becoming more visible
see the wool shorn from your backs
that you buy later at a dear price
see the dirty clothes on the shop girl
and the spider web linking her
to your signature dress

I am the mirror of your desires
the infinite sum of
your small gestures
your decisions
your demonstrations
your Porto Allegres

your imagination unhinged
to build something new
I hear billions of voices

otro mundo es posible


I am the market
with my eyes opened
I see
looming over the horizon
a strange New Deal

countries celebrating
their fair prosperity
neighbors buying selling giving
helping around
taming abuses
green houses
healing nature
the Earth at peace
all fears vanquished

callousness running away
dignity coming home


how strange
I never knew
I had a soul

and eight billion bodies


We are the market
present and future man-woman-kind
creative force

a galaxy of exponential freedoms
mixed fragrances
of spices and fruits
gossamer fabrics fluttering
in the winds of change
fireworks without pain

children of the global village
laughing running jumping singing
under their elder’s eyes
holding passionate debates
in a hundred dialects


We are the market

and from now on
we walk together


(cc) Michèle Laframboise 2011

A first version in French of this poem has been read aloud at the Théâtre Nouvelle-Scène of Ottawa, on September 30th 2010.

This version has been rewritten for the day of Occupy Wall Street, happening on the same day as the Toronto Spec Fic Colloquium, on October 15th 2011.

A new webcomic coming soon!

I finally took the step and register in Webcomic Nation  for The Jules-Verne Saga

Here is the banner, a composite from two different pictures, one being the header of this blog! Eventually I will put on a fresher picture.

Entête de l'autre Webcomic

Enrolling herself as a navigator on the Jules-Verne Alliance Space Ship, young  Armelle, a shy brittle-boned Martian Belle, discovers life onboard the Jules-Verne, an old cruiser, its irascible and alcoholic commander , and its colored (and quite pissed off) crew mates. Then, there is this mission…

The graphic style will be slightly less realistic than the image suggests, a bit more on the manga style.

Another finished comic page

Do you remember the comic page rough draft in blue pencil shown this spring? Now here is the same page finished, inked, scanned then digitally toned in shades of gray.

Wind mistress page 11

This is an excerpt from my graphic novel Maîtresse des vents published in the issue no 7 of the magazine science fiction and fantasy Nexuz3 (edited by Gérard Lévèque) that just came out. Nexuz3 is available in various bookstores in Quebec.

There aren’t so many SF&F comic fanzines published in French, so this one should get a fair notice in the field.  All the other participant artists are quite talented : their works are well worth your support!

The page you see needed less working of the grey tones, because I did not daddle too long to ink my blacks and whites.  I took several frames off, making the panels “breathe” easier over the page.  The “degraded” filling tool in my Gimp 2.6 software proved useful to give a sense of depth. The ocean in the first page is another  example.

In the second panel, I decided against putting a grey filling in the kite… the speed lines and shadows were enough. I am beginning to get the hang on manga dynamics, but a long way from a mangaka’s nimble hand…

You would be surprised to learn that I used only one layer through the whole process. Managing the layers in Gimp has proved unduly complicated. I rather use the “darken only” option of the paintbrush to lay my greys without erasing the blacks, and the special selection tools for the degraded colors effects.

The more observing among you will remark that I clipped off some of the rock outcropping in the last panel (with the two characters sitting on it). I also moved the kite a bit along.

Wind Mistress  (a working title, I’m not sure how the English version will be titled. “Kite Mistress” sounds good, too), takes place in my space-faring civilization of super-gardeners, several years before the Quest of Chaaas cycle.  And, yes, I will have it completed and translated before the next TCAF, promise!

With all that work, I have missed the Fan Expo 2011 in Toronto. At least, I carry on other works, like my Otaku Ladies webcomic.

2011 Clarion Write-a-Thon update

The 2011 Clarion UCSD Write-a-Thon is almost over!

The earnest SF writer working on her projects

Since the Clarion overlapped the end of the Whittaker contest, I worked harder and produced more new texts… and some SF poetry! I did modestly on the Whittaker final tally (310 points) but was gratified by the production boost.

Here is my  short fiction writing during the 6-weeks Clarion (counting two weeks of family vacation!) Feel free to visit my Write-a-Thon Writer page here to send a small contribution for the Clarion Foundation.

– The Robe (SF)

– Wrinkles (fantastic)

– A Short Stay at the Caracalla’s Resort (Dark SF)

– The Patroness (fantastic)

And for my current works in progress:

– about 10 000 words on the last novel in the Chaaas series

– near 5000 words on my next SF YA novel (52 000 words) to be published next February

– Writing on two short-fiction pieces in progress.

– Editing on the synopses on two other short novels

– Plus… 6 brand-new pages of a new SF graphic novel! (Extract here) I’m normally faster on the draw, but my free time is limited!




A pencilled comic page to celebrate summer

To celebrate the official arrival of summer, here is another pencilled page, with the blue hues darkened after the scan. Yes, it is the sequel of a  low-tech SF story aimed at young adults.

Adalou Page12 pencils

You may note the little black ink trait on the top panel. This was a little accident happening on the last Free comic Book Day. Fortunately, a little post-treatment with Gimp will make this smear disappear.

I kept the horizon line at the same level in the two first panels, to give a sense of continuity. There is still some detail to clear up  on the interior backgrounds in the two last panels. Interiors are the hardest to draw for me.

Works in progress

A few short notices for April!

Working: on the fifth installment of the Chaaas’ Quest series, in French. I am developing the outline before getting to the actual writing. I am building new and exotic surroundings and exciting plotlines.

Otaku Ladies

The Otaku ladies Webcomic is on hold until after the elections.

Freshly done: 10 pages of Kite  Mistress, a graphic novel set in Chaaas’ Universe.

Translations: The first novel of the Chaaas’ Quest series has been fully translated in English. The second novel, Winds of Tammerlan, has been  translated, and is waiting for its final revision.

My YA novel Les Nuages de Phoenix, (The Clouds of Phoenix) is being toted around in Mexico for a Spanish translation.

Adaptations: The Clouds of Phoenix exists in treatment form for a feature movie adaptation. One movie company refusal, so far. The three first installements of the series Chaaas’ Quest have their synopses and treatments ready, available from the author.

Making plans: The serialized graphic novel adaptation: 12 chapters of Chaaas’ Quest have been prepared and the first chapter have been broken down into pages. I choose a simple manga style as in The General’s Garden.

A finished comic page

A satisfying comic page, appearing soon in the SF&F Nexuz3 Magazine.

Kite Mistress, First Page

Kite Mistress, intro page

On the green Luurdu planet, a young Chh’atyl girl dreams of becoming a kite mistress. Obstacles, both biologic and social, lie in her way…

She is exercising her belly’s deteriorating  muscles: “Once again!” she grunts.

The magazine Nexuz3 is published by Gérard Lévèque, in Montréal. The story is set in the Chaaas universe.