Alternate Dimensions, Code Zero, and Aliens

Chris Van Deelen

Chris Van Deelen is the author of the Skirmisher Publishing LLC sourcebook Creatures of the Tropical Wastes sourcebook, co-author of its Wisdom from the Wastelands game supplement and contributor to the 'Sword of Kos: Hekaton' Anthology.

Here it is nearly the beginning of April and in my home city of Calgary it seems like it is the first week of January! We have had well below seasonable temperatures for over two weeks straight and snow every single day. According to the weather forecast we will finally be getting relief from this terrible weather in the next day or two.

I don’t know about my readers but I am really sick of the cold and snow and I am very much looking forward to the warmer temperatures and the nice weather once again. It’s been a long six months of this and I know that I can’t be the only one who is tired of it!

So, the past week I was able to finish doing the first re-read of my Alien’s novella. I made quite a few extensive notes on it and I’m ready to start doing the re-write and edits.

It’s funny. I wrote it and yet I don’t like it. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it was written so long ago and I seem to have a real issue with my old work. Many of the notes I left for myself were what one would call out-right rude and unpleasant. If anyone sent me the kind of messages I left for myself I know for a fact that there would be some pretty harsh words exchanged!

As I ponder why I didn’t like the novella, several reasons came to mind. I think that the biggest reason is that I found a lot of slang made it into the novella. Slang that simply did not belong. I wrote this during that phase of my life when I had wanted to become the main writer for the Deathlands series.

The slang I was using was from that series of novels.

Also I know that my skill as a writer has improved almost exponentially from when I first wrote this novella and it seemed really amateurish when I read it. I guess what it comes down to is that I don’t like going back and seeing just how bad a writer I used to be.

So in the next couple of weeks I will be going to start the re-write and make all the changes I mentioned in my various notes.

Why is it going to be in the next few weeks? Well – starting on Monday I will begin work on my third short story that ties in with ‘Sword of Kos: Dark Inheritance’. As much as I would like to get back to working on my various Mutant Future source books, they will have to wait. There are several reasons for this. The biggest is that I want the three mutation books to finally get published. Once they are in the hands of Michael Varhola for editing, then I can get back to them but that won’t happen until the rest of the Kos campaign books are finished and up for sale.

Also since I have at this point in time nine shorts that I would like to write, I can’t wait to write only one a month, not if I want to be able to finish all of them before I start work on the sequel to Dark Inheritance. I will only be able to write five more before I start work on the sequel. That will leave another three that probably won’t be started and will be relegated to nothing more than an unfulfilled dream.

I have had too many of those over the years, so I have to be able to manage my projects a little better to ensure that this does not happen. Or maybe it is nothing more than being a little too ambitious for my own good.

Speaking of Alien’s… I finished reading a novel called Alien: Out of the Shadows. I will not be writing a full review of it as I already will be attaching one of those at the end of this blog. It is supposed to be a sequel to the first Alien movie.  To me it was just an average novel. The author did a pretty good job when it came to tension and atmosphere, but honestly I did not find anything all that new or interesting.

Yes, Ripley is in the novel, and this totally throws off any continuity to Aliens. I used to be a fan of novelizations of popular movies and television shows, but even when I did really enjoy these, they were never what I had considered to be canon. As the years progressed and my taste changed, I stepped away from reading such offerings as invariably I was disappointed with what the author had to offer, and they were rarely considered to be official at any rate.

I guess I have simply become jaded over the years or maybe it’s just that my taste has changed quite radically. I really cannot say either way.

There will be plenty of people who will really enjoy this book. To me, it was simply ‘there’. Nothing about this novel was really spectacular or outstanding in my view. Although the physical novel had a serious issue and this should have been caught before it was printed. Many times I discovered there were gaps in the words, particularly when the word began with the letter F. For example - Fl ame.

That should never have made it into the printed version. That did not detract from the book, it just made it very annoying and it had nothing to do with the author himself.

Being the fan of Science Fiction that I am, I have always been open to new possibilities and different points of view and all aspects of science. Alternate dimensions have been in the realm of science fiction for many years and have been the source of numerous novels, movies and other forms of media.

So that got me thinking… I’m a writer. I love to tell and write stories. Now consider this. What if the stories I write, no matter how outlandish, are nothing more than mental glimpses that I am getting from an alternate plane of existence? What if I am channeling events that are occurring, or have occurred?

A reader might say ‘then what are re-writes?’ I would answer that a re-write is nothing more than getting the facts straight. When it comes to editors, they could be channeling the same world and just have a different take on it, and maybe what they tell you to change or suggest that you change are nothing more than clarifying the facts.

I know I can’t be the only person who has ever had this though. Hey, just something to ponder and speculate upon.

Earlier I mentioned that I would include a review. This is for the latest in the Joe Ledger series, called ‘Code Zero’. It was released earlier this week and it did not take long for me to finish the novel. Yes, I absolutely loved it and as such I will be posting the review I wrote for it at the end of this blog.

It did occur to me that I have written quite a few conversions that come from novels, so why the hell did I not write any conversions from the Joe Ledger series? I will be remedying this mistake over the next month or so. I have about a dozen or so creatures in the queue to write so I just have to make sure that I add the various genetic nightmares that have appeared in Jonathan Maberry’s books.

I am using the image of the ‘warrior’ side of Joe Ledger. The artist goes by the handle of CatapultedCarcass and he is very talented. It should be noted that I am using his art without his permission, and as such I am making damned sure that I am giving him full credit here and putting a link to his deviantart page so folks reading this blog can go and check out his wonderful work. I would have contacted him beforehand to ask his permission and I will do so no matter what, and hopefully he won’t have any problems with it being used. If he does I will remove it right away. I hope that he won’t, as by using it and giving him full credit hopefully it will drive more people to look at his work.

Just to make things perfectly clear here, the image belongs to him!

Also, if you haven't done so already, please like my author's page on Facebook.

Anyhow that is pretty much it for this week. As always I hope that you have been enjoying life and that everything is going well for you, my faithful readers.



it’s been many long years since I bothered to sit down and write a review for a book. Many years ago I used to review pretty much everything that I read, watched or listened to. To be frank, I just got tired of feeling like I wasted my time and energy in doing so.

But occasionally I will still write a review when I feel the urge to do so. Typically that involves something that really touched me in one way or another, or when I’m trying to help out a friend.

I just finished ‘Code Zero’ Joe Ledger #6 by Jonathan Maberry. I felt that when the novel came to a close that it was one that deserved a review.

I first read ‘Patient Zero’ several years ago. From that moment I was hooked on Mr. Maberry’s series. Let me make something clear, not just Joe Ledger, but his Benny Imura series as well. I have yet to delve into his horror novels, but I am sure that I will get around to them in the near future.

Sure, Joe Ledger is an absolute bad-ass and one hell of a warrior, but that is not what attracted me to the series.

Many men’s adventures are nothing more than machismo and near-homoerotism, based around firearms, and testosterone-laced hulking brutes who typically think with either their weapon of choice or their ‘ahem’. They get involved in absolutely ludicrous situations, kill hundreds and come out without a scratch, and then typically do things to the leading lady that would make a porn-star blush.

Frankly, Mr. Maberry’s titular character Joe Ledger is not one of these types. He is a hero, to be sure. He’s a warrior and he kills, but at the same time he comes across as very human. Joe is a damaged character. He suffered serious trauma when he was younger and it did something to him. Sure, as I already stated, he kills, but often the act harms him almost as much. He is a protector and he is one of the few genuine good guys that can be found in literature today.

For me these are all great traits to have in a character, but what really made this character one of my top three literary heroes is the fact that he is also funny!

Joe Ledger has joined my short-list of heroes. The top two are Harry Dresden and Repairman Jack. Joe is third, but that by no means diminishes his importance. As the series progresses, I’m pretty sure he’ll eventually surpass Repairman Jack.

And he is far from invincible. Joe has suffered many injuries over the six novels, as well as a plethora of short stories that he has appeared in, and has come close to dying numerous times.

That is a good character!

The best way to describe Mr. Maberry’s novels are ‘Techno-thrillers’. His books have delved into the realm of science fiction numerous times and some have a serious horror overtone as well. The novels have dealt with genetically engineered monsters, mutants, sociopaths bent on world domination, just to name a few. For me, this is a perfect combination that keeps me coming back and wanting more adventures. It’s a shame that I have to wait a year between novels, since it typically takes me only a couple of days to finish each offering.

Code Zero struck home on many fronts and has to be my favorite of the series thus far. I’m a geek. I love comics, I love video games, I love movies and television. I also train Shaolin Kung Fu in real life, but mainly for my health. So to see all these things come together in one story made this novel an absolute joy to read.

The villain in this novel isn’t your typical megalomaniac, not by a long shot, and despite the fact that this particular villain is utterly ruthless and ends up causing the death of thousands, she is also very interesting and the reasons behind her actions is well defined.

Many of the situations revolve around Video Games, and the climax takes place at Dragoncon in Atlanta Georgia.

I don’t want to say too much else as it might spoil it for those who have yet to get around to reading this novel.

As with the previous novels in this series, there is plenty of combat to keep enthusiasts of such very happy. There is also a great deal of horror involved, which will appeal to many of Mr. Maberry’s fans.

But there is the human angle. Joe and his comrades in arms are forced into situations that test them on so many levels and would leave most normal people gibbering invalids. And not one of those who are involved comes out unscathed – not only physically but mentally.

This is the sign of a truly talented author, one who can generate such empathy towards fictional characters.

I cannot recommend this novel any more strongly. Make that the entire series!