mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
All rated PG or PG-13. For each story, the "background" is a (usually spoiler-heavy) discussion of the science and creative process that went into it.

(Approximately 15,000 words)
Grad students stumble upon what appears to be a message in the human genome. They soon find themselves running from pursuers as they struggle to be the first to decode the secret that connects them to events in the distant past. Featuring prehistoric beasts.

Trail (the sequel to Sequence)
(Approximately 13,000 words)
The grad students trek across the Canadian wilderness as they continue to probe the origins of the mysterious sequence.

The Gardener
(Approximately 6,000 words)
Millions of years in the future, a young man shares a planet with an unusually versatile species. But when others feel threatened by it, he must fight to preserve even a small portion of his world.

The Pioneer (the sequel to The Gardener)
(Approximately 9,000 words)
A young hominid growing up on an alien world finds her peaceful life disrupted by shipwrecked space travelers.

Polymer Monopoly

(Approximately 24,000 words)
In an alternate Pacific Northwest at the turn of the last century, all industry is based on large machines that resemble enormous protein molecules. In this biochemistry-inspired steampunk tale, a hapless salesman finds himself swept into a secret underground movement to topple the ruthless local fuel tycoon.
mrcreek: Pikaia, a distant relative (pic#265175)
More adventures of Paul and Sid. The first three strips are here and the others are here. Or just look at all of them on Photobucket.

Maladapted )
mrcreek: Maiacetus inuus, an extinct whale (pic#265169)
So [personal profile] wintercreek has been trying to write a large number of Merlin (BBC) fanfics, and I decided to help her out, despite the following facts:

1. As you probably have noticed, I don't generally write fan fiction.

2. I've only seen one episode of the show, and it was a couple of years ago.

Nevertheless, it seems that Mary Anning was beaten by a few centuries by another M. [and] A. Apologies to any actual fans of the show who could undoubtedly do a better job (629 words):

The Saur in the Stone )
mrcreek: Pikaia, a distant relative (pic#265175)
So I drew a few more comic strips. See the first three here. Check them out:

Maladapted )


Jan. 2nd, 2011 10:28 pm
mrcreek: Pikaia, a distant relative (pic#265175)
Recently I've been interested in getting back into cartooning. This is something I did prolifically as a child, despite a lack of both artistic ability and wit. My talents have not progressed appreciably since then, but nevertheless I have started to draw a comic strip for some reason, tentatively titled "Maladapted." If you are familiar with my writing style the content shouldn't be too surprising (i.e. dorky biology stuff).
Maladapted )
mrcreek: silky anteater (pic#265189)
Inspired in part by recently reading Desert Solitaire, I have decided to write a little about the adventures I had several years ago doing field ecology research in South America. I won't use anyone's real name, but even so I suspect that certain individuals may be recognizable, so I'm going to friends-lock these posts. There will be close encounters with exotic wildlife, awkward cross-cultural interactions with the locals, and plenty of drama between scientists who can't escape each other. If this sounds interesting to you and you aren't my DW friend, just let me know and I'll add you.
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
I've finally consolidated the chapters of Polymer Monopoly and posted it to [community profile] originalfiction . It's not really any different than it was before, but this is another great opportunity to read the story if you haven't already. I know it's long, but just read a chapter or two and see how you feel.

mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
Polymer Monopoly is a fantasy. The setting does not really exist, the characters are fictional, and according to basic physics it would actually be impossible for the miraculous technology that fills the story to work as described.

And yet, it all seems kind of familiar, especially if you've ever studied any molecular biology or spent time in Washington State. Sure, you could read and enjoy the story without any knowledge of these things, but if you're curious, here's some of the background behind the various plot elements (contains spoilers).

Boing! )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
Presenting the final chapter of Polymer Monopoly. Everything is wrapped up, various motivations and actions get explained (hopefully satisfactorily), and you get a taste of what will happen next in the characters' lives. I hope you enjoyed the story, or, if you haven't read it yet, that you will. Soon, I plan to write a follow-up post describing some of the science/history/geography behind the story. Also, at some point, I will consolidate all of the chapters into a single final post.

(Previous chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

(2237 words)

I can explain everything )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
As you may have guessed based on the set-up from the last chapter, this chapter is very action-packed. Don't read if you have a problem with pH-based violence.

(Previous chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

(2289 words)

Sackwhiskers! )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
What? What? Did you see that coming? I didn't see that coming. I literally did not see that coming. How are they going to deal with that? Does this plot even make sense any more? Who's writing this thing?

The molecules are restless, and we're in for a wild ride. By the way, if you thought that last chapter ended on a cliffhanger, you should check out this one.

(Previous chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

(2443 words)

What? )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
How do you measure the success of an underground guerrilla movement against The Man? Is it better to work secret mischief in perpetuity, or is there value in a loud, disruptive, but potentially self-destructive act if it draws attention to your cause and the truth is set free? In other words, is it better to be a reactant or a catalyst? Does it matter if your recipe for social change is exothermic or endothermic? How does activation energy fit into this awkward metaphor?

And speaking of The Man, there is a particularly nefarious character who gets talked about a lot in this story, and you may have been wondering, "When are we going to meet this villain?" This chapter will not disappoint.

(Previous chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

(2971 words)

Curious jays hopped among the hemlock branches, inspecting the human invaders and our unusual vehicle. )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
We left our protagonists in a bit of a tight spot at the end of chapter five. But recall that I gave away the ending in the first sentence of the story, so they must get out of it somehow. In fact, they're really making progress and figuring things out. Of course there are some setbacks, but you might be tempted to think that they could wrap this all up pretty soon in a rather straightforward plot.

However, a story is like a polypeptide zwitter chain. Technically linear, but then it folds back on itself and later parts connect to earlier parts. Then in bends again. After a few of these twists and contortions, it has become a complex globular maze. And if you get lost, if you tuck under a loop of chain when you should have tucked over, you end up with mad cow disease. And no one wants that.

(Previous chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

(2487 words)

I'll handle this )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
Well, we have a posse. They have a target. There is a plan. But do these sorts of things ever go according to plan?

The end of this chapter (following these four: 1, 2, 3, 4) represent the halfway point of the story. The protagonists find themselves deep within the belly of the beast. Will they make it out again, or will they be digested? Or will they be digested and then make it out again in highly altered form via the beast's colon? And if so, will the process involve literal digestive enzymes as large as elephants, as ferocious as tigers, and as colorful as peacocks, this being the typical sort of thing that these characters keep encountering? Read on.

(2977 words)

Mt. Thylacoma was a looming volcano towering two and a half miles into the sky, a mere twenty leagues southeast of Queen City's harbors. )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
The official nickname of Seattle, Washington was "Queen City" for over one hundred years, before it was dropped in 1982 due to its homosexual connotations. In its early days, Seattle was relatively lawless and rife with gambling, liquor, prostitution, riots, and general exploitation of the poor (including many Chinese and Native Americans) by the wealthy. For some reason, it didn't occur to anyone that building a city on muddy tidal flats might be foolish. After putting up with with filth and floods for a while, they decided to raise the city up a story. At first, just the streets were elevated above the storefronts, but eventually the entire ground level was covered by downtown Seattle, under which it still lies abandoned to this day.

Anyway, enough history. Time for another chapter of Polymer Monopoly (previous chapters 1, 2, and 3), in which I introduce the most impressive globular machine yet.

(2356 words)

What's the biggest machine you've ever seen? )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
Presenting another exciting installment of Polymer Monopoly (previous chapters here and here). The globular machines go to the back burner while I introduce several new characters and focus on their conspiratorial dialogue in a seedy locale. Okay, well, there is a little rough-and-tumble action toward the end. I mean, they can't just talk the whole chapter, can they?

(2078 words)

That evening, after a long nap and my required transformation, I followed Fred Bacon to the meeting place on foot. We crossed Saccharid Row through the drizzle. The Hypertonic Halibut was a cedar plankhouse built in the old style, with a vertical pole of totem zwitters displayed prominently. )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
I know, I know, I finally posted an updated chapter months after posting the first draft, and the story still didn't progress any further. However, I now present chapter 2. There will be ten chapters in total, and I'm going to try to post one every few days now until it's all up.

Daunted non-scientists: Don't worry if you don't understand what things are "supposed" to be. You don't need to know any more than what is presented to follow the plot.

Pedantic scientists: I know that the science is wrong. It's supposed to be that way. It's a fantasy.

Curious non-scientists: Ignore that. A lot of the story is based on real science. I encourage you to learn more, it's cool stuff.

Non-pedantic scientists: There are not very many of you. Try not to go extinct.

(1817 words):

I was temporarily at a loss about what to do. Should I tell someone what had happened? Return and try to retrieve my triph? Go home, drink a brandy, and crouch into a fetal position? )

mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
Polymer Monopoly, my biochemistry-based steampunk fantasy story, is coming together. I have rewritten the first chapter and fleshed out the rest of the plot. The setting, which wasn't clear in the original draft, is now the Pacific Northwest. Also, you learn a little more about the main character and his daily life before the action starts. It is a tale of a heist, of the little guy taking on the big guy through stealth, ingenuity, and courage. It is a tale of the innovative and optimistic spirit prevalent in the wild towns of the American frontier at the turn of the last century, when society strove to tame nature and nature fought back. Most of all, it is a tale of enormous protein molecules and the people who operate them. As I have done before, I think I will post it one or two chapters at a time every few days at first, then post a final draft later. As always, I welcome any comments or suggestions (rated PG-13 for violence).

How's your triph supply? )
mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
Writing little essays is kind of fun. Let's try another one.

The issue of marriage equality, and equal rights in general for people all sexual orientations, is very important to both [personal profile] wintercreek and myself. However, even though we arrive at the same conclusions, I think we approach the topic from slightly different places. Understanding why people hold the opinions they do may be helpful for changing the minds of dissenters, so I think this phenomenon is worth investigating. If I may, I will caricature our two positions for the purpose of rhetoric; in reality, of course, there are multiple subtle factors influencing what we believe.
The importance of apathy )
mrcreek: Pikaia, a distant relative (pic#265175)
As I have been delinquent in my fiction writing for the past few months, I thought I would post a few opinion pieces.

This is a brief rant on the perceived cultural rift between science and religion. It is widely accepted by advocates of both sides that science and religion are at odds with each other. As an evolutionary biologist, I find the debate difficult to avoid; nearly any blog or forum about evolution inevitably generates commentary by self-described atheists dismissing religion altogether, and/or creationist trolls denying scientific theories because they feel threatened by them and think that a secular worldview will lead to immorality. Although there are legitimate differences of opinion in this conflict, I think the argument is usually poorly defined and misunderstood by many of the participants. If this topic is uninteresting or potentially offensive to you, please read no further.

One under-appreciated truth is that religion is not primarily about God. )