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The View from the Corner for Dec 20, 2004 Back to View Index

Your author, Troy H. Cheek "Eric Alfred "Lord Sabre" Burns Writes Again" by Troy H. Cheek on Dec 20, 2004

Since I tend to put such things down towards the bottom of my pages, where search engines and casual readers don't seem to find them very often, I'm including two links here:

I suggest you open those two links in a new browser window and let them load in the background while you read the rest of this article.

I have been privileged in my life to meet and speak with many professional writers, either face to face, via letters, or via various electronic means. My definition of "professional writer" is pretty loose. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who whose ever been offered the chance to be paid for engaging their creative processes is a professional in my book.

That definition includes a great number of people who would no doubt argue with me about whether or not they are professionals. Just because my weekly articles appeared on page 17 of the local newspaper for years, just because some network executive asked me to send in script ideas, just because the revenues from my website are occasionally bigger than my hosting fees, that doesn't make me a professional, I'm sure I'll hear.

But just as I once told a young lady friend who really liked sex but wasn't fundamentally opposed to the idea of accepting gifts and/or cash as 'tokens of affection' afterwards, "Face it, honey. If you get paid for it, you're a pro."

My, this article went downhill mighty fast, didn't it?

A lesser writer than myself might try to bring this article back on track by shamelessly dropping the names of some of the professional writers he has conversed with over the years. I am not so shallow a writer. However, just to prove that there's no depth to which I will not sink to provide you with your weekly entertainment, here goes:

Names like Matt Brady come to mind, as well as Mark Evanier. They were both once regular writers in the Fidonet COMICS echomail conference which I participated in and later moderated.

Now that we've mentioned comics, somewhere around here I've got a copy of an email I received from one of the creators of DC Comic's Major Bummer telling me how much he liked my mention of that comics series on my website. It was unfortunately cancelled around that same time. I have that effect on comic books.

I've been known to argue STAR TREK continuity with Steve Gerber. I don't remember the exact details, but I vaguely recall Steve offering to send me his original script for an episode of The Next Generation which he had written just to prove that the technical error I had observed on screen had not come from him but had instead been inserted at some later point in the production process. He also gave me a great quote which I carry with me even to this day: "The only real 'canon' is that The Powers That Be can and have and will continue to make mistakes."

Gina, you never got paid for all those story ideas which were pitched, rejected, and then later used anyway without any credit to you. But you're still the best of us all in my book.

My old college buddy Greg actually thinks that I'm the better writer of us two. I'm not so modest that I won't let him think that. On the other hand, my local paper has never given me a job and regular space in the entertainment section. Or been paid to help someone get elected to public office. For that matter, he's currently paid to do public speaking for a company so prestigious that they probably don't even want me mentioning their name on a website like this. When I get to speak to the public in my paying job, it's usually something like "Move along. Nothing to see here."

I never actually met Robert A. Heinlein, but I count him as a near miss. A young lady I was seeing did run into him once and ended up joining him and his wife for dinner. Robert A. Heinlein picked up my girlfriend. A proud day for me.

Oh, and I guess it was a proud day for her, too.

Then, of course, there are the wonderful people I met back when I was doing Sfstory. This was back in the late 80's when I first starting writing for the public. Or, rather, when I broke down and started letting the public read what I'd been writing. Email discussion lists were the outlets of my creative efforts.

The discussion list Sfstory, or SFSTORY, or SF_STORY, or Sci-Fi Story, or Science Fiction Story, or whatever the actual official name might have been, started out as a "round robin" sort of thing where each author wrote a chapter based on what had come before. The list began as a fairly serious science fiction effort and very quickly turned to humor, sarcasm, and parody.

The fact that I started writing for it fairly early on had absolutely nothing to do with this turn. Nothing at all. Absolutely.

Sfstory also eventually morhped from "round robin" to more of a "shared universe" sort of deal, with individual authors penning individual storylines involving their individual characters, albeit with continual crossovers and borrowings and guest appearances and mega special Summer blowout events.

I didn't realize it at the time, but we were basically scripting a group of science fiction comic books. But others did realize it and began a story of a type more traditionally found in comic books: a superhero story known as Superguy.

Superguy is, well, super. No, he is SUPER. Imagine all the powers and abilities of your ten favorite superheroes. Roll them all into one really great guy, subtract all their weaknesses and faults, and you're basically left with Superguy. In fact, Superguy is so super and so busy saving the world on a roughly hourly basis that he doesn't really have time to dictate his memoirs or even really interact with the people of the world in general. So Superguy the comic -- er, discussion list -- is actually a story about all the other lesser superbeings of the world, collectively known as Superguys (even the girls).

Superguy started off in the pages of Sfstory. Eventually, Superguy spawned its own discussion list which is still running today. You can subscribe and learn more by going to $link:$ and clicking the appropriate links. I especially like the autocollector. Sfstory eventually lost its own list and now exists as a subplot in Superguy. That's what we like to call irony.

The point of all this digression is that during my writing for Sfstory, I met and spoke and shared universes with several other young writers, all of whom have gone on to bigger and better things. I could mention names like Jeff Smith, Andy Robinson, Carlo N. Samson, Burce Pennypacker, and some guy who posted under the name of The Cowboy or Tennessee H. Cowboy. He later started posting again under the name Troy H. Cheek, which is probably also a made up name. (I mean, who could possibly be named after an out of work B-movie actor and a body part?) There was also Scott McGuire, Eric Alfred Burns aka Lord Sabre, Patrick McCoy, Nathan Irwin, Doctor Abigail Ann Young, Beth Jones, John Sullivan, Andrew Lewis, and any number of others.

And that's just a partial "old school" list of some of them people who were active back when I was active.

Now, I'm actively writing (for sufficiently small values of "actively") for Superguy, but I've lost track over the years of most of my fellow writers. In fact, my sneaky reason for listing all of them above is the hope that some of them might stumble across this webpage via some search engine or another. And maybe email me. Let me know what life has done to them in the last 15 or 20 years.

One old friend that I did manage to relocate (then lose, then re-relocate) is Eric Alfred Burns, aka Lord Sabre. Eric has actually managed to sell a few things he's created since those days of writing for free in Sfstory, so I consider him to be a professional writer. I've read or re-read a lot of his stuff recently and, let me tell you, that guy can write good fiction (for sufficiently small values of... just kidding).

I've managed to find a couple of websites where I can keep track of my old chum Eric, and I would be remiss if I didn't throw in some links here to drive some web traffic his way. The first is $link:$ which is his blog/journal/moanfest, Whistling in the Dark. This I believe comes from a They Might Be Giants song entitled, appropriately enough, "Whistling in the Dark." That his subtitle is "There is Only One Thing That I Blog..." which is very similar to the lyrics is also a clue. This can't be anything else but a homage to that group and their 1990 album Flood. I have it on both tape and CD.

Which is why I haven't mentioned it to him. He's probably never heard of the group or the album or the song and came up with all that entirely on his own and will think me silly for even mentioning it.

The other site is $link:$ or just Websnark for short. His subtitle for that one is "Proven able to write in volume. Now if only there were some call for that."

Which is pretty much the subtitle for my life, now that I think of it. Any number of efforts I have put forth have gotten little more editorial response than "My, you certainly have done a lot of typing, haven't you?"

Why a name like Websnark? The word "snark" comes from Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark." It's a kind of beastie. In computer terms, a snark is some kind of threat or problem on a computer. However, the word has come to also mean sarcastic commentary or the sarcastic expression of opinions. He snarks, she snarks, they snark. That kind of thing. (Copied without permission from his site.)

Since Eric's sense of humor, much like mine, tends to run towards the sarcastic, Websnark is his place to snark about the web, life, the universe, and everything. He mostly focuses on webcomics, but there's a little about everything else in there as well.

If you like webcomics or have a weird sense of humor or just generally like to read stuff, I suggest you hop on over to Websnark and see what I'm talking about.

And if you do, please drop him a line and tell him that Troy sent you, and where I sent you from. Otherwise, he'll have no reason to link back to The View from the Corner and the Internet will come to a crashing halt.

Copyright 2004 by Troy H. Cheek. Reprint with prior written permission only. Comments and questions to $mail:theview$

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This page last updated on Dec 20, 2004 by Troy H. Cheek