Flash fiction: The Appointment

Ensign Aidan Bane is about to start his new life onboard The Dauntless. But first, he must attend a secret appointment.

The Dauntless was the first Explorer-class starship in the fleet. It was designed for long-haul space travel, equipped with state-of-the-art engines, captained by the war hero Sharon DeSouza, and manned by the best crew the Planetian fleet had ever produced.

So, what was he doing onboard this ship?

Aidan Baine, his belongings in a small backpack slung across his back, found the room he was looking for. And like he promised, the most distinguished Admiral of the fleet had kept his visit quiet.

They stared at each other for a long time before Admiral Edward Baine said: “Hello, Aidan.”

“Sir.” He stepped into the room.  

“Your mother told me that you received your orders today. I see you wasted no time reporting for duty.” His father gave him a small smile.

The Dauntless. Congratulations, son,” he said, slapping him on the shoulders.

Aidan stiffened, taken aback by the sudden contact. He immediately regretted his reaction because his father quickly took away his hand to clasp it behind his back. Edward pretended that he didn’t see Aidan’s reaction, but he obviously did.

For both their sakes, Aidan played along.

His father headed to the cabinet near the windows and began looking through the shelves, searching for something.

It was still strange to see his father smile when all he remembered was disapproval. His father had been making a conscious effort to be genial and warm since Aidan returned four years ago.

He did not wear it well.

Aidan wondered what the psychiatrists told him to elicit such a change. Perhaps having his son nearly die in his arms was a game changer.

After the war, Aidan barricaded himself away from everything he knew. He fled to the Outer Worlds, and drowned himself in Synth, trying to forget. But one memory stuck: The one with his father holding him with tears down his cheeks.

They told him that his father had tracked him down only to find him minutes away from death in front of a dark alley bar on a planet not even on the star maps yet.

Perhaps it was the memory of his father crying, but Aidan cobbled his life back together and against all odds or logic — he was accepted into the Academy.

That was four years ago. But Edward Baine still seemed unsure about how to conduct himself with Aidan. He felt the same, so they both danced around each awkwardly, trying far too hard not to dig at unhealed wounds.

“Wine?” The Admiral lifted a bottle up. The light from the nearby moon made the label sparkle. He recognised it immediately.

“Mantoran vodka?” Aidan lifted an eyebrow. It was a brand particularly coveted by soldiers during the war. “You got your hands on contraband?”

Edward chuckled. “Come now. Mantora is now a trade partner. Although I must admit — this one required a favour from an Outer World ambassador I know.” He handed Aidan his glass.

Aidan settled on the couch.

“Frankly, I find it puzzling,” Aidan said, taking a sip.


“With my record, I would have been glad to get a posting on a patrol ship cruising the asteroid belts. But The Dauntless?”

The question hung between them.

His father frowned heavily, and for a moment he was transported back to the many times when he was called up to his father’s study to endure a lecture.

“If you think I have anything to do with your appointment, Aidan, you’re quite mistaken. Captain DeSouza personally handpicked the crew and would not tolerate any interference. Even from me.” 

“I didn’t mean to accuse you, father,” he said quickly.

“Aidan….” Then his father cleared his throat. “So, your mother was wondering if you need help packing?”

“I don’t really have much. Just a couple of clothes and my slate and I’m done.”

“I see.”

Another awkward silence.

“I’m proud of you, son,” his father said suddenly.

Aidan stiffened. He stared at his glass, running a finger around the rim. Then, he shifted his eyes to his father. He grinned when he saw that his father was also staring at his wineglass.

“Thank you,” Aidan said softly.

Edward looked up, surprised. He nodded. Took another sip.

Too much had happened between them for them to be best buds, but he could at least leave with the knowledge that he had earned a fraction of his father’s approval — something that had eluded him all his life.

“Here’s to new adventures.” Aidan raised his glass.

His father smiled, and they clinked their glasses.

The Appointment is set in the Distant Stars universe. You can download the novella, Heretics of Thran, free, and buy the first book of the series, Shadows of Corinar.


Mystic Pop-up bar

(From left) Manager Gwi, Wol-Ju and Sung Jae.

Cast and characters

  • Yook Sung-Jae – Han Kang-Bae
  • Hwang Jung-Eum – Wol-Ju
  • Choi Won-Young – Manager Gwi

The story

With just a touch, Kang-Bae has the unfortunate ability to make people share their deepest, darkest and saddest woes. It has complicated his life massively to say the least.

One day, he bumps into Wol-Ju who discovers his ability. She becomes super interested in him because his unique ability could help her fulfill a centuries-long goal of resolving the grudges of 100,000 souls.

Not exactly a people person, Wol-Ju finds it challenging to get people to pour out their woes to her. (She’s not exactly the touchy-feely type.) But Kang-Bae will allow her to speed up the process and get her job done fast. An especially valuable talent now that her deadline is fast approaching.

If she’s not able to meet her 100,000 goal in time, she will end up in (gasp) hell.

My thoughts

I was really bored during COVID-19 lockdowns and Mystic Pop-Up Bar felt light and funny enough so that I didn’t have to think about killer mutant viruses, so I decided to try it.

However, I was pretty sure that I would quit it in an episode or two out of boredom. When it first came out I was influenced by a review that said that the show didn’t offer anything exciting, so I assumed it was going to be a yawn fest.

I was pleasantly surprised! I loved Wol-Ju. I totally didn’t recognise Hwang Jung-Eum, who played her. I often found her acting a little too screechy for my liking, but she totally embodied Wol-Jul here. Her shrieky ways was perfect for hot-tempered bar madam Wol-Ju, and her comedic timing made it even better.

What I like about the show

Quirky fun, with an unexpected angsty plot that threads throughout the show. The show deceptively begins on a heavy, sad note – making you think that it’s a tragedy. Then it quickly becomes a fun, quirky show and for a while, we forget its tragic start. However, we will soon understand the haunting beginning of the show, and the tragic tale comes to a very satisfying conclusion at the end of the show.

What I didn’t like

That it’s so short! The drama is only 12 episodes long which was unusual for a Korean drama, which is usually about 16 episodes long.

I would have loved to see more of our trio, especially after all the secret histories were revealed in the last episode.


Very – the drama/grudge of the week episodes is all memorable and fun in their own way.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!


I’m what you call a digital minimalist; I’m leery of bombarding people with tweets, updates and constant reminders to buy my stuff.

So, I balked at the advice given by experts where I entice readers with a freebie so that they can sign up to my weekly newsletter where I bombard them with stuff to buy.

I do have a special email list purely for those who want to know when I release a new book. If that’s you and you sign up,  I promise you that you will only get emails from me when I release a new book. And that happens twice or at most, four times a year.

You don’t need to know (and most probably don’t want to know) what I had for dinner or what new trick my dog could do.

I believe that this blog is all you need to keep up with my activities and thoughts.

On this blog, I will write:

  • flash fiction based on the Distant Stars saga
  • excerpts of my novels
  • deleted scenes from my novels
  • updates on what I’m working on
  • Special book offers and discounts.
  • announcements on new book releases
  • posts where I fangirl about my favourite shows and characters
  • and maaaaaybe what I ate for dinner

If you feel like it, you can visit this blog to read all of this. I post on the first day of each month. Sometimes, if I feel like it, I’ll post more. (Or less.)

Best to have blog posts emailed to you so that you don’t miss any.

It’s all up to you. Your choice.

And that’s what’s so important in the Age of Overwhelm. The ability to choose want you want to take in.

Have a good day and I hope you will stick around 🙂


Tai Weiland

Battlestar Galactica and the dilemma of God

In a genre that largely treats God as dead, Battlestar Galactica stood out because God was actually a character in the series. It was never implicitly implied that the mysterious being pulling the strings of the hapless humans and Cylons was God per se; even the mysterious invisible beings that haunt Cavil and No.6 wouldn’t confirm it (or is reluctant to). His portrayal, of course, would get some Christians protesting, as he (or at least his representatives) seemed manipulative, vague, sometimes cruel to ensure the poor humans instruments do what he wants.

God also had an interesting way of choosing them – ie prophets. Instead of the boy scout Apollo or even the conflicted No.8, they picked No.6, who was literally responsible for the genocide of the human race, and Cavil, a selfish, amoral, self-absorbed bastard.
I think some viewers expressed frustration at the vagueness of these mysterious beings’ actions, but I thought it was perfect.

Ultimately, I think the BSG god represents mankind’s frustrations, fears, confusion and awe of God. Namely, why His actions are perplexing to most of us, our grief at why he allows evil things to happen, and our frustration that He refuses to explain his actions.

I couldn’t help but include a god-like character in the Distant Stars novels either. I think of this being as kinder version than the Machiavellian BSG one, though no less frustrating and exasperating. Thinking of this character as a literal representation of the Christian god would be a mistake though. This character, like BSG’s is a reflection of my emotions about God.

Can God exist in sci-fi? You bet.

Space Opera is back on TV!

When Stargate Universe bit the dust in 2011, I mourned. And I didn’t even like the show. But it was there – the last space opera on TV, and I need my fix.

Then followed years of no space opera on TV. There were sci-fi, mind you, but just no space adventures. Hollywood wasn’t game. Super high budgets, low ratings. Bad ROI. Even Syfy (once SciFi) was looking elsewhere. Wrestling. Mutant sharks. Anything but producing glorious space epics it was known for like Battlestar Galactica.

And then, this year, a renaissance! We have two space operas showing on TV. There will be a third at the end of the year.  Syfy, after years of ugh programming is finially back on the ball producing awesome science fiction again.


Premise: Bounty Hunters in space.

What I love: Cool heroine: Dutch, the ass-kicking ex-assassin. The two brothers are bland and predictable, sadly. Make one of them a face-sucking undercover alien, and maybe I’ll be 100% onboard.

What I don’t quite love: A been there, done that premise. Although watchable, Killjoys has not offered anything new or groundbreaking in the story department. Though Dutch’s dark history with the mysterious assassin order which trained her since kidhood promises some dramatic tension in the future.

Dark Matter

Premise: A couple of folks wake up from cryosleep and find themselves floating in space in a ship with a serious case of amnesia.

Usually the amnesia plot device makes me groan out loud, but this one promises revelations, surprises and twists. Well, in theory. So far the characters seem pretty … standard. Tough lady who leads the team, bland hero guy with a conscience, mysterious guy with ninja moves, jerk gun-happy grunt and even a spunky teen with ESP. Still, the mystery of who they really are (and who wiped their memory banks clean) is compelling. Here’s to hoping for more exciting developments.

The Expanse

Premise: Men have colonised the solar system. Humanity is under threat (when is it never in danger?), and somehow police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), ship’s officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew play a key in humanity’s survival.

ETA: December 2015

Zero gravity sex. Sorry to be pervy, but that’s what first came up when I googled the show. So it promises to be gritty, dark, and maybe the Game of Thrones of Space Opera. (But pretty please without the mutilations, torture and non-stop deaths.) Best of all, it’s based on, awesomely, James SA Corey‘s magnum opus space opera series of the same name. I love the novels and you betcha I’ll be rooted in front of that TV, eyes wide open ready to devour it.