future table tennis

May 17, 2012

My writing

This blog has a lot about my own writing. It wasn't planned - it just happened. So be it!

How table tennis will change, according to "Campaign 2100"

I've long wondered how table tennis will change in the future. Here are some possibilities that are straight from my book "Campaign 2100: Rise of the Moderates," a 117,000-word SF novel I wrote that is currently making the rounds of agents and publishers. (It covers the 2100 election for president of Earth, where the whole world has adopted the American two-party electoral system. I describe it as "West Wing in the 22nd century," with the underlying theme moderation in politics; some will read it as a Moderate Manifesto.)

One of the main characters, Bruce, is a professional college table tennis player, and one of the dramas is when, at 19-all in the fifth in the semifinals of the college championships against his nemesis, he loses interest and defaults the match to join the presidential election campaign. (Yes, the game has gone back to 21-point games in my future. Hey, it's my future!) Throughout the novel Bruce often has a ping-pong ball in hand, which he nervously fiddles with, tosses about, or throws at people.

Here is an excerpt that describes Bruce's futuristic paddle, which he calls Lore.

Lore was the latest model of ping-pong paddle, a Maestro Prime covered with Spinsey pinhole sponge, both from Trump Sports. When the ball hit it, the Spinsey sponge compressed, forcing air out through the tiny, angled holes that permeated the surface. If he held it one way, the air shot upward from the parallel holes, creating a topspin. If he flipped the paddle, so the backhand side became the forehand side and vice versa, then the air would shoot downward, creating a backspin.

Here's a listing of the changes to the sport I put in the novel:

  • Table tennis is the #1 sport in world. Everyone watches it.
  • As noted above, the sponge has microscopic holes that shoot air out when ball hits sponge. The holes are angled so they put topspin on the ball. If you flip the racket, it puts backspin on the ball.
  • College players are all highly-paid professionals.
  • Professional players use steroids as matter of course, except for Bruce, who refuses to use them even though they are completely safe. This is a huge handicap for him.
  • Striped balls.
  • Playing shoes have adjustable traction.
  • Tables have sensors that detect hits.
  • Games are back to 21 points

Regarding the "Campaign 2100" novel, it's currently at a publisher who, after reading the opening three chapters, wrote the following:

"I found your premise interesting and your opening chapters engaging -- I was a great fan of The West Wing when it aired, and the show might have been influential in my misguided decision to attend law school for a semester.  I wised up about my own incompatibility with law school, but I remain intrigued by real and fictional political drama like yours. I enjoy the succinct narration and explanations from Toby Platt's point of view and the intriguing twist chapter three provides with the introduction of a student on vacation for Earth's first contact. I would like to consider the full manuscript for CAMPAIGN 2100: RISE OF THE MODERATES. Please send the manuscript as an attached Word document or .rtf file at your earliest convenience."

The novel has multiple table tennis scenes, including the following:

  • Bruce's introduction scene, described above, where he defaults out of the college nationals at 19-all in the fifth to join the presidential campaign.
  • Bruce teaches table tennis to Twenty-Two, an alien ambassador who is observing the election, and they play constantly in the "floater," the flying vehicle the campaign uses to campaign around the world. Since his ancestors snatched flying insects out of the air, the alien has fantastic reflexes and coordination and becomes very good very quickly, and is soon beating Bruce, to the latter's great chagrin.
  • Bruce and Twenty-Two do a table tennis exhibition in front of the Chinese leadership in a packed stadium. The scene ends with Twenty-Two getting arrested on orders from President Dubois, leading to major political ramifications.

Table Tennis Tactics: A Thinker's Guide

The book is basically done, but I'm going to do one last reading on screen (where I'll undoubtedly make lots of minor wording changes, and probably add new stuff), and then I'll print it out for one last proofing. It's currently at 91,000 words, which is 395 double-spaced pages in Courier.

I'm leaning toward changing the title to "Table Tennis Tactics and Strategic Development." What do you think? I'm also leaning toward self-publishing. I do have a convention publisher interested, but that'll mean putting off publication for at least a year, plus lots of likely rewrites for the publisher, who have their own idea on what they want. More likely I'm going to put this and my other books all in ebook and POD (print on demand) formats, and sell them online by the end of the year or sooner.

New full-time clubs in NYC and Philadelphia

A Mini-table as a Graduation Gift?

RealSimple.com has it as one of their 29 "unique" graduation gifts!

Pneumatic Ping-Pong

Flashing lights, blasting music, high-powered fans, toys dropping on you, tables covered with hundreds of balls . . . this is the ultimate ping-pong challenge, right? Brought to you by Table Tennis Nation.

Non-Table Tennis - Two story sales

In my separate science fiction & fantasy writing career, I sold two stories in the last two days. "The Oysters of Pinctada" (4400 words) went to Flagship Magazine yesterday (Wednesday), my fourth sale to them. It's the story of a space pirate's kidnapping of the king of the planet Pinctada to find the secret of where they get the giant pearls they sell - and the lengths the Pinctadan's will go to save their king, and the terrible secret the pirate learns.

"The Devil's Backbone" (7000 words) sold to an anthology on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the editor asked that I not publicize which anthology until he's ready to announce the entire lineup. It's the story of an ice cream man who is killed and pulled into the ground by an incredibly gigantic hand, which turns out to be the Devil's, who literally jams him down his throat and (from the inside) onto his equally gigantic backbone, where there is an entire city of lost souls. How can he escape?

This makes 61 short stories sales. And while we're at it, here are my complete writing stats: 1356 published articles in 133 different publications, including 1224 on table tennis. Here's my science fiction & fantasy page, and here's my complete publication history.

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