Hello everyone! Sorry this post has been so long in coming, but as always, I have been super busy. However, I hold no illusions of that being an excuse. However, I’ve been writing, and this time I’ve been writing substantially! Why, do you ask? NaNoWriMo, that’s why! Yes, for the fifth year in a row, I will be attempting to write 50,000 words in one month! I have so far succeeded every preceding year, producing The Loneliness of Stars in 2009, The Libel of Blood in 2010, and the first parts of the first drafts of The Divine Madness of Kings and A Deadly Dance in 2011 and 2012, respectively. This year, I am continuing on my first major work (read: novel) not set in the Juxian Mythos: Sundering Stars. I already had a little over 4,000 words of it written before NaNoWriMo began on November 1, and I would be extremely surprised if the novel ended at 50,000 words. So, my goal is not to finish the novel, but add 50,000 words to it. So far, at the beginning of Day 10, I have written 15,526 words, putting me right on track (added to what I’ve already written, that puts the novel at 20,96 words).
So, you ask, what is Sundering Stars about? Well, it’s loosely based around the background for an online forum game I was once designing, to ease the hole in my heart when I resigned from my position at another online forum game I had created. The project didn’t get off the ground, but I didn’t want to abandon my ideas and work; and so, the novel began.
Sundering Stars is about many things, and will likely morph into at least a trilogy (currently am toying with the titles Sundering Stars, Destroying Worlds, and Constructing Gods as possible titles). At its very core, the novel is about humanity’s first encounter with alien life-forms – the Draukan, who are extremely hostile, and nearly wipe humanity off the face of the universe. Despite the Draukan’s vast technological superiority and enormous resource collection potential due to their vast empire, humanity managed to hold them off and push them back. The novel begins after the end of the first Draukan war, with humanity dreading the Draukan’s return.
Thematically, the novel will deal with ideas of eugenics, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, genocide, transsexuality, dualism, gender roles, cultural barriers, revolution, social control, social cohesion, social and individual evolution, and godhood. In a way, I view a lot of the novel as being “hard social science fiction,” and will be drawing upon a lot of social theories I’m picking up in my training as a sociologist.
I am really excited about this project not just because all of these deep themes, but because of the characters I have created, who I am very fond of. There are multiple main characters, whose storylines converge over the course of the novel. There is a high-powered politician striving to ensure that the Republic of Man remains united, a decorated war hero who helped win the Draukan War, a perverted and genius professor of xenobiology, a poor, two unemployed people experiencing the cruelties of poverty and intolerance, an unnamed human enslaved by the Draukan and seeking a deeper meaning in his imprisonment, a sophisticated, rich businesswoman, and an astrophysicist with a dark secret.
For your reading enjoyment, I have attached part of the novel below, wherein the admiral and war hero is escorting a diplomatic envoy to treat with the Draukan. Enjoy!
“We cannot yet track their h-space movements, no,” Avos murmured. “Jumping out practically on top of the Illuminator was either a huge risk or a great testament of skill. On their part.”
“Or perhaps both,” Lori murmured. “The Draukan have opened up a comm channel. Non-psy. Breaking into it now… and broadcasting.”
The bridge was suddenly filled with a horrible, guttural, grating voice. It took the listeners a few moments to sort through the sounds and realize that it was speaking in English.
“Speak your piece now.”
After a moment’s pause, Arkanian replied. “Greetings, ambassador. This is our third attempt to initiate a meaningful dialogue with you. It does neither of our peoples any good to remain in a state of constant war. It drains resources and strains the psychology of both our peoples. Both of our empires could expand culturally and technologically if we formalize a ceasefire. There is no need for us to fight; the universe is enormous. We don’t need to be in each other’s way.”
“War is eternal.” The reply was almost instant, and it sounded even more scornful than its first utterance.
“But it does not have to be,” Arkanian said. “Think of how much better things would be if we weren’t fighting!”
“War is progress. Conflict is the future.”
“All right then,” Arkanian said. “What if we lay out our borders then? Then our conflicts will have a clear context.”
“Borders are meaningless. Conflict is its own context.”
“And cooperation? What about cooperation?”
“Cooperation furthers conflict.”
Lori snorted. “What the hell is it talking about?”
“Cooperation to a Draukan is done merely in order to strengthen one’s own position vis-a-vis others. It facilitates conflict on a larger scale. For example, all Draukan cooperating with each other facilitates more efficient and larger conflict with mankind.”
“So without an external foe would the Draukan cooperate?”
Avos’ lip twitched. “Who knows.”
“What do your people gain from this constant war?” Arkanian continued, unable to hear Lori and Avos’ discussion.
Avos nodded to himself. “They’re obsessed.”
“Hm?” Lori said.
“With evolution. Hyper-Darwinist.”
“But cooperation brings strength too!” Arkanian said. “What if mankind and Draukan were to combine forces? Think of the strength we would have! None could stand in our way!”
“Good argument,” Avos said. “But they won’t buy it.”
“You could make us stronger, but you would hinder evolution. Mankind would become a crutch. We cannot cooperate.”
“Fine. Then can we at least formalize something? Some set of rules for war? A line that cannot be crossed?”
“All lines can be crossed.”
(c) 2013 Zachary Wilmot