I have spent the last few days living in another world, in my final push to finish the first 50,000 words of Dreadship Omnipotence in time for the end of National Novel Writing Month. I have succeeded in my goal, and Dreadship Omnipotence currently stands (in digital form) at about 53,000 words – and I feel as if things have only just gotten started. On that front, it seems like the final novel will come in at around 250,000 words (my estimate), and that in all likelihood this will become a trilogy, with the other two books being Dreadship Omniscience and Dreadship Omnipresence (spoilers!).
But, all of that aside, NaNoWriMo 2014 was a success! Alas, for the time being I need to make up for lost time spent on academic pursuits, so progress on the novel will be a little bit slow for these next two weeks. But for this week, for right now, I am going to talk (or write, rather) about the world of Dreadship Omnipotence, carrying over from my discussion of the characters last week. And of course, world-building is my favorite part of the writing process, so I have a lot to say.
Like a great deal of science fiction, Dreadship Omnipotence takes place in the distant future (there is deliberately no explicit date), when humanity has left Earth and colonized the stars (or rather, the planets orbiting them). If I had to summarize the world in a single sentence, it would be ” distant future in which the human race has colonized other planets and begun to evolve into something more, with different groups traveling different evolutionary paths driven by various types of rapid technological change.”
What does this mean, though?
The fundamental factor underlying this world is that technology has changed what it means to be human. The different and varied effects of this technology on mankind is most readily seen in the various different “branches” of mankind, who have changed their bodies and minds to adapt to their technology.
There are two groups of transhumans (“normal” humans are exceedingly rare, now), known as the “Twin Tribes of Man.” The Srivans rely on robots to perform the most meaningful tasks and were the first to create a post-scarcity society. In this society, personal cultivation is key, and the Srivans devote themselves to science and culture. They travel in nomadic “courts” through space, seeking new experiences. Over the course of their existence, they have developed superhuman abilities through genetic manipulation and technologically-enhanced training regimens. From this group have evolved the post-human “godlings;” individuals who have developed an ability to control matter on large and small scales.
The second, and by far the larger, group of transhumans are the Jayns, who are also the focus of Dreadship Omnipotence. Instead of relying on robots, the Jayns rely on advanced nanotechnology which has allowed them to live much longer, develop new, non-human creatures, and connect everyone together into the ironically-named “wire” (the galactic internet). Along with these advances, Jayns have also developed the means to “digitize” consciousness, and thereby switch consciousnesses between bodies, albeit at a hefty price and much inconvenience. The defining feature of the Jayns is their connection to the wire, which they can interact with via computers, small phones, or most commonly, by nanobots which are passed down by parents (in the rare case of live birth) or inserted into fetuses (in the more common case of artificial birth) that allow individuals to manipulate a “digital overlay” over their vision that lets them view content the nanobots receive from the wire.
The Jayns inhabit planets, and are not nomadic like the Srivans. They are roughly divided into various sociopolitical entities; the totalitarian Dominion, the theocratic Imperium of Man, the free-wheeling and fluctuating Communes, and the Seven Nations (the most powerful Communes). The Communes are the largest part of Jaynic society, and are generally small, sub-planetary groups that live however they see fit, creating various types of sociopolitical systems. They defend each other against the Dominion and Imperium, and rally behind the more structured Seven Nations.
But the Jayns have also begun to develop post-human life forms as well, somewhat along class lines. The wealthiest Jayns have begun to develop telepathy, which they use to further cement their position. Certain investigations into telepathy yielded the creation of artificial transhuman beings known as “psiks,” which are consciousnesses that can possess human bodies.
The members of certain Communes also managed to diffuse their consciousness among millions of self-replicating nanobots, and thus created swarms of nanobots united by a common consciousness. These Communes have become known as the Nanopublics.
A third, and the most dangerous, post-human created by the Jayns are the “wyrdlings,” which are being that exist beyond space and time. Like psiks, they are artificial, and (spoiler!) are the subject of Dreadship Omnipotence.
Of course, thrown onto all of this evolution is the wire, which is really a conglomeration of different “sub-wires” and ansibles linked together under the “all-wire” that connects most of humanity with each other. This allows for nearly instant communication between individuals across huge distances of space, and also has created a crutch upon which many Jayns rely. This aspect of Dreadship Omnipotence was inspired by Eclipse Phase, and thus has many similarities to it. Related to this, virtual reality is also a major part of the world of Dreadship Omnipotence, but to say too much on this subject would, alas, spoil too much.
So there you have it; an introduction to the world of Dreadship Omnipotence. Next week, I’ll talk a little bit about the plot. Ta-ta for now!
(c). Z. M. Wilmot