RSS

Category Archives: Writing

A Literary Update

It seems like the posts on this blog just get farther and farther apart! It’s been several months since the last post here, and every post that punctuates the void of this blog is falsely optimistic about future updates, so I’ll try to avoid that here.

It has been, unfortunately, a rough few months, and a very busy one for me academically. I’ve neglected by literary side in favor of my academic side, unfortunately, but I am now more stable on my academic feet (and I have a new shiny academic website here), so I can turn back to my literary efforts. Of course, my inability to focus on one project for long enough to get anything substantial written has also hampered my output, as well as my constant reworking of my central work-in-progress, the infamous Dreadship Omnipotence.

Once again, the current incarnation of Dreadship Omnipotence is mostly unrecognizable, and has even been renamed (for now) to Spirits of Eidolon, which I am also reformulating as a longer series of much shorter novels. The cast of characters is largely the same, but the world is now very different. While many of the previous world’s themes are there – such as my ever-present theme of deicide – the new primary focus of the novel is the different paths humanity might evolve down in the future. Through the lens of pirates and politics, I look at a world in which mankind was separated, and then reunited centuries -in some cases millennia – later, with each Tribe of humanity having evolved into something that the other Tribes barely recognize as human.

This remains my “primary” work in progress, though I am trying to alternate work on this with work on a shorter novel/novella inspired by the game Sunless Sea, which is tentatively titled Sea of Souls. It is a very… bizarre story, but I’m interested to see where it goes!

Without being falsely optimistic, I am going to try to post more, and I’ll try to start in several days with my thoughts on two books I have recently finished; Clarke’s Against the Fall of Night and Bester’s The Stars My Destination/Tiger Tiger!

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Personal, Writing

 

A Whole New Novel!

Well, sort of, at least.

My last post was on the recent crisis in world-building I had been having with my current main work-in-progress, Dreadship Omnipotence. Since that post, the crisis has spiralled out of control, to becoming a plot-construction crisis, and then finally a character crisis.

It turned out I was telling the wrong story.

The moment of epiphany came shortly after my reworking of the plot and its central elements, and I turned to thinking about how the changes in the world and plot would affect the characters. I quickly came to the conclusion that the heart of the problem was that I had the wrong protagonist.

Why was Idim Jyn, dashing captain of the Lysandra, the wrong protagonist, you ask? There were several reasons:

-He was a walking cliche, and much of his personality was based off of Captain Korso from Don Bluth’s Titan A.E. (a great film if you haven’t seen it; go watch it now and come back to this post later) and Firefly‘s Mal.
-He was, ultimately, kind of an asshole/would develop into one, and while I liked some elements of his character, I could see other elements of it becoming huge annoyances for me as a writer, and potentially for readers, later on.
-He did not really fit in with the world I’d built; he was a little bit too much of an oddity.
-Perhaps most seriously, he was setting himself up to be too passive. The way his past was constructed, his lowly status, and his lack of ambition meant that he would be taking a backseat to the interesting stuff. And after my first (terrible) trilogy with a similar protagonist, I didn’t want to do that again.

So, Idim Jyn was bumped out of the main protagonist role. He’s still in the story, just not as the captain of the ship. Who replaced him, you asked? A character who was originally a villain: Seraph Gavriela Adenai, more widely known as Ghosteye Spectra, the captain of the Eidolon.

Seraph/Spectra is a much more interesting, and less cliche, character than Idim. Her introduction showcases that; she is much more willing to kill than Idim is, she has an interesting way of killing, a pair of pistols that allow her to shoot through walls and download the consciousnesses of those she kills, and she has a strange ability that will form part of the core of what will become the Dreadship Trilogy: the ability to see through everything. Unlike Idim, a low-life smuggler at the bottom of the social heap, Spectra is a feared and respected pirate and assassin, with a great deal of influence in the underworld. Unlike Idim, she is in a position to get things done. And, on top of all of that, she has a burning ambition inside of her. Unlike Idim, who was to bumble his way through discovering the godlike power he had acquired, Spectra will embrace that power, use it, and direct it. Spectra is not bumbling; she is much more competent, yet deeply flawed in a way Idim was not. She is, in some a much deeper and more unique character.

Unfortunately, this shift in character did entail a drastic shift in the plot and world of the novel, and also prompted me to reconfigure my characters. I previously had a main cast of between ten and twelve main characters, depending on what you defined as “main.” I have now cut it down significantly, to six and a half: Spectra herself, her first mate and navigator Tathal Litenz, her cyborg engineer Melkorh, her software specialist and resident hacker Idim Jyn (told you he was still here!), the orphan artist Lemi, their “temporary” sniper Khoresh Eylkaum (though she just might be cut as well), and the half-main character, the crew’s part-time intern Obri Hathorken. The previously larger cast has been distilled into these six and a half figures.

The plot itself has also changed, but I won’t say much on that at the moment. More dramatically, the world has changed significantly. It still has the same general outline – it’s still a cyberpunk space opera – but a few elements have changed substantially. The major change revolves around the plot’s central theme: human evolution and godhood. Namely, transhumanism and posthumanism are much more pronounced now, and instead of one god-type figure being present as the antagonist, the entire universe is set against the backdrop of a host of powerful “godlings” that mankind created to protect itself from… well, ultimately, from themselves. It’s quite a different world, and it feels much fuller and better put together now, and all of the pieces are falling into place!

This does mean, however, that I have to start over largely from scratch. I have, however, already completed the first chapter, and am working on the second now, and writing it is a lot easier! Before I leave you to get back to work, I’ll leave you with two things: the updates synopsis, and my rough sketch of the new protagonist, Ghosteye Spectra (excuse my poor artistic abilities!):

Humanity stands on the brink of the Third Godwar, a conflict that will end human history and set the race on a new evolutionary path. As the godlings that rule over humanity prepare for war, a powerful weapon capable of killing a god falls into the hands of an ambitious space pirate, who soon finds herself standing at the crossroads of humanity’s future.

Speca

TTFN!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Writing

 

A Crisis in World-Building

As always, I’m horrible at updating this blog, and similarly horrible at updating my wordcount, on which I have fallen miserably short this month. The good news is I actually have written some things, so now the wordcount bar has a little bit of blue in it! The bad news is that total it’s only about 600 words, and it was in my secondary WIP, the steampunk short story collection currently titled Darke, about a gunmage named Fineas Darke.

This woefully low amount of words, and no words added to my main WIP, Dreadship Omnipotence, does not mean I haven’t actually been working on the project! On the contrary, I’ve actually been more active this month so far in thinking about what’s going in to the project than I have for the last three (months)! This work has been primarily in the realm of expanding the world, and recording the political and social development of the universe in more detail. I’ve also done a lot of thinking about the series’ (it will be trilogy) overarching antagonist, the Basilisk, as well as the minor antagonists building up to it. So, the backdrop against which most of the plot takes place is becoming more well-developed, which is a sort of progress, even if not in the form of words contributing to the draft!

Unfortunately, this progress has also somewhat paralyzed me with regards to writing. As I was building the world, it started to actually feel less and less realistic to me, and I began to doubt if it was really a good world. Some things stopped making sense, and I’ve rewritten a lot of earlier background, but I’m not even sure how much of what I have I will keep. I’m fairly certain about the antagonist structure I’ve built up; what I’m unsure about is the political entities of the world of Dreadship Omnipotence, and in particular their discrete nature. Hence, I’m having what I’m thinking of as a confidence crisis in world-building, that I want to resolve before I continue writing more in that world (and I still fully intend to do so).

As it is, there are four polities in the world: one hyper-surveillance state, one loosely bureaucratic theocratic state, one loose political confederation, and then a whole bunch of autonomous communities collectively grouped together. Though these divisions made some sense at first, they seem to me to be increasingly artificial and difficult to work with, especially given the interstellar-cyberpunkesque setting. The borders between polities seem a little bit too strong and real, I think is my issue, especially given the ubiquity of various internets interposed across borders, with real control over it largely impossible (save in the hyper-surveillance state). My issue, I think, is that I am clinging to perhaps an outmoded notion of “state” here; one that is tied to specific territoriality.

I think, then, that what I need to do is rethink what the state, in this world, actually would look like, and blur the boundaries between them far more. Part of the project of the series is now, I think, to reimagine the state and nation in a distant, cyberpunk, interstellar future. Rather than dividing up the universe into discrete polities with clear boundaries, I think it might be more productive – and might flow and fit in with the story better – if the entire universe of mankind was made to more closely match the “Communes” polities (the autonomous collectivities), with the other polities I had envisioned existing more as freeflowing “imagined communities” (to borrow from Benedict Anderson) or maybe some form of digital-political community instead, with the borders being largely social instead of physical. This would also give me room to play with the overlap of spatial borders (through space travel) with the social borders of states, which could be a lot of fun!

So, while I’m working through this crisis, progress will assuredly be slow, and once I’ve finished, I’ll need to rework earlier writing to mesh in with the new world; though I might wait until I’ve finished the first draft to come back to it. Though at the same time, the world is so thoroughly woven into parts of the story, that might not be possible. Whatever happens, we’ll see, and hopefully soon I can actually get writing again (should I be able to find the time)!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Writing

 

NaNoWriMo and the Dreadship

Hi everyone! It’s been quite a while since I posted here (and I have failed to write anything about Ghost in the Shell as promised yet), and I am still incredibly busy with academic and teaching work (as my spotty Eldritch Wastes updates can attest to), but in the midst of all of that I still managed to find time for my favorite annual writing drive: that, of course, being National Novel Writing Month!

Usually I put up a blog post about NaNoWriMo before it happens, but this year I was so busy I did not know I was going to actually attempt it until November 1, when the event starts, and I attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Before 2015, I’d tried and succeeded for six years (since 2009) to do so, and in 2015, I managed to pull it off again!

This year, I added significantly onto my major project, Dreadship Omnipotence, my cyberpunk space opera that I know think is a combination of Neuromancer, Firefly, Hyperion, and One Piece, following the adventures of a rather dark crew of pirates in a cyberpunk future when mankind has spread out among the stars and begun to evolve down different paths.

After about 86,000 words, the main plot finally got started (so the first bit will probably need substantial trimming), as the characters are established and all of the pieces are set in motion for the (planned) trilogy. I had a few moments of self-doubt during the process (the world is a little bit strange; how often do you see a Space Druid Empire?), but I am now confident in the overall direction the plot is heading in, though I still struggle with translating my master, overarching big picture into relatable scenes!

The draft of the novel is currently at 106,890 words, and is probably a little less than halfway done, so it needs a bit more work! I was greatly inspired by this year’s attempt, though, so I’m hoping I can keep some momentum going throughout the rest of the year, and am going to try – though perhaps fail – to write 20,000 words in it a month until I finish it (for a total of 5,000 a week and 715 words a day). Wish me luck!

And for your patience, dear readers, have an excerpt from Dreadship Omnipotence, introducing the first set of antagonists:

***

“I don’t see why we don’t just kill the Gaian scientists,” a voice said over the intercom. “They’re irritating thorns in our sides, and they won’t resist us at all. They’d die in seconds. In fact, all I really have to do is shut off their power…”

“Not until the boss says we can,” came the reply. This second speaker was leaning back on a couch, his body having sunk halfway through the couch, his arms resting on the couches back. He grinned, and his sunglasses glinted in the artificial light of the lounge, matching briefly his bald brown head. “They serve a purpose for us, Ugo; they keep even more prying eyes from looking for us here. Need I remind you that Sovstel is still trying to root us out. Us, the last checks to their authority and ‘voluntary’ domination over the Communes? The last hold of big-league piracy in all of jaynic space?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Ugo responded over the intercom. “But who knows our name outside of the Communes? The Imperium doesn’t consider us a threat, the Seven Nations ignore us, and I doubt the Dominion even knows we exist!”

“The Communes aren’t enough for you, Ugie?” the man said. He laughed deeply. “Galactic domination will come later, man. The Communes are the future of transhumanity, of all of the jayns. The Communes are where the most daring progress is made, where technology and science triumph, where new forms of social organization are tested, where societies are made and destroyed every day. The Communes are the laboratory of mankind, and they’ve produced their monster.” He grinned again, and showed a brilliant set of sparkling white ivories. “And we are that monster, Ugo. Our Pirate Queen will lead us to victory, first over the Communes as we build our power, and then the others will fall before they know what hit them. The Imperium will be crushed before they see or acknowledge our power, the Seven Nations will drown in their own blood as they turn to look behind them, and the Dominion will capitulate in the face of our endless might.”

“Very poetic, Edak,” came another voice from the edge of the lounge. The big man on the couch turned to look in the direction of the voice, and frowned at the sight of a small woman wearing a sparkling red dress. She sashayed over to him and plopped down on the couch next to him. “Have you considered a change of career? You could smash the market as a poet, even on Polymnia,.”

“Shut up, Emryn,” Edak growled. He moved his arms and slid away from her. “What are you doing here, anyway? I thought you were on Inarkus.”

“I have a body over there,” the said. “But I shipped my consciousness over here for our very important meeting with Mistress Syntha. Wouldn’t miss our little chat for the world.”

Edak growled wordlessly. Ugo snickered over the loudspeaker system. “Look, the gang’s almost back together again. Just missing Specs.”

“Yeah, she won’t be coming,” Emryn said, tossing her hair back. “Not sure what she’s up to; she wouldn’t say, and Syntha’s not talking much either. Something about the Dominion.”

“Probably a deep cover infiltration,” Edak rumbled. “Scoping out our final enemy.”

“Queenie’s pet,” Ugo said.

The door opposite the one that Emryn had entered through clicked. Edak and Emryn’s eyes both flicked over to it as it hissed open. “Seems she’s ready,” Edak said. He stood up with a groan. “Gonna need a new bod soon. This one’s getting old.”

“Oh, don’t complain,” Emryn said, still lounging. “That one’s got a few years left in it. You can’t just go hopping bodies every couple years.”

“Like you’re one to talk,” Edak said. He began walking toward the open door, and Emrn followed a few moments later at her own leisurely pace. A moment after her, a small floating camera followed. The door closed behind them.

The man, the woman, and the camera stood – and floated – above the floor of an enormous room. Ath the far side of the room was a throne on a raised dais, surrounded by a chaotic mass of pipes, many of which were spewing steam from half-opened valves.

A figure sat on that throne, wreathed in an impenetrable darkness that not even the most advanced cyberoptic filters could pierce. “Thank you for answering my summons,” a voice said from that darkness. The voice resonated and filled the entire throne room, echoing with vast amounts of power. “We have decided on our next course of action.”

Emryn stood, arms crossed, while Edak let his arms hang limpy by his sides. “And what is it that you want us to do, Queen Syntha?”

“It is not what you all will do, Secundus, at least not all at once. You and Tercerus will stay here, continuing to organize the Project here and acquire more resources for our future empire.”

“And Primus isn’t involved, is she?” Emryn asked.

“No, she will not be,” said the voice from the darkness. “The first task will fall to you, Quartus.”

Emryn blinked and laid a hand across her breast. “Me?”

“Yes, you. You have a body on Inarkus right now. You are to return to that body. And then you are to steal a certain ship.”

Emryn looked puzzled. “A ship? Just one ship? Not a fleet?”

“This one ship that you shall steal will be worth thousands – nay, millions – of lesser vessels.”

“O… kay,” Emryn said. “And how am I supposed to take this super-ship?”

“That is entirely up to your discretion, Quartus.”

“Alright, so what’s this ship called? Where is it?”

“It currently goes under the name of the Lysandra, under the command of one Idim Jyn,” Syntha said from the darkness. “And it is currently guarded only by one man; their engineer. It lies in orbit above Goldenspire, while the rest of the crew is down on the surface.”

“That shouldn’t be hard,” Emryn said. “I’m on Silverstar now, so I’ll take a quick shuttle-ride over to orbit. Is there a way for me to identify it?”

“It should already have been sent to your consciousness,” Syntha said.

“Oh, thanks!” Emryn said. “And should I bring it here when I get it?”

“Yes,” Syntha said. “And when you do, then we can finally emerge from hiding.”

From a speaker in the camera, Ugo laughed. Edak grinned, and Emryn smiled.

“You are dismissed until then,” Syntha said. “Be gone.” The two humans bowed and the floating camera lowered its altitude.

“As you wish, my Queen,” Emryn said, eyes glinting.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Writing

 

From Worldbuilding to Characters

Everyone rights in a different way. Everyone starts a story in a different way. Most stories (I think) come from an idea of some sort, contained in one of the three aspects of the literary holy trinity of character, plot, and setting. Some writers start with a character, and imagine the events in their life (plot) and the society (world) that produced them, and develop their story around that. Others start with a plot (I wanna write a story about a group of cyberpunk mafiosos fighting the cheese-loving lunar people!), and from that develop a world (cyberpunk future in which mutant mice have gained sentience and telepathy and taken over the moon and human cheese supplies) and characters (the head mafioso and the head mouse).

Then there are writer’s like me, who tend to start with a world and then build characters and plot from it. My large “Juxian Mythos” universe (which I write in far less than I should, alas) was created from this process. I started with a pantheon of gods (the Elders and Ancients), and from that developed a mythology involving the end of the universe, and then imagined the peoples that populated it. Before I had even thought of point of view characters or a plot, I had thought out the history of this world (billions of years of it, from the start of the universe) and the major historical figures, events, wars, and imperial expansions.

Once I had a firm grasp on the universe and world(s) I would be operating in, I was able to pick historically interesting times to set a story in. The discovery of earth and its integration in universal society? The Jakken Trilogy. The foundation of the space druids? The (very) work in progress Tal’kan Saga. The infamous S’kari-Aleuvite War? A Deadly Dance. By having the whole of history to play with, I was able to identify moments that would be able to house interesting plot for stories (and would allow me to flesh out this world with multiple stories).

Once the macro-plot for a story was chosen, then it was time to select characters. When creating characters, you are selecting a point of view, a perspective from which you and the reader will see the world and experience the plot. Sometimes these characters are historically significant figures (such as Jakken), but side characters can also provide a unique perspective on the world and its action, especially when a non-elite commoner is telling us what is going on (something I employ, somewhat, in Sundering Stars)However, in this process, it is usually important to have at least one character be historically significant; you want the character to accomplish something worthwhile, don’t you (especially in my space opera-style science fiction)?

After you have your character, you then have the ability to create smaller plots around them. By selecting the relevant event, you have the larger plot, but not your focal characters’ roles in it. You develop those through sub-plots and micro-plots, where your character is the driving force, rather than the history of the world. Thus, my own process of story generation creates two levels of plots: history-driven macro-plots that produce big ideas, and character-driven micro-plots that add depth to the world (this dual nature of plots I will discuss in a future post)!

That, in a nutshell, is how I generate stories; from worldbuilding to characters. It is similar to how I run roleplaying games; I create a sandbox for characters to play in and shape, except instead of players playing characters, I control them all. While this method is especially useful for world in which you intend to set multiple stories, you can also use this method for one off stories, especially if you are exploring sociological ideas. Though initially character driven, Sundering Stars developed along a similar process (the above description being more of an ideal type process). I knew I wanted to include one particular character, but then I created a massive history in the world she lived in, and created other characters based on the world, not on her.

So, the story-generation process is messy, and I’d be interested to hear how other people come up with the ideas for their own stories. But for now, happy writing (and reading)!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Writing

 

The Plot of Dreadship Omnipotence

Hello everybody! It’s been a while (far too long of a while) since I last wrote a post here (and even longer on my poor EsoTarot blog… though that blog has consistently high views!). I’ve been rather busy of late with classes, TAing, and most importantly, working on my MA thesis, which I am proud to say is pretty much done at this point; I’ve just got to get the paperwork done, then start thinking about how to turn it into separate conference presentations and get two publishable papers from it! Then on to the preliminary exams and thinking about dissertation work…

But that aside, I have come to write that post I had promised oh so many months ago, and talk a little bit about the plot of my current central work in progress, Dreadship Omnipotence! I’m still chugging along on it (albeit very slowly), though most of my attention (creatively, at least) has been on the Eldritch Wastes. Most of my progress on Dreadship has been in the form of ideas and outlining.

I’ve talked in the past about the world and characters, and now I want to talk (or write) some about the plot! As a reminder (it’s been so long!), Dreadship Omnipotence revolves around a darker Firefly-style type band of criminals in a transhuman interstellar and many-politied human society.

The novel itself will be the first of three, and follows the exploits of this crew as they struggle first to survive in a world that they have rejected, and then as they try to save perhaps the entire human race in a shadow war against a horrifying godlike being from the future. Along the way, the novel will explore the histories of each member of the crew and examine the reasons behind why they have dropped out of a seemingly utopian society.

The defining elements of the plot are contained, I think in the words “cyberpunk space opera.” The plot is grand and involves gods and struggle over the nature of humanity (in a similar way to Neon Genesis Evangelion, actually), thus being a “space opera.” On the other hand, the plot – not just the setting – is also “cyberpunk.” So, not only does the novel take place in a world dominated by digital networks (not to mention transhuman modifications), the plot also revolves around a group of misfits raging against a society they see as marginalizing them somehow and who, eventually, seek to expose it for the dystopia it really is.

Unlike typical cyberpunk stories, however, the main characters aren’t the only enlightened individuals in a world of dopes. As the characters become more devoted to their quest to expose the sick underbelly of human social organization, they will all begin to discover that perhaps it is not that society rejected them, but the other way around. Society is by no means perfect, but neither are the individuals in it. The noble anti-heroes in our story, thus, aren’t entirely correct about the dystopian nature of society. For most, society actually works pretty well. Thus, in the plot, I hope to explore a more nuanced relationship between the individual and society, as the main cast struggles to figure out why they can’t live with society, and what parts of society work well, and what parts they think don’t.

Against this smaller-scale cyberpunk conflict (deviants vs. society) is a larger one, the space opera side. This conflict is in the spirit of H. P. Lovecraft’s famed opening to “The Call of Cthulhu,” in which he writes that “[t]he sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” As our renegades go gallivanting across various human polities, committing crimes and living on the edge, they begin exploring the deep secrets that society holds, and find themselves a conspiracy. This conspiracy is not what they expect, however; they find that there has been a secret war waged for countless years by a select group of politically powerful scientists against an alien entity from the future, and then find themselves drawn into this struggle rather against their will.

Thus, the plot of Dreadship Omnipotence operates at two levels: one concerning individual-society relations, and the other society-universe relations. Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up in a few days, and I hope to get at least another 25,000 words done for it! Until next time, I leave you with this excerpt:

***

A run-down, rusted airbus clattered by overhead, and Idim had to dodge a falling screw as it fell from the bus and ricocheted off a nearby wall. At least the walls are mostly clean, Idim though to himself as he continued to walk through the city. I bet this used to be inhabited by the planet’s richest, and when they left to go up into space – probably to escape this awful gravity, urgh – they just left this city undefended, and the rabble moved in. Or else they helped the rabble move in to exploit them more. That would explain the shiny building here in the center of town… leftover, state of the art buildings from decades ago…

“Oh, Utopia,” Idim said under his breath. “Where did you go wrong?”

“Oh, Utopia was never right, sir,” a sweet voice said behind him. Idim whirled around, hand resting on the handle of his energy pistol – only to find it wasn’t there. Instead, he found himself facing a little girl, a mischievous grin plastered over her face.

“Wanna see a magic trick?” she said, eyes flashing. “It’ll only cost ya’ five credits.”

“Or I could just beat my weapon out of you,” Idim said. “My counter-offer is rather reasonable; you give me my weapon back, and I let you live.”

“Oh, I don’t have your weapon, mister,” the girl said. “But I can get it back for you with my magical powers.”

Idim sighed. “Street artist, are we? Entertaining the poor folks of Utopia who can’t even afford it?”

“Oh, we can afford it all right. It really isn’t so bad here. Actually, it got much better once the ‘stocracy left us well enough alone, and let us run our own affairs. We just let them think they’re ruling us from their plush little castles in the sky. They’re weak and fat and utterly clueless; they don’t know how to control the local wires. That’s what Rubyn does; messes with their wire feeds. Utopia’s ours now; the ‘stocracy’s trapped in its own little prison, mostly, and so we leave each other well enough alone.” The little girl grinned. “So Utopia’s never been right, but it’s been a lot worse. We’re rebuildin’, see, and the folks ‘round here need some cheerin’ up from us ‘tainers. So, do you wanna see my magic trick or not, mister? Ten credits.”

Idim snorted. “No trick of yours is worth that much. Your story wasn’t worth much, either; in fact, I think you should pay me to listen to your little propaganda piece.” In one smooth motion, Idim scooped up the girl, ducked into an alley, and pinned her against the wall, holding her up by her throat. Her eyes bulged out. Idim smiled as sweetly as he could. “So, little lady, I’ve got two questions for you. The first is when are you going to give me back my pistol, and the second is who do you work for?”

“Told… you…” the girl gasped. “I… don’t… have… it… and… I… work… for… myself!”

“I’ve got the weapon, mister,” said a small yet confident voice from behind the captain. “Drop the girl.”

Idim turned around to see a second girl, his rifle in her hand, aiming it at his head. Idim tensed his muscles to move, and the girl fired the weapon. The energy pulse went right by his head, missing him by an inch, and scorched the metal wall of the building slightly. Idim narrowed his eyes and released the other girl, who fell to the ground, clutching her throat and coughing.

“Hands in the air,” the armed girl said. “And why don’t you just go ahead and transfer five hundred credits to the public transfer account you’re being invited to.” The girl grinned. Idim looked briefly at the invitation to pay, and then dismissed it. Immediately, the girl in front of him frowned. “Do you want me to shoot your ears off? I’ll give you one last chance.”

“I bet you will,” Idim said, and then he turned around and reached down the half-choked girl’s dress. The girl shrieked and batted at his hand, but Idim ignored it, pulling his pistol out from between the space where her breasts would grow. “A bit young to use that as a hiding place,” the captain said.

“Drop the weapon or I’ll shoot!” the other girl said.

Idim straightened up. “You two are a bunch of crooks and scam artists. She’s a good pickpocket though,” he said, gesturing to the shaking girl on the ground. “You should treat her better. She’s more adept than you. And cuter.”

“Shut up!” the girl said, and shot her pistol again, scorching another spot on the wall.

“Though your forced overlay alterations aren’t bad,” Idim continued, walking towards the armed girl, “you made a few crucial mistakes. One, though the gun’s energy pulse went right by my face, I felt no heat. You should have aimed further away. Reduced effect, I know, but more convincing. Two, you painted scorch marks on chromstel. Chromstel doesn’t burn or rust. And third, what the hell kind of pistol goes ‘splort?’ Couldn’t you have found a better stock sound?”

“I was in a hurry,” the girl muttered. The gun vanished from Idim’s sight, and the girl crossed her arms. “You can go now.”

“Can I? Oh, thank you; your beneficence knows no bounds.” Idim bowed graciously, and then kicked the girl’s legs out from under her before sauntering away. “Pick your prey better next time,” he called back as he walked back out into the main street, hand firmly resting on his pistol’s handle.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Writing

 

The World of Dreadship Omnipotence

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

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Writing