Just a little update on how HI is coming, and some of the changes being made:
1. Chapter I has been substantially reworked. The story is the same, but a ton of details have been altered. This is mostly because either A) I plan on changing the story in later chapters, and I need to foreshadow different things, B) I've changed elements of the backstory, and/or C) I am committed to killing as many infodumps as possible, and Chapter I has a lot of them. I reworked quite a bit of the Tran-Fitzthomas interactions, in part because her backstory has changed slightly, and in part because I always felt their dinner conversation was a little too much "As you know, Bob...". I think the results are a lot more natural; Metatwaddle said she felt like she was listening in on a real conversation.
2. Chapter II has only been slightly tweaked. It was always one of my favorites. Some of Guillaume's backstory has changed, but since his backstory isn't revealed until much later, his introduction can remain mostly unchanged.
3. I went after Chapter III with an ax. The story is unchanged, but I told it with about 30% fewer words. The GINORMOUS infodumps are either gone entirely or pared down to something more efficient, and I think I managed to put away the soapbox.
4. Chapter IV's rewriting is underway. I don't anticipate many fundamental changes.
In all chapters, I'm correcting awkward turns of phrase, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, that kind of thing, as I or Metatwaddle come across them. The general rule is to tighten whenever I can, unless something in the first draft is so unclear as to require more information.
On the other hand, I am thinking of adding a chapter that would have two viewpoint characters--David, on the ground in Europe, and Helen back in Willsboro, coping as the civilian situation deteriorates (the war has gotten MUCH nastier--germs, terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nanotech attacks on civilians are commonplace). I'd love to visit New Orleans again, but as yet I don't have a non-contrived way to do so, except possibly by making Adrienne a viewpoint character (which could be fun, but I don't know what I'd do with her). I'm not too worried about adding a chapter because there are major cuts coming; the story is going to end, more or less, right after the Battle of Uranus (which I think I'm going to have take place in the Uranian system itself).
Metatwaddle has been immensely helpful with all of this. She's my first reader for all changes, and has been extremely gracious about dropping what she's doing whenever I call for help. She's a good test reader; she's well read, with a good knowledge of what makes good reading, and she's scientifically literate, so she can spot egregious science errors AND point out places where I've under-explained some concept (the thinking being if a physics undergrad doesn't get it, Joe Reader probably won't either).
I'm hoping to get this revision done by the end of the summer, but no promises. At the pace I work, Christmas is looking a lot more likely. I think another draft will be needed after that, but there won't be much heavy lifting necessary. I hope.
Post Script: I'm led to understand Marina O'Leary has decided to write a series of vignettes (Global Mean Temperature-style) about a post-Peak Oil world. I'll have to avoid reading it; my next project, I think, is going to be a prequel to HI set during the events of the Oil Crash--called, appropriately, Crash. It will be stand-alone in the sense that you won't have to have read HI to follow the plot; in fact, if HI fails to sell, I'm still going to attempt to sell Crash.