I don't know how the guys who put up good stuff every few days (or even daily) do it. I haven't even managed to change the date on the spamcatcher two weeks into August. I do have a partial excuse: I just moved into a new apartment a week and a half ago, and between the general chaos of moving and the fact the Comcast man installed my Internet only about ten minutes ago, I just haven't had the opportunity to post (this will be of no interest to anyone except me and Metatwaddle, but I also have digital cable now. Woo. Now instead of watching about four channels and ignoring the other 60 or so, I'll be watching five channels and ignoring the other 300. Truly, we live in a golden age.)
(The fifth channel is the Science Channel. I don't know how I lived without Survivorman in my life.)
(Yes, I know Survivorman was also on Discovery, but it was on Friday night at eight, and fuck me if I'm going to watch TV on Friday night at eight.)
Then on top of that, I had to read The Grapple and The World Without Us. The Grapple I sort of endured more than I enjoyed it; Turtledove had to turn backflips to get what should have been a novella's worth of story into a long novel, and the last fifty pages were just excruciating (I might have a full review later). The World Without Us, on the other hand, has been a joy--I recommend it so much, here's the Amazon link.
Now an HI update: IV and V are done. IV went in with just minor tweaks, but V got a more substantial rewrite. I had a few reasons for this, and I think the chapter is markedly improved. The fallball scene got a good working-over to make the action clearer (I had Laney give everyone on the Black Gang short, distinct, insulting nicknames, so instead of "the enlisted engineer who was not the captain and not the lesbian passed the ball to the other enlisted engineer who was not the captain and not the lesbian and not himself, either", I have "Tiny passed the ball to Taint". I think it works better, and I like that Laney has a talent for nicknames now). Then I rewrote much of what came after the battle scene. Laney doesn't forgive Nick so easily, and the idea for the marijuana business becomes hers. Laney's talent for logistics and business is shown in this chapter, rather than told later. And finally, and I believe most important, Laney doesn't end up self-identifying as an engineer (in spirit if not in training), even though the engineers are willing to accept her as an honorary member of the black gang; instead, she points out that the crew and the passengers have been fucked just as hard. This is setting up something later; the mutiny will not be the anemic, engineers-only affair it was in the first draft.
Chapter VI is not the Chapter VI everyone knows and loves (the namesake of this blog). Chapter VI is, instead, all new material, featuring two viewpoint characters, set on Earth. The first viewpoint character is David, fighting on the Baikal Front against the Chinese hordes (somebody tell Darth Raptor he got his wish). The second is Adrienne, back home in New Orleans (there are not, unfortunately, any scenes involving her in her professional capacity). The purpose of adding a new chapter was threefold: first, Chapter XII is going to get pared down to a short epilogue (I don't know what I'm going to do with the original epilogue), and so I felt I needed something to replace it. Oh noes, filler! But it's not! The events of new Chapter VI will directly impact what happens later in the climax. That's the second purpose of the chapter: to take some important events on Earth which had been told in the form of throwaway lines from characters or news broadcasts and show them happening up close. The third purpose is to contrast civilian life in the middle of the war to civilian life at the beginning, using a character the reader has already met in an established setting--hence Adrienne, who incidentally is a TON of fun to write. As you might imagine, it got worse.
I intend to be done VI tonight or tomorrow. VII will take some heavy lifting, and on top of that, I'm going to be out of town all weekend, so I have no idea when that will be done. I hate to say next Friday, but probably next Friday. I might get this done before Christmas, but the end of the summer simply is not happening.
Now, to reply to a comment made by Phongn in my long-ago previous post:
Huh, I had no idea you were blogging again! The news on HI is quite welcome, though. If you publish, any way I can get a signed copy?
I have no idea how many author's copies a first-time novelist gets, but after my family, the people who helped me get this done are on the list to get them--signed by the author, of course (am I getting ahead of myself here or what? It's not as bad as me having practice interviews with myself, though--incidentally, I do a pretty fair impression of Terry Gross's speech, if not her voice). So yes, Phongn, you will get a signed copy. Everyone who helped will also be in the acknowledgments (this includes Winchell Chung and Stuart Slade, neither of whom interacted with me directly while I was writing, but whose contributions were critical for this thing to bear any resemblance to hard science fiction). I've already decided to split the dedication: Metatwaddle (obviously), and Chris Szitovszky, with something along the lines of "Wrongfully convicted, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, March 2007" underneath. Who the hell knows--maybe the book will be a runaway bestseller and it will draw enough attention to his case to get him out of the hole into which a lying prosecutor and 12 Victorian imbeciles put him.
One final note: my self-imposed exile from SDN ends on 1 September, but I don't know if I'm coming back. It depends entirely on my self-discipline. I may come back for a few weeks, then go into exile for another three months if it's eating too much of my time.
This concludes this public service announcement.