10 November 2007

November HI update

October was a bad month.

The short version is, I wrote very little and almost every word of it has since been shitcanned (more precisely, cut out of the manuscript and pasted into a file called "Deleted Scenes", where it will languish between times when I loot it for a clever sentence here and there). The long version is, there was simply no way to wrap everything up in one chapter, and even if I could, the pacing problems which plagued the first draft would still be there. Worse, the stuff I was writing was garbage. Dead prose, dull scenes, characters acting like they'd just come down with Idiot Plot. So it got axed.

Where does that leave me now? Well, after about a week scribbling in an old notebook, I worked out a better plan for the last third of the novel. Draft 2 "Sky King Star" remains unchanged, the ending chapter incorporates all of Draft 1 "Fever Dreams" and about half of D1 "Ice and Ashes". A new chapter containing the mutiny (that damn mutiny has been my problem since I first thought of it) will immediately precede Sky King Star.

Also added is a prologue (about half the length of a normal chapter), set in Philadelphia the day the Dominion arrives. I wrote it expressly to tie the main story to the Toliman ending (shh! Don't tell Metatwaddle what that means!). Between that and the Spirit of Halifax plot ending before "Sky King Star", that takes care of my ending problem.

Will I make 23 November? Probably not. I'm aiming for 1 December. There's still an outside chance, but it's already the 10th and I have a lot of work left to do.

Now to respond to a couple comments. First, from Da Rev (the inimitable RevPrez, I presume; just for the record, I was opposed to his banning and remain opposed to it):

BTW, not a bad job on Humanist. Finally finished reading it. A bit heavy-handed and disingenuous about Christian Reconstructionism, but all in all a solid demonstration that hard sf and space opera are not mutually exclusive. I look forward to reading more of your work.
I think you're dead on about the heavy-handedness (also the stuff about how awesome it is, but we'll stick to the criticisms for now). Quite a lot of that ended up getting cut--Alvin's whole walk through Washington, for starters. Besides the fact it was about as subtle as a rain of anvils, it dragged on the plot.

My conception of the Dominion was never intended to be 100% faithful to contemporary Reconstructionsim (though I do think the contemporary version is vile). It began as a thought exercise before I ever conceived of HI--I wondered what an American Khmer Rouge would look like, and got a cross between Fred Phelps, David Duke, and Huey Long. Later when I thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be neat to write a sci-fi story that tried to stay realistic?", the Dominion idea popped back into my head, and suddenly I had what I thought was a short novella.

Basically, the Dominion is what I think you might get when you plunge the entire south into hopeless poverty for a generation, put almost everyone to work as a sharecropper, add a ten year drought (thanks to Global Warming) which is threatening to tip the entire region into starvation, remove any effective Federal authority, and add a little deranged Christian fundamentalism to taste. A lot of that is only alluded to in HI--Crash and Interregnum will go into quite a bit more detail.

And now, a comment from Surlethe:
Hey, since I don't feel like waiting for the November update: if you're interested I'll have some free time over Christmas break I could use to read over and tear apart Draft II.
Thank you for saving me the trouble of asking. Yes, I'd very much appreciate a few test readers who have the time and inclination to give me comments. Metatwaddle's input has been priceless, but I'd love to hear other perspectives (and, I admit, having spent so much time on this damn thing, I'd like to actually have readers; I miss the instant feedback from the board).

This concludes this public service announcement.

08 November 2007

UD ResLife program

Some of you may have heard about the controversial Residential Life education program at the University of Delaware, where I go to school. According to media accounts, chanel handbags students were made to undergo diversity training sessions - some call it indoctrination; others simply called it education - regarding things like white privilege and heterosexism. There are some articles on the issue here and here. Students were taught about systematic racism, and the

Now, I never had to put up with any of this crap. There have been a few building meetings on my floor, and I haven't gone to any of them, because in RI's words, "Can they do anything to you if you don't go? No? Then it's not actually mandatory."

But it's plain from media accounts that the program was executed in a breathtakingly stupid way.