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.


Phong said...

I mentioned HI to a friend of mine and he asked about parts of your backstory - in particular, if the US has pretty much fallen apart, what accounts for all the refugees emigrating to the West Coast?

Also, what kicked off the PRC's long march across Asia?

RedImperator said...

Northern California and Cascadia (Oregon, Washington, and parts of Idaho) never experienced the upheaval the rest of the country did (hence Guillaume's comment that Laney came from the region of the country which had "suffered least"). Neither did British Columbia, since Canada generally got off lighter than the United States. At any rate, most of the refugees came after the continent was unified again.

The PRC's long march, in the second draft, actually begins with a rump Chinese state centered on Nanjing reuniting the country after it sheds a lot of territory in the Crash and its aftermath. It just sorta keeps going from there. The whole process takes about eighty years.

Anonymous said...

In the same vein, what kicked off the EU and China alliance?

RedImperator said...

Europe and China allied because otherwise, Russia could have squashed them like bugs.

Neal said...

Any recent news on the HI front?

Da Rev said...

Good points, Matt. I didn't even consider how Reconstructionism might evolve under sustained conditions of abject poverty and civil unrest brought on by a catastrophic oil crisis. I stand corrected.

Anonymous said...

nice read. I would love to follow you on twitter.

Anonymous said...