Last I checked the country hasn't completely burned to the ground, so it's about time I checked back in with all of you as to what I'm up to. This is Rumor Control; here are the facts.
Status: Current work-in-progress.
First up: Hey, check out the snazzy new placeholder art we have for the book! The original art I had picked out was really something, but all my attempts to communicate with the artist have fallen flat, so I've resorted to creating my own art.
As for the book itself: By the first week or so of January I'd reached a point with this project where I was roughly halfway through the first draft, and enough of the project had drifted from its original design that it seemed about time to do a rewind-and-reassess.
This happened with Fall Of The Hammer, too. About halfway through that project I realized I'd moved past my original outline, so I rewound to the beginning, took stock of everything I'd written so far, and created a new scene-by-scene breakdown. In essence, I started a second draft before I'd ever really finished the first one.
Unmortal is following the same pattern. This isn't a bad thing: it means instead of fighting my way through a first draft that doesn't match my plan anymore, I can make more efficient use of my time by rebuilding with what I already have to conform to the new plan. The rewrite officially starts this weekend.
(Yes! We have placeholder art for this as well!)
For some uncountable length of time, this project knocked around in the back of my head in such a state that I couldn't even describe it to people. Experience has taught me any project you can't efficiently synopsize for others, you don't have a grip on yourself. And so I let this thing simmer in the slow cooker for as long as it needed to thicken. Earlier this year, on a whim, I lifted the lid, and to my surprise saw something good enough to eat.
I'm still mulling over which of several different approaches to use to describe the book. The one I'm settling for, at least provisionally, is the "reactionary mode" description -- the thing where I encounter some creative work and go, "Now, if I had done that..."
A couple of years ago I read Doris Lessing's Briefing For A Descent Into Hell and felt terrible frustration with it. I loved the premise, I loved the points Lessing was trying to make, but the second half of the book wasn't anywhere near the wild leaps of imagination of the first half. So Shunga-Satori is my "answer" to Briefing, in the Godardian sense that sometimes the best criticism of one work is another work. Lessing is one possible point of reference; another is Mervyn Peake (esp. Boy In Darkness).
At this stage, the only thing I can guarantee about Shunga-Satori is that it will be very strange. And, I hope, very beautiful and very unsettling.
(Sorry, no cover art for this one. Yet.)
Another project that has goaded itself nearer to something like a workable state, Absolute Elsewhere is my take on an old SF chestnut, the concept of the matter transmitter. I had to work hard to get out from under my favorite take on this conceit: Harry Harrison's One Step From Earth, where a cycle of nine stories follows the early days of MT (as he calls it) all the way to whatever lies beyond the human race, with MT shaping and influencing human progress at each step. Side note: some part of me would love to see a TV adaptation of this.
My idea is meant to explore several issues around the idea: what happens when the technology in question lands in the hands of a society that is barely spacefaring to begin with, and what happens when said tech mysterious stops working for almost a century ... and then starts working again. What happens to all the worlds that used to take casual contact with each other for granted? Do some of them try to remember what it was like, and live in anticipation of that day? Or do some of them see being isolated as a blessing, a way to control the populace? And what about the ongoing research into why this thing works as it does -- and why it stopped working, and started working again?
There's about 30% of what I need in place, but that's not nearly enough to start writing. Most of what's missing is personality: who's at the center of the story, who's driving it, who's worth caring about. Without that, all you have is a bunch of verbal concept art. Not a story.
I'll give it time.
It's called a secret project for a reason, you ninnies!
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Other Lives Of The Mind