Chugging along. . .

I finally feel as if the Hostile Takeover sequel is moving forward reasonably well. This should make Sheila at DAW happy, she’s been waiting for it for an inordinately long time. Wolfbreed aside, I had stalled on the project because I hadn’t decided who the main characters were. I had characters all over the place, too separated to make a coherent narrative. What really stalled me was the fact that I didn’t realize that this was the problem. . . not until I had set the whole thing aside for a while. Coming back with fresh eyes, all the issues I had were cleared up by taking a couple of chapters and just placing them later on in the book– in one case, the next book.

Toads Go Boom. . .

Ok, this BBC Story is scary and funny at the same time.

Thousands of the amphibians have died in recent days in a pond in Hamburg’s Altona district, with their bodies swelling to bursting point. The toads’ entrails are propelled for up to a metre (3.2ft), in scenes that have been likened to science fiction. Scientists are baffled. Possible explanations include a unknown virus or a fungus in the pond.

Guess what, it’s a natural phenomenon. That’s what I get for posting about stuff from 2005.

Retrocon Ahoy! (Continuity II)

No one is perfect. Sometimes mistakes make it into print. Sometimes huge steaming mistakes get in without anyone noticing until you need to write a sequel and go, “oops how did that happen?”

You can probably guess, there’s a goof in Hostile Takeover. What is it? Well here’s a hint in a couple of quotes:

Quote #1:

The atlas listed Kathiwar, an airless ball of rock out on the extreme fringes of the Indi Protectorate. Kathiwar orbited Beta Pictoris, and had a population of less than a million. It was inhabited only to put a way station between the Confederacy and Tau Puppis, the one contact with the Volera Empire. . .

Quote #2:

Volera was discovered during the Indi Protectorate’s massive colonial expansion. Sixty-two years ago, one of the hundreds of Indi scouts had discovered a highly attractive planet circling Tau Puppis, a star not only on the fringes of the Indi Protectorate, but on the fringes of the Confederacy.

Of course, I don’t think anyone sees the problem here. The quotes are from different books in the trilogy, and only an astronomer with photographic memory would pick it up. But this is the thing, these two stars are 120 ly apart from each other. That’s wider than the whole Confederacy at that point.

What happened is, when I was writing Hostile Takeover, there was no such things as a downloadable stellar database, and programs like Celestia were in the far future. I had to enter all my stellar data by hand into a database from various reference books. Unfortunately, it seems that the data I was working from was somewhat inaccurate. (Ok, misplacing Tau Puppis by 100+ light years is a little more than somewhat.)

The good news is that the stars I mention by name in Hostile Takeover are mostly located correctly, most of the errors are misplacing stars where I only ever named the planet. It’s simple enough to put the named planet around another star that really exists where I thought the original one did. And errors where I never named the planet or the star are easily dealt with, since those only appear in my notes.

Volera is a problem, though, because it’s a major part of the Hostile Takeover universe. It wouldn’t be so bad if I only mentioned Tau Puppis, but I placed it in rather specific relationship with Kathiwar, orbiting Beta Pictoris. How do I fix it. (Other than ignoring it?)

Here’s my solution, a little bit of retroactive continuity I’m inserting into the current book:

A star-map sprang to life between him and Father Mallory. A large lumpy dumbbell-shaped cluster of stars shone bright yellow, marking the familiar confines of human space.

One end of the dumbbell was deformed, pushing away from the galactic center and away from a dusting of red stars clustered on the other side of human space from Beta Pictoris. The red stars were outposts of the Voleran Empire, governed by the only other space-faring race humanity had encountered in nearly five hundred years of interstellar expansion.

Humanity had discovered the Voleran Empire at a time when political power between the arms of the Confederacy was measured in the number of planets the arms controlled, how old they were, and how populous they were. The structure of the Confed government gave a strong political imputus to colonize new worlds, even when the economics didn’t quite make sense. At that time, the arm of the Confederacy that grew from the original colony on Epsilon Indi was the most aggressive in spreading outward, placing colonies on planets solely as launch-pads to reach further out. The relatively tiny outpost of Kathiwar was built on an airless rock orbiting Beta Pictoris to serve as one of those way stations, scanning the stars around and sending probes, and eventually, colony ships.

Shortly after Kathiwar was established, its observation platforms found a planet orbiting Tau Puppis. The discovery, Tau Puppis IV, seemed an obvious Dolbrian remnant, as no reasonably habitable planet should have evolved around that star. Its history might have ended there, as it was close to five times the maximum distance the Indi ships could reasonably supply a new colony, over 120 light-years away.

But when someone discovered that Tau Puppis was emitting faint EM radiation of demonstrably intelligent origin, the planet was moved to the front of Indi’s priority list. First contact with an alien race was important enough, and in the front of the mind of every Indi decision maker was the fact that the accidental contact between the Centauri arm and the delphinine natives of Paralia had resulted in the development of the first tach drives and Centauri dominance in the new Confederacy. So Indi routed money, people and Paralian-designed tach-ships down a corridor from Beta Pictoris toward Tau Puppis.

The aliens from Tau Puppis met them more than halfway.

There was a lot of diplomatic dancing, as it became very clear that the bird-like aliens were the rulers of an interstellar empire as large or larger than man’s, an Empire that claimed much of the hundred-twenty light years of space between Beta Pictoris and Tau Puppis, a volume as great as the whole of the Confederacy at the time. At some point Tau Puppis IV was named Volera, a name that carried over to the aliens as a whole even when it was clear that Tau Puppis was only a small outpost of the Voleran Empire.

Continuity is a bitch

Everyone gets annoyed when someone flubs the continuity in an ongoing series. Fans will shout, “But that’s not what you all said back in Issue/Episode/Movie #X!” From the outside, it looks simple enough to keep track of established facts of your universe.

Well, I have sympathy for all those poor bastards working in long running universes (Star Trek anyone) because it’s damn hard keeping my own continuity straight in my Hostile Takeover universe, and it’s only three books, and I wrote the whole thing. Just as far as setting goes; the first trilogy had about eighty planets established, 32 that were mentioned directly in the text. I’ve had to put together a little database just to keep track of them. Not to mention all the historical details. . .

It ain’t easy.

Project Update

Wolfbreed is done, at least until someone buys it and asks for some sort of editorial revision. So I’ve returned to my long belated Hostile Takeover sequel. If you note the counters I’ve been keeping, I’ve removed Wolfbreed and added a counter for the sequel trilogy as a whole in addition to the book I’m working on at the moment.

The really observant might notice that the word count for book one actually dropped. No, I’m not backsliding. I just realized that one of the chapters I had already completed would work a lot better as a beginning for book two. That’s why the trilogy counter is higher than the book one counter, even though I usually write things in sequence.

You might also notice that I’m vacillating about the overall title of the sequel trilogy. Current working title is the Apotheosis Trilogy, which is a little less of a mouthful.

Also, teaser for moreau fans: One of the main characters is named Nickolai Rajasthan.