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Apr 7, 2013

Q1 2013 Recap

During the first three months of this year much of the backstory of Exode has come together. As can be seen in the "word cloud" to the right, people and places in Exode have taken over this blog.

Cast and Locations
I'm currently in the middle of writing Chapter Three of Exode which describes the years during which Parthney lives at Lendhalen, a secret base for the training of Interventionist agents. Lendhalen is hidden away in the Koly star system, in the Galactic Core.

Gwyned is the only other false Buld at Lendhalen while Parthney is in residence. There are a few members of the Buld Clan who live at Lendhalen such as Leymaygn. All Buld are human, but only the "false" Buld are genetically identical to the humans who live on Earth. Most Buld, including Leymaygn, are hermaphrodites, a human variant that was engineered by the alien Huaoshy to be the crew on board spaceships that travel between settled worlds of the Galactic Core.

While traveling from his home planet, Hemmal, to Lendhalen, Parthney met his first Pla. The Pla are a subgroup of the Buld Clan. The Pla don't have the usual swarm of pek nanites in their bodies, but they have different nanites that were provided by the Fru'wu. Nanites are one of the technological gizmos that play important roles in Exode.

There are two Pla who run Lendhalen, Pla'mak and Pla'kao. They believe that all residents at Lendhalen have no nanites in their bodies. A powerful magnetic field is used to inactivate pek nanites, allowing the residents of Lendhalen to remove pek nanites from their bodies. The Pla need their Fru'wu nanites, so Pla'mak and Pla'kao never enter in Lendhalen and they communicate electronically from outside with residents like Leymaygn.

The most numerous residents of Lendhalen are robots. Unbeknownst to Pla'mak and Pla'kao, these robots contain a third kind of nanite; nanites that originated in the far future of Earth. Those nanites were brought back in time by Trysta Iwedon, who is Gwyned's mother. Although not mentioned in Exode, Trysta is better known to science fiction fans as Noÿs, the famous time traveler from Asimov's novel The End of Eternity. Robin is the major robotic character in Chapter Three.

Robin, Gwyned and Leymaygn play important roles in preparing Parthney for his future life on Earth. Pla'mak and Pla'kao mostly operate in the background along with another Buld, Vozgrow.

Other important groups of humanoids in Exode are the Prelands and the Nereids. The Prelands live on worlds like Hemmal. They were crafted by the Huaoshy to be successors to humans on Earth. Just as we humans replaced earlier humanoids such as Australopithecus, the Huaoshy planned to replace we Earthlings with Prelands. The Nereids are an alien hunanoid species that originated on a planet in the Andromeda galaxy. They play an important role in Exode because they don't like the Huaoshy plan to replace humans with hermaphroditic Prelands.

Although Gwyned and Parthney don't realize it, genetically they share Noÿs as their mother. Parthney's paternal complement of chromosomes came from Ekcolir. Gwyned's paternal complement of chromosomes came from Deomede. Ekcolir and Deomede were both born on Hemmal, trained at Lendhalen and sent to Earth as Interventionist agents. However, they are two different people, analogs from two different Realities. Ekcolir lived in the Noÿs Reality where he and Noÿs had a son, Thomas. In the Buld Reality, Deomede and Noÿs have a daughter, Gwyned.

Ekolir had a major role in causing the Buld Reality to come into existence. Gwyned carries an important message from Noÿs to Parthney. Parthney is puzzled by the antagonism that develops between himself and Gwyned: he never guesses that that Gwyned is his half sister.

Quarter One, 2013
Noÿs visits the Klyz teleportation hub as passes the nanites that she has carried from the far future into a robot of Fru'wu design. Those nanites carry a huge amount of information, including the genetic pattern of Thomas. Eventually, the genetic pattern of Thomas is passed on to the pek. The "Noÿs nanites" eventually are present within Robin when Parthney and Robin are together at Lendhalen.

It is the pek who create Parthney using the genetic pattern of Thomas. Eventually, Parthney is working on Earth as an Interventionist agent when he is captured by Overseers. After being taken to the Observer Base on the Moon, Parthney in "infected" by the nanites that have long resided in Thomas. This allows Parthney to escape from Observer Base and return to Klyz. Thomas "takes the place" of Parthney and the Overseers never notice the switch since Parthney is a clone of Thomas.

Along with Hemmal, two other planets in the Koly star system have some residents. Oib is similar to Mars and is actively being terraformed by the Buld. Clu'ten'iun is the actual location of Lendhalen, but Parthney is tricked into thinking that Lendhalen is located on Oib.

Vance
As described above, Asimov provided the means (Noÿs) to give we Earthlings an advantage over the god-like Huaoshy. Only slowly did I come to realize that the main character of Exode (Parthney) is genetically the son of Noÿs. Similarly, Vance has influenced Exode.

During the past year I've looked to Vance's fiction for inspiration in how to deal with another of the fundamental foundational issues of Exode. Along with Parthney, the second character that I wrote into Exode last summer was Hana. Hana is an Earthling, but Parthney teleports her off of Earth. Hana and Parthney's son, Boswei, meet, fall in love and have a son: Izhiun. Izhiun eventually goes to Earth and discovers that Hana was mistaken; her husband is not dead. Rather, he is alive and well on Earth and becomes the conduit by which we Earthlings can learn the hidden story of our origins as a species: that Humanity has been crafted by the Huaoshy.

I initially felt guilty about trying to introduce the murder of Hana's husband into Exode. Now I've gone a step further and now must point to Vance as my inspiration for writing myself into Exode. In a strange twist of fate, I was selected to be the one to put Parthney's story on the internet; I became Hana's husband!

Quarter One of 2013
Sorting out the backstory of Exode took me about 40,000 words spread over 26 blog posts from January through March. In my first blog post of 2013 I sketched out some details of the planet Oib, the world that I originally imagined as the place where Parthney would be trained for his mission to Earth. However, locating Lendhalen on Oib would have been too simple!

The Huaoshy make use of many tricks to control the rate of growth of populations within Genesaunt Civilization. In the case of the Buld, it is easy for the pek to switch the reproductive mode between two options: 1) the Buld can give birth to immature embryos that are then further gestated by the pek, and 2) the Buld can "reproduce" in a way that causes the new embryo to replace its parent. Rather than leave the parent's body, the embryo can aggressively replace the cells of the parent's body. The Buld on Hemmal refer to this as "going through the change".

At the start of 2013 I transitioned from writing Chapter Two of Exode to Chapter Three. Prison of Space described the Pla and the importance of "partial change", the means by which the Pla can sustain their independence from the pek. In Under Oib, I continued to develop my thinking about Oib. At that point I still imagined that Lendhalen would be located under the surface of Oib.

In When is Exode?, I finally decided exactly when the events of Exode take place. That allowed me start placing key elements of Fru'wu and Nereid interactions with Humanity into the timeline of Exode, including the trip of Parthney to the Andromeda galaxy.

Belinda, Gwyned and Parthney
As part of constructing the unusual culture that exists at Lendhalen, I decided that there should be robot residents at the Interventionist training base. I had already decided that Gwyned and Parthney would not develop a sexual relationship, so I started imagining how Parthney might exercise his young male libido with a robotic playmate.

At the end of 2012 I crafted a front cover for Exode based on events in Chapter One. Three weeks into 2013 I went ahead and made a back cover using images from Chapter Two. While thinking about how to cram several years of Parthney's life into Chapter Three, I wrote Time Warp. In that blog post I had some fun picturing Parthney as a James Bond-like character, but I was still thinking about Oib as the location of Lendhalen.

I next sketched out some of the backstory for Pla'mak and Pla'kao, the two co-directors of Lendhalen. That blog post also included my initial ideas about how Parthney would reach Observer Base on the Moon after being captured by an Overseer using the cover identity "Belinda Tement".

In my next blog post I described the Klyz Teleportation Hub. Given the importance of the Fru'wu Interventionists, I realized that I needed to include another Interventionist base in Exode. I also decided to write Jane Grey into the history of Lendhalen as a way of knitting Buld history together with Earth history.

At the end of January I finally realized that it made more sense to simply pretend that Lendhalen is "under Oib" while locating it on another planet. It is possible for Parthney to travel from Oib to Cla'ten'iun and not notice the shift of 100,000,000 million miles because of the availability of teleportation technology.

In February I finally realized that I could make Exode a sequel to The Start of Eternity. When I had begun writing Exode my thinking was that I would never write another novel that involved time travel. As it turns out, the time travel is all completed before the events of Exode, but time travel does play an important part in the backstory of Exode. Initially I was imagining Thomas as the son of Noÿs and Andrew, but I later developed roles for Ekcolir and Deomede as the fathers of Thomas and Gwyned.

In the middle of February I started seriously taking on the task of weaving Noÿs into the story of Exode. Initially I had imagined Noÿs as a convenient way to provide advanced technologies to human Interventionists, but then I kept finding amusing ways to link Noÿs to the other Exode characters. Going into the end of February I was still struggling with how to ensure that Parthney would find his way from Lendhalen to Earth. I had to confront the fact that Gwyned wants to return to Earth. I imagined that the Observers would easily notice her if she tried to sneak back to Earth. I realized that Robin could play a decisive role in first making Parthney comfortable at Lendhalen then ultimately convincing him to abandon Lendhalen and move on to Earth.

Near the beginning of March I started exploring how the Interventionists would be forced to change their ways after 20,000 years. Pla'kao is the main "counter-revolutionary" who sees the need to alter the efforts of Interventionists from 1) pushing for technological change on Earth to 2) making sure that the Earthlings do not unleash a technological catastrophe. Pla'mak and Gwyned keep pushing the Buld revolution onward, imagining that any problems confronted by we Earthlings will have a technological solution.

In the middle of March I started to sort out details of how to convert the Noÿs Reality into the Buld Reality. I realized that Noÿs needed to travel back in time once more, but it was not immediately clear what she would have to accomplish in our past. By March 22 I had come to recognize the basic topological structure of the Buld Reality: that there are three possible future outcomes for we Earthlings. I needed to find the way for Noÿs to make possible a "happy ending" for we Earthlings, otherwise our fate would be a quiet replacement of our primitive species by the more advanced Prelands. I was also deep into imagining how Asimov himself could be written into Exode.

In my last two blog posts of March I decided on the extent to which the Nereids would control the end game of Exode and I was finally far enough along in my thinking that I could put down in print a coherent timeline for Exode. Whew!

Related Reading:
Guide to Exode development during 2012
Topic Guide for Exode

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