Dec 25, 2013

Year In Review: 2013

Ekcolir and Trysta
It has been about a year since I started trying to imagine Parthney's training for his mission to Earth as an Interventionist agent. In order to understand what Parthney might accomplish while on Earth I needed to construct the backstory for Exode. That turned out to be a trickier task than I originally imagined!

"you have to build a new society if you want to write a good SF story" -Isaac Asimov

When I first imagined Exode, Parthney was a minor character: he only had to teleport Hana off of Earth. I'd imagined most of the story being told from the perspective of Hana while she traveled between the stars and explored Genesaunt society. During the past year Parthney became a more central character and Exode has expanded from a stand alone novel to the third book in a trilogy that starts with Trysta and Ekcolir and The Foundations of Eternity.

blog topics
Two of the many twists and turns in the growth of the Exode Trilogy were my decisions to write both Isaac Asimov and myself into the story. In an earlier blog post, I summarized the roles that Asimov plays in the Exode Trilogy. At this moment I'm fairly satisfied with how the Exode backstory has come together this year and I now is a good time to summarize what I have accomplished in 2013.

During the past year my planning and writing about Exode's plot and characters has dominated this blog. Parthney has been transformed into one of a series of clones of Thomas,  the unlikely love child of Trysta and Ekcolir.

The Exode Trilogy
The Exode Trilogy now exists in draft form on the pages of a half dozen websites.
1) The Foundations of Eternity
2) Trysta and Ekcolir
3) Exode
4) The Encyclopedia of Future Science
5) The Exodemic blog
6) This blog

Most of my planning for Exode and meta-analysis of the Exode Trilogy exists here at this website. The three novels each have their own website. The Foundations of Eternity is about 90% complete. Trysta and Ekcolir and Exode are only about 10% complete, but during the past year I have successfully planned out and envisioned the rather complex setting and characters for the Exode Trilogy.

Twisting the Interventionists
Doubts about technology
As a boy, one of my favorite science fiction experiences was the thrill of an imagined journey from Earth into outer space. The Exode story allows me to reverse that experience and try to create an exciting adventure for Parthney that involves his journey to Earth. An early goal was to keep hidden from readers all the fussy details about exactly when Exode takes place and exactly what Parthney's "handlers" have planned for him while he is on Earth. I still want to send readers home to Earth with a powerful sense of wonder and curiosity that will allow our world to be seen in a new way.

At the end of 2012 I was still wed to the idea that Parthney and Kach should be biologically identical to Earth humans. However, I was seriously exploring the possibility that the Huaoshy might have a convenient way to take control of Kach's brain and behavior, essentially using her as a puppet when they need to do so. But as 2013 unfolded, I came to realize that the biology of Kach and Parthney need not be as mundane as I had originally envisioned.

Nereid agent
At the end of last year I was also struggling with the idea that I need to have a nuanced approach to designing the attitudes and subculture of the Interventionists in Exode. Given problems on Earth such as global warming, the Interventionists who train and support Parthney have to wonder if they have put the human species at risk by relentlessly pushing Earthlings towards a more technologically advanced culture.

And in perverse symmetry, I realized that Overseer plans to abandon their policing of Earth might become a source of concern for the Interventionists. During 2013 I complicated matters for the Interventionists and made room for dissension and distrust among the Interventionist factions. For example, the Interventionist masterminds who train Parthney and send him off to Earth are nearly paralyzed by doubt about the trustworthiness of their Nereid allies. They endlessly debate among themselves if the lurking Nereid Interventionists are in need of a countervailing force that can prevent the Nereids from causing a dangerously rapid pace of technological advance on Earth.

Humans don't fit in.
I've learned how to distance myself from my own earlier over-simplified conceptualization of Genesaunt factions. Originally, I imagined Hana learning about a rather static and ages-old struggle between Interventionists and Overseers.

My new conceptualization of the Interventionists-Overseer dynamic is that it exists in Exode as a  homeostatic control system, hastily designed and put into place within the Buld Reality in order to deal with a tricky problem: Earth and its pesky humans.

During 2013 I realized that the Exode Trilogy must confront the task of showing just how flexible Genesaunt Civilization can be. R. Gohrlay has pushed the pek to the limits of their abilities and forced the Huaoshy to emerge from the bastion of their sedronic domain of existence so that they can reach a negotiated settlement over the fate of Earth and Humanity.
Positions of Koly, Clu'ten'iun, Hemmal, oib and three Pla
 spacecraft at the time of Parthney's journey to Lendhalen.

Quarter 1 of 2013
At the start of April I wrote a summary of how Exode grew and took form during the first three months of the year.

Place. Back in January I sketched out some details of the Koly star system where Parthney, Kach and their son Boswei are born. The vast majority of people in the Koly system live on the planet Hemmal. When Parthney leaves his home world of Hemmal he is tricked into believing that the Interventionist training base known as Lendhalen is on the nearby planet Oib. However, Lendhalen is actually on the planet Clu'ten'iun.

Fru'wu sighted on Klyz
From the human perspective, Clu'ten'iun is a hellish world, but it is a friendly environment for the Fru'wu. The Fru'wu long ago provided the Pla with access to teleportation technology. Parthney is teleported from Oib to Clu'ten'iun without him even being aware that he has left Oib. In addition to short-range teleportation within the Koly system, Clu'ten'iun also has a long-range teleportation link to Klyz, a planet that is a major Fru'wu teleportation hub. Of particular relevance to humans, Klyz is the "jumping off point" for teleportation to Earth, so Parthney goes to Earth by way of Klyz.

Artist's conception of
a Nereid
Compared to primitive Earthlings, the Fru'wu are technologically advanced and have used their nanotechnology to craft themselves into biological-nanorobot hybrids, but they don't have technology for faster-than-light spaceships, so they must teleport between fixed locations in star systems. However, they are totally dependent on the Nereids for their teleporter equipment. The Pla suspect that the Nereids are afraid to be known as helping Interventionist agents reach Earth, so they use the Fru'wu as their "middle men" for providing technology and transportation to humans.

The Nereids have transformed themselves from their original biological form into an artificial life form within the sedronic domain. The Huaoshy were the first to control sedronic matter and pioneer an existence within the compact dimensions of our universe. The closest that humans have come to interacting with Nereids is through contact with nanorobotic proxies ("Grendels")that the Nereids deploy in the universe of conventional matter.

Prelands, Asterothropes, Buld, Pla, Kac'hin, Ek'col, Pek
In addition to the many aliens and artificial life forms that are found in the Exode Trilogy, there are several human variants and two other primate species: the Prelands and the Asterothropes.

At the end of March, I was only part way towards populating Exode with its full variety of artificial life forms and primate variants. "Robin" sprang from my imagination as a rather simple precursor robot to the character who was to later become the more interesting "Syon".

The pek play an important role in Exode as the artificial life form that carries out the great plan of the Huaoshy to convert "wild" biological life forms (such as primates of Earth) into domesticated Genesaunt citizens of the vast intergalactic Huaoshy empire.

Pla'kao and Pla'mak
The most numerous non-human primates of Exode are the Prelands: the hermaphroditic successors of the human species, designed and crafted by the pek.

The Buld and the Pla became the first human variants that I included in Exode. The Buld are a type of hermaphroditic human that was specifically designed by the pek for long-duration space voyages. The Pla are a kind of bastardized Buld, created with the help of the Fru'wu as revolutionary Interventionists who can live without the aid of pek-derived nanites.

Leymaygn and Vozgrow
I decided that Pla'mak and Pla'kao would be two co-directors of Lendhalen; they are locked in a bitter disagreement over the future of Interventionism on Earth. Pla'mak relentlessly pushes ahead towards the traditional Interventionist goal of speeding human technological progress on Earth while Pla'kao is certain that Earthlings have been pushed too quickly into technological advancements that now threaten the continued existence of the human species.

I originally envisioned Leymaygn and Vozgrow as the two Buld who would work most closely with Parthney at Lendhalen to prepare him for his mission to Earth.

The Change
The presence of pek nanites in their bodies allows the Buld to have two types of reproduction. If there is a need to increase Buld population then a Buld can give birth to a new individual. Given the efficiency of pek medical nanites, a Buld individual can live for thousands of years. However, with nanite assistance, it is also possible for an Buld embryo to replace the cells of its parent (to the Buld, this makes it appear that an adult goes through "the change"). Thus, in a population of Buld such as exists on Hemmal, there are very few children.

Some characters in Exode make use of "partial change" as away to survive for an extended period of centuries without the help of pek medical nanites. Leymaygn and Pla'va are very old, but with the help of Fru'wu nanites they can survive without dependence on pek nanites. The Interventionists all fear the pek and so they take extreme measures to avoid becoming dependent on the pek and their advanced nanites.

Syon and Vozgrow
Vozgrow is an interesting case. Vozgrow has avoided both partial change and pek nanites by fully utilizing Fru'wu medical nanites. Unfortunately, those Fru'wu nanites are not optimized for humans and over the centuries Vozgrow has been slowly given the features of some strange human-Fru'wu hybrid.

Parthney has trouble understanding the relationship between Syon and Vozgrow. Syon always listens respectfully to Vozgrow, then seems to do whatever "she" wants to do. Parthney never quite becomes comfortable trying to think of a robot as a "she".

Belinda Tement and Parthney
One of the fundamental differences between Parthney's Reality and the previous Reality is the new practice of the pek to make clones of Thomas who can be sent to Earth as Interventionist agents. Parthney is the last of such clones and the pek effectively collaborate with Syon to make sure that Parthney will be present on Earth's Moon with Thomas at a point in time late in the 20th century. While on Earth, Parthney is captured by Belinda Tement, an Overseer.

In the Realties immediately leading up to the Buld Reality, there was no Observer Base on the Moon and no Overseers policing Earth against aggressive Interventionism. With Earth under the control of R. Gohrlay, a technologically advanced civilization developed on Earth, completely undermining the pek plans to replace humans and populate Earth with hermaphroditic Prelands before daring to allow a technological civilization to develop on Earth.

Due to the Inertia of Time, even when Gohrlay is prevented from taking control of Observer Base, Earthlings in the 20th century are almost identical to those of the previous several Realities. Just as Isaac Asimov wrote about the similar analogues of a famous writer in different Realities (on The End of Eternity), Asimov himself appears as a writer in several Realities that are included in the Exode Trilogy.

Asimovs in our Reality
When Asimov first walks onto the pages of The Foundations of Eternity, he is a frustrated speculative fiction writer who is trying to function as an investigative science writer (within the "Foundation Reality").

Asimov then travels through time and he brings into existence the "Asimov Reality" within which he helps his younger self become a successful science fiction author, but his career is cut short by a nuclear war that occurs in the 20th century.

After another Reality Change, which prevents Earth's nuclear catastrophe, the Ekcolir Reality comes into existence. In the Ekcolir Reality, Asimov's writing career is some what different than what we are familiar with: influenced and goaded by Thomas, Asimov writes more fiction and less non-fiction.

Finally, in the Buld Reality, the world as we know it, Asimov's career proceeded as we know.

Reality Chain
Understanding the chain of related Realities that lead to the world as we know it has been a mind-twisting effort during the past year.

The plot of Exode is entirely contained within the Buld Reality. Working together, Ekcolir, "Trysta", their son Thomas and Grean the Kac'hin conspire to bring into existence the universe as we know it. In our Reality, our "time line", time travel is no longer possible.

The second book in the Exode Trilogy, Trysta and Ekcolir, tells the story of events within the "Ekcolir Reality". I originally thought of the "Ekcolir Reality as the "Noÿs Reality", but I decided not to mention the name "Noÿs" in the Exode Trilogy. Noÿs uses the cover name "Trysta Iwedon" when she takes up residence in Wales during the mid-20th century.

The Malansohn Reality was created in the imagination of Isaac Asimov for his time travel novel The End of Eternity. I assume that the "Foundation Reality" was brought into existence by Noÿs Lambant and Andrew Harlan when they went back through time to the 20th century. Taking that as my starting point, The Foundations of Eternity explains how Grean takes Asimov through time and how the "Asimov Reality" comes into existence.

Bimanoid Interface
In the Buld Reality, the people of Earth are hosts for zeptites, incredibly tiny devices that escape our notice. Those sedronic symbionts function as a kind of "lubricant", what I refer to as a "bimanoid interface".

The Kac'hin can adjust the lubricating activity of the zeptites so as to assure that humanity will be ready for the anticipated arrival of a Buld spaceship on Earth in the early 21st century.

People, like Kach, who take seriously the idea that humans were created, are susceptible to paranoia about the possibility that humans are little more than puppets for the Creators. Kach is particularly prone to such doubts because she is a Kac'hin, a human variant that was designed to make it possible for the Huaoshy to interact physically with humans.

Kach entered into my thinking about Exode in a rather innocent way. Originally I thought that both Parthney and Kach should be biologically identical to Earth humans. Kach plays a role in pushing Parthney off of Hemmal and, believing that she and Parthney are the only "false Buld" on Hemmal, she takes the opportunity to grab some of his gametes and give herself the opportunity to have children.

Noÿs gives birth to a new world.
Back in May I realized that Kach has an unusual biological backstory. Just how unusual did not become clear until August, when I decided that Noÿs Lambant was not human. Noÿs is an Asterothrope, a species that was artificially crafted from human genes so as to serve as a convenient tool for settling exoplanets. Asterothropes have brains that are well adapted for symbiosis with the most advanced sedronic zeptites that were developed by R. Gohrlay. When Noÿs was crafted for her role as a time traveler, her body was shaped into the form of a conventional 20th century Earth woman.

While viewing Realities, Noÿs selected the Foundation Reality because Gohrlay allowed her the opportunity to observe events in her own future: what Noÿs interpreted as a future happy life with Andrew Harlan and the chance to have children in 20th century Earth. Noÿs believed that she carried the means to produce those children within her own body in the form of carefully packaged Asterothrope male gametes.

Asimov's Struggle
However, as told in Trysta and Ekcolir, Noÿs (while using the cover name "Trysta") is surprised when she is impregnated by William Ward. Noÿs knows that as an Asterothrope she is a different species and no Earthman should be able to father her child. However, William is no ordinary Earthling. William is an Interventionist agent, born on Hemmal and sent to Earth on a special mission. William, whose true name is Ekcolir, is an Ek'col, a special human variant that was designed to make possible Asterothrope-human hybrids, in particular Thomas.

Only from within the Ekcolir Reality does Noÿs begin to understand that her children, the children she first saw while viewing alternative Realities, are not Asterothropes. Grean, while working with Noÿs to find a suitable future for Earth, realizes a deeper truth. Thomas, or rather, his clone Parthney, must have a grandson (Izhiun) who will welcome the Buld spaceship when it finally arrives on Earth. Grean, a Kac'hin, realizes that the Kac'hin are another human variant that was crafted to be interfertile with Ek'col-Asterothrope hybrids. Thus, Kach (as a Kac'hin) is able to have Parthney's son, Boswei.

Lili in Washington
Grean and Lili
I first introduced Grean as a time traveler in The Foundations of Eternity. In September I knew that Grean must be a Kach'in who works closely with Trysta (Noÿs) in Trysta and Ekcolir, but I have been having trouble deciding exactly what role Grean plays in the end game of Exode. Also, I've been seeking ways to provide the "editor" with objective evidence that Earth has long been visited by space aliens.

Such evidence could be derived from Andy, Gwyned's little brother, but this might require some assistance from Grean. I'm now imagining that Grean has a sister named Lili. While viewing the Buld Reality, Grean is able to see both Izhiun and Hana's daughter Hilde when they meet the first Buld spaceship to arrive on Earth. Grean is able to determine that Hilde is the granddaughter of Lili. Lili has several children with Andy in the 1960's including a boy* who is never named in Exode, but who is the father of Hilde.

At the end of Exode, the "editor" goes in search of the other children of Lili and Andy, whose unusual chromosomes are the only remaining objective evidence on Earth that can support the crazy story told in the Exode Trilogy.
The "editor" begins a search for the cousins of Hilde. (2014: newer version of this family tree) 

In September I also decided on some of the details of Lycaun, who is genetically identical to Kach. Lycaun gives up her life so that Kach can escape from Earth and continue her search for the Creators.

The reader must wonder: as a clone of Kach, did Lycaun have free will or was she designed and "automated" to efficiently carry out her suicide mission to Earth?

Does Kach feel any remorse or responsibility for the death of Lycaun? Not really. However, magnified through the lens of her experience on Earth, Kach feels more strongly than ever that there must be a reason for her burning desire to meet the Creators. Why would she be driven to continue her search unless the Creators wanted her to follow such a path through life?

The Editor
I realized in October that "the editor" of the Exode Trilogy has two good reasons to seek out the descendants of Andy. Yes, it might be possible to show that there are people on Earth with unusual genomes, genomes that cannot be accounted for by the "conventional" history of life on Earth as we Earthlings understand it. In addition, people like Hilde are genetically predisposed to function efficiently as hosts for artificial lifeforms, symbionts, such as those that take up residence inside the brain of the editor of the Exode Trilogy. "The editor" could use some help sorting out the data carried by those symbionts. Izhiun and Hilde have no interest in staying on Earth and they hitch a ride on the Buld spaceship after its brief visit to Earth.

Hilde believes that her grandfather is dead, but she mysteriously informs "the editor" that she has always felt a kind of telepathic "connection" to other, unseen people on Earth. Are these "contacts" the other children and grandchildren of Andy?

Global Warming
In November I realized that the technological problem confronting Earth in Exode (global warming) might have a trivial solution...from the perspective of an advanced civilization. Originally I imagined that the problem of global warming would provide a reason for close and continuing cooperation between we Earthlings and the Buld. I had imagined the Buld using Mercury as a vast solar energy collector and transmitting that energy to Earth, allowing we Earthlings to abandon our use of fossil fuels. However, what if the Buld can easily prevent climate change on Earth without having to cooperate with Earthlings in any way? Should they just "solve Earth's problem" or must we Earthlings grow up and take care of ourselves?

With the three components of the Exode Trilogy still in need of authorial attention, I need to decide where to start writing in 2014. I'm tempted to start with some needed re-writing at the beginning of The Foundations of Eternity. Originally I had imagined having a Huaoshy commander of Many Sails, but in 2013 I realized that the Kac'hin are perfect for that kind of role in Genesaunt society.

Also, I've changed my perspective on R. Gohrlay. Rather than having to imagine that Huaoshy technological superiority accounts for the ease with which Grean defeats the positronic robots of Earth, I now imagine that it is R. Gohrlay's plan to appear weak and, by so doing, rush the Kac'hin into close contact with robots like Fengtol.

In the end, it is Gohrlay's sacrifice of her own brain that opens the door to an opportunity for we humans to reach the stars.
Thomas' novel Obsidia of Tar'Tron

*Note: This character was later (2014) given the name Peter.
Time warp: more cover art from the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment