Dec 31, 2016

2016 in Review

In the Ekcolir Reality.
Original cover art by Edmund Emshwiller
and Edmond Swiatek.
My first blog post in 2016 was a recap of 2015. Here, I close out 2016 with a look back at the most popular wikifiction blog posts of 2016, reverse chronologically and month by month...

This month I was fairly busy working on A Search Beyond, what I now imagine as the first book in the Exode Saga. Of those blog posts created during December, the most popular one was Hierion Femtotubes (as of 2/18/2017 it is the most visited post from December with 583 page views). Since I'm running more than a month behind in posting links to my new blog posts on Twitter, I had to update this after about a month and a half into 2017.

Secret of popular tweets: #Asimov
Confessions. I used to tweet about new wikifiction blog posts very soon after they went live. During the days and weeks after I start a blog post, I often have follow-up thoughts about the topic, and I have no inhibitions about editing my old blog posts. During 2016 I began to allow my blog posts to age and cure before pointing to them from the twitterverse. I believe this is a healthy practice, even if I write an end of October ghost story and I don't share it on Twitter until the end of December!

Yes, I know! I really should learn to control myself. Every time I write a blog post about some element of pop culture it becomes one of the more popular posts at the wikifiction blog. In the month of November, it was Violent Delights, a short post about artificial life forms and how they are depicted in Hollywood.

Alternate Arkady
I can put the "Violent Delights" blog post in the same category as Slavery in Science Fiction, a post from 4 years ago that remains as the second most visited page on the wikifiction blog. I think of it as the Second Law of Blogging: your least favorite topics will always make for popular blog posts. Moving right along...

2nd place. The second most visited blog post for November was Alternate Arkady. This was a fun post for me because it combined two of my Sci Fi hobbies: 1) discovering science fiction writers who I wish I had known earlier and 2) imagining how my favorite authors (such as Jack Vance) might have written alternate stories in an alternate Reality.

To Cool the Sun
Alternate Asimov was the most visited blog post of October. I adopted the fun hobby of creating "alternative Asimov" more than 8 years ago (see The Start of Eternity). For many years I thought that I would be satisfied to write my fan fiction sequel to Asimov's Foundation and Earth. Then a strange thing happened.

I slowly realized that when I set out to write The Start of Eternity I had opened a big can of worms. I discovered dozens of unanswered questions about the mysterious aliens who were the opponents of R. Gohrlay in the Time Travel War. In an effort to answer some of those questions, I decided to begin an investigative science fiction story called Exode. The chief investigator was to be an Earthling named Hana, but then Exode exploded in my hands.

Noÿs Lambent and Andrew Harlan
beside the time kettle.
The fundamental source of energy behind that explosion was Asimov's character, Noÿs Lambent. By creating a character (Noÿs) from a million years in our future, Asimov had created a devious trap for a nerdling such as I. Once I began trying to explore the mysterious origins of Noÿs, I discovered that I was wondering around inside a complex labyrinth. So far I have not found my way back out of this maze.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. However, Exode gradually grew from the planned novel about Hana to a trilogy and then, this year, to an even larger five part Exode Saga. There is no doubt: I'm addicted to the "alternative Asimov" sub-genre of investigative science fiction.

In the Ekcolir Reality. Original cover
art by Robert Fuqua and Arnold Kohn
Towards the end of 2016, I had my attention firmly focused on Isaac Asimov. The most popular blog post from September was The Law-Giver, an exploration of the origins of positronic robots, Asimov's Laws of Robotics and the telepathic powers of Asimov's positronic robots.

In the Exode Saga, I imagine that R. Gohrlay deployed robots like Daneel on Earth and throughout the galaxy as her secret agents who guided the course of human civilization in the Foundation Reality.

Asimov became aware of positronic robots when Grean made use of Asimov as her own time-traveling agent on Earth. Asimov helped Grean remove the last positronic robot from Earth, but he went on to help his analogue in the Asimov Reality write the first science fiction stories about positronic robots.

click image to enlarge (source)
The most visited wkifiction blog post for August 2016 was Land of the Setting Sun. I like to imagine that the site of Trysta's intervention into human history 10,000 years ago was the Center of the World. Located on the western shore of ancient the ancient Black Sea, Phasi was also known to the local residents as the land of the setting sun.

The Phasi Intervention
In the Ekcolir Reality, the course of European History was significantly different from what happened in the Final Reality. In the Ekcolir Reality, the Etruscan civilization expanded and dominated Europe. Trysta's Phasi Intervention had to shift the balance of power in the ancient world and assure that the Etruscan civilization crumbled away and tumbled into the dust bin of history.

The Trysta Extraction:
fiction from the Ekcolir Reality.
Original cover art by Edmond Swiatek.
Trysta lived at least two full lives in the Final Reality, one in the 20th century and one at the end of the last glaciation of Europe. According to Gohrlay, Trysta died near Blaubeuren, having traveled from the Land of the Setting Sun, near Phasi to the head waters of the Danube.

We must wonder if Trysta was allowed to die on Earth. Perhaps only her memories were saved and removed from Earth. If so, the remains of Trysta's biobody might be waiting to be discovered somewhere near Blaubeuren.

The Trysta-Grean Pact
The most popular wikifiction blog post for July 2016 is Dimensional Transmutation. During July, I did more fiction writing than blogging, so there were only 4 posts to the blog during that month. One of my major writing efforts during July was crafting a beginning for Trysta and Ekcolir, what I now view as the middle book of the Exode Saga.

In his novel, The End of Eternity, Asimov played around with the question: what if you tried to make a Reality Change, but then you decided that you had made a mistake. Could you then go back through time and prevent yourself from making that Change? In Asimov's case, he imagined that the power to make Reality Changes was in the hands of a rather ponderous bureaucracy which carefully evaluated the implications of each proposed Change. Normally, nobody within Eternity even gave a thought to the possibility of "going back" and rescinding a Change.

click image to enlarge
In my case, the Exode Saga is built around the idea that the Final Reality Change was a compromise, what I call the Trysta-Grean Pact. Since the Huaoshy were going to alter the dimensional structure of the universe so as to make further time travel impossible, there was considerable interest in making sure that the Final Reality Change was correctly implemented.

Special thanks to Miranda Hedman ( for the DeviantArt stock photograph "Black Cat 9 - stock" that I used to create the blue "sedronite" who is in the image to the left.

Under the conditions of distrust that existed during the Time Travel War, and the issue of time paradoxes that can arise from people knowing their own future, it was inevitable that there should be a few tricks and surprises involved with the creation of the Final Reality.

Trysta Iwedon
One of my on-going projects is to write a blog post for each of the major characters, locations and imaginary science elements that are found in the Exode Saga. One such post is the one for Trysta Iwedon, which was the most popular wikifiction blog post for June 2016.

As an important secret agent working for R. Gohrlay, Trysta used many cover names. Her original name was Skaña. While growing up, Trysta became familiar with the idea that it was possible to observe the future. However, the Reality Viewing technology that was available to the positronic robots of Earth was quite limited. During the "Trysta Truce", Grean gave Trysta access to the more sophisticated Reality Viewing technology that had been developed by the Kac'hin.

That advanced Reality Viewing equipment allowed Trysta to view entire Reality Chains, not just a single possible future Reality. Trysta and Grean were able to look ahead through the Rkcolir Reality all the way to the Final Reality. They were able to find a Final Reality that was suitable to both the Huaoshy and R. Gohrlay and that is what allowed the Trysta-Grean Pact to go into effect, ending the Time Travel War.

During 2016 I created a series of blog posts celebrating the first 100 years of the Vance Era. One of these, about Lerand Wible, was the most popular blog post of May.

Other posts in my 2016 Jack Vance celebration series:
March 6 - Mirky Porod
April 9 - Vance +100
May 7 - Scutinary Vitalists
May 15 - Director of Forestlands
August 7 - Secrets of the IPX
August 13 - Pallis Atwrode
August 28 - Origins of Jack Vance
September 4 - Altramar
September 6 - The Junius Revolution
September17 - 100x
October 23 - Gharks and Hoos
November 20 - Alternate Arkady

at Wible's Resort
I like to imagine that in the Ekcolir Reality, the analogue of Jack Vance wrote additional stories that would be of great interest to fans of Jack Vance here in the Final Reality. For example, in one of the books in the Aquarius trilogy, The Clones of Sogdian, Kirth Gersen investigated an organization called Zodiac Control. His partner was "Drusilla I", also known as Karalin Umdys.

Working together, Kirth and Karalin learned about the strange genetic experiments performed on the planet Sogdian by Retz, a colleague of Demon Prince Viole Falushe.

In order to infiltrate the secret organization known as Zodiac Control, Karalin had to be in disguise, so as not to be recognized as one of the Drusilla clones.

The Femtobot Hack
"The Femtobot Hack" brings together two key ideas from the Exode Saga: 1) Interventionists were able to insert a femtobot endosymbiont into the human population of Earth after R. Gohrlay's positronic robots came into existence. 2) The efficiency with which that femtobot endosymbiont could subvert the function of our zeptite endosymbiont was highly dependent on a special population of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors inside the human brain.

The fact that human technological innovation could be boosted by exposure to nicotine was of central importance to the development of an industrial civilization on Earth right up until the Ekcolir Reality. That was the first Reality in which a new type of femtobot endosymbiont was deployed on Earth: what the Retrofuturians call the Phari endosymbiont. A Phari endosymbiont can allow human brains to control their zeptite endosymbiont without the need for nicotine.

Knitting humans: pek 2, Phari 1
The tryp'At are a new subtype of human that can function as a host for the Phari endosymbiont. However, in the Ekcolir Reality, deployment of the tryp'At on Earth led to a rapid pace of technological development, global warming and catastrophic sea level rise. Learning from this "side effect" of Phari endosymbionts, tryp'At interventionism was severely restricted on Earth during the Final Reality.

In the Ekcolir Reality.
Original cover art by Arnold Kohn
and Frank Freas.
The blog post called "First Fiction" provided some backstory for the culture of Observer Base in the First Reality. I like to imagine that science fiction stories written in the Ekcolir Reality were heavily influenced by the replicoid of the analogue of Isaac Asimov from the Foundation Reality.

In the Foundation Reality, Asimov had contact with Grean and access to some stories that could be traced all the way back to the First Reality. That analogue of Asimov was provided with special nanites by Grean. Those nanites allowed Asimov to "take the place of" John W. Campbell after his death.

The Asimov from the Foundation Reality triggered a Reality Change and brought into existence the Asimov Reality. Within the Asimov Reality, that "older Asimov" mentored the "younger Asimov" (the analogue of Asimov who only had existed within the Asimov Reality), allowing the younger Asimov to become a successful science fiction author.

The replicoid of the analogue of Isaac Asimov from the Foundation Reality went on to staff and direct the Writers Block, which controlled the development of the science fiction genre in the Ekcolir Reality. The Atlantis Clones (including Ivory Fersoni) were able to read science fiction stories from the Ekcolir Reality and reconstruct certain aspects of life in the First Reality. Later, Alpha Gohrlay was able to confirm some of what Ivory had inferred about events in the First Reality.

The most popular wikifiction blog post in February was called "Science Fiction in Deep Time". It was around the time that I wrote that blog post when I first realized that the Exode Saga should describe the science fiction story tellers who lived at Observer Base in the First Reality. Eventually, that impulse led to my discovery of the Escapist Clan and what I now imagine will be the fifth and final book in the Exode Saga.

The core concept behind 'science fiction in Deep Time' is that the science fiction genre was "invented" (re-invented) in the Ekcolir Reality as a way to prepare Earthlings for first contact with the alien Fru'wu.

The topic of teleportation was raised in that blog post, and I've become rather obsessed with teleportation during 2016. The poor suffering replicoid of Isaac Asimov must endure the disorientation caused by repeated teleportation events in A Search Beyond, but it sure saves wear and tear on the old space drive.

The Connatic's Library
At the start of 2016, I was writing a fan fiction story called The League of Yrinna. Chapter 2, 'The Katenary Islands' was the most visited wikifiction blog post for January. That story explores the idea that Glinnes and Duissane were at the culmination of a genetic engineering project that allowed creation of the tryp'At, a type of human that could use the Bimanoid Interface. I pretend that Glinnes and Duissane lived in the Space Age of the Asimov Reality.

To some extent, much of the rest of the year (2016) was devoted to figuring out how to fit the story of the far future of the Asimov Reality into the Exode Saga. Thus was born A Search Beyond.

I had fun creating several illustrations for The League of Yrinna. Maybe in 2017 I will include a few of them in A Search Beyond.

Next: historical research in 2017
visit the Gallery of Book and Magazine Covers

No comments:

Post a Comment