Aug 12, 2013

Exode Evolution

Exode pulped
This blog post is the first of three related posts that allow me to catch my breath and reflect on how the stories Exode and The Foundations of Eternity have been maturing.

This post allows me to reflect on the mysterious origins of my current fiction writing obsession, the science fiction story Exode. Exode tells the story of the Prelands, the newest primate species that was designed to replace we humans on Earth.

I recap some of the key design features of the story including all the alien species (such as the Fru'wu) and the various special subtypes of humans that appear in the story (including the Ek'col).

At the end of this blog post I mention some of the remaining parts of the story that I'm still actively piecing together. Along the way I'll include some of the art work for Exode and related stories that I mention.

Origins of Exode
2011 was a frustrating fiction writing year for me because I had very little time for writing. With 2012 approaching I played around with a story idea (The Olmec Intervention) that supposed Earth had experience a catastrophic disaster in the year 2012 of a previous Reality, but then time travel had been used to create a new Reality which corrected the fundamental cause of the disaster, saving we Earthlings. Hooray!

Actually, The Olmec Intervention is rather dark and it deals with human sacrifice. I tried to imagine how Interventionists might be allowed to act more aggressive on worlds like Earth if the Overseers could at any time "reset the game" and correct any problems...problems like the destruction of the human species. That writing project reminded me of the wisdom of Asimov's approach to time travel in his novel The End of Eternity, but I also gained some experience in thinking about how information might be "leaked" from one Reality to another. As I'll describe in the next two blog posts, Exode depends on some rather tricky movement of people from one Reality to another.

By the time 2012 arrived I was ready for a new fiction writing project. As a sufferer of Fanfiction Disease, I always feel temptation to extend and elaborate on the science fiction stories of others, so I spent the first part of 2012 on a few fanfiction writing escapades such as Departure from Nor'Dyren. I started thinking about the design of lifeforms for the purpose of facilitating interstellar travel at sub-light speeds. Eventually these ideas led to the Buld as a major element of Exode.

By thinking about how I might write a sequel to Sydney Van Scyoc's novel, Assignment Nor'Dyren, I was stimulated to look back at the first story ever written in the Exodemic Fictional Universe, the science fiction novel Exodemic. Exodemic is an alternate history story in which the fictional history of Earth starts to diverge from actual history back in the year 1759.

Starting with one woman who was saved from death by an alien-designed virus, the story follows her descendants a few generations to Franny who becomes one of the first female medical doctors in England. However, when the Overseers finally realize that she should not exist, Franny is taken off of Earth and she has a chance to travel between the stars and explore Genesaunt Civilization.

While blogging about the alternative history of Exodemic, I started to have some new thoughts about the backstory and motivations of the Interventionists who cause so much trouble in stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. When I originally wrote Exodemic back in the early 2000s, I had no intention of allowing time travel to be a part of the Exodemic Fictional Universe. However, after my experience of writing The Start of Eternity, a fanfiction sequel to Asimov's time travel novel, I had become much more comfortable with the idea that there can be a role for time travel and other advanced technologies in shaping the modus operandi of Interventionists in the Exodemic Fictional Universe.

While blogging about Exodemic and related stories back in early 2012 I was reminded of Carl Sagan and how much I wish he had been able to produce a sequel to his movie Contact.

During March 2012, I finally allowed myself to indulge in the fun of sketching out my ideas for a fanfiction television series that would be a sequel to Carl Sagan's movie, Contact. Of course, I placed the Contact television series in the Exodemic Fictional Universe.

I had previously included teleportation technology in The Search for Kalid, but while thinking about the Contact television series I began to think about alternative ways to incorporate teleportation technology into stories that are set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. I've now taken a similar approach in Exode.

Also, while planning the Contact television series, I developed some new ideas for how nanites might interact with human brains. I finally started thinking systematically about the roles for distinctly different "generations" of nanites: 1) nanites made of conventional matter, 2) nanites composed of hierions, and 3) nanites composed of sedronic matter. These ideas carried over into Exode where various types of nanites such as "Noÿs nanites" (advanced nanites of the Asterothropes) play important roles in the story.

left to right: Ellie, Palmer and Dr. Wye.
By April of 2012 I was fairly clear in my thinking about the importance of advanced nanites for Dr. Wye, a key Interventionist in the Contact television series.

I created the Encyclopedia of Future Science as a place where I could write down the backstory for the advanced technologies that appear in the Exodemic Fictional Universe.

Start Exode
During May 2012 I started the story Exode. I wanted this new story to incorporate some of the advanced technological tools that I had provided to Interventionist agents in the Contact television series (such as teleportation). I initially envisioned a rather flamboyant Interventionist agent on Earth who used the name Henry (Hank) Montpellier. As originally envisioned, in Chapter One of Exode, Hank would teleport an Earth woman, Hana Davyon, off of Earth, starting her on an exploration of the distant worlds of the Interventionists. My main goal was to provide a more detailed account of the motives and methods of Interventionists than I had previously written into any story set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. My plan was for the reader to discover the motives of Interventionists by following Hana on her adventures.

Hank's House
Hank involves himself with Hana because the Interventionists on Earth have long been using women such as Hana as biological experiments. The Interventionists have been rather desperately trying to alter the human population of Earth so as to assure that Earthlings will be prepared to withstand the stress of their immanent First Contact with an arriving Buld spaceship.

Right from the start, there was some mystery surrounding Hana's husband. I explored the possibility of killing him off, but he was too valuable to meet such a fate.

In previous stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe I developed my thinking about how aliens, over the course of millions of years, guided the evolution of primates to produce the human species. Exode follows this guided evolution process to the next logical step.

Exode introduces the Prelands, an advanced primate variant that has been designed to replace us, the current inhabitants of Earth. I was concerned about making the Prelands too different from us...too particular, they seldom use spoken language. It is important that readers feel some anxiety about the idea that the Prelands were designed to inherit the Earth and that we, the current "owners of Earth", would be tossed on the trash heap of evolution.

Hank's birth name is Parthney. Parthney was born on the distant planet Hemmal. While I had originally planned to let Hana introduce readers to the worlds that give rise to Interventionist agents, I quickly switched gears and decided to let readers first experience Hemmal through the eyes of Parthney while he is just a kid, before he became an Interventionist agent. So, rather than begin Exode with Hank and Hana on Earth, the story starts on Hemmal, a world of the galactic core.

After realizing that I should begin Exode with the story of Parthney's origins, my thinking about the story quickly expanded to include other characters from Hemmal. Soon I knew that there should be a central role for a human woman from Hemmal, Kach, in "presenting the case" for allowing we primitive Earthlings to NOT be replaced by Prelands. I imagined Kach relentlessly searching for the aliens who were planning to let the Prelands inherit the Earth. How might she make an argument on our behalf? How would you? Sadly, Kach will never be satisfied with the results of her quest to contact the aliens who have created we humans. The Creators have very little interest in us...or any biological species.

Alien Fru'wu
By September 2012 I was busily constructing some of the backstory for Parthney and his fellow Interventionists. I Imagined two alien species who would support and work with the human Interventionists: 1) the Fru'wu and 2) the Nereids. The Fru'wu evolved on a planet in our galaxy, but the Nereids are from the Andromeda galaxy.

Parthney and Kach briefly meet before Parthney goes off to Earth. They are brought together again after he completes his mission on Earth and Parthney, to his surprise, learns that he has a son, Boswei. With help from the Fru'wu, Parthney, Kach, Boswei and Hana go to the Andromeda galaxy in an attempt to make contact with the mysterious Nereids. Kach mistakenly suspects that the Nereids are the Creators.

Not being particularly interested in Kach's fruitless search for the Creators, Boswei and Hana take up residence on the planet Luk'ru, at first unaware of the special role that that world has played as the origin of the Kac'hin. Years later, near the end of Exode, their first child, Izhiun, eventually travels to Earth.

Part of the fun in creating Exode is pretending that it is NOT fiction. Through all of The Foundations of Eternity and Exode the people of Earth remain unaware of the fact that our species was designed and created by aliens. However, by the end of Exode we humans have finally earned the right to learn the secret history of Earth.

In October 2012 I decided to pretend that I am Hana's husband. This allows me to play the role of someone trying to reconstruct the Exode story from information provided to me by Izhiun and Thomas. Around that time, the story was becoming clearly defined and constrained by the differences between Prelands, the Buld and the "false" Buld and the other human variants who appear in Exode. Some of the unique biology of these different human variants (such as the Buld "Change") are described in this blog post. Yandrey, a friend and mentor of Parthney on Hemmal, has avoided going through the change for 15,000 years! Several other characters in Exode are also ancient humans, kept alive through the centuries by "medical nanites".

In November 2012 I tried to decide on the role of religious faith as a motivating drive behind Kach's relentless search for the Creators of Humanity. This decision led to my eventual invention of the special biological background of Kach as a "false Kac'hin" (see below).

Parthney and Pla'va
In December 2012 I still had no clear idea of the motivations of the Nereids and the Interventionists in general. This blog post summarizes my thinking at the end of 2012 and explicitly asks some of the lingering questions I had about the story and how it would unfold. I was still in search of a satisfactory way to make sure that "Interventionists are not just a simple band of renegades".

Exode 2013
At the start of 2013 I was finally ready to send Parthney on his journey into outer space. I soon discovered that in addition to the Prelands and the Buld Clan, I needed another human group, the Pla. The first Pla who Parthney meets is Pla'va, the spaceship pilot who shuttles him away from Hemmal.

The Pla can make use of "partial change" and so retain some degree of resistance to pek nanites. The Pla constitute the core of the human Interventionists who are aided by the Fru'wu. Parthney is startled to discover that Pla'va has made an effort to abandon the hermaphroditic Buld phenotype and adopt the female gender and attain a conventional human female phenotype. Parthney is tempted to accept Pla'va's offer and stay with her, but something drives him onward towards the distant and mysterious planet -Earth.

Gwyned in her lab
I had originally imagined that the secret Interventionist training base was located under the surface of Oib. However, Oib is just the convenient "cover" used by the Pla. Pla'va takes Parthney to Oib in her spaceship, but then he is secretly teleported to Lendhalen, which is actually located on Clu'ten'iun.

Early in 2013 I finally settled my thinking about exactly when the events of Exode take place and I entered into the complex process of establishing the identities and backstories of the Exode characters who would train Parthney for his mission to Earth. In particular, Gwyned is an Earthling who resides at Lendhalen. Gwyned was originally imagined to be "the Hana of the previous generation", but her backstory quickly expanded in an unexpected direction (see Gwyned's Parents).

Also, I knew that there must be a special robotic character at Lendhalen, and that character's importance grew rapidly along with Gwyned's, although it took six month for me to realize that the robot's name was Syon.

By the end of January 2013 I had in hand a basic sketch of events that unfold during Parthney's time at Lendhalen, but I was still struggling to come to grips with the backstory and motivations for the Interventionists. And: why were the pek seemingly complicit with the scheming Interventionists by allowing Parthney to go off to Lendhalen?

I started sketching in details for the Interventionists at Lendhalen such as Leymaygn, Vozgrow, Pla'mak and Pla'kao. I decided that Parthney would not go directly from Lendhalen to Earth, but rather, would stop off at the Klyz teleportation hub. I began filling in some of the backstory for the thousands-of-years-long secret history of contact between the Buld and Earth.

Exode the Sequel
In February 2013 I made the discovery that Gwyned is the daughter of Noÿs Lambent. This led to the realization that Exode is a sequel to The Foundations of Eternity.

This discovery surprised me and caused a major shift in my thinking about Exode which was mostly complete by April. I added in some backstory for Noÿs, more clearly defining her biological nature as a human from the far future, although that process continues. I realized that Parthney, like Gwyned, is genetically related to Noÿs through the Ek'col. Further, Parthney is a clone of Thomas.

Similarly, Kach received a more interesting and complex backstory that explains her innate connection to the Creators. She is a "false Kac'hin". I was happy with this plot twist, because I had long been bothered by the idea that Captain Hooski is a Huaoshy. It makes much more sense to say that Hooski is Kac'hin, although thon might sometimes pretend to be Huaoshy.

Remaining Mysteries
As described above, much of the plot structure for Exode and many key characters have fallen into place and revealed themselves. I'm still feeling rather baffled by the way that Exode has grown and morphed during the past year!

I'm currently trying to clarify my thinking about how Gwyned should go about encouraging Parthney to look for her brother Thomas on Earth and how that leads to a meeting between Parthney and Janet Asimov. She gives Parthney a copy of a science fiction story that was written by Thomas under the pen name "Saul Greek".

"Moon Base" by Jon Hrubesch
Parthney quickly realizes that there are elements of truth in the fiction of Thomas...hints about the immanent arrival of a Buld spaceship. The Overseers of Earth have long searched for Thomas, so his interest in Thomas eventually leads Parthney into a trap and he is captured by Overseers and taken to the Moon. In the end, I want it to be clear to readers that Gwyned's presence at Lindhalen was designed to lead Parthney into the Overseer trap.

Another lingering issue is Hana's son, who she leaves behind on Earth...should he play any role in the later part of Exode? I'm tempted to transform "him" into a girl who will grow up and meet Izhiun when he reaches Earth (see Hilde).

One of the great ironies of Exode is that Kach is driven to seek out and contact the Nereids because she is a false Kac'hin. However, because she is Kac'hin, the Nereids don't want to have anything to do with her. This leads to great frustration for Kach. Eventually Kach goes to Earth and then returns (with the help of Izhiun). At that point, will the Nereids finally relent and satisfy Kach's curiosity?

I like the idea that after the Buld reach Earth, the Nereids will be willing to "lighten up" and trust Kach. I would not mind finding a way to get Kach and Parthney back together. Maybe the end of Exode should be a scene showing Kach and Parthney heading off on a new mission among the stars, again renewing Kach's search for the Creators.

There are several outstanding issues related to the long history of Interventionist activity on Earth. For the part of Exode that describes the time when Parthney is in training at Lendhalen I want to sprinkle in a few examples of Earthlings who came to Lendhalen as well as some tales about famous agents who were sent off to Earth.

Noÿs viewing Realities
In general, for the Interventionists at Lendhalen, the only source of information about what various Interventionist agents have done on Earth comes from the stories told by the Earthlings who those agents teleported off of Earth. Gwyned tells Parthney some stories about Deomede, the Interventionist agent who is her father. Parthney does not know that Deomede is "almost his father". Parthney is a clone of Thomas and Thomas' father was Ekcolir, the analog of Deomede in the previous Reality.

Back at the end of March I put together a timeline for Exode. Since then, I've thought about how Exode can mesh with The Foundations of Eternity. In my next blog post I'll sketch out an updated summary of the various Reality Changes that lead to the Buld Reality, our Reality, the Reality of Exode. Then, in the final post of this series, I'll provide a more accurate timeline for events in the Buld Reality that reflects to plot changes and character additions that have come into focus since March. In some cases, I've changed the way I use certain names, such as affixing "Trysta" and "Merion" to Noÿs and Andrew as soon as they arrive in the 20th century.

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