Book 2 Developments

Book 2 of the Emulation Trilogy is progressing well. There have been two interesting developments in recent days. The first is that I have ditched the working title of Faraday’s Mine. The new title is Fuller’s Mine.

The second is that I have finally completed the Prologue. In the same manner as the Prologue in Newton’s Ark, the Prologue in Fuller’s Mine is set after the events that take place in the book, but alludes to them indirectly. With Newton’s Ark I wrote the Prologue first, knowing where I wanted to end up, and then crafting the story to get there. This time, I had no idea where the book would end, largely because I was unsure where the break between books 2 and 3 should occur. With 250 pages completed, about 4 am one morning this week it occurred to me. Here is the draft.


January 2105

Approaching his fortieth birthday, Kevin Hargraves reflected proudly on the position he had achieved. Although his success was partly a function of the limited number of suitable candidates, the competition for every important position was still intense and ruthless, reflecting the stakes. If you wanted a wife, and every man did, you needed to be somebody. And he was; for the past two years he held the post of the Chief Engineer of the United States, responsible for the maintenance of, well everything.

Mostly it wasn’t quite as big a job as it sounded. There was plenty of pandering to politicians required, but from an engineering perspective it wasn’t particularly demanding. He couldn’t do much with really old infrastructure—stuff from the beginning of the previous century and before—but most of that had long ago fallen into disrepair and disuse. Nobody expected him to fix those relics. They just expected him to keep the current facilities running which was usually quite easy given that the modern systems and infrastructure were self-repairing—except when occasionally the maintenance bots encountered a problem outside the scope of their initial design. What he was missing then was software engineering skills. He was an excellent mechanical engineer—he inherited that from his father, and his drive and determination from his mother—and had no trouble designing physical modifications to the bots, but software was his personal nightmare. He had studied hard, he really had, but never developed the level of programming competence he needed. For him, software remained a foreign language in which he had failed to develop any fluency. He was stuck at the equivalent of schoolboy French, fine with familiar phrases, but unable to express original thoughts without enormous effort.

Kevin had succeeded despite his deficiencies because help appeared whenever he needed it. Kevin had no idea who the man was—Cyrus Jones was the name he used—where he came from, or why he helped him. He said it was because he had known Kevin’s parents. If only they could see him now. They would have been so proud. With them both gone, he had no way to know if the man’s claim was true—the things he knew about Kevin’s parents were all on the public record and the things that weren’t he could neither prove nor disprove—but Kevin trusted him completely for one simple reason; when it came to software the guy really, really knew his stuff; he was yet to encounter a software problem this Cyrus Jones couldn’t solve. Kevin Hargraves would be just another nobody, single and alone, without him. For that reason, he was very careful never to tell anyone about his holographic friend, not even the wife he had struggled so hard to win…

Sex Ratios

One of the themes I am exploring in the sequel to Newton’s Ark is the impact that our environment has on society.

When the survivors in Faraday’s Mine find their environment radically changed from the comfortable existence they knew before, they are confronted with making some social and political and economic changes that make sense in their new context but which nevertheless seem at best repugnant and at worst downright immoral.

The relationships between the sexes are fundamental to the organisation of society as demonstrated by the growing social problems China is experiencing due to increasingly distorted sex ratios. Imagine then that a group of a few hundred survivors find themselves in a position where a) they believe they are all that is left of humanity and b) there are two men for every woman. What would they do to encourage procreation? How might the roles of men and women change? To what extent would changes be imposed by the group rather than chosen freely by individuals?

Front Range Retail Outlet

From Monday November 5, the paperback edition of Newton’s Ark will be available from the Brainfood Bookstore in Longmont just north of Denver (332 Main Street #C2). If you are in the area check it out and if not, take a minute to like their Facebook page.

They were quite excited to carry my book since a large part of it is set in Colorado and are really looking forward to Faraday’s Mine since much of it is set quite close to Longmont.

Serialized Novels

Releasing novels in serial form seems to be making a bit of a comeback. Amazon for one is pushing the concept hard including re-releasing various works by Charles Dickens like Oliver Twist in their original serial form.

I picked that example because it highlights the issue I can’t get my head around. Why would you want to receive a novel that has been completed for over one hundred and fifty years piecemeal?

But what about a work in progress? Wouldn’t it be nice to receive each chapter as it is completed? Sure, but that assumes the writing process is linear. That has definitely not been my experience so far. I’ve written one hundred and sixty pages of Faraday’s Mine, but they are not even close to consecutive. It would be more like pages 1 – 50, 75-100, 130 – 140, 200 – 275. And there is lots of going back and reworking the story as I go along.

Which leads me to my question. I know many people who have read Newton’s Ark are waiting impatiently to see what happens next. Is there any interest in seeing Faraday’s Mine released as each chapter is completed, even knowing that they may change (radically) before it is done?

Researching Book Locations

With the wonders of Wikipedia and Google Maps and especially Google Earth it has been possible to do a great deal of research on locations for my stories without even leaving the comfort of my own home. Even so, there’s no substitute for actually visiting a place to get the feel for it. Fortunately almost all of the locations in Newton’s Ark were places I had visited. The exception was the location in north-east Colorado. I’ve been to the general area, so I know what the rolling plains out there look and feel like, but I’ve never been inside that missile silo or any other.

A big part of Faraday’s Mine, the second book in the Emulation Trilogy, will be set in and around Colorado Springs, specifically inside the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.

Despite the fact that Colorado Springs is only four and a half hours from Steamboat, I had never been there. So this weekend I remedied that. Unfortunately there’s no way to get inside (at least if you want to live to tell the tale), but I did get quite close – housing estates now come within two hundred yards of the entrance (good thing the Cold War is over because this would have been the first place the Soviets would nuke) – and I did get a great sense of  the surrounding area, which will also be important to the story.

Writing Tools

One of the challenges I faced in writing Newton’s Ark was tracking several parallel story lines until such time as they all came together towards the end of the book. At the time the only tool I had at my disposal was Microsoft Word and its Outline view. It got the job done but it was a struggle, like driving a screw with pliers. You can do it, but why would you when there’s this thing called a screwdriver?

Soon after I began on the sequel, Faraday’s Mine, I realized I was going to have the same problem, only more so. Not only did I need to keep the story line straight, but it had to be consistent with what had already happened in the first book. And I wanted to raise the intrigue a level, making the web even more tangled.

Fortunately I discovered a wonderful program called Scrivener which allows me to organize the book into chapters and scenes using the metaphor of index cards on a cork board. Now I can easily create the structure of the story and then change it on the fly. I can attach notes to each scene to remind myself what I plan to write as well as attaching keywords for characters and locations to each of the scenes so I can see who is doing what to whom and where.

Here’s a look at one of the chapters. If you look real close you might just be able to figure out what is going to happen (warning spoilers – assuming I don’t change it or I’m not just playing with you).

It has turned out to be one of those tools I didn’t know I needed until I found it. Now I couldn’t imagine writing another novel without it.

This post brought to you by author, D.A.Hill.