While awaiting feedback on Two Earths Are Better Than None (expected in the next couple of days!), I've been putting some flesh on the bare bones of the novel yet to be. As I'm about to switch back to Two Earths, I thought it would be worth recording where I've reached,
Even before starting, I've gone through several working titles. It began its life as The Fractal Assassin until I realised the character wasn't an assassin. Then went through Fractal Space (dull) and Fractal War (too militaristic) before settling on Fractal Peace (far out, man). It'll do for now.
The Fractal Space is what ties together the worlds of the novel. It's a higher-dimensional realm created by an unknown, ancient race, which can be traversed rapidly to travel between systems. Who knows what lurks within the folded dimensions around its walls?
The Olvin and the Ungeleth are the first races to rediscover Fractal Space, embarking on a century-long war for dominance. They enlist the aid of the Falki and Enella in the effort.
Halfway through the war, the human race finds its way into Fractal Space, rebuffing efforts from both sides and vowing to remain neutral. Their attempts to broker peace are unsuccessful, but peace eventually breaks out after a regime change on Ungel.
The peace is fragile; the need for retribution after decades of atrocities is strong. Earth leads a massive reconciliation programme to counter the drift back to conflict. As part of this effort, thousands of small-scale meetings between key participants from all sides are held to foster personal relationships, understand each others' perspectives, and share tales.
Naturally, most of this official story is, at best, a gross simplification.
Everson Polk is the mediator at one of these reconciliation sessions, isolated with representatives from all races. It goes as well as should have been expected. After the first murder, detective Valerity Novak – already somewhat of a celebrity – joins the group to uncover the culprit. As everyone tells their war stories, the truth reveals a more significant threat to peace than feared. The answer lies back in Fractal Space.
As you'll find out most of that within the first couple of chapters, there aren't any real spoilers there. It starts off with the feel of a murder-mystery story – but isn't. It also has a bit of the structure of Dan Simmon's wonderful Hyperion, with characters telling their own stories to reveal the wider narrative. I'd never aspire to the lofty heights of that novel, so that's done on a smaller scale here, filling only part one of two.
The two parts are tentatively called Reconciliation and Alienation. As there were a lot of backstories to reveal, I've broken down part one already into six character tales (effectively standalone short stories) within the seven chapters of the reconciliation session. Here's the draft structure:
The chapters will be written in the third person from Everson Polk's perspective, with each character tale in the first person. At least, that's the plan for now. I will write all the character tales first, then glue them together with the intervening chapters.
Part two is a little hand-wavy right now. I know where it starts and ends, but there are so many viable routes in between I'm leaving it up to the characters to tell me which way to go.
That's it for now. I need to get my mind back into Two Earths next, ready for the feedback. Then it'll be on with the third draft.
Oh, that's definitely not the cover of Fractal Peace above, but it fills the space. I've started thinking about it though...