As I've mentioned before, my next novel after The Muffler's Mission won't be the final instalment in the initial Mufflers arc but a standalone novel, Scouring Juventas. I thought it was about time I put a little flesh on those bones.
I'm at the point where I've detailed the aspects of the history of Juventas, their current society, the world within which they live, and have strong notions of the lead characters and a raft of lighter-sketched supporting characters and their relationships.
I've reached the point where I'm ready to start. However, as I'm expecting feedback on the current The Muffler's Mission draft in the next week or so, I'm going to concentrate on finishing and publishing that first. I've also got my son's latest novel to cast an eye over and return the favour for the feedback he'll be giving me.
Before I start on that, I thought I'd record my current thoughts on Scouring Juventas, both to give a tease of what's to come and to record the starting line I'm about to cross. It will be interesting to see how closely it matches this when I reach the finishing line.
Juventas is a human colony established a century earlier with the arrival of the generation starship Juno II. After a difficult start caused by a missing scout ship, they successfully settled in the Afua region of the single large continent on the planet.
Paulo Antic leaves his job as a software developer to join the first exploratory expedition to head upriver and scout the nearby region of Sakomo, and then beyond, to judge the possibilities for expanding the colony. The geology of Juventas has long confounded experts, so the more they understand their world, the better.
Paulo's former boss, Jess Kimber, decides to take a leaf out of his book and resign her role leading the development team responsible for the communications hub central to the colony's democracy. After turning down a nomination to the Senate, her marriage acrimoniously crumbled, and now she needs a break to decide what should come next. To make things worse, her ex-husband, Toby Price, was standing for election to the ruling Assembly.
Then disaster strikes the colony, throwing the elections into turmoil. Unbeknown to the colonists, Bekomdef – a presence from Juventas's past – is watching with interest.
You'll find all that out in the first couple of chapters, so that's just the setup for what happens next...
If you've read The Tamboli Sequence, you'll immediately spot that this is set later in the same world, especially if you've read the short story A Subdivision of Humanity in my collection Mutterings of Consequence. I definitely don't see this as part of that arc – the name of Tamboli will never be mentioned, for example – although you'll notice a few resonances. It will be written as a standalone novel, with no knowledge of what came before being required.
That's it for now. I haven't forgotten about the world of the Mufflers and will complete the initial arc of stories with The Muffler's Misery once this novel is complete. I'm making notes on that already but decided it would be a better story if I took a break from it and let the final ideas mature a little. Interestingly, there's one aspect of Scouring Juventas that's inspired a couple of ideas for it, and I'll be exploring that in a sequel short story, Scouring Earth.