This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #186, on the subject of Worlds Change.
With permission of Valdron Inc I have begun publishing my third novel, For Better or Verse, in serialized form on the web (that link will take you to the table of contents). If you missed the first two, you can find the table of contents for the first at Verse Three, Chapter One: The First Multiverser Novel, and that for the second at Old Verses New. There was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed along with the chapters in the tables of contents pages. Now as the third is posted I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights. This “behind the writings” look definitely contains spoilers because it sometimes talks about what I was planning to do later in the book–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued. You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them. Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.
There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, hopefully giving them at different stages as they move through the books.
These were the previous mark Joseph “young” web log posts covering this book:
- #157: Versers Restart (which provided this kind of insight into the first eleven chapters);
- #164: Versers Proceed (which covered chapters 12 through 22);
- #170: Versers Explore (which covered chapters 23 through 33);
- #174: Versers Achieve (chapters 34 through 44);
- #180: Versers Focus (chapters 45 through 55);
- #183: Verser Transitions (chapters 56 through 66).
This picks up from there, with chapters 56 through 66.
History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in those earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.
Quick links to discussions in this page:
Chapter 67, Hastings 115
Chapter 68, Slade 71
Chapter 69, Brown 75
Chapter 70, Hastings 116
Chapter 71, Slade 72
Chapter 72, Brown 76
Chapter 73, Hastings 117
Chapter 74, Slade 73
Chapter 75, Brown 77
Chapter 76, Hastings 118
Chapter 77, Slade 74
I spent a lot of time thinking about this world; and I decided that it would be best if those plans of Tubrok’s allies had come to greater fruition–a loss of faith, and other things which put the vampires in a place where they could step out from the darkness. The elimination of sunshine was on the top of the list; at first I was going to use smog for this, and even considered giving Lauren a magic gas mask or something; but then, enclosed cities were a staple of sci-fi, and would work as well. Destruction of the ozone layer necessitating protection from the solar radiation would become my excuse for this, and the cities would be climate controlled, connected by underground bullet trains, and otherwise completely accessible to the vampires.
I was still trying to figure out whether I could use some sort of survival of the fittest justification to mold the law such that it was not a crime for a vampire to kill a mortal, and thus prevent anyone from acting against the vampires in force.
I also decided that Lauren was going to get a glimpse of things before she was attacked, by a weak but hungry vampire that took her (in T-shirt, cutoffs, and sneakers) as an easy meal. She would have to beat it without any of her weapons (all of which are in the cart), which means psionics, magic, and hand-to-hand combat. This lets it be a tough fight against a weak opponent, and gets her to kit up before continuing.
I also decided that her presence would be quickly recognized, and she would be put to flight; having her running from the enemy would be a good start, and give me time to bring the others to her.
I started the three items with the card; it quotes Philippians 4:19, And my God will provide all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus, but in Greek so that it wouldn’t be immediately evident. I figured it would somehow provide her with money or the equivalent wherever it was used, and I would figure out how as I went, although sticking it in a cash machine seemed the best place to start. I made it gold because that fit its function for some worlds.
The second item I already discussed; John 8:32, The truth will set you free, is the verse.
Even as I wrote the words, “The third object”, I had not decided what it was. But I’d been toying with an idea of a cross on a chain that would protect her directly against magic–otherwise she would be particularly vulnerable to detection, location, scrying, and remote attacks. But she doesn’t wear it yet, because she has to be detectable long enough for her to figure out some of what’s happening here.
Breakfast suddenly occurred to me; of course, it’s late afternoon for them, but they just awoke. I remembered that this was right near the inn, so that seemed the logical place to go. The rest sort of fell into place.
I had actually completely shut down the computer and was about to go to bed when I thought of the last paragraph. I wanted the number of soldiers they saw pass them on the road to be sufficient that it would be clearly dangerous, and toyed with whether thirty cavalry was better than thirty infantry, or whether twenty cavalry was sufficient, and in the end jumped it up to forty cavalry so it would look like a more difficult challenge even to those who did not equate the fact that they were cavalry with making them more dangerous.
I described the world of humans pretty much as I’d imagined it, as a sort of weak late medieval society. Inter-human war was logical in that setting, although I’d not considered it before. It also meant Derek was practicing his scrying.
The digression into history sort of surprised me, but made sense. I was at this point thinking of combining the development of the famed pixie drugged arrows with my original notion of demonstrating that sprites were human, too. Derek would have known that there were peaceful ways to oppose oppression; but history was never among his interests, and he wouldn’t have that kind of knowledge on which to draw now.
The discussion of history led naturally to the story of Tonathel. I’d never considered that I might include this tale in the book, or even what the details of it were; but suddenly Derek needed an example of peaceful resistance, and this would be the first place he would look. Thus I set it up. Oddly, it had taken me a few days of consideration to find the beginning of this chapter, to figure out how I was going to get from the previous one to giving Derek what he needed to know through scrying and asking; and when I got to the story of Tonathel, after writing the rather fragmentary introduction, I again set it aside to consider in more depth what Morani would tell about this story.
I liked the name Ana for my seer; it probably came from Anna the prophetess in Luke, although using Anastasia for Ana actually came from E. R. Jones’ high school sweetheart, whom I never met.
I needed names for these people. I took Padowski from my eldest’s girlfriend, and then needed given names to match. Dimitri and Anastasia aren’t perfect, but they were close enough given that this was an American setting and the future. I probably grabbed Anastasia from the book of that name (although more from the Disney movie version); Dimitri probably came from my Greek illustrator Dimitrios, although I’d heard it used as a Russian name at some point.
I made Ana a seer primarily so that her grandson would stop Lauren based on instructions. I expect to do more with it, but as yet I don’t know what.
The unfolding of the story needed to avoid Tubrok’s name; and I was stuck for a title for him. The communist idea of a party chairman who actually pulled the strings behind all the elected officials worked well in a global situation.
Masculinizing “Lauren” into “Lorne” was an interesting twist, given the typical expectation some have of angels being men.
My wife once bought me a card that read, “You’re the answer to my prayers” on the front. The interior said, “You’re not what I prayed for, exactly, but apparently you’re the answer.” I remember that frequently when I think of answers to prayers.
I spent a lot of time considering how Slade would get past forty cavalry, and then didn’t write that part yet. But I did create the idea of getting to the inn while the soldiers were sleeping, and then stealing their horses.
I also decided that at least part of the cavalry would be in position to hold the pass against them. I had not yet decided how he would get past them.
The musings on time are something I get in my time travel e-mail about once a year–someone tells me that time isn’t real, but is something man invented. I have to explain the difference between the thing itself and the way we measure it.
I don’t know how Shella knew that twenty minutes had elapsed; it just seemed like exactly the sort of thing she would know.
I was pretty much winging it on the school stuff. It had started with an idea for social interaction, but then it was becoming the equivalent of Hebrew School (which friends of mine had to attend). It was also obvious that Derek didn’t have to work at just about anything in this life, except learning this language, so I wanted to make it seem like effort.
My thinking about the sprites who dropped out was that their parents would take them out if it was clear that they did not have the interest or discipline to continue (which is often tied to ability, I think); but that from Derek’s perspective he wouldn’t know this.
The flying tricks I wrote years ago, as part of the journals of a character in a role playing game who happened to be a winged elf. He had been an aerialist in his youth, until an accident had killed his fiancé. I decided that those ideas were at least worth bringing in as color, and might lead to something more. I’ve wanted to find a way to bring Derek into human contact, and making him part of an exhibition team might get me there.
I also thought to bring in the girl. It will probably be a young love interest, but not more; what will happen when Derek verses out I couldn’t say, although perhaps if they are good friends by then she’ll tag along as an associate.
I’m also more and more moving in my mind toward the development of some sort of pixie sleep drug for spritish arrows. If Derek can develop a non-lethal weapon that sprites could use effectively against humans, that would turn the tide. He would probably still try diplomacy first; but it’s not going to work–humans won’t agree to equality with sprites, unless sprites demonstrate military advantage.
I had pondered how Lauren was going to discover that the city was enclosed, and how she was going to get outside. The more I considered Dimitri and Anastasia, the more certain I was that it would never occur to them to mention that the city was enclosed–how could it be any different? Then the telepathic link to Bethany came to mind, and I decided to use that.
I had determined previously that the cross would block efforts to locate Lauren by magic or psionics. At first I’d some idea of vampires finding her, so that she would realize the need. But Ana provided a simpler way to set that up. This didn’t mean she couldn’t be found–only that it would be difficult to do so by magic.
There was in this a confusion I had overlooked. Lauren is so like me in so many ways that I forget when she is different. She doesn’t carry a copy of the Greek New Testament or any grammar or vocabulary books; she relies on her English version. It isn’t that she never studied Greek; it’s that she did so so long ago that she doesn’t remember enough to really crack this. Bethany was not terribly well versed in Greek, either; but we’ll cover that.
Thinking about Slade’s problem gave me part of the answer to Derek’s. Slade could have used chloroform to knock out the guards; he had nothing like that. Derek did have something like that–in another world, he got the porcuperson darts, with a strong sedative agent in them. They’re around somewhere, and if he can find them he can analyze the chemistry and attempt to reproduce the drug as sprite sleep drug.
I didn’t have a solution to Slade’s problem when I started. I didn’t want to use something so obvious as a sleep spell or hypnosis or something; I saw the problems inherent in killing the guards; yet I wasn’t certain how to proceed. I gave some thought to trying to gag them abruptly, but this seemed unwieldy. As I was writing this, I got the better idea.
I had decided that up to half the cavalry would be waiting at the pass; I was already working on strategies for that. I figured Slade would attempt to disable as many horses as he could, and then rush the line and go for the border. Once over the line, he would face combat with a handful of the cavalry, but before the fight could begin soldiers from the neighboring kingdom would arrest them all and escort them to the king. The king had been told by his priests that he needed to send soldiers there immediately.
In this regard, I regretted having arranged for Slade to give the book to the peasant. It occurred to me that everything would fall into place if the princess were the daughter of the king of the next country, and Slade could produce the book. I almost went back and changed it (I had already read that part to my youngest two sons, who were keeping me on pace with this book). Then I realized that the soldiers could very well have captured the peasant, in which case the captain of the cavalry would have the book, and not know its importance. Thus if I found a way for Slade to recognize this, the book would arrive to the person best able to do something about it quite without Slade knowing who that was.
I was not certain what to do at this point; I didn’t want to leap over to Derek at sixteen, but I didn’t want to bog down in details either.
I had started writing of Derek’s twelfth birthday (only that he noted it) when I remembered that I’d been thinking about a sibling for him. It had been a long stretch since Derek was born; I hadn’t really intended that. So I decided this was normal for sprites. I hesitated for a long moment over whether it should be a brother or sister; I decided it should be a brother because suddenly Paul Atriedes’ sister came to mind, and although I did not at this moment intend for the sibling to have any real part in the deliverance I didn’t want to risk paralleling that book.
At this moment, my reading to Evan and Adam caught up with me; I had read chapter 74 before I wrote 75, and had to write 75 for the next night’s reading. I shuffled the stuff about the twelfth birthday to my notes, and gave consideration to the telepathy bit. I wasn’t certain how it would turn out, but was happy with what I got.
The talk about the words of prophets was spur of the moment.
I had several times swithered about whether to bring Lauren out in Salem County (New Jersey), as I at least was familiar with the territory and could guess it would still be part rural in three hundred years. In the end, I decided it was the best choice. I pushed the Speedline through because people are always talking about extending it, replaced a U.S. highway with a mass transit bus, and chose a spot that had reason to stay at least partly rural: the rodeo.
I was also thinking about whether to take Dimitri along for the fight ahead, but had a lot of reasons not to do so at this point.
Of course, I had the broad outline of this in my mind for several days before I wrote it. Slade would shoot at the legs of the horses (I debated this a long time, as it is so unlike chivalry and yet such a good tactic), and then break through the line. Acquivar’s people would pursue in smaller force. Soldiers of the king, alerted indirectly by Majdi, would arrest all. What I didn’t have was the detail, which I filled in as I wrote.
The notion that the blaster shots would be unaffected by wind was something that seemed obvious to me, but it’s not clear that Bob would actually know that. On the other hand, he probably thinks (incorrectly) that wind would not affect bullets, so he is extrapolating from that. The blaster discharges a ball of gravitic/kinetic energy, which wind would not shift.
This has been the seventh behind the writings look at For Better or Verse. Assuming that there is interest, I will continue preparing and posting them every eleven chapters, that is, every three weeks.
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