This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #448, on the subject of Inventive Versers.
With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,
- Verse Three, Chapter One: The First Multiverser Novel,
- Old Verses New,
- For Better or Verse,
- Spy Verses,
- Garden of Versers,
- Versers Versus Versers, and
- Re Verse All,
in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book). Along with each book 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 with the chapters in the tables of contents pages. Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion, I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights. This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed. 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.
It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways. Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts. Previous posts for this novel include:
- #432: Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21;
- #437: Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42;
- #440: Changing Worlds, chapters 43 through 63.
- #443: Versers Acclimate, chapters 64 through 84.
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, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.
History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.
Quick links to discussions in this page:
Chapter 85, Slade 196
Chapter 86, Kondor 202
Chapter 87, Brown 222
Chapter 88, Kondor 203
Chapter 89, Slade 197
Chapter 90, Kondor 204
Chapter 91, Brown 223
Chapter 92, Kondor 205
Chapter 93, Slade 198
Chapter 94, Brown 224
Chapter 95, Kondor 206
Chapter 96, Brown 225
Chapter 97, Kondor 207
Chapter 98, Slade 199
Chapter 99, Brown 226
Chapter 100, Kondor 208
Chapter 101, Slade 200
Chapter 102, Brown 227
Chapter 103, Kondor 209
Chapter 104, Slade 201
Chapter 105, Brown 228
At this point I created a list of inventions in my notes that Slade had launched plus those he had mentioned, so I could better identify what he could invent next. I decided that his plumbing people, who were still working on the thermostat for the heating system, could create an atomizer as a step toward the internal combustion engine which had use in itself, if they didn’t already have such a thing. I also broached the concept of flying machines, which were not yet on my list.
I had it in mind that the first fruit brought would be figs, and that grapes were not going to be so readily available as hoped. I didn’t want to default to oranges, and when I thought of lemons and limes grapefruit was the next to come to mind.
I had been stuck on this chapter, and the longer I was stuck the more difficult it appeared. One of the big difficulties, though, was that I abruptly saw no way for Derek to test the translation program. I even considered having him try to use it to communicate to some of the indigs, and have it translate something so badly they were horribly offended and attacked and killed him. There is a story of an early Multiverser test game in which the character saw a village filled with small blue people, and as he approached they all came out smiling and happy, and then he said, “Hi”, and they suddenly become infuriated and attacked and killed him. He ever after wondered what “Hi” meant in their language. But as I was musing on it, I came up with a potential solution–but it requires that Derek recognize the problem, so that became my goal for this chapter.
My solutions on the translation program came slowly, as I guess they would have for Derek. I realized that the computer spoke all three languages, but wasn’t programmed to translate between them, and that got me pointed in the right direction.
A few days before this chapter posted I saw something on television in which a translator made the distinction between two kinds of translators (there were names for them, but I don’t recall these), the more common one those who studied several languages as in school and so when they hear or read something they internally translate it to their native tongue and then translate from their native tongue to the other language. By this understanding, my sister, who was a United Nations translator for a time, would hear something in Chinese, grasp what it would be in English, and then translate that into French. The other type would be someone who grew up in a multi-lingual home and so thought in multiple languages and so goes directly from one language to another. In this case, my sister, who has been known to think and even dream in French, would hear something in Chinese and understand it in French. I don’t know how she does it, but it seems that Derek’s computer program is of the first type (translates from the language of the input to the language it knows, and from that to the language it outputs), which validates his solution, sort of.
I was concerned that I didn’t want to put too much time into Kondor’s dehydration, but I didn’t want it to seem as if he resolved it too quickly, either. The notion that they would serve soup seemed to solve my fluids problem. I was also considering coffee and tea, but I wasn’t certain whether ancient Persians would have coffee or tea or both or neither, so I ducked the issue.
I spent a lot of time staring at this chapter in my brain. I felt like everything was moving too quickly for credibility and too slowly for reader interest. I did have three effectively different stages for progress, the building of the house, the combat training, and the engineering; and in engineering I always had at least three different projects progressing. Yet there was a connection between one of the engineering projects and building the house–the central heat–so I found the progress on the latter stymied by the problems of the former.
I started this chapter with the intention of touching on all three stages, but I needed to get the house completed and to do that I needed to solve the heating problem. I actually have no idea how those early systems worked, but I vaguely recall my great uncle adjusting the valve on the base of a radiator in their dawn of the (twentieth) century home, and I don’t know whether I’m remembering at all well, but it suggested a way to control the heat without having to control the boiler. From there I decided I could push the construction forward, and that filled the chapter.
The Kondor story has been flowing nicely. Unlike the other two stories, I’m more concerned about fitting everything into it before I have to move him out.
I briefly debated the name of the handmaid, but Zilpah was both the next name on the list and the name of the handmaid of the Leah in the Bible for whom I named this one, so it seemed the right choice.
I reminded myself that Joe and Leah are still newlyweds, and she is very attractive.
I was struggling with how to have Derek accomplish something in this world and make it to the next one at a reasonable point in the story, and suddenly I had a couple ideas all at once. I’m launching the first one here; the second one is that the colony ship has to find a suitable planet before the people are ready to colonize it, but I can get to that shortly.
I fit this together as I went, trying to give the impression of everyone pressing in to see Leah and incidentally interested in Joe. I decided that English was less used here than at the Capital, and so most of the noise was in Farsi and Arabic. I also decided that gossip was going to be more in focus here.
I needed to move the story forward, so I decided to finish the house and get the Slades into it. I didn’t want to jump too much, though, so they still need furnishings.
I was going to push forward with the next events, but I realized that I wanted to include a collision avoidance incident which was probably too much too fast. Instead I pushed forward most of my translation problem solution, and decided it was time to introduce Vashti to psionic skills.
I’m building an extension to the Arabian Nights world which will enable me to create a war of sorts. I’m working from the political history of the ancient middle east, and in essence changing the names to something related to them.
I had set this up as a Slade chapter, but then I decided that the best way to handle Slade was to leap forward a few months, and to give that feeling by skipping him here and doubling up on Derek and Kondor, so that’s what I did.
I had to check to confirm that Derek did not know how to tap speech centers, but figured he’d heard it mentioned so he would know it could be done. Given his high psionic bias, it should be something he could learn easily.
I started this with setting up the training room, then looking for something else realized that Kondor had to meet Zilpah. At first it was just a paragraph about the maid, but then I realized that it should be played out, so I started dialogue which went in unanticipated directions, and moved the information about the girl below the meeting, and then decided that my opening about setting up the training room was out of place, and moved it to the end.
I needed to get Slade’s story moving forward, and I was thinking that it was going to head into winter, but that reminded me that the parakeet world had double-length years, so it would be a long summer. It also struck me that given what I had accomplished he must have arrived in the early to mid spring, and summer was going to give me the opportunity to fast forward a bit.
I was beginning the end of this story. I needed Derek to steer the main ship, and find a suitable planet for colonization, fly one of the shuttles to investigate it, and then land The Wanderer on the planet’s surface to begin the colonization process. Detecting a comet on potential collision course with the ship was the start.
I wanted to begin the end of Kondor’s story here as well, but I wanted to prefigure it so it wouldn’t seem as if I rushed into something just to remove him. I had been considering it for a while, and had dropped a few hints, I think, but I needed to move that direction.
The fact that the university engineering department was now turning out inventions that were changing the world was going to attract applicants who wanted to study there, so I recognized that there would be an influx of students, and that meant more birds to work on projects. I still had motion pictures, lightbulbs, and internal combustion engines to build, so I got started on them. I also have something of the same concern that Slade has: what does he invent next? Hopefully, though, that won’t become a problem.
This was a significant step. Derek is now actually flying the ship, Vashti having genuinely calculated the movement of spatial objects. I have also introduced the target planet, and will be able to move this story to its finale soon.
This was the step forward that would move Kondor into a battle. I was creeping forward with this, because I was not certain how to do it, but I managed to get the backstory in place. I also needed to bring Leah and Zeke along, because if I manage to verse out Kondor on the battlefield I’ll need them to be relatively near.
I’ve been struggling with the notion that Leah’s maid might have to come with her when she verses out. I’m thinking not, but it’s almost as if I need an excuse for her not to come.
The setup for the battle is based on the historic middle eastern situation, in which Syria, Assyria, and Egypt were three superpowers kept from swallowing up the small nations in their midst by their avoidance of confronting each other. It was typical for one of the big nations to start moving on one of the smaller ones, and the smaller nation to call on one of the other big ones for aid. This then resulted in the other nation sending out troops mostly to frighten the first, and the establishment of a “suzerainty treaty” under which the little nation would pay ongoing tribute to its rescuer. One of the little nations in the mix then was Edom, the descendants of Esau, and so I decided to base my nation-in-trouble on it, but call it Esai, and its people Esites instead of Edomites. I called the Egyptians the Copts, an ancient name for one of the peoples of that region preserved in the modern Coptic Orthodox Church.
I had two purposes here. One was that I needed new devices for Slade to invent. The other was that even though the avians are going to be completely outmatched by the aliens, I wanted to advance the avian weaponry significantly, giving them Gatling guns and six-guns and other automatic weaponry. However, I had to think through the sequence in which this could be created.
I was working ahead in my mind through the several steps that were going to get the people to the planet and then beyond that remove Derek and Vashti from the universe. If I had a problem now, it was that I was not sure whether Derek or Joe would verse out first, and that mattered.
This has been the fifth behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion. If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts for it and another novel.