#128: Character Gatherings

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #128, on the subject of Character Gatherings.

With permission of Valdron Inc I am publishing my second novel, Old Verses New, in serialized form on the web (that link will take you to the table of contents).  If you missed the first one, you can find the table of contents for it at Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel.  There was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; the last of those for the first novel is #71:  Footnotes on Verse Three, Chapter One, which indexes all the others and catches a lot of material from an earlier collection of behind-the-writings reflections that had been misplaced for a decade.  Now as the second is being posted I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look definitely contains spoilers, and perhaps in a more serious way than those for the previous novel, because it sometimes talks about what I was planning to do later in the book or how this book connects to events yet to come in the third (For Better or Verse)–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them, or even put off reading these insights until the book has finished.  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 now also a new 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:

  1. #74:  Another Novel (which provided this kind of insight into the first nine chapters along with some background material on the book as a whole),
  2. #78:  Novel Fears (which continued with coverage of chapters 10 through 18),
  3. #82:  Novel Developments (which continued with coverage of chapters 19 through 27),
  4. #86:  Novel Conflicts (which continued with coverage of chapters 28 through 36),
  5. #89:  Novel Confrontations (which continued with coverage of chapters 37 through 45),
  6. #91:  Novel Mysteries (which continued with coverage of chapters 46 through 54),
  7. #94:  Novel Meetings (which continued with coverage of chapters 55 through 63),
  8. #100:  Novel Settling (which continued with coverage of chapters 64 through 72),
  9. #104:  Novel Learning (which continued with coverage of chapters 73 through 81),
  10. #110:  Character Redirects (which continued with coverage of chapters 82 through 90),
  11. #113:  Character Movements (chapters 91 through 99),
  12. #116:  Character Missions (100 through 108),
  13. #119:  Character Projects (109 through 117),
  14. #122:  Character Partings (118 through 126).

This picks up from there, and I expect to continue with additional posts after every ninth chapter in the series.


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.

Chapter 127, Hastings 84

Morgana’s lesson about true power has its own value, but it also explains why she’s not a villain here.
The lesson about not revealing the extent of your power is very similar to the one about magic being more about what they think you can do than about what you actually can do.  It’s a good lesson, re-couched here to cover that which is not magic as well:  the reputation of strength can keep you out of a fight.

Chapter 128, Brown 44

Derek notices the value of perspective, that an outsider sees similarities where an insider sees differences.

One aspect of Derek’s movements through TerraNova at this point is that it should increase the impression of how huge it is.

The reader of course recognizes Joe; Derek has never met any verser other than Lauren, so he reasonably expects to find her—and is quite reasonably surprised.

Chapter 129, Kondor 85

The comment about getting in trouble by carrying guns even when there weren’t any rules was supposed to recall the fiasco at the bank.

Once again Joe gets the advantages of learning about a new world from another verser who is already there and settled.

Chapter 130, Hastings 85

I had actually forgotten the aspect of sleeping in the daytime, but then, it’s probably because Lauren had changed her sleep schedule in the parakeet world and had not changed it again; plus the fact that in the Camelot and Wandborough settings it was not so simple to work at night and in the post-apocalyptic with Derek there was no reason for it.  I remembered it here, and wondered why Lauren had not been traveling by night, but of course it simply had not occurred to her, having adapted to a more normal schedule.

I liked the idea that she had been forced to stay awake until she told Bethany this.  I knew Lauren would die tonight, and the idea that God would not let her die without allowing her to convey that bit of information to her student had a lot of appeal.

Chapter 131, Kondor 86

Comparing ways in which they were killed is actually a common pastime of verser player characters.  After all, sometimes the stories are funny, and sometimes there’s an aspect of one-upmanship—a bit like comparing scars.

Chapter 132, Brown 45

Eric Ashley advanced the notion that universes had weak walls in specific places that resulted in versers landing in those places frequently.  Although it might explain gathers, I always thought he was taking as evidence something that didn’t really happen:  referees will often use the same worlds, such as the Mary Piper worlds, for different players at different times.  Eric took that to mean that those characters were landing in the same worlds, but I took it to mean that they were landing in different worlds that were nearly identical to each other.  No one who ever landed in any of my Mary Piper worlds ever met an indigenous character who had ever met any other verser.

Derek at this point becomes my impartial judge between Lauren’s supernaturalism and Joe’s naturalism.  He will continue trying to make that decision for a while.  It gave me a new way to put the issues in front of the reader.

Chapter 133, Kondor 87

Ed had never run kids in his experimental games, or I think in any of his games, until he began playing with us.  I had always had the rule that my kids could join our Dungeons & Dragons™ game when they could read and write and add and subtract well enough to take care of their own character papers.  Ryan was thus nine years old when he started in Ed’s Multiverser experimental game.  Not quite certain what to do with someone that young, Ed used a botch to age the character several years.  Finding ways to age younger player characters has since become a part of the game, and I ultimately do that some for Derek, but at this point Joe knows nothing of that.  From his perspective, Derek will always seem twelve.

Joe’s insistence that you would have to prove the existence of magic before accepting any possible instance of it underscores the failure of that view:  he has faced magic himself, but does not believe it exists.

I was stalling Lauren’s chapter a bit so I could establish Derek and Joe a bit better in TerraNova before I brought her into it.

Chapter 134, Hastings 86

The grouping of Tubrok, Horta, and Jackson was carefully considered.  Lauren would from this know that she could not win.  She would know that anyone she fought in the future she could not kill in the past.  Then, though, that told her that Bethany was similarly protected—having been alive in the future, it could not be that she would die now.

Chapter 135, Brown 44

I read about trinary computing systems in Omni in the early ‘80s.  Binary computers worked originally with on/off switches, and gradually were improved to charged/uncharged storage cells on a chip; we thus have millions of “bits” organized into “bytes” that hold the coded information for the computer.  However, the idea of a trinary system is that those same chargeable cells could be charged either positively or negatively, or uncharged, and thus where our binary bits are 0/1 our trinary bits are -1/0/1, or more functionally 0/1/2.  An 8-bit binary bite has potentially 2^8, or 256, potential values, but the same space converted to a trinary system has 3^8, or 6561, potential values.  Since computer speed is largely a question of how tightly you can pack information, this drastically improves performance, provided you can operate it stably.  However, the languages are completely incompatible, so an entirely distinct coding system is needed.

Biocomputers were also discussed in Omni.  They use something akin to RNA molecular coding instead of electrical coding.  Since they work on the molecular level, they are again an advance on miniaturization and thus a potential improvement in speed.

I hope these “behind the writings” posts continue to be of interest, and perhaps some value, to those of you who have been reading the novel.  If there is any positive feedback, they will continue.

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