Tag Archives: Writing

#365: Characters Travel

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #365, on the subject of Characters Travel.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the seventh mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 37 through 42.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.
  4. #359:  Characters Engage, for chapters 19 through 24.
  5. #361:  Characters Explore, for chapters 25 through 30.
  6. #364:  Characters Learn, for chapters 31 through 36.

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.

Chapter 37, Hastings 198

This part of the story was going more slowly than I had expected.  I wasn’t complaining because I hadn’t yet thought of the next problem, but I had expected this chapter to cover much that got bumped to the next chapter.  The problem was really that at some point I had to have Tiras tell everyone the basic plan so they could think about options.  I didn’t do it at the end of the previous Hastings chapter because it felt like I needed the story to break while Tiras and the others did their exploration.  I kept thinking I would gloss over it quickly, but that also felt wrong, that a passage saying what Tiras had told them when he returned last night was cutting out important story action.  That meant I had to start this chapter with that address, and the action that would follow in the morning would have to be bumped to the next chapter.

Part of the problem with Lauren considering what to do is really that I don’t want her to be the solution to all their problems.  Yet I have to find reasons for her not to solve everything.  One of the worst things you can do to a game is bring in a powerful non-player character who can always solve any problem the player characters have, and there is a sense in which Lauren is that character from the perspective of Tiras and his companions.  Of course, Lauren is my player character, and from that perspective Tiras and his companions are dependent non-player characters, and their problems are for her to solve.


Chapter 38, Takano 25

John really is an excellent drummer, or was when he played with us (and has been taking lessons from professionals since).  He was playing Multiverser for a while, and when I asked which characters should be in this book he suggested that he would like to be.  I’m using him to get Tommy oriented to the verse.  Of course, when they’re close enough she gets that scriff sense feeling that points to other versers, but she doesn’t yet know what it is, only that it feels like she’s supposed to meet someone over there.


Chapter 39, Beam 68

I debated whether I could include giant rats in this scenario without impacting the setting.  It isn’t supposed to be like Gamma World or Metamorphosis Alpha with mutant creatures all over, but the post-apocalyptic without an apocalypse, a move underground because overpopulation was cutting into food production.  I researched rodents and ultimately decided that I could put a group of large rodents in the tunnels without deciding what they were, and so I did it.

The details unfolded as I wrote.  The bit with the darkness had occurred to me when I was thinking about what was going to happen.  The light spell turning on the lights in the hall is connected to the world’s backstory, in which it is ruled by a god of technology and so it is often the case that when someone uses magic the answer takes advantage of the world’s technology, in this case the light spell turning on the lights.

I had originally expected that the entire encounter would take one chapter, but as I managed to keep the story interesting (I hope) for two pages I decided to do a cliffhanger here and put the fight at the beginning of Beam’s next chapter.

In the first draft I had written that he didn’t wear glasses, but then when I was setting pages in HTML I vaguely remembered in his first chapter he was feeling for his glasses, or so I thought, so I wrote that he didn’t usually wear them.


Chapter 40, Hastings 199

I wanted to avoid having Lauren be the answer to their significant problems, but when it came to it the only other option I had was that they would lower everything and everyone unable to climb walls by ropes, and leave the mules behind to be dragon fodder.  Thus I figured they would go with Lauren’s skills for this, but that they would still use some of their other abilities.


Chapter 41, Takano 26

I had been anticipating this chapter almost since I started writing Tommy’s story, but had not really had it coalesce in my mind, so I was piecing it together as I wrote, trying to figure out how to work in each little piece I’d thought of including.  I was not sure I was happy with it when I finished, but I was tired and had an early alarm ahead, so I stopped where I was.


Chapter 42, Beam 69

I hadn’t really thought about more than the brief opening combat scene, but had concluded that the rats would flee when the bullets flew.  I had also known that they were eating the body of a human, and that meant there would be a brain for Turbirb’durpa.

Originally I thought Dawn would be firing pistols, but then it came back to me that she had that rifle and would probably prefer it, particularly as the easiest way to transport it is in her hands.

The pockets were a late thought, and they were going to be empty, but then it struck me that even a primitive who discovered that his clothes had pockets would figure out a use for them, and it would probably involve carrying food.


This has been the seventh behind the writings look at Re Verse All.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#364: Characters Learn

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #364, on the subject of Characters Learn.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the sixth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 31 through 36.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.
  4. #359:  Characters Engage, for chapters 19 through 24.
  5. #361:  Characters Explore, for chapters 25 through 30.

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.

Chapter 31, Hastings 196

I had spent quite a long time looking for a solution to this dilemma, and remembered that Tiras had more than once talked to potential opponents and won safe passage by his words.  When I had the orcs send Tiras down that corridor I knew only that there was something down there they weren’t telling him.  Then I decided it was a dragon, and then that they were going to follow in anticipation of killing any of his party who fled.  Then having put Tiras in this box I thought long about how he would escape it, and realized that the orcs undoubtedly expected him to fight the dragon (kensai, samurai, and anti-paladins in that world do not have fear and so do not flee).  If he killed the dragon he would be weakened and they could more easily kill him; if he was killed by the dragon it would be weakened and they could kill it.  Either way, they would be able to take the dragon treasure, a horde far greater than anything orcs usually have.  That meant that the solution for Tiras was to explain to the dragon the dilemma this created for it, and so obtain safe passage for himself and leave the orcs behind to deal with the dragon.

The line about Tiras killing any party member who attempted to steal from the dragon was added after I had written the chapter but before I started the next.  It kept nagging at me that there were thieves in the group and one of them might attempt to enrich himself at the expense of the dragon, and Tiras would want to assure the dragon that they would not do that.  I was going to have him tell this to the dragon, but decided instead that he would tell it to the group knowing the dragon could hear him.


Chapter 32, Takano 23

This was mostly color.  I had to look up what movies were out in the summer of 1959, and I never determined whether Darby O’Gill, which was released that year, was out in time for summer, but as I did with the eclipse I decided that it was close enough.

The actor who never sang in another movie (as far as I know) who had a career playing a superspy and action hero is of course Sean Connery.  It was a sad coincidence that Connery died a few days before this chapter was published.


Chapter 33, Beam 66

I started writing about the sporting goods store because I’d introduced retail outlets and wanted a place where Beam could get gear that would be useful in the future.  As I was writing about the camping equipment it occurred to me that I had no idea what people in this world would do with such stuff, but I was well into it and thinking that it was important that he be able to get some of this for the future.  I think in fact he never returned here, but he did order some gear through the computer.


Chapter 34, Hastings 197

I pondered for quite a while how to keep a dungeon crawl interesting–a problem I had recognized all the way back at the beginning when writing Bob Slade’s djinni quest story.  It was not until after I had written Beam’s chapter that I came up with the idea, which I realized would give me at least two or maybe three chapters, and some interest if not tension.

I had expected the chapter to be longer and cover more material, but when I got to that end point it occurred to me that it felt like a break point, that there ought to be a pause before Tiras returned and gave instructions for the next step.


Chapter 35, Takano 24

When I was doing the survey to determine which characters would be in this book, one of my short-term online forum players who was an old friend from decades before suggested I include him.  I wasn’t looking for another viewpoint character, and I wasn’t looking to use real player characters in the role, but I had been trying to figure out who was going to explain to Tommy what was happening to her, and the idea of having John, who is reportedly an even better drummer now than he was decades ago when he played in my band The Last Psalm, playing with a local band at a club and meeting her there immediately appealed to me.  It may have been one of the selling points that had me include Tommy in this book.  John really is the things I expect to include.

John had discussed with me what we would call his character, but I had forgotten.  I hit the point where the girls are about to give the name of the drummer and stopped cold and messaged him.  It was a few hours later that he got back to me, and he suggested a name that actually was a singer in a rock-and-roll band back then whom I did not recognize, but I did a quick search and told him I couldn’t use the name of a real person.  Johnny Angel was apparently a nickname that one of his fellow police officers gave him, and I thought it was perfect.

I had been toying with where to place this for some time.  I kind of wanted it to be in northern New Jersey, but I didn’t want the club to be in New York, and was not at all sure about cities up there in 1959.  Thus once again I’m in the southern part of the state, probably Camden or Burlington County, and working with Philadelphia.  I had first thought that they would park at the Speedline and take it across the bridge, but a check told me it didn’t exist then.  I remembered as a boy taking the ferry into New York, but Philadelphia didn’t have a ferry until the 1990s.  I didn’t want them to park in the city, but there were rail lines on the bridges so I decided on a commuter train from Camden to Philadelphia.

After the book was finished, I floated an idea to bring Johnny Angel back in a future book with Derek picking up the trumpet (it is mentioned in the second book that he played a little) and getting in the same band with him.


Chapter 36, Beam 67

The thoughts on the archery range and other combat sports facilities had been simmering since I had mentioned the sporting goods store.  I needed an excuse for why Beam was seeking these but not using the computer to find them, and his paranoia was very helpful in that regard.

I wanted Beam to figure out at least part of the address system so that the reader would also get some of it.  I couldn’t have him work it all out because it wasn’t that obvious.  Using DP for Distribution Points saved me from having Retail Units, and was in keeping with the fact that no money was involved.

I decided to accelerate the mapping, and in so doing it struck me that they would find other places to eat.  I was trying to think of what kinds of places they would find, and when I thought of pizza I remembered that they ordered pizza delivery and received deli sandwiches from the welcome wagon, so I included those two outlets in the collection.


This has been the sixth behind the writings look at Re Verse All.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#361: Characters Explore

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #361, on the subject of Characters Explore.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the fifth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 25 through 30.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.
  4. #359:  Characters Engage, for chapters 19 through 24.

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.

Chapter 25, Hastings 194

There was a disabled army vet who joined the game shortly before I was forced to leave it.  It took me a while to remember that his name was Bob Slimmer; getting his wheelchair in and out of the house was a task relegated to the high school boys who were playing at that time.  I had completely forgotten who his character was, but Jim Denaxas provided the name Apatukwe, and the details that he was a Ranger, human, of Native American ancestry, which Jim thought a particularly clever character background idea but which would only work in Ed’s game, in which there were some humans who had been magically gated from the real world.

I knew what was ahead on the path, and what the orcs expected, and so yes, they were being followed by those orcs who had sent them this direction.  What I didn’t know yet was how to resolve it, but having a ranger as rear guard meant to me that there was a good chance they would detect their pursuit and respond to it.  Still, the character Tiras expresses is the problem, the limitation on his actions:  he won’t attack creatures just because they are said to be evil or dangerous; they have to be known to be guilty or aggressive.


Chapter 26, Takano 21

I was still trying to decide on the title for the book at this point, and I was thinking Reversal, and alternately Inverse Proportion.  Then I started playing with Reversal and came up with Re Verse All, which I kind of liked, but I floated it to a few top supporters and got a few other suggestions.  Eric Ashley recommended Chapter and Verse, Bell, Verse, and Candle, and To Verse is a Verb.  Kyler Young put forward one that I had not considered at all, Conversation.  John Walker suggested that the eighth book could be Joe Verses Slade; I think that’s recalling a Tom Hanks movie, Joe Versus the Volcano, and I like that but feel like there must be something better than “Slade” to make that work (maybe Tornado).  These are now all being considered for future books.

I looked up the most popular girl baby names from the 1930s, and Dorothy was fifth on the list.  Mary was first, but then, Mary is almost always first.  I thought number six Patricia too common and number four Shirley not common enough, and thought that having the name of the character from The Wizard of Oz might have plot value (of course it’s a dream).

Billboard had a useful listing of all the top ten summer hits since 1958, https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/513524/summer-songs-1985-present-top-10-tunes-each-summer-listen from which I gleaned the names of a few artists I barely remembered, and some whose songs I knew but whose names I didn’t.  The site was very unstable, and kept kicking me to other articles I wished didn’t exist.


Chapter 27, Beam 64

I knew that Beam was nervous about what they might encounter, largely because of his recognition that the complex was built for a lot of people and he didn’t know where they were.  My original musings had put Sophia’s nagging about going out to eat into a side note, but I realized it would read much better if I made it into a spat, so that happened.  It still set up what mattered, focusing on Beam’s concerns.  It also gave me time to realize that he did these things all the time in games, but that even with apparent immortality doing it for real was different.


Chapter 28, Hastings 195

I was involved in something else and thought of what I decided was the perfect name for the female drow elf who was not the princess, and it occurred to me that I should write it down–but I didn’t.  Serona is not that name, I think, but it’s similar and will suffice.

I definitely set a problem for myself with this.  Tiras knows he is walking into some kind of danger, but does not know what.  He also knows that he is being followed by the orcs.  It is a reasonable guess that the orcs intend to attack after the party has encountered whatever lies ahead, but it is only a guess, and Tiras won’t start a fight without provocation.  I’m not certain how to resolve it without creating a two-front battle.


Chapter 29, Takano 22

I sat on this chapter for a few days.  I knew where it was set, and that it would spring from a conversation between Tommy and Dorothy, but that it had to flow naturally and introduce Tommy to the group.  I decided I had to start it and give it its head, but even then I wandered into the discussion of electronics as Tommy tried to sound like she knew something from her stay in Japan, and I wound up interrupting to try to figure out how it would go from there.  I thought I should bring in Dorothy’s boyfriend, but that would make Tommy a third wheel.  I thought I should introduce her to some of the other girls, and maybe their boyfriends, but I was courting the danger of overloading the story with more characters than I could juggle.

I left off in the middle of the paragraph about popular music, not sure what to say next, but then crashed into Christmas and didn’t have time to think about writing for several days.  Christmas brought a refurbished computer to replace my badly outdated one, but it took a couple weeks to move files and organize enough to be able to work with the new one.  Meanwhile, I was still struggling with how to continue Tommy’s story, and indeed how to continue Lauren’s.  I came up with a solution to Tiras’ problem for Lauren’s story but was still stymied by Tommy’s.

It occurs to me that Tommy’s father is an electrical or electronics engineer, which is what my father was at that time (he moved into computer hardware by the early 70s).  It gives me a bit of a handle on working with her family.

I made a mistake in the first draft.  Tommy got paid Friday night and went to dinner with the family, so she was shopping on Saturday.  She was then invited to go out with Peggy and Dorothy on Saturday, and in the original invitation it said next week.  Then as Tommy got talking about how she had spent all her money, it turned into tomorrow, and I had to find a way to fix it so that it would be the following weekend.


Chapter 30, Beam 65

I wanted Beam to map more, and I wanted to give some sense of the shape of the place to the reader, but I didn’t want to belabor everything.  The spat with Sophia came organically, as I knew he would want to map nearby areas he had not seen and she would want to go directly to the restaurant, but it was an argument he would win.

I debated opening apartment doors, but recognized that I would be spending considerably more time writing and he mapping if I did that.


This has been the fifth behind the writings look at Re Verse All.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#359: Characters Engage

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #359, on the subject of Characters Engage.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the fourth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 19 through 24.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.

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.

Chapter 19, Hastings 192

I needed something to happen, and this was the story in which things could happen.  I knew that a fight with the orcs would be a short and dull bit of combat, but that I could use them to set up something more interesting.


Chapter 20, Takano 19

Eating out was an abrupt inspiration, and an awkward one because I was moving toward having Beam take his crew to a restaurant as well, but it seemed the best step for the story so I did it.

I had had the overpayment in mind for a while, thinking that Mr. Billings would give Tommy fifty dollars specifically to see whether she would correct him.  I also thought from the beginning that she would, and that she would not realize it was a test until after she passed it.

I had thought of the fact that cars in the early sixties did not have seat belts, and intended to include it, but then skipped the drive entirely.  I realized it when I returned to finish the chapter and was rereading, jarred by the jump from Tommy in the kitchen thinking about what clothes were going to cost to Tommy abruptly reading the menu in the restaurant.  I decided I should do something to move the scene, and remembered my seat belt concerns.

I remember when there were a lot of diners that had what I guess was then a modern look, as if someone parked an oversized railroad car by the side of the road.  I even ate in one when I was in elementary school which I insisted to my parents we had to visit because it was owned by the father of one of my classmates.  (I think his name was Keith Sweeney, but we’re remembering elementary school in a town I left when I was twelve.)

I always ordered the roast turkey and stuffing when I was young, and my mother always told me it wouldn’t be as good as hers, which it wasn’t, but I loved stuffing and we only ever had it with turkey.  I had considered having Mr. Billings recommend chicken, either fried or roasted, but then that would probably sound like he was recommending something cheap and chicken was probably something Mrs. Billings made considerably more frequently than turkey.  I did not give anyone my love for turkey, but decided that it was a good option for the recommendation, and then the same reasoning Tommy used was what kept me from changing it to chicken:  having asked advice she took it.

Russian dressing back then was pretty much catsup and mayonnaise, sometimes fancied.  Since then that has become Thousand Island, probably with the addition of a bit of pickle relish or something, and a very few companies make a tangier dressing labeled Russian.  I went from Italian, which I never really liked, to Russian, to French, which was my dressing of choice until the new Russian and Honey Mustard appeared.  I suspect Tommy would have preferred Honey Mustard, but it didn’t exist then.

I didn’t name the soups because I was already too deep into food again, and I made a point of avoiding discussing what everyone else ate for that reason.  The same applied to the vegetables.  Modern diners offer a dozen choices on vegetables, aided by modern microwaves and cooking techniques.  In those days, they cooked pots of vegetables on the stove top and served patrons from whatever they made that day.

I swithered on the coffee, but couldn’t think of a better after dinner drink.  A milkshake would have been too filling for someone already full.

Having Tammy mention the eagle seemed a good way to recall that she was there, and of course she liked the eagle.

I was probably less interested in what Mister Billings did than Tommy was.  I had intended to include some suggestion in this chapter that they showed her how to find the stores, but it was getting belabored already so I dropped it perhaps somewhat abruptly.


Chapter 21, Beam 62

I had expected this to go very quickly into a restaurant, and it bothered me because even though I had been thinking of taking Beam’s party to a restaurant for quite a while, I rather unexpectedly put Tommy in one first.  However, I kept thinking about how Beam would find his way anywhere and get back home, even with the scriff sense.  Then I remembered that he had played role playing games, and decided that he would apply what he knew of mapping from the games, plus marching band experience, to create maps.

Once I had decided that, I knew he would need paper and pencils, and as I mused on that I realized that those would not be common items in the world in which he found himself.  Just as there were no books for the shelves, so too there was no paper in the desk.  There would presumably be paper somewhere, but it would not have been sought by anyone in so long that the computer would have trouble finding it in the database, and then locating a place that had it in stock, and then transporting it hundreds of miles from wherever it was to get it to him.  Even so, with the high speed transit system that still functioned and no one used, it would not take more than two days to bring anything from anywhere in the world.

I needed Beam to have compelling reasons to leave the apartment block, particularly as his companions are living a very comfortable life and have nothing to motivate them to do anything.  Worrying about what’s beyond the door and why it is giving them everything they want was a viable starting point.


Chapter 22, Hastings 193

I wanted part of what the orcs said to be included in the text, but for several reasons not all of it.  For one thing, the introductory speeches would be boring; further, I didn’t really want to put what Tiras explained to the orcs into the text at this point.  My solution was to have Lauren think of her clairaudience after the discussion had started, so she would effectively walk in in the middle of the conversation.

Dungeons & Dragons orcs are lawful evil.  That doesn’t mean they won’t lie, but it does mean they follow rules.  I needed them to send the party into trouble without actually lying to them, and thus the path they recommend does lead to the land of the drow, but it’s not a good way to get there.

Late in the editing/publication process I realized, more than once, that in the orc dialogue I had written “long” where the correct word was “along”.  Each time I saw it I considered whether to change it, and decided that since it was an orc speaking I would leave the error as part of its speech pattern.


Chapter 23, Takano 20

The drive-in is a popular trope from the fifties, represented today mostly by the Stewart’s Root Beer restaurants, which are rare enough that it’s easy to suppose Tommy has never seen one (I recently heard most of them are scattered in New Jersey).  The clothing is familiar to me mostly from films and television shows of the period.

I remember strip malls and similar shopping centers from the days before indoor malls were common.  In fact, the Garden State Plaza, one of the earliest and at one time largest malls on the east coast, was originally all open air sidewalks with stores in buildings separated by them; it was later enclosed in a major construction project as enclosed malls became more popular.  I picked three stores that were major retail chains when I was younger which had vanished from the world by the time my kids were born.  A&P was crushed by the unions, founded a wholly-owned non-union subsidiary and closed all its union stores.  I think Lafayette died with the shrinking hobby electronics market, in which Radio Shack was probably the last survivor.  2 Guys was a cheap-end department store competing with K-Mart, the bargain outlet of Kresge, itself a cheap-end department store, and was probably killed by the appearance of chains like Wal-Mart.

I had bounced around several ideas for a cover story all of which began with the idea that she had just moved here from somewhere.  It started with England, but I thought that meant she would have to fake an accent and possibly maintain it if she made friends with anyone in the store.  My mind then went to Australia and New Zealand, on the thought that Americans in 1960 would be completely unfamiliar with those accents, but then the obvious one hit me:  she came from Japan, which she actually had just done, and she was originally from America but claimed she lived in Japan for a few years recently.

It was vital that I find a way to connect Tommy to her ostensible peers in this world, and she wasn’t going to be able to go to school.  (I figured she would say she finished secondary school in Japan.)  My initial thought was that she would become friends with a young girl working in the clothing department of the store.  However, since I needed to give her the opportunity to see what girls her age wore casually, I had set up the teen hangout at the drive-in hamburger stand, and then I was thinking seriously that she could return there with a few dollars and meet several people.  That would accelerate her integration into the peer group, but I was very uncertain about the group dynamic in such a situation.  I took these thoughts, with some of the problems I saw to each side, to Cassandra Starrett, a peer of my sons.  She suggested that the easiest way was for the clerk to be young and for Tommy to talk to her about the popular music playing.  That was good, but that there wouldn’t be popular music playing—it’s been a long time, but I think 2 Guys was silent that far back, and the first music to play in stores was what was called Muzak, a brand name originating in the mid 1950s and spreading slowly, also known generically as elevator music because it played in department store and high rise office elevators.  But I decided that in 1960 a teenaged girl with a job would probably own a transistor radio (I think I owned one before 1965, and I wasn’t a teen for a few more years after that).  I changed “woman” to “girl”, and set up to do that in the next chapter.


Chapter 24, Beam 63

I had worried that this was going to be too much of a parallel to Tommy’s story, and even managed to delay it one chapter cycle to avoid going from one restaurant to another.  I managed, I think, to focus more on the technology and the cultural ramifications, and avoid getting too involved in the food.

That Beam doesn’t eat seafood is based on the player on whom Beam is modeled.  We have taken him to one of the finest seafood restaurants on the New Jersey shore (The Lobster House in Cape May, has its own fleet of fishing vessels, is a wholesaler to other area restaurants, and so always has fresh seafood) and he orders fried chicken.

The recognition that this was an American restaurant menu came through the question in my mind of what Bron would consider ordinary food.  Of course, medieval English peasants ate pies, which were in essence loaves of crusty bread with vegetables and sometimes meat cooked into them, and we only see those at Renaissance Faires and the like.  I’ve never had steak and kidney pie, but online photos suggest it is more like our chicken pot pie and shepherds pie than like the pies of medieval peasants, more like Victorian manor pies with lots of meat and gravy and perhaps vegetables inside a pastry crust.  Besides, I’ve never seen it in an American restaurant.  Thinking about it, I decided that a panini was probably most like that, although I’ve admittedly never had one (probably should, sounds good).  I first thought of a wrap (another thing I’ve never had, but less appealing), and decided that the thin burrito-like bread would not be like what Bron wanted.  I skipped what everyone ordered, largely because it would take me too close to the Takano storyline and I didn’t need it.

The realization that there must be people somewhere is helping build tension and anticipation.

On an early re-read I decided that the restaurant would have other dining rooms, and the only way to get to them was via arches off the main room, which at this point had to be left and right, the front and back having been established as entrance and kitchen.


This has been the fourth behind the writings look at Re Verse All.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#357: Characters Connect

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #357, on the subject of Characters Connect.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the third mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 13 through 18.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.

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.

Chapter 13, Hastings 190

I had been musing on this meeting for a while, and knew the gist of it but not the detail.  The notion that the leaders had missed dinner discussing her hit me right as I was finishing, so I let her solve that.

Malacon the Shining Legacy was an antipaladin played by Ed Porrini.  Most of the players in Ed’s game, and probably all whose names I remember, first played other characters in my game and were invited join Ed’s.

As noted in connection with chapter 18, Ed Jones asked that I remove all reference to features and persons in his game world.  As a result, Valdaronia became Darvania here.

Long after I wrote that the only hemovores in Lauren’s experience besides vampires were ticks and mosquitoes I thought of leeches.  I swithered for a long time about whether to go back and include them, but ultimately decided against that.


Chapter 14, Takano 17

Creating a realistic babysitting day was perhaps a bit of a challenge, but I had babysat and been babysat, and I had done tea parties with my sister and the girls in the neighborhood (although I thought them boring).  I need Tommy to fit here without her really trying to do so, and this works, I think.

I expected this chapter to go further than it did, but got to a point where I needed to change.

My mother never made peanut butter and honey; I never had it until a friend introduced me to it my junior year of college.  I admit they are very messy sandwiches, but they are tasty, particularly toasted.

Playing in the yard with neighbors was standard for us as kids, but we didn’t have a nearby park and we did have swings, sandbox, and eventually monkey bars in the back yard.  As I wrapped up the chapter I had not decided whether to complicate my life by introducing neighborhood kids, particularly as I was already somewhat using the same template–my own neighborhood–that I used when Lauren was describing her upbringing to the doctor.


Chapter 15, Beam 60

The night I was going to start this chapter I cut a beef roast into thick steaks and broiled them, and then after I had eaten I burst an abscess and went into the hospital.  It was five days before I actually began the chapter, and while hospitalized I kept trying to write the three stories mentally but wasn’t getting farther than a few paragraphs on any of them other than Beam.


Chapter 16, Hastings 191

I debated how to integrate Lauren into the group, and realized repeatedly that her wagon was a complication that meant she was going to have to be in the rear.  It also occurred to me as I was writing this chapter that I don’t remember how the pack animals were managed, but I’m sure there were some.

It was at this point that I recognized I was going to have to construct the party so Lauren could try to learn their names.  I had already remembered some, and gotten some from Jim Denaxas, but I sent a message to Ed Jones, who ran that game, and he promised to think about it and reply, which put me kind of on hold.  He never came back with any recollections.  Eventually I put together quite a bit of the original, created a new name for one of the characters, and built the teams and squads with what I had but without having names for all of them.

A good part of this was plot exposition, through giving the history of the previous venture.

Nightstalker was the name of a character played by Dom Porrini, Ed Porrini’s younger brother, a winged folk whom Jim Denaxas remembered being a magic-user.

My wife played a cleric/magic-user who under Ed’s mystery options rules had completely lost her memory.  Unfortunately I could not remember her character name other than that I thought it began with A and was not a common word or name.  After debating long I decided to use a medicinal word and alter the spelling, making her Annseff.  I do not recall whether she was a human or a half-elf, but I’m hoping it won’t matter.

Ed had named Remoir the Dull Legacy.  We had come to an awkward plot moment where there were two new players but no obvious way to introduce their characters to the party, so Brad Ladlee had his character Lurt go out into the street and pick three people seemingly at random, two of them the new player characters and the third an unknown.  We had been toying with a joke martial arts style called Bo Ring, which I had detailed for use in play, and Ed decided that this character would be an adept of that style.  The style being my creation, I kept the character and changed the name to Rodan the Tedious Endowment.  I picked Rodan because I always suspected that Remoir was a warp of the artist Renoir, so I warped the name of the artist Rodin.

I also always suspected that the title “the dull legacy” was a dig at Ed Porrini’s “shining legacy” title, but have no proof of that.

I changed Ghost Hills to Blood Hills.

I did not like changing the name of Laneth Lelach Theana, largely because it was the model on which I had built Derek’s sprite name, Theian Torenu Morach, and that of other sprites in his sprite world.  However, even though in Ed’s intention it was all one word, it was his invention, and I felt it necessary to alter it.  Since at this point only the first name was mentioned, I changed only that from Laneth to Anneth.

Numerous times while writing this book I remembered recognizing in the early chapters of Verse Three, Chapter One that dungeon crawls weren’t particularly easy to keep interesting.  I had a book in which dungeon crawls of a sort were going to be the primary action (with Tomiko adding some light to the darkness for the first half, but then getting into the dark with the others), and I had to keep looking for ways to keep them interesting.  Two days before I published this chapter I realized that I had made this chapter interesting by character interaction, which I would do many times through the book.


Chapter 17, Takano 18

I needed to settle Tommy somewhere, and while I still had a lot of issues concerning how to integrate her into the world, making her the weekday babysitter for Tammy seemed the right first step.

I didn’t give names to the neighborhood kids even though I did expect to continue in this location partly because Tommy didn’t expect to do so at this point so learning the names would not have been important to her, and partly as I mentioned because I was basing this somewhat on the neighborhood of my childhood, which I used for Lauren’s description of her own childhood neighborhood.  I had not used the names of the real kids, and in fact reversed some of their genders, but I did not want this to be too like that.


Chapter 18, Beam 61

I’ve put myself in an awkward position, since for both Beam and Takano I’m mostly writing about domestic tranquility.  Hence I’ve got Beam cooking and drinking while I try to move him forward.

It was as I was writing this chapter that I received word from Ed Jones that he did not want me using anything in the novel from his game world Valdron or created by him.  There was an initial misunderstanding concerning what I was writing, but I agreed to rebrand anything that was clearly his, including character and place names.

I had left this chapter hanging for a few days, feeling that it was too short but not knowing what else to do with it.  Finally I decided what I was going to do in the next Beam chapter (not a new idea, something I had intended but hadn’t figured out when) and let this one end where it was.


This has been the third behind the writings look at Re Verse All.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#354: Versers Reorienting

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #354, on the subject of Versers Reorienting.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the first mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 1 through 6.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.

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.

Chapter 1, Hastings 186

When I began publishing Versers Versus Versers and had introduced the Tomiko “Tommy” Takano character I attempted to get feedback from my readers through social media.  I got very little, and most of it amounted to, “Keep writing the novels”.  The clearest single statement I received said that one particular reader who is also an author most enjoyed the Lauren Hastings stories, also enjoyed the Bob Slade stories, and did not at all enjoy the James Beam stories.  That gave me good reason to include Lauren.  I also had another reader who loved all the James Beam stories, which combined with the fact that he was the second newest character gave me reason to include him.  The Tomiko stories got some favorable mention, or at least I so understood it, and since to this point she had only seen a dozen chapters it made sense to continue her in this book.  Meanwhile, that gave me reasonably different settings, so I have some decisively distinct stories.

I also realized that all three stories were going to be long and involved, which wasn’t bad in itself as they could intertwine in a long book, but I was already posting the chapters of the sixth book and it was short.  I was thus anticipating not having a finished product by the time I finished publishing the other.  As it turned out, I wrote the last chapter of this book after I finished posting the last chapter of the other, but by the time I had posted all the character sheets (at three per week) to the support site, I had finished a quick read-through edit and a workable cover and was formatting chapters for e-publication.

I had had some time to work out in my own mind how Lauren was going to experience the impact of the truck and the arrival in the new world.


Chapter 2, Takano 13

The decision to have her live in Delaware was a bit of a risk for me because I’ve driven through the state and visited many people and places within it, but I’ve never lived there.  Still, I think I’m familiar enough for what I need.

When she said that she was from Delaware, I realized that I hadn’t actually decided whether that existed in this world.  I subsequently decided that yes, this was the United States as I know it.

I needed to connect Tommy to something in this world, and the fact that she gets at least partial credit for saving the four-year-old was a good basis for the mother to offer her lunch and a chance to clean up.

I think that the Billings family was part of a 1950s TV show, and Janet may even have been one of the names from it, but I’m not sure of that.  It just seemed like a 1950s suburban family name.


Chapter 3, Beam 56

The Industrial Complex is the kind of detailed world that takes quite a bit to get oriented, and the player on whom Beam is modeled did many things here most of which I don’t remember.  However, I’m starting by getting him aware of some of the important details.


Chapter 4, Hastings 187

The character she meets was what was called a Winged Folk in a variant D&D game Ed Jones ran; I played him, and used his name as well as I can recall it from the game.  I am still attempting mentally to reconstruct the members of the party, with a bit of help from Jim Denaxas (who played the druid Zamfir in that game).  I also know where they are going, but have very little notion of what they are likely to experience along the way.

Asking whether Tiras is an angel is a bit of a joke, because Lauren was once asked the same question, and having been to the edge of heaven she is aware that heavenly beings come in a lot more shapes and sizes than just winged men.  However, confronted by a winged man it’s still her first thought.


Chapter 5, Takano 14

I needed a likely light lunch for a little girl in the summer, and decided that grilled cheese and tomato soup was probable.  As soon as I thought of it I realized that Tommy had had quite a bit of cheese recently, which put her in a bit of a quandary, but then, she would choose to eat rather than not.

I am not a bubble bath person; I remember it from childhood, though, and I know that women are often fond of them.


Chapter 6, Beam 57

I don’t have actual floorplans for apartments in the originally designed world, on the assumption that these would be so numerous and varied that referees would need to devise them as needed.


This has been the first behind the writings look at Re Verse All.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#351: In re: Evil Star

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #351, on the subject of In re:  Evil Star.

Regis Pannier and his kind staff over at the French edition of Places to Go, People to Be, who frequently translate my gaming articles for distribution to their audience, recently provided me with a link to a section of what is called the Internet Archive, complete with The Wayback Machine (I knew Mister Peabody had invented something useful) in which a very large number of my Game Ideas Unlimited articles have been preserved in whole, and a few more in part, along with some Blogless Lepolt entries (my old Gaming Outpost web log) and a couple of book reviews.  With encouragement from readers I am going to attempt to republish most of this material.  Most of the Game Ideas Unlimited material will go to the current RPG-ology series at the Christian Gamers Guild, although some of it might come here; one of the web log posts (about Harry Potter has been slated for the Faith in Play series early next year, and probably a few articles and particularly the book reviews will be coming here.

This is the first of those, originally published November 5, 2007.

I was handed a reviewer copy of this book, Evil Star by Alexander Horowitz; it is billed as the second book in The Gatekeepers series.  The first, Raven’s Gate, escaped my notice despite being on the New York Times’ Best Seller list at some point.  (That has more to do with my inattention to such lists than with any lack of merit in the book.) It is entirely accidental that I received this book.  It was tossed in the bag with my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because the bookstore was celebrating the release of the book and looking for things they had around that they could give away.  The person who gave me this book had no idea that I was a reviewer (he did know I was an author, and had read my novel), and no expectation that I should review it.  However, I read it, and since it was a pre-release “early reader edition” copy I thought I would write a review.

I am sorely tempted to call this series, “Harry Potter Meets Cthulu”.  The connections seem to scream at me.

The hero of the series, Matthew Freeman who prefers to be called Matt, is in this book fourteen years old; that makes him a bit older than Harry was in his second book (he had just turned twelve).  It is not clear to me, however, how old Matt was in the beginning of the first book.  Like Harry, Matt is an orphan, although it seems his parents really did die in a car accident and not until he was eight.  That tale is told, apparently, in the first book.  Like Harry, Matt has powers he does not understand and cannot always control; he was aware of the car accident before it occurred, and he sometimes has similar premonitions here.  He also sometimes causes telekinetic events, but through severe emotional upset, not intention.  He is even described as thin with unkempt dark hair and blue eyes.

The similarities to Harry don’t end there, though.  We are told that there are seven gates, and apparently each book revolves around the effort to keep the next one closed.  first grade math says that means there will be seven books in this series, just as there were in the Potter books.  Matt is the hero, the focus of the stories; his friends, young and old, help him, but in the critical moments he is the one on the line.

In fairness to Horowitz, at least some of these are the tropes of the genre: fantasy books for adolescents have adolescent heroes.  Cry of the Icemark* was similar in some ways.  Matt does not have a group of adolescent friends; he has the friendship of a young adult reporter, and the support of a secret international organization, but he is completely estranged from his peers.  No one is helping him learn to use his powers.  He is not exactly unique; there is much in the book about “the five”, of which he is the first to be identified, and he dreams about the other four trying to reach him.  Still, in this book one of the others does reach him, recognizing him from his own dreams.  He, too, has powers he does not understand, but they are very different powers.

As to Cthulu, he is never mentioned; however, the series revolves around a set of gates through which the “Old Ones” threaten to return to bring darkness to the word, and this book focuses on an ancient newly discovered book which tells how to open one of those gates.  A wealthy reclusive businessman is the evil monster attempting to get the book and open the gate.

I did not feel that Matt was as familiar a character as Harry.  It was a weakness of the book that I had trouble identifying with its hero.  Harry stayed with family members who did not like him, but Matt had an insane former foster mother trying to kill him.  Harry was alone at school but for a couple of friends, but Matt was alone on the streets of the Peruvian slums with a boy with whom he shared no common language.  Harry meets creatures of fantasy and learns to control his power through the mentoring of those more experienced than he, while Matt meets Incan survivors and struggles to work through his own use of his powers.  Where Harry’s powers made us feel that he was special, Matt’s powers make us feel that he is different; we want to be like Harry, but not like Matt.  Even the fact that Harry goes to school in what seems a very ordinary way (despite it being a school for wizards) gives us a point of contact; Matt is behind in his education, because his life is constantly interrupted and he has to move to another school.  It just never felt like Matt was a sympathetic character.

On the other hand, the author takes us on quite an adventure.  Matt is the reluctant hero here; he wants to be a normal boy, but he’s not normal, and fate will not leave him alone.  In his new school he is the outcast, and the fact that he pulls the fire alarm before the explosion that would have killed almost everyone only makes him less accepted.  The Nexus, the organization that is fighting this battle, wants and perhaps needs his help, but he is trying to avoid getting involved–and yet gets pulled half way around the world and into the midst of the trouble as events unfold.  It is not always clear who are the villains and who the allies, and more than once he flees from those who would have helped him.  Scores, maybe hundreds, of people are trying to help him, but at the critical moment he stands alone but for the other, younger, boy.

The book is laced with some wonderful images, many of them descriptions of Peru from its ancient wonders to its modern slums.  If there is a fault here, it lies in the interlacing of fantasy elements–a hidden Incan city, secret passages in those preserved wonders known only to the surviving Incans–with the hard facts.  Even I am not certain where the facts ended and the fantasies began at times.  That is only a fault because of the wonderfully clear portrayals of the realities of Peru, the author’s skill at bringing us into that place, and because (being published by Scholastic) it is targeted at a teen or pre-teen audience who will benefit greatly from the look at that society, if they can sort out the reality from the rest.

The copy I have has a number of errors in it which caught my eye as an editor, which may also have caught the eye of Scholastic’s editors before the finished version went to press.  Most of these are minor typos, a wrong but similar word here or there.  The mistake which most bothered me involved a description of the actions of a minor character, a truck driver on his way to be beaten and robbed.  Before the incident we are told that he is thinking about asking a certain waitress at a certain truck stop out on a date; after the incident we are told that his wife was contacted and gave them important information.  I prefer to think that the author overlooked part of what he was doing, rather than that he perceives married truck drivers commonly asking women out on dates; I hope, at least, that this was a mistake, and that it was corrected before the final copy.

I am tempted to attempt to obtain a copy of the first book.  After all, it is often the case that one book in a series is weaker than the others, and this might be the weaker book.  It is not a bad idea for a series; the Lovecraftian horror concepts are present but not terrifyingly so (although I’m probably not the best judge of that–Lovecraft has never frightened me).  There is madness, there is betrayal, there are evil people working toward evil ends.  Matt does not always emerge victorious, does not always make the best decisions, and is not always eager to do what he must do.  However, he proves the hero through his efforts, and moves an epic story forward a significant chapter.  I wouldn’t expect this to be the stuff of a best seller, but then, such things are determined by factors other than how they appeal to fifty-something author-reviewers.

—–
*A review of Cry of the Icemark had been previously published, and has been saved, and will be copied here within a few weeks.

#350: The Return of Vazor

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #350, on the subject of The Return of Vazor.

What seems a long time ago, someone who posts under the name “Vazor” found Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies, and read extensively the articles on the site, including particularly the theory articles.  He then wrote Analysis of the Replacement Theory of Time Travel, in which he praised the ideas but also raised questions.  If the dates are to be credited, our interaction, including my reply Vazor’s Time Travel Questions First Response, appeared at the end of June of 2008.  Obviously from that title I was anticipating a reply from him, and now he admits that it is long overdue but presents for my consideration A Long Overdue Time Travel Post in which he raises some more questions.  Of course, since 2008 I have added a significant amount to my site, and I’m not certain what he has read from it, but we’ll see what we can cover.

I would say I have a lot of reading to do.  He is responding to something I wrote twelve years ago in response to his comments on articles I wrote before that, and getting a clear notion of what articles he has not seen will be part of the problem.  I have read his recent post, but I think I will have to read both his previous post and my response before I can tackle this.  Also, I am doing the initial draft as a web log post, but if it gets too long I am going to have to reformat it to add to the Temporal Anomalies site in the Conversation section that has been untouched perhaps since our last interaction.

Vazor spends a fair amount of time discussing parallel dimension theory and distinguishing it from what I have called divergent dimension theory.  I have not put dates on my pages, but I made the same distinction between parallel dimension theory and divergent dimension theory in my Theory 101 series originally published at TheExaminer.com.  I don’t see any complications there, other than that I think we both reject both of those theories as not being time travel.

I am then quite surprised when he says

I really only have one big question left.  How does an infinity loop get created?  Why does the fact that the young Traveler will not travel back, destroy the future of the C-D timeline?  Won’t Traveler and younger Traveler just live on in peace following the future of the C-D timeline?  In my original post I asked this question, but it was never answered.

I am surprised because it seems to me that this was the first thing I answered in my original post.  However, I will attempt to respond more briefly.  I discussed the infinity loop in that same theory series, in the section What Is an Infinity Loop?.

The short answer is that the arrival of the time traveler in the past is caused by the departure of the time traveler in the future.  Should the time traveler not depart from the future, he will not arrive in the past.  That part is simple.  The part people don’t get is that having arrived in the past the time traveler has created an entirely new history, and that history replaces the original one (hence the name “replacement theory”), moment by moment erasing the events which had occurred and replacing them with new ones.  Eventually time will reach the moment at which the time traveler departed for the past, and that departure is erased; since that departure is the necessary cause of his arrival in the past, that arrival is also erased–unless in the new history the alternate self, the version of our time traveler for whom this is the only history of the world, makes the same trip to the past for the same reason.  Failure to do this undoes the causal chain that created the history in which the traveler arrives in the past, and so restores the original history.

I feel like this is the hundredth time I’ve attempted to write that explanation for someone, but hopefully those three iterations together will be adequately clear.

Vazor seems almost to grasp this, but then asks

Why does the C-D timeline need to exist?  With the way the rest of the theory treats timelines, the timeline is determined from the moment of the Traveler’s arrival.  So wouldn’t it be at that moment that the cause is no longer found and the adult Traveler must cease to exist?  I suppose this is equivalent to saying that time travel is not possible, unless the traveler jumps with the planning and preparation that will ensure that an N-jump will happen.

But let us assume time travel is possible regardless of where the new timeline will go.  In that case, my question is, why does the C-D timeline need to revert at that particular time?  You might say “because that is the point at which it is now certain that the young Traveler cannot recreate the events of the C-D timeline.”  However I posit that you could be certain of that at different times.  Perhaps the point at which the Traveler changes the younger Traveler’s mind should be the revert point?  No, the young Traveler could change their minds.  Perhaps the young Traveler is delayed a little but would have left from the C-D timeline at a little bit later point in time than D and successfully recreated the events at point C?  I can see that you need to resolve the cause and effect somewhere, but wouldn’t it be simpler if it happened at the moment of the jump back to C?

I am again surprised because Vazor previously mentioned having read The Spreadsheet Illustration of Temporal Anomalies; however, many people who have read that have missed some of its critical points.  Permit me to clarify.

What the spreadsheet illustration attempts to posit is a chain of causes and effects that create either a stable or an unstable loop.  In essence, the value of cell A1 is dependent on the value of cell A5, which is in turn dependent on the values of A4, A3, A2, and A1 in sequence.  If this chain of formulae results in A1 having the same value derived from A5, we have a stable loop, and the rest of the spreadsheet can be derived from the value of A5.  If, on the other hand, the value of A1 keeps changing, then the value of A5 keeps changing, changing the value of A1, and the rest of the spreadsheet cannot be calculated because the value of A5 is not constant.

What people miss is sort of two-fold:

  1. The value of A5 changes instantly when the value of A1 changes, because A5 is dependent on A1; but
  2. Sequentially before the value of A5 changes the values of A2, A3, and A4 all change, and those steps are necessary for A5 to change even though they, too, change instantaneously.

In exactly the same way at the instant the time traveler arrives in the past he changes all of history up through the moment he departs or fails to depart from the future, and in that sense his arrival in the past is instantly either confirmed or undone, but all of the events that lead from his arrival to his departure must happen before that confirmation or undoing can occur.  Further, we experience those intervening events as time, and thus we have a CD timeline because we need the causal chain which determines whether or not the traveler will depart from the future.

Did we make sense this time?

How does replacement theory explain the conservation of matter problem?

Honestly this question has been asked before, but not quite this way.

Conservation of matter is simply that matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed.  Under the replacement theory, there would appear initially to be a creation of matter at the arrival point, as the time traveler (and whatever he brings with him) are introduced as matter and energy that were not present, and there is an increase in the total mass of the universe.  Since any sane time traveler aims for a space in which the matter currently there is easily displaced–air, typically–I would not expect there to be a problem of matter arriving atop matter.  It is, I suppose, a plausible problem, and one that would also occur if we were talking about matter transmission or replication, but generally speaking the worst ordinary outcome would be an increase in atmospheric pressure of a small amount.

That increase in the total mass of the universe is effectively borrowed from the mass of the universe in the future, and has to be repaid at the moment it was borrowed–that is, if we send two hundred kilograms back from 2020 to 2010, we increase the mass of the universe by two hundred kilograms at 2010, but decrease it by the same amount at 2020, thus preserving the total mass of the universe.  In a sense, we moved the barbells to another room and then moved them back.

As to the four proposed time travel stories, they would need more details to know what is intended and whether it is possible.  The third, though, is something similar to something done (or at least discussed) in a Multiverser game.  Let us suggest that your villain built his robot and his time machine in 2018, and sends his robot in his time machine back from 2020 to 2019.&nbsp Since in 2019 he already has a robot and a time machine built in 2018, he now has two.  In 2020 he sends back both robots and both time machines, which both arrive in 2019, and now he has three of each.  He can continue doing this interminably, but we’ll say he stops at ten, so now in 2019 he has ten robots and ten time machines.

To clarify, the first time through he has one robot, and in 2020 he sends it back to 2019 so that he has two robots, which we can call #1 and #2.  In 2020 he can send #2 back to become #3, but he must also send #1 back to become #2 or #2 will not arrive in 2019 in the third iteration.  Thus by sending two robots back from the end of the second iteration he has in the third iteration three, not four, robots.

The problem is that he must send back nine of them (and technically the right nine) at the right moment in 2020.  After all, number ten is technically number one whose history includes that he has traveled to the past nine times, and if number one now fails to depart for the past, all the others will cease ever to have arrived in the past, and we crash into an infinity loop in which our villain has one robot, one time machine, and a plan to duplicate them by using time travel.  Further, to move beyond the departure point in 2020 our villain must systematically send back eight, seven, six, and so forth until only the last robot, who has been sent back many times, is the only one which remains, and then one robot continues with the villain into the future.

So he has to be aware of this, and make good use of his robots in 2019 before he has to start sending them back.

I don’t think I’ve answered everything, but I think I’ve addressed everything that matters.  I look forward to Vazor’s response perhaps a dozen years in the future or, if he figures out time travel before I do, a dozen years in the past.

#347: Versers Scrambled

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #347, on the subject of Versers Scrambled.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of Versers, 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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.

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.

This is the eighth and last mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 78 through 86.  Previous entries in this series include:

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.

Chapter 78, Kondor 168

At this point I had two problems.  One was pacing; the other was bringing each of my characters to a satisfactory end for the book.  I still did not have worlds chosen for Slade or Beam, and was going to have to do one of them next, but I had at least two more Kondor chapters to bring him to the finish point, one more Hastings chapter, and probably one more Brown chapter.  I also had to decide who would be last.

This had been chapter 67 before the addition of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 79, Slade 167

Sometimes in play one gets an idea for a world, and sends a player character there to see what might happen.  This was like that, only less so initially–I had the notion that Slade would return to a future version of the parakeet valley world, but I was not at all certain how far future.  My three notions were medieval, modern, and science fiction, but I was not seeing much of a story for any of these.  I put it to Kyler, and he said definitely modern, but perhaps not quite modern–mid twentieth century or even late nineteenth century.  The notion of our auto mechanic appearing in the age of steam appealed to me, so that’s where we went.

I had already decided that the version of the language he spoke would have become something known only to scholars, but would still be recognized as language.

This was chapter 68 until the Takano chapters shifted it.


Chapter 80, Kondor 169

I had originally thought to do most of this in retrospect, but remembered an editor friend suggesting that action was better, so I tackled trying to tell more of it as it happened.

Before the addition of the Takano chapters this was chapter 69.

I once saw a Doctor Who special in which one of the companions commented that her job was to say “What is it, Doctor?” so the Doctor could explain, and that there were only so many ways to say that.  I think of that as the Amir asks Kondor that question.


Chapter 81, Beam 55

I pondered where to send Beam, and the best thing I could think of was a published world called The Industrial Complex.  The player on whom he is based was there when I was running him, and did some surprising things, so it might be a good direction for me.

Prior to including the Takano chapters this was chapter 70.

On the last edit I discovered that this was double-numbered Beam 54; there were no further Beam chapters in the book, so it just involved fixing this one.


Chapter 82, Hastings 185

At this point I decided I had to add the other character, so I began writing the Tomiko Takano stories.

I had originally written that Lauren did not sense any other versers, but was changing events such that Tomiko would be the girl on the curb, and that meant Lauren would detect someone but would not have time to learn more.

This was chapter 71 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 83, Kondor 170

I had thought that I would be going directly from the report to the Amir to the defense of the shoreline, but then I recognized that there had to be some discussion about where the attack would come.

This had been chapter 72 until the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 84, Takano 12

I knew this would be the end of the book for Tomiko; I still had to write the last chapter for Kondor.  I had to integrate what Tomiko saw with what I had already written for Lauren, as the stories were now overlapping.  The other problem was exactly how much of this new world I should write, knowing that I was going to have to pick it up in another book.

Then, of course, I was going to have to interweave the dozen Takano chapters into the six dozen chapters of the main story.

The decision to place it here between two Kondor chapters was connected to the decision to switch the order of the final two chapters of the book, discussed in connection with them.


Chapter 85, Kondor 171

Even though I had only written four chapters of the Tomiko story, I expected this would be the last chapter of the book, as all the characters came to cliffhanger endings.

This was originally chapter 74, and the final chapter of the book.  The reasons for changing that are discussed in connection with the final chapter; moving it also meant placing the last Takano chapter before it, so I wouldn’t have two Kondor chapters in a row.


Chapter 86, Brown 195

There was a question about whether when Derek got to the bridge a voice would say “Captain on the bridge” and some mechanical crewmen would snap to attention, or whether it would go as it did, with an artificially intelligent humanoid holding the position of captain.  When I got here, I decided that making Derek First Officer had a lot more potential for interesting story, including addressing why the captain has not maintained the education of the humanoid indigs aboard.

I swithered about whether this would be the last chapter, or whether Kondor would end the book.  I had considered Lauren as well, but decided against her at some point.

Originally I ended the book with Kondor 171, with this as the penultimate chapter.  However, when Kyler was reading the chapters he said that the Brown chapter was the best ending for the book, the best cliffhanger.  However, if I moved it that would give me two Kondor chapters in a row–which was remedied by putting the last Takano chapter between them, also having the benefit that it prevented me from going directly from Lauren throwing the child to Tomiko catching her.


This has been the eighth and last behind the writings look at Versers Versus Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#343: Worlds Explode

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #343, on the subject of Worlds Explode.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of Versers, 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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.

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.

This is the seventh mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 67 through 77.  Previous entries in this series include:

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.

Chapter 67, Kondor 165

The ghillie suit idea seemed important to the flavor of the upcoming confrontation, and it at least had to be floated.  I also figured I could put some of their plans on the table before the event so that I didn’t have to say, oh, yes, Lauren had advised them to do this, or they had agreed to do that.

This had been chapter 57 prior to the expansion with the Takano chapters.


Chapter 68, Slade 165

I reached what was supposed to be the climax of this book much too soon, despite having dragged my feet quite a bit getting here.  Still, I was here, and I was going to have to figure out what to do from here.

This had been chapter 58 until the Takano chapters shifted it.


Chapter 69, Beam 54

I had suddenly had the notion that it might be possible for one of the versers to recognize Beam from earth.  I discussed it with Kyler, and he said it should be Slade, and I agreed.  I also decided on the lines Beam delivers about not being friends and sticking to his plan.

This was chapter 59 before the Takano expansion.


Chapter 70, Hastings 183

I kept trying to figure out the best perspectives for this battle, particularly as I wanted to give the impression everyone was involved but I didn’t really have enough for everyone to do.  I decided to go with Lauren, and focus on her two-front battle, fighting both the alien and the elemental, while giving fragments of the rest of the story through her eyes.

This had been chapter 60, moved by the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 71, Brown 193

I was trying to decide to whose battle view should I move, and as I looked at the outline I realized that it was an ideal time for Derek to take over the story for a bit.

I also had some ideas about what Derek should do here.  Unfortunately, they’re slow, dull, long-scale preparation ideas that should lead into the beginning of the next book, but hopefully I can make them interesting.

This had been chapter 61 originally, shifted when the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 72, Slade 166

I had left the battle in the middle, and was returning to it, trying to cover Slade’s fight with Dawn.  Everything was going to end very quickly here, and I was going to be faced with finding new worlds for several characters, but for the moment I just needed to get through this.

The inclusion of the Takano chapters shifted this from its original number of 62.


Chapter 73, Takano 11

The notion of lucid dreaming struck me while I was musing about how to make this transitional chapter work, so I began with that in view.  I knew by this point that Tomiko was going to land in the same world as Lauren, and be there first.

The person who used to fly when he realized he was dreaming was me.  I haven’t done it in years, but there was a time when I did it fairly regularly, recognizing that I was dreaming and derailing the dream so I could lift myself into the air and fly over the countryside looking at the landscape below.

I was starting to worry about where to put this chapter, because I didn’t want it too far from the next one but I needed to get Tomiko into her next world before Lauren arrived, and Lauren was coming.  I decided once more to chop the main battle with a diversion, at a moment when both Lauren and Bob were caught in the act of dying.


Chapter 74, Kondor 166

I had worked out the ending of the battle already.  The problem was the timing.  I needed Lauren and Slade to die at exactly the right moment so that Dawn would not be able to prevent Zeke from getting a clean shot, but they would be off the battlefield.

This had originally been chapter 63, shifted by the addition of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 75, Brown 194

It actually took several days to write this short chapter–not that I had started writing it, but that I couldn’t figure out what perspective to take, how to tell the story here.  I also was delayed by a day when I was under the weather, and a day when there was too much on my plate, but eventually I managed it.

Before the inclusion of the Takano chapters this was chapter 64.


Chapter 76, Kondor 167

At this point I knew how the book ended for Kondor, but that there would be at least a few chapters to get there.  I also knew what was happening with Derek, but had a question about the end.  I had not yet decided on worlds for Beam or Slade.  For the moment, I had to move Kondor gradually to his endpoint.

This was chapter 65 prior to the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 77, Hastings 184

I was writing this chapter because I knew what would happen in this world, and it was going to be short.  I had even tentatively decided that she would be out of this world before the end of the book, despite the fact that there were a very few chapters remaining for everyone else.

Before the Takano chapters were incorporated this was chapter 66.


This has been the seventh behind the writings look at Versers Versus Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind the writings posts for it.