Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that we'd be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Monday, June 29, 2009

Strange Days

Wrote out most of Chapter 14 on lunch (I really like writing at lunch, I like having a lunch to write over). I don't think I got everything out about it, and it's one of the smaller chapters at 1195 words. It's some more set up and moving pieces, but it goes pretty quick. While Gary doesn't trust Santana, this is a chapter where he starts learning to trust him. If Santana wanted to pull something over on Gary he could have done it here, Gary will realize that in the cab ride home.

This chapter came out quick (I got about 900 words out in half an hour, the rest when I came home tonight). I knew basically what would happen, although there was a wrinkle they needed to work out that I didn't expect but made sense and I had to put it in.

I'm not sure where we go from here. I'm thinking maybe it's time for another background chapter as Santana and Gary make their way back to the safe house. During the critique there were plenty of questions of just what was the "Disaster" which changed SF so much. I may explain that now.

I've been toying with some of the concepts of the New Weird (as defined by Jeff VanderMeer which he posted yesterday, perchance). I've been having problems defining just what this novel is. It still isn't New Weird as it doesn't have the horror component (although there is some "gore" but we cross over it pretty quick, after all the main character's job is to kill people with a sword, that's not a bloodless job), but it's closer to that definition than the "urban fantasy/noir" classification I've been using so far. Part of Jeff's definition includes alternate history/universe which I think may solve an issue I've been struggling with. The "Disaster" was essentially "The Big One" on the west coast. The earthquake that radically alters the landscape, crashes and burns everything. The big reset button gets pushed for almost all of California and most of southern Oregon. The rest of the west coast isn't in better shape. There's a recession going on at the same time and the US government doesn't have the resources to rebuild an entire state, so California looks across the pacific. Asia comes in to help but also wants business interest control. After about twenty years, the rebuilding is near complete. There's fewer people, organized crime families have risen to prominence because they were able to get things done during the reconstruction. they could funnel the money and move projects forward where the local governments couldn't. The Chinese feel they can't make back their investment and pull out leaving the newly respectable crime families and local governments in charge in a stressed power sharing arrangement. The Federal Government continues to try and make inroads, the State is week and the cities operate more or less as independent City States. Our story takes place about thirty years after that.

However, technology hasn't advanced all that much (it has a little, but not in a "singularity" way, I have issues with the traditional definition of the "singularity", which has now morphed to be where an AI gains sentience). So how do I justify tech that's only slightly forward looking, and a geopolitical situation closer to today than what might be the case 100 years in the future? Well, if the Disaster occurred during the energy crunch of the 70s, that would make the story take place about a decade from now. Alternate timeline via natural disaster. A super-Katrina like event would have been beyond the US economy of the mid 70s to have dealt with. There are internal politics stuff that would change (Ronald Reagan would never had made president leading possibly to a second Carter administration, which would have brought Pat Buchannon in the 1988 race against Walter Mondale).

So that's what I've been toying with. I think it could work. I was also willing to simply never put all that in the book. Maybe it's time to make my characters life a little more hellish, pushing up a counter attack earlier, which then would drag out a subplot longer. But I need to set some of it up first. That might make more sense with returning to the safe house.

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