I normally eschew stuff like this, but a few other folks I know and respect have been doing it — a ten-question self-survey where you talk about your Next Big (Literary) Thing and then tag other folks to follow suit. Thinking I could answer a few common questions about my own project in the offing, I've now done the NBT thang for your reading pleasure:
1. What is the working title of your next book?
Flight of the Vajra — actually, that's the title. I went through some thirty-odd titles before settling on that one, so perhaps we could say that is the working title because it's the only title I came up with that worked.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
The various elements in the book — the far-future materials technology, the pontiff of a universe-spanning religion, the noirish protagonist — all existed as separate elements that were originally to be inserted into different stories. Over time they drifted together and started living under the same roof, so to speak. Before I knew it, it was hard to think of them as having ever been separate things.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Most likely "space opera", a term I don't mind using even when it only seems to cover part of the territory.Read more
After some consultation, a revised IPS logo:
The slogan was a revision based on a friend's suggestion: "Amidst Them All" implies they are more part of the situation they're patrolling, rather than merely standing "between" others. I also thickened up the stroke width on the logo itself.
I also have a rough draft of the insignia for the Old Way, the belief system that plays a prominent role in the story:
A little something visual I'm working on as viral marketing for Flight of the Vajra:
(Design subject to change, but that's the basic idea: it's the insignia worn by the officers who amount to the closest thing the universe in the book has to a shared police force.)Read more
It would be so weird if we knew just as much as we needed to know to answer all the questions of the universe. Wouldn’t that be freaky? Whereas the probability is high that there is a vast reality that we have no way to perceive, that’s actually bearing down on us now and influencing everything. The idea of saying, ‘Well, we can’t see it, therefore we don’t need to see it,’ seems really weird to me.
The quote is from Saunders himself (whose work has been compared to high-art SF), and for me it seems to sum up the difference between the sorts of people who not only read SF but take strong cues for their worldview from it, and those who don't. There is always more to our world, and it helps to know of it, even if our knowing is forever incomplete. It's not the body of knowledge, then, but the thirsting, the act of knowing how much or little we do know.Read more
I'm pretty sure that the best way to get a toehold in writing is to start writing work that you yourself want to read. Then, see who really cares about it, and try to understand why.
(Quote: Sterling himself.)
Vajra got started for precisely this reason. I had a kind of story I wanted to read, and I couldn't for the life of me find anything remotely like it. So, I went and wrote it. It remains to be seen if I scratched anyone else's itch at the same time, though.Read more
The last entry I had posted in this category was almost a month ago, before the end-of-the-year rush and the sheer grind of working on Vajra avalanched all over me. So, some word about what gives.
2nd draft edits are (quick math) 97% complete. I'm betting they will be done by this weekend, at which point I will give the book one more once-over. That part I am guessing will last me the rest of January and then some, at which point it will be out to the Super Secret Select Beta-Read Team. You all know who you are.
I didn't end up making drastic cuts to the story in this 2nd pass. It was more nip-and-tuck stuff — removing redundancies (of which there were a few), rearraning a few passages for better impact or clarity, that sort of thing. A total of maybe one or two scenes in toto were axed. This is still a long book, mind you — 348,000 words by my latest count — but a) it's part one of, well, one, and b) I'd like to think there are as few places as possible where things don't move forward in some way. I may, on the third pass, find some sections (a character speech here or there, for instance) that could stand to be axed or condensed — heck, I'm bringing back to mind one such sequence right now, but I want to go back and see how it plays in context before red-lining it.
If Summerworld ended up being 90% of what I had wanted it to be,Vajra is closer to 80-85%. Pretty good odds. The finished work is not something that's cast all at once; it's closer to something that's unearthed bit by bit and whose real dimensions and demands cannot always be seen from the outside. It's nothing like where I started out, but that's a good thing. Working on it has taken me into territory I would never have dreamed of venturing towards before.