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I'm quite happy with the way this one is shaping up!

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I had a strange, quiet revelation last night that I may be coming to the end of my Continuation stories. Now, at my current rate of writing (which really needs to pick up), I have more than enough open projects to last till the end of my natural life. And at a good clip, I have, oh, 20 years of projects left. But I haven't developed a truly new idea for a story in the Continuation universe in something like 6 years.

I find this kind of comforting. While I love the Continuation, there's a certain "light at the end of the tunnel" feeling about imaging a time when I'll move on to writing something truly different--probably related to Japan--or maybe just a lot more fan fic.

The Continuation stories I want to finish, in roughly the order I ought to be working on them, are (pardon the list that means nothing to anyone but me):

1. Broken Song (web show)
2. The Forwarder (to be published along with web show)
3. Mercy ('Eblia's story)
4. The Dying Cycle (of which Mercy is a sub-story) ('Ghanior et al.'s story)
5. Convention
6. (needs title) Dhri and Nerin's story
7. Málorvat (The Kiri Gilgamesh)

Less important, smaller projects:
1. Revise "The Eater" into some decent form
2. Maybe a novella of "The Impossibility of Death"
3. Finish that short story about the Ybian making friends with the human
4. Codify some reference materials (including War's End)

That's about it. I mean, that's a lot, but it's recognizably finite. It will be nice to be done with all that someday. It will be kind of freeing. Maybe I'll write that long fan fic about Elrond...
labingi: (Ghanior)
Perdita is away to the barber's--er, proofreader's--at last. I should say, Help the Gods is, as this is the edition I hope to release under that rather more interesting title.

Oh, Perdita, Perdita, I really don't know what I'm looking at when I look at you. My best analysis (21 years after I started writing and 11 after I "finished" the first edition) is that it has good parts and bad parts. In my most recent wordiness edit, there were moments it moved me to tears and moments that were just dull and a bit embarrassing. And there were some moments that were a bit embarrassing in a not-necessarily-bad-way, such as some slightly purplish romance. I wouldn't write that way today, but there's a reason it appeals, especially to young audiences, and Perdita is fundamentally a young person's book.

Here's my best assessment of the current version:

The Bad:
* Not very good prose. It's not as embarrassingly amateurish as the original, but it's very flat and rarely rises above functional.

* Those dang couple of plot points (no spoilers) that are just hard to justify in terms of character motivation.

* Some really dull bits, mostly surrounding Karmeena learning to mind read and the long, boring meeting--and, alas, as ever, chapter 1.

* Poor Laynia being stereotyped as seductress. I tried to make this interesting, but it still reads as stereotyped.

* My mom says the ending lacks resolution. I don't know. I think it's okay, but it is a "gray" ending.

The Good:
* Ethan and Sherayna, singly and together (overall: some bit read a bit "high school")

* Part 3--it's the part that seems most cohesive and moving.

* Leric. I still love him. He's one of those characters who is nothing like me yet whom I know well enough to just jump in and write. And Leric and Sherayna trying to work out their issues via playing First Causes is still a scene I love.

* The general theme, which one early reader summed up as "fanaticism." I think it makes its point.

(Ghanior--my icon--is not yet born at the time of this story, but I do think Ethan is one of his personal heroes.)
labingi: (Ghanior)
Chapters 1-6 on AO3

Chapter 7

Our Journey, Day 9, Continued

In the evening's cool, I hugged the fire, the beach rocks hard beneath me.

"It's a dangerous tech that makes you see dreams you can't snap out of," said Nyra as she stirred the pot. The smell of her stew almost dispelled our troubles. She was the hand of reality reaching into our dreams.

She and Lastri'nom maybe.

"Yes, it is," I said to her, then went on in Vunizh, "But was it caused by our tech? Tanez do you think you saw into Jana itself or...?"

"Or had a psychotic break?" He smiled.

The joke did not amuse Lastri'nom.

"It could well be Jana," said Glin. "The fact that we're being slammed doesn't mean our jae bands are inactive. We could be receiving input from Jana."

"Without consciously directing our minds toward Jana?" Anger colored Lastri'nom's voice. "That would be without precedent": would be frightening, he meant.

"It's not. You know it's not," said Tanez. "My father has spontaneously felt the presence of Jana almost since you First Walkers began."

"Your father has a unique connection to Jana. Everyone knows that."

"Still," said Glin, "one case doesn't equal unprecedented. Slamming's been rare too till now."

"Chi'anové?" I asked.

"It could be," he said sleepily. If anything, the idea of being connected to Jana comforted him.

Glin picked up a piece of sandstone and starting filing her nails. The sound of the tide rolled in to us like a giant's sleeping breath. The beach, blanketed in placid gray, was nothing now except itself. It carried no flavor of dreams.Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
Chapters 1-5 on AO3

Chapter 6

Our Journey, Day 8

For three days, we had crossed a terrain of steep, coastal hillsides, often with a mere depression in the rock for a trail. The scrabbling took a toll on Chi'anové. His legs ached and sweat clung around his eyes, his frustration compounded by hurt pride: he was a skilled rock climber; aside from Jana, climbing was his prime element. But now that his health was defeating him, no one saw his talent. Again, he was misjudged--or so he thought. In fact, Nyra noted his poise, and seeing how he struggled when he ought to have outstripped us alerted her to his illness. I didn't tell him that; he chafed under her attention.

But she asked me about it as we gathered kindling, and I explained what I could: that sickness was building up inside him and he needed a machine to cleanse it.

The idea filled her with pity and revulsion. "If he were of our folk, we'd let him die. We don't hold with machines to stave off death."

I nodded. "'Let die.'" It was one of the most famous Kiri precepts, the admonition not to cling to things beyond their time. "But if he were one of you, he would never have been a Walker."

"That's so." Nyra cracked a stick hard across her knee. "Thus, he wouldn't be ill."Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
A myth from The Tales of the Nine Clans of Ash'tor.

"The Tale of Yor, Being the Tale of the Fourth Clan"

In the Wandering Days, long since eaten by time, in the deserts of Ra'Ebsyn dwelt a fine family of the Clan Khebyq. Though they stood high in honor and piety, the Great God Trahae, in his wisdom, had winnowed their numbers till only the aged mother and her twin sons remained.

Now in those days, bands of renegades beset the worlds of the Traedah, plundering heavyships and murdering their crews. But the Three Clans of the Nahajûn, as ever, gladdened in the call of war and, hornet-like, sped toward the blunt-footed enemy.

These twin sons of Clan Khebyq both were noble men, young and taut in lineaments in the expectation of glory. And both would have hastened to the battle were not their aged mother frail and in need of aid to till the fields. Therefore, they agreed that, to honor their mother, one brother must earn glory and one must harvest locusts.

Now, Medhebaq was firstborn and, by the Law, had the right to depart. With many prayers and colored carvings, he readied the family's only lightship and sought Trahae's blessing to smite the marauders with ship and hand. But on the night that he stood in prayer vigil on his final turn on Ra'Ebsyn, on that very night, his brother, Sylseq, crept to the lightship in his Medhebaq's stead. A flood of fire swept him skyward, and Medhebaq saw his glory fail like an upward-falling star. And though he longed to exact justice, his honor to his aged mother bound him to his home sands. So he tilled the hard earth of Ra'Ebsyn in obscurity.

Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
Chapters 1-5 on AO3

Chapter 5

I awoke to clamor, floundering in the water. A moment later, I woke truly on dry sand, woke to agony, throbbing, nauseous, his mind gasping, I did it, but where?, and a need to hide till the lightning in the brain stopped and sight was possible. And fear from us all, and cries and chatter.

A handlight clicked on--Chi'anové's. I groped for mine. So did Glin, and then three lights shown on the man crumpled by the embers of our fire.

I recall Tanez next to him, Tanez's voice, sharp, "It's Ghanior. He's a friend."

Ghanior? 'Ghanior Lastri'nom? The Director of the Walking Program. One of the First Walkers, the first generation. He had Walked to us--or been slammed, a thin, middle-aged man in a blue-black sy'gad's uniform, the second highest rank in the Ash'tor; he had come in Ash'tor's name.Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Chapter 4

But there was no chance. The next day, we took Glin and Tanez to my ship, where the sum total of our expertise pronounced it irreparable in the absence of a synapse grower. Even Chi'anové couldn't deny it. Like rusty swimmers beached on an island, we reset our conception of time and space and firmed our minds for the long, long swim.

***

Our Journey: Day 1

The following day, we set out just after breakfast, a relief to us all except Leyvar. For him, Nyra's departure came like the cracking of an old, over-heavy tree limb: both expected and abrupt. Accustomed as he was to her wanderings, our stranding smacked of danger, and our destination was far away. Nyra understood his unease with an old familiarity and hugged him tightly in parting.

Though my shoulder ached under my pack, our steady pace comforted me. The morning cool was made for walking, the woods quiet: once we left the town, I sensed no people but our company. Blessed be progress without hurry. To go by foot is humanity's natural state, synced--so they guess--to our evolution: walking... Walking. That other Walking will always be alien to our bodies. Except Chi'anové's: his natural state, indeed, is Walking, so much so he bleeds Jana out of his cells. When I thought of the jae damage building in his body, our pace no longer pleased me.

The day warmed, not dramatically, a lifting of fog, sun dappling the turf. We were all lucky to have hardwearing clothes, though the seal-slick Leddie jumpsuits breathed better than our Ash'torian coats and breeches. Nyra, in light, loose pants and tunic fared best as temperature crept up.

As the sun ascended glacially, my legs grew leaden and my shoulder burned, numbed, tingled, burned by turns. When we stopped for lunch, I sank gratefully on a rock just off the path. There's a freedom in being able to stop anywhere: no hotel, no dining district, no transit station--just world.Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Chapter 3

The next day we used the hand com to call for help. Again it was too easy. The general distress signal had been running not five minutes when an eager voice commed in:

"Hello? We are receiving. Respond please." The man spoke the Leddie language, Vunizh, for the same reason I am writing in Vunizh. For us, it's a lingua franca, and so for you of the future, at least, it should still be translatable. His accent was good but not native.

I described our situation, presenting myself as a diplomatic attaché and Chi'anové as a courier. It was so much our standard cover story it almost seemed the truth.

"I'm Tanez Shadowdell," said the man, "Of the Rha-Lutran Walking Academy."

Chi'anové and I glanced at each other. "Pardon me," I said, "You are the Tanez Shadowdell, the son of Sheseson?" If so, he was royalty among Walkers, son of one of the First to enter Jana.

"Yes, that's right." His tone, though amicable, suggested the question was a nuisance. "Two standard days ago, my fellow instructor, Soval, and I were taking three advanced students on a training Walk. Everything seemed ordinary, but when we Walked, Soval and I got slammed to this planet, like you."Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
Mercy
By 'Eblia Te'Zhano Yoq

A story from the Continuation universe.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

I awoke again, squished in padding that propped me on my side. As on awakening from a nightmare, I lay still, afraid to move, the world reduced to my throbbing head and pounding blood. After some seconds, I deflated the padding and clambered out of my harness. Reports showed only minor damage. I began to be hopeful. Sensors read breathable atmosphere at 1.1 G, no electronics within ten, twenty, I went out to fifty kilometers. When I requested an astral location, however, my ship's gentle pulse clicked off; screens vanished; lifeless alloy surrounded me, battery-lit. The shutdown was so smooth and total that a message stating, "fools fail" could not have made it plainer. On some level, I must have guessed from the first that my ship had been sabotaged, but I'd treated the crisis as a force of nature. Now, the obvious humanity of my adversary filled me with a human anger.

I rolled the top hatch open on manual. It lay perpendicular to the ground. A whirling green before my eyes stilled into a coniferous forest, thick and moistly grassy beyond the lacerated earth. Morning? Afternoon? The air flooded in heavy with wet turf and smoke, though I saw no fire; my ears popped.

I listened. A breeze fanned my sweaty face. Two birds conversed with a monotonous "tich, tich," life barely touched by my passage. The damp dripped into my ship as if wrung from a washcloth. My mind poured outward furiously, the polar opposite of my usual self-encasement. Surging all my hypertelepath's power at the forest, I caught a faint hint of distant minds, at least a kilometer away, too far off for me to a guess a direction or a number beyond more-than-one. Friends or enemies? Not the slightest clue.
Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
This is a Continuation story that is properly a side-story of the The Dying Cycle, but I'm going to start posting it as a standalone, mainly because I fully intend to write a crossover in which 'Eblia meets Charles Xavier. But of that odd psychological space, more later. Many thanks to Jamie and Jodi and [livejournal.com profile] louderandlouder for the excellent critiquing.

Mercy
by 'Eblia Te'Zhano Yoq


Dedication

'Ghanior, this is my love letter to you. It's for posterity too, for while this account can't be published in the current political climate, it might be of some historical value when these events have been forgotten. You and I know from 'Hasha's writings that love and history are not mutually exclusive. So here it is: my love for you--and for 'Shoan.



Chapter 1

I registered the signs but did not respond to them. In the month since Qer'yem had left me, she dominated my thoughts. I went to work in a fog, navigating by force of habit, and when the scenery changed, I noticed without noticing.

I was a spy then, an "Eye-man," in our language. (In Ash'torian, women are Eye-men too.) My partner, Chi'anové, and I served the Trae'dah Eye as field agents, he the tracker and I the reader. He would Walk in first to scout the assigned location. I'd follow in the guise of an attaché and listen in telepathically. This is against international law, but our government, for a warrior people, is remarkably discreet.

I've said Chi'anové was a Walker and assumed that you, my future readers, know I meant. Do you still have Walkers in your time, those adventurers implanted with a device that lets them enter the dimension called Jana and punch a line through it to instantly travel anywhere in our known planets? If you've never heard of this, it must sound like an incredible power. And it is. Yet I took it for granted, as I did Chi'anové.

Our assignment was routine, the kind we'd played dozens of times as smoothly as a high hand in fast-tac. But as soon as we were in the hall, Chi'anové said, "Damn, but you could smell the photo fear at that briefing," the fear of being held accountable.*

And I said, "Yes," because I'd felt it too, and thought no more about it.

In retrospect, it's clear they wanted to nullify my hypertelepathy. As an HT, I made a good spy, in part, because my telepathic skills are so sensitive that thoughts leak to me even through blocked minds, and since I don't have to reach out to read them, few sense the intrusion. But this could be as much as hazard for our handlers as for our marks. In this briefing, our handler had oozed unease. I was too preoccupied to care.

So much for my obtuseness, but what of Chi'anové? Later, for a time, it puzzled me that he wasn't more mistrustful. But it isn't hard to fathom. Covert intelligence is a fabric so famously woven of lies that lies become its honesty. They lied, he thought. We all do. Information, perversely, thrives in obfuscation. Insects call in the grass because on a slab, they'd be eaten. And so we grasshoppers sprang dutifully out into the meadow and into the waiting mouth.Read more... )
labingi: (Ghanior)
Chapter 1, Notes, and Acknowledgements
Chapter 2

Chapter 3: Learning English

Ghanior did not like to admit, even to himself, how afraid he was. What frightened him was nothing more than physical pain, the banal intruder into his higher consciousness. An Ash'torian soldier should not operate in that domain, like an animal. A man who had nothing but duty left had no right to balk at performing his duty. But he was tired of hurting. He had hurt from the moment his ship had Walked through, and even though the ship had been programmed to follow the current and Ghanior's own Jana band had been minimally active, Jana had kicked him in the gut as always. And since he'd Walked to Ishan's house, he hadn't thrown off the pain behind his eyes. And now he had to hook his head into this damn machine.

In the waning afternoon, he sat in the dust and ate half a sandwich, torn between hunger and the virtual certainty he'd throw up when this language printer stuck into his nervous system. He welcomed the wilted leaves and soggy bread and overprocessed meat-like product. Good food would only have made him remember the possibility of relaxation.

Ishan and Mei paced up and down like spiders weaving a web from the central axis of the ship, testing the range of his makeshift diffractor. He kept pulling his eyes forcibly off Ishan. He looked so young, so not very different from the boy who'd fallen into Jana all those years ago. A decade ago he'd returned (like a dream), like a ghost... like the long-fleeing brother. Even the cut of the long, black hair he let fall around his shoulders was the same. Ghanior planted his eyes on the ship.Read more... )
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I've been putting off posting this for way too long, waiting to get it fully polished, but it's as polished as it will be for a while. Doubtless I'll go back and re-edit in times to come. For those who've been primarily reading my X-Men posts, no relation between Eriks.

Summary/Teaser: Erik had no memory of his life before awaking five years ago in a dream called America. Now a man from another planet, who claims to be from his past, is telling him it isn't a dream at all. (M/M here and there.) Also on AO3

The Dying Cycle

Chapter 1 plus notes

Chapter 2: Three Walkers

Erik stayed out till midnight. Matt wasn't at home, wasn't at the Domino, wasn't out in the woods behind Kingsley School. It went without saying he wasn't answering his phone. Erik made the rounds three times, then waited up by his apartment another hour. Finally, he bummed a piece of paper off a SmartMart clerk and left a note telling him Asoiya was alive. The fact that Matt had never told Erik her name, even in his dreams, should sell the authenticity of it, if Matt remembered her name... which he would.

Erik pushed the note through his mail slot and went home. The idea that Asoiya had survived depressed him. He recognized envy as an old pattern with his life, even in the absence of all but five years of memory. Or was "jealousy" a better word? He'd just lost Matt, and it made him bitter. Was that so reprehensible?

At home, he found Ghanior asleep on the couch. He didn't stir as Erik came in, which seemed a bad sign. Ghanior ought to be a light sleeper, especially in a strange place. A memory stirred, no, not a concrete memory, more a realization.

I know this because we used to be roommates. No, we had other roommates. We were never roommates.

It was all made up anyway; it had to be. That thought alone made it manageable.

Erik sat on the coffee table and watched the night-lit outline of Ghanior's face. The low light softened the years and resurrected his beauty. And that was bad too. Erik went to bed.Read more... )
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This is an original science-fantasy novel, set in the same universe as my novel, Perdita, and my in-process film, The Hour before Morning. I do hope someone will take a chance and read a bit despite its not being fic.

Summary/Teaser: Erik had no memory of his life before awaking five years ago in a dream called America. Now a man from another planet, who claims to be from his past, is telling him it isn't a dream at all. (M/M here and there.) Also on AO3

Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] louderandlouder for massive, massive beta work. Thanks, too, to [personal profile] sixish for giving me a fresh reader's insights, and thanks to my in-person writer's group for more fresh (and men's!) insights.

There is/will be quoting of copyrighted texts in this work. This chapter references Dune, Babylon 5, and the 1985 Star Trek novel, The Final Frontier. I disclaim ownership, give credit, and do not profit.


The Dying Cycle

Chapter 1: The Man from Another Dream

Again, he awoke or became aware of himself awake. Again, he'd lost his name. He'd had many once, when there had been ones to name him, but long ago he'd shed those names behind the misty veil.

The same scentless wind blew off the ocean; the same gray clouds swept high. Long ago, the air had been filled with creatures, black wings and claws and bulk; he couldn't remember their shape. Long ago, he had subdued them, or they had slipped into hibernation. Behind him, he knew, lay skeletons, and so he faced the wind. Behind him, a ghost passed, like a moth's white flapping just beyond his feet.

Talya? His depths disgorged the name and an after-glimpse of black-reed hair and bloodless skin.

A hand almost touched his shoulder, then was gone, and Matt said (again), "I hope you realize it's your fault that I've lost her."

I'm so tired of this, he thought.

Then he woke to the other dream.

Read more... )
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In transferring some old files to my new computer, I came across The Forwarder, a novel-in-progress that I haven't worked on for about 4-5 years. I remember distinctly giving up on it. Many chapters had been through several drafts. It was not communicating clearly to my critiquing group (a common problem with my complex SF universe). It was getting increasingly confused, and I was sick of it.

I was pleased, therefore, to find that it's not as unsalvageable as I imagined. It's probably about 3/4 complete in draft form, and several medial chapters read pretty smoothly. It's also probably the closest I will ever get to writing like Le Guin in terms of doing serious anthropological study of cultures that differ substantially from our own. So I may well go back and finish it, not right away, but it would be a good companion publication for "Web Show" in five years or so when/if I get that written up and produced. (There's significant character crossover between the two.)

In a nutshell, The Forwarder is the story of the conquest of a planet. Zeinnéfa has for some centuries been held by the Ránlans, a peaceful people much given to science, art, and reasoned discourse. It has, however, lately been ceded to the Aejdarians, a slightly Klingonesque warrior people, much given to hierarchy, religion, honor, and rhetorical flourish. The local Ránlans generally object to their parent government's decision to cede their planet, and a group of them decide to fight.

They are led by Leng, a Ránlan whose personality perhaps better fits Aejdar: he is abrupt, assertive, opinionated, courageous, etc. Counterpoint to Leng is Naqlem, the wife of the Aejdarian leader, who might have been better born a Ránlan: she is quiet, self-reflective, thoughtful, open-minded--and a huge devotee of the Ránlan songwright, Dáromur, who happens to be Leng's life-sharer/wife. So while Leng mounts a resistance, Naqlem attempts to work with Dáromur to find a common ground.

It's a good basic structure, if I do say so myself, and while it needs a lot of work, it is probably worth working on.
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Sociological notes to self on Perditan society, gleaned from my recent reread/re-edit of the novel...

Read more... )

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