The Best Plans Laid by Mice and Men

In the spring, after delivering a sea-faring campaign book for the latest version of the Swedish fantasy RPG Drakar och Demoner, I made a nice schedule for fiction-writing in my spare time till the end of 2016: publishing Dusk and Dawn, starting the sequel to The Ice War, and making a few RPG articles for the Fenix magazine.

However, mundane life intervened and disrupted all planning: this autumn I have had to spend all available energy on my children’s schooling and on earning my paychecks while suspending the fiction projects. But there is at least one piece of silver lining on the involuntary writing hiatus: my buddy Carolina Gomez-Lagerlöf got time to read the completed MS of the Dusk and Dawn novella and she found a serious flaw in a major turn of events. Her verdict is justified, so I now will have to rewrite several chapters to improve the story’s pacing. However, being somewhat wiser than nine months ago, I won’t make a prediction about when it will be completed.

“Dusk and Dawn”: When All Is Said and Done

Yesterday I typed the final paragraph of the Dusk and Dawn novella (a stand-alone sequel to the short-stories “Dust” and “The Road” — link >>> ). I started writing it in early 2014, but in the summer of 2015 a cluster of tough life events derailed my schedule. Almost twelve months passed before I was able to resume writing and complete its final chapter.

Now I feel sad and joyful because the likeable protagonist Fennec’s journey has reached its end. In 2014 author Jo Walton taught me a trick of the trade: a story’s ending must carry its weight. I think I have created a satisfactorily closure, but now I must wait for the test readers’ verdicts.

Next step will be editing. Ten percent of the initial text is superfluous according to my rule-of-thumb. The story will now rest for a while before I proceed with that. Meanwhile, I will start writing the next Patchwork World story: The Forest.

“Dusk and Dawn” — end in sight

During spring I was busy writing an ocean-faring campaign book, Skymningshavets gåtor (“Mysteries of the Sunset Ocean”), for a new edition of the Swedish fantasy RPG Drakar och Demoner.

After completing it, I returned to Dusk and Dawn, a Patchwork World novella that is a stand-alone sequel to the short-stories “Dust” and “The Road” (link >>> ). I had not touched the story for a year because I have been wrestling with the final chapter, but now some troublesome plot pieces have fallen into place and only three or four concluding scenes remain unwritten. Let’s hope that I soon will get time and energy to do that.

I have drawn a lot of inspiration from Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, a book that attempts to explain why certain pre-industrial societies “did better” than others; the author argues that a culture’s ability to progress is mainly determined by its basic productive resources, such as available crops and domesticable animals.

These ideas were hardly present when I started writing Dusk and Dawn in 2014, but the protagonist Fennec kept on making “Diamondian” observations during a journey through her desolate homeworld. I hope that Dr Diamond, would he ever read my story, will nod approvingly at Fennec’s deductions and outside-the-box conclusions.

“Dusk and Dawn”: A City in the Flatlands

I am currently working on the final chapter of the adventure novella Dusk and Dawn, a story from the retrotech Patchwork World setting, which so far also encompasses my shortstories “Dust” and “The Road” (link >>> ).

Three ancient cities serve as important venues for the novella’s plot. Here is what its protagonist Fennec has to say about one of them:

Sirak Thod lies where the Flatlands touch the World’s Brim. Millennia ago the canal builders founded the city on a hillside next to a deep lake, which they connected to the canal network through feeder gates that regulate the water flow into the Flatlands according to seasonal needs.

Similar cities dot the inner edge of the World’s Brim. Every time our ancestors came down from the mountains to reclaim the Flatlands, they started by repopulating those places. Then they pressed on, city by city, into the desolation. They dredged waterways, cleared and irrigated farmland, and rebuilt bridges and locks. All rulers know that the bountiful Flatland grain is indispensable for advanced societies; the meager crops of fruits and tubers in the mountain valleys cannot feed a teeming population.

Artist: DrawingNightmare at DeviantArt.

“Dusk and Dawn”: an Oasis Stronghold

Today I continue with the Patchwork World theme that started in the previous post, but now we go elsewhere in that multifaceted setting.

I am currently in the final stages of writing Dusk and Dawn novella, the third Patchwork World story. It is a stand-alone sequel to the published short-stories “Dust” and “The Road” (link >>> ). Much of its action occurs in the arid Flatlands, a region that has been inspired by the Martian deserts portrayed in many of Leigh Brackett’s stories.

Here is a place that could be a fortified oasis settlement in the Flatlands, located at an ancient dead canal. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Artist: Adam Kuczek on DeviantArt

The “Dusk and Dawn” Novella

For more than a year I have been writing a novella called Dusk and Dawn. It is a piece of diesel-retro science fiction, taking place on the same planet as the short-story ‘The Road’ that was recently published in the anthology Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep, though both stories stand alone and take place in locations far apart.

Dusk and Dawn will soon be completed; looking ahead from a metaphorical crow’s nest, I see my port of destination in the distance. The novella will be a part of a collection called Rimland Tales. I have already completed its two initial short-stories, one of which is ‘The Road’; the other one is called ‘Dust’. The collection’s internal chronology has one unoccupied “slot” between ‘The Road’ and Dusk and Dawn and I am therefore pondering on a possible second novella.

An excerpt from Dusk and Dawn, Chapter 2.

The steam engines that powered the elevators in the Tower of the Dark Voice were out of order due to lack of spare parts. Breathing heavily I reached the top of its spiral stairs just as the setting sun touched the horizon. Storm sat in a corner with a small backpack and the quarterstaff and we exchanged silent greetings. I was in no mood for talking with my legs exhausted from the long climb and my mind focused on the next task at hand.

Instead I walked to the railing. Here, a few hundred paces above ground, no buildings obstructed the wind, so the steady breeze soon dried the sweat from my torso. I emptied two bottles of water while I regarded the jumbled towers of my home city, ancient ruins mixed with recent edifices.

The sun disk vanished and the sky changed into star-flecked darkness. The Father-and-Son double planet shone sharply ten fingers above where the sun had set, while the Red Wanderer gleamed far higher in the sky.