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.

Patchwork World: a New Adventurer Enters the Stage

Usually posts appear on this blog according to a strict schedule — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — but that has not been possible recently because of the demands of reality. I have had to set new priorities, and I decided that writing the novella The Forest is at the top of the list (though of course below such mundane matters as earning a salary; the last time when I could support myself solely by writing games and fiction was in April 1989).

The Forest is a preliminary title for a story in the Patchwork World collection of retro-sf adventures on an alternate human homeworld. It takes place soon after the events of “The Road” and starts somewhere in the Oceanic Archipelago. The protagonist is Rauf Laudi, a middle-aged scholar that belongs to the Forsaken, a minority people that often suffers discrimination or persecution. His checkered past puts him in harm’s way because a government agency compels him to voyage to the distant Rim and investigate the truth behind strange rumors originating in a vast taiga.

The tall man approaching the entry to our college caught my attention because he did not fit in among the students moving among the university buildings. I was in the senior common room, working on an article for the Journal of the Pre-industrial Past, and my gaze had strayed to the park beyond the tall windows. The stranger walked with a straight-backed military poise and his face moved right and left like a detective surveying the surroundings. His bespoke suit would be appropriate at the College of Commerce, but not here at the College of the Past.

“A predator in disguise”, I mused and returned to my text.

“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.

Patchwork World: “The Forest”

My third diesel-retro Patchwork World tale Dusk and Dawn is almost completed and I have started the preparations for the fourth story, called The Forest. Its first chapter takes place on the vast sea between the Oceanic Archipelago and the Rim continent: a protagonist, a pilot who is a member of the persecuted Forsaken, has just been forced to ditch his aircraft.

The picture is by Wild Weasel at DeviantArt. Click on the picture for a larger version.

“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.