Friday, September 20, 2013

Where's Part II?

It started with a single short story.

Last September, I finished a short story collection titled, Corridors. Although it was not released until this past spring, in the middle of the collection was one peculiar short story that simply went by the title of "The Mines of Mars". It was a story about two men who attempted to loot a mining train and how it went wrong.

Somehow, though, the story did not seem finished. So I labeled it "Part I" with the hopes of finishing it someday and publishing that story in another short story collection. This idea occurred more or less at the same time as I was considering writing a collection of "interlinked" short stories.

Eventually, I thought...well, why not make a whole series of short stories set on Mars? Sort of like a subtle homage to Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Only this time, I wanted to illustrate the progress of technology over several decades and the impact that could make. So I started tinkering with the ideas of having robots, settlements, and domed cities. The goal was to focus in on a small group of pioneers and inventors and follow the impacts of their creations. I also wanted to write it like a documentary where the individual parts together would form a much bigger picture. The end result was Fractal Standard Time, which does contain "The Mines of Mars, Part II". Part I is here and is also in this collection here.

But it didn't stop there.

At the end of the writing of that book, a beta reader commented about the story didn't feel "finished". The more I thought about it, the more I realized they were right. So the story continued to grow and now there two more books in the works...which will form a trilogy. Each book will build on the patterns laid down in the previous book(s) to form one large fractal structure. Which brings me to...

Yes, there are fractals in Fractal Standard Time. Sure, there are street names in one of the cities in the story that reflect famous past mathematicians. But there's more. Although each story in the book has its own narrative arc, the first three stories taken together also form an arc. So do the next three stories, and the next, and the next. On top of that, the first six stories form a bit of arc, too, along with the last six stories. Lastly, all the stories as a whole form a generalized arc which could be described as "the rise and fall of Magnopolis". You can probably guess what the whole series involves, then.

And the odd pattern on Fractal's cover? It's the beginning of a Hilbert curve. You can probably guess, then, what will end up on the next cover, too.

I don't know fully where this will all end up, but this is by far the most complicated thing I have ever attempted to write. I know some will complain about the gaps in time and plot with the first few stories of Fractal Standard Time, and perhaps at some point I'll go back and address those. Some, but not all, of those will be addressed in the next two books. But the key to these books will not so much be the fractals themselves, but what breaks the pattern...

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