Monday, December 31, 2012

The brilliance of Dune, Hyperion, and the current state of my novel

The space opera I'm writing is going well. It's just running a little longer than expected. My outline is broken up into four sections, each of which was supposed to translate to a hundred double-spaced pages. I'm still in section one and the novel's about a hundred and forty pages long at the moment. It'll likely take at least twenty pages to transition to the next section, but other than that things have been running smoothly.

As this very moment I'm beginning to think about turning it into a trilogy. The idea was to make it a stand-alone novel while one of the characters would become the focus of a spin-off. But at the current rate, the story is on track to be twice as long as I intended. This story could easily be two books. The spin-off can be the third. That literally just dawned on me as I wrote this paragraph. Sometimes it pays to talk about your projects in public, I guess.

Anyway I've been finding inspiration in strange places. Historically, my go-to influences have been equal parts cyberpunk and new wave. Lately it's a little more mainstream, a little less whacky, and a whole hell of a lot more modern. British science fiction writers like Peter Hamilton and Stephen Baxter seem to be looking over my shoulder in spirit. I re-read sections of Dune to see how Frank Herbert tackled the things I have technical problems with, such as describing the planetology of an alien place without getting boring.

The guy was a master with words. In the video embedded below, a mother and son review the book at 8:30:

she gets my vote for mother of the year

As I said in a previous post: I've gotten older and my interests have shifted. I've always liked Dune, but never understood why it was beloved. Now I do. I had initially read it as a crowd pleaser, something I thought would fall apart under scrutiny. Turns out the opposite is true. The more I analyze Dune, the better it gets. Also, reading the glossary before the novel goes a long ways towards increasing the enjoyment. I didn't even know Dune had a glossary until I finished it the first time. The novel I'm writing now has a glossary. When I get this sucker published, I hope I can include it in the beginning rather than the end.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons is another book I've been thinking about a lot lately. I never read any of the sequels because frankly I don't see how he could top the first one. (I take that back. One day I started the first sequel but got distracted for some reason or another.) I love practically everything about that book. The structure often asks us to invest a significant deal of time with characters we aren't sure we care about yet. Each character's story, however, won me over by its end.

The visuals in this novel are worth mentioning, too. Simmons' creative and mind-bending use of portals is something I remember out of the blue some days. Imagine this: a mansion in which every room resides on another planet. One balcony may overlook a snowy climate while another looks over a tropical beach. That's awesome. That's science fiction.

Oh, and happy New Year.

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