Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Novel's Journey: Old Man in the Void

This week was filler week for me.  Since I had that month-long break before jumping into the manuscript again, I thought I should go back and reread, and since it was a yucky week, it seemed a good assignment.  I discovered a couple of consistency errors, like I was calling the alien ship "she," or "it," and I found a couple of spots where I decided to strengthen the descriptions, add some dream sequences, and such.

I have a lot of dream and memory sequences.  Dex is old, getting into his eighties, but even more, he's been working on the edges of a black hole for a long time, and time moves at different rates depending on how close you are to the singularity itself.  This had been fun to try to figure out as far as navigation, but even more interesting for how it affects the human body.  I postulated that this can affect both the body and the mind, separately or together.  His wife, Scarlet, died from the physical effects; her body aged at different rates.  Dex will suffer neurological symptoms, where memories become very real.  There is medication to help allay the effects, but even as they are battling the other ship and the black hole, he and his ship's AI are battling the ailments of his own mind.

It's kind of interesting to see it played out.  Sometimes, Dex is aware of his lapses; sometimes, they leave him confused; on a few occasions, he can fight the memory.  Santiago, the AI, knows the warning signs and will try to draw him back to the present, but it doesn't always work.  Here's an example:

He saw Scarlet sitting at the console, slouching back, her head tilted over her shoulder so she could look at him.  Her hair shone like moonlight and her eyes sparkled with love and admiration.  You and your mysteries.  You haven’t lost your need to find something new, her memory chuckled.
“Still haven’t,” he muttered to himself, as his hands roved the swell. 
He’d found the first relics, to be sure, even adapted its shield technology to protect Santiago, but he still hadn’t unlocked their secrets.  The small ships that escaped the disk were too damaged, and they lacked a Rosetta stone to unlock the language of either alien race.  They only guessed that there were two races or species at war based on the disparate sizes and shapes of the drones as well as the stylistic differences of the languages.
He grunted to himself.  Leave the language to the linguists.  Even the physics had progressed past his understanding.  That wasn’t who he was, anyway.  Scarlet had seen that early on, on the cliffs of Squatty Mountain “You’ll never be satisfied just thinking about someone else’s discoveries,” she’d told when he debated about applying to Keldar.  “You want to be out there, hunting down the data yourself.”
Pretty Scarlet with pretty wavy hair.  Where had she gone?  He wanted to talk to her about Keldar, ask her to go with him—
“Dex?” A ship’s voice pulled him from his memory and he blinked, confused by the colorful miasma around him.
“Dex, are you all right?”
“I…”  Dex.  That was his name.  And the ship?
“Dex.  You’re onboard Santiago.  Do you remember me?”
“Of course I remember you,” he snarled.  But his hands shook and his breath came fast and shallow.  He felt a tingle on his wrist and looked at the blue medical band.  The digital display noted the time and date and amount of medication it had just dosed him with.
 It's been a challenge to me to write a man twice my age yet probably my equal or more in strength and physical ability...but that's another blog.  (Oh, and because I get asked this a lot, but seldom have an answer.  For once, I know who I'd like to play Dex in a movie.  Harrison Ford, hands down!  Ironically, it's his voice more than his looks that I'm identifying in Dex.)


Walt said...

Appears to be shaping up nicely, one old poot to another.

Karina Fabian said...

Thanks, Walt. I'm at 35,800 words now, and thinking it's going to make it to 60,000 if that, but I'm enjoying it.