Wednesday 27 June 2012

The PI files (contains significant spoilers)

Clay's excellent timelime prompted me to dig out this material, which is all that remains of the notes I kept during the writing of Pushing Ice. (To be honest, there wasn't much more - a few back of the envelope calculations about acceleration, time dilation etc). I kept these because I felt they might come in handy when I came to write the much promised sequel, and I suppose they will.

First up is a handy breakdown of the organisational structure of the Rockhopper at the start of the novel. This is interesting because it rather obviously lays bare my thinking concerning the likely ethnic makeup of such a ship in the year 2057. It disappoints me that there is not a single Middle Eastern name, for instance, and only one name that could charitably be taken to indicate African origin. Obviously I could have done better, but it is what it is and any sequel would presumably have to draw largely on this pool of surnames.

Moving on, our next thrilling document is a breakdown of loyalties, depending on who I perceived to be nominally on Bella's side and nominally on Svetlana's. While it was easy to keep track of the core characters, and of course there was a certain amount of swapping of loyalties, I needed hard numbers to give the shipboard politicking some conviction.

In similar fashion, once the ship ended up on Janus, and the crew started founding the new settlement of Janus, I needed to keep tabs on who married who, births and deaths etc. This document shows the inhabitants of Crabtree in 2065, by Rockhopper's skewed dating system.

Finally, we come to some aliens. There's a mildly boring story attached to this one. I needed to conceptualise my main "good guy" aliens, but I didn't yet have an idea what they were meant to look like or be called. I'd been bashing my head against this problem for several days when circumstances called me away from my office. I had a dental appointment, which necessitated a stroll through town. Along the way, my mind freewheeling (probably thinking more about anaesthetic and drills than aliens) I spotted an ornamental fountain in someone's front garden. Hence, Fountainheads! I gave no thought to how these strange-looking aliens had evolved; what kind of planet they'd come from, what kind of metabolism they had, etc - all that worldbuildy stuff seemed then to be completely irrelevant and I would take the same view now. They have been space travelling for millions of years; they themselves barely remember how they got there.

I was very pleased with the Fountainheads and enjoyed writing every scene in which they featured. I particularly wanted to make a point that any sufficiently advanced aliens are likely to have no trouble understanding us, which is why these incredibly weird beings nonetheless have a perfectly relaxed grasp of colloquial English, give themselves easily pronouncable names, and do everything they can to set our minds at rest.

Thank you to my wife for scanning these documents, and I hope they are of some interest.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Pushing Ice Timeline (significant spoilers)

Reader Clay Hunt produced this fantastic schematic of the timelines in Pushing Ice. In Clay's words: "When I got to the point where Bella touches the Memorial Cube and starts figuring out JUST HOW FAR into the future they have traveled, it BLEW my mind." This is Clay's attempt at figuring out the basic chronology of Bella and Svetlana's journey into deep time. Clay wonders if it's correct, and my truthful answer is that it could well be, but I'd need to re-read the book to be sure. In the meantime it looks pretty damn excellent, doesn't it? I'm a sucker for these things, and I'm knocked out that someone considered it worth their time to produce one for my story. Thanks, Clay.

Click to embiggen. If any of you have any thoughts on the timeline, I'm sure Clay and I would enjoy hearing them.