The Branchpoint Series

I’m feeling creative, but unable to focus. So I’m currently playing with some minis I bought (yes I’m getting back into 40k. I knew I wouldn’t be able to kick the habit for long!) and writing this blog entry. Not at the same time of course. I write a bit, carve at plastic model body parts a bit, write a bit more, file off some mould lines, etc.

You may recall that I had been trying to decide whether or not to continue writing Hermes925 as it is, or re-draft the entire story with an additional character included. Talking to William today (one of my co-admins and contributors at Games and Geekery) reminded me of an old idea  I had thought about writing multiple versions of the book, each with a slightly different plot. The point in the narrative where on story differed from another was going to be called the Branchpoint.

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The original idea was going to be slightly grander in scope. I would release the multiple versions of the book all at once, not mentioning to the public that there were different editions available. Wait a while. Perhaps a few months, and if it hasn’t begun to spread already, release a rumor via a fake profile (an anonymous tip if you will) that there’s more than one version of the story. “My friend and I both read Hermes925 by Antony M. Copeland, but we can’t seem to agree on how it ends. Has anyone else read it?”. Wait a bit longer and poke again, to see if people catch on that it’s a series of parallel stories and not one book.

One version was going to told from Psy-Man’s perspective. Another was going to have Jaime fall for a different crewmember. A loyal and kind woman with no interest in Psy-man, and (*SPOILERS*) when the time came for him to die on the ship, he’s not alone. His beloved is there with him. Or perhaps I’ll keep them alive and incorporate this old idea with one of my new ones. I was even going to write a version in which Jaime beats Psy-Man in the dual at the bar.

William suggested I continue the numeric ‘wordplay’ in the title and write a Hermes911. Hermes925 is meant to be the product number of the AI on board, but it’s also a play on ‘9 to 5’ since the crew of the Hermes spacecraft can all work an 8 hour shift with a lunchbreak. Unlike traditional space explorers.

Hermes911 would begin at the branchpoint. The portal gate remains open, Jaime falls in love with a different crewmember, and the colony is successful. Many years later we get to follow a group of individuals who have taken on the job of maintaining order and security in the colony. Some of whom commute via the expanded portal gate system. A sort of bi-planetary police force. Then the gateway collapses and the gateway falls out of the sky and crashes into the city. The security force has to help calm a surviving population that is now cut off from earth and the N•Viron system.

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So I’m also going to write a version in which Jaime wasn’t ever using a journal. He was talking to his friend Rook, or to other characters in Jaime’s life. THis will be an expanded and more detailed look at what it’s like to live in a society in which the N•Viron has become such a vital part of it. We’ll get to see Jaime’s world, watch him play games and vote on sentencing for publically arrested criminals. We’ll experience his life first hand, instead of piecing it together from his journal entries. This one will be Hermes360.

Will also helped me come up with Hermes666. A version in which the portal gate malfunctions and opens a doorway to a nightmarish hell-like parallel universe. I’m think that if the crew aboard the Hermes went through the gateway, they would find themselves on parallel hell-earth. When the crew on earth try to begin their shift they find themselves on the Hades!

William also though of a version called Hermes247 would follow a detailed week in the life of a crewman on board the Hermes craft (though now I think of it Hermes 360 would probably cover this).

I, in turn, thought of Hermes008. The colonisation succeeds, just as it does in Hermes911, but then the rat-infested Hermes925 arrives. It may even knock the larger portal gate out of orbit, causing the death, destruction and disconnection from Earth and the N•Viron system, drawing another parallel with Hermes911.

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It occurred to me that I could also pay homage to my beloved Warhammer with an alternative version called Hermes40k in which the crashed portal gate opens up a portal to the demonworld of Hermes666.

I could pay homage to StarWars with Hermes3PO. The nymph technology is everywhere. Users can control them via their N•Viron with gesture commands, but otherwise they go about their business keeping the streets clean (each of them containers a nano-reclaimer). The presence of clouds of Nymphs allows people to perform acts as if they were telekinetic.

A version told like a cutesy children’s story called Hermes123 could be fun too. Especially if it’s illustrated. I’m also toying with the idea that the reason why the crew were picked was because they’ve all been sentenced to transportation (like I talked about in ‘Let’s Make Some Martians‘.

It wasn’t just the “shall I keep writing or reboot” debate that was keeping me from continuing the Hermes 925 plot though. It was the fact that I wasn’t sure what was actually going to happen next. Once more real-life has blessed me with the inspiration. I’m going to fictionalise it of course, and change real events so that they fit better with the narrative. This is going to be fun.

I’ve also, as I mentioned either, begun the process of rebuilding my Warhammer 40k “Golden Sons” chapter of Space Marines. Brothers from that were thought lost to the warp or killed in action by their own chapter and the Imperium, fighting for survival and the glory of the Emperor, and to give other lost and forgotten marines a chance to redeem their failure. Space Marines that are all being fooled by an inner circle of Chaos worshippers.

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A Golden Sons Chaplain  wearing some of the trophies he has collected fighting against chaos. A purified and blessed of course.

I bought the Kill Team set, as well as a box of Chaos Space Marines to do some conversions, and a Chaplain (Chaos Sorceror) to lead them my new kill team. I might even use the rules for a Word Bearer’s Dark Chaplain. Maybe I should wait until I’ve re-acquired the Chaos Codex to actually start kitting them out the models with equipment. Or I can built them pretty and make the rules fit the models :).

Hopefully by keeping myself busy with work, writing and hobbies I can prevent myself from getting infatuated with someone else and avoid leaving myself open to heartache and pain again. At least for a while.

Comments are always welcome. Have a good day 🙂

 

To Rewrite Or Not To Rewrite? 

I’m in a bit of a dilemma. My book needs a rewrite to incorporate a new character. What I’m trying to decide is whether I should finish writing the current version of the story first, or scrap the story so far and start over.

So far I’ve been writing Hermes925 as a journal. It’s based in the future. Keeping journal is an archaic practice, so it never really made much sense. Even if Jaime were choosing to write the journal on paper so that there’d be no digital record, the N•Viron system still sees everything. Jaime’s audience needs to be different. Needs to be real.

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Some of my original notes, back when the AR device was called the Avalon system

·In the original draft, Jaime was writing the journal in the Hermes spacecraft. The connection to the N•Viron system (spoilers) had already been lost. This would make a little more sense since he has no other form of expression or communication. Maybe I’ll back to that. Maybe he’s not writing it at all, perhaps he’s talking to the Hermes925 artificial intelligence. I always intended for it to be revealed that the AI is the narrator, recounting and reviewing Jaime’s entries after he throws his journal into the on-board reclaimer. If he’s having a conversation with the ship instead it may make more sense.

I also came up with the character “Rook” though. It might help make the character’s more relatable if at least some of it took the form of a conversation between Jaime and Rook. Jaime could be trying to explain the value and purpose of several aspects of their society, including Arpies, conviction by consensus, reclaimers, and even the portal gates. Rook could provide a counter argument that it’s all part of an elaborate conspiracy to control us and manipulate us, and thusly reveal the Orwellian undertones of society to the reader, while making it seem ridiculous enough to be ignored by Jaime.

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This is kind of how I imagine Rook

However, can I really just stop the current version dead and start over? The new version will be better, but I already have people who follow the story each time I publish a new entry. Don’t I owe it to them to finish it? Perhaps on the way I’ll identify other plot holes and imperfections and be able to address them all in one rewrite instead of having to rewrite again when they come up. However, I think when the story changes I’ll find that some of the problems with this plot aren’t an issue, and that the rewrite has all new issues.

So I’m asking for your opinion. Keep writing a story that doesn’t quite work so you can see how it ends? Or go back to the drawing board and start the story over, making it a more traditional story including conversation with other characters, and not just a series of journal entries?

Comment either here on the blog or on the Facebook page, or via email or messenger if you prefer. I’m leaning toward starting over, so if you’d rather I keep working on the current version instead, please speak up.

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Have a great day. 🙂

Active Apathy

Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much Mr Robot, but I got thinking about our responsibility for our personal happiness. The show takes place in a world very similar to ours, in America. Everything is run by a giant corporation called E-corp. A group of hackers called F Society try to take them down by deleting everyone’s debts.

The real-life hacker group Anonymous had a hand in creating the series. As much as I like the show, it’s beginning to feel like they’re making excuses for not having actually deleted everyone’s debt yet. The main protagonist is crazy. He sees his dead father who represents an anarchic and proactive aspect of his personality. This personality takes over and triggers the cyber-attack. This implies that only an archive crazy person would do such a thing.

Then there’s the fact that the big evil corporation is still going even after the attack, and the regular people suffer for it instead, implies that such an attack would ultimately be futile.  What I expected to be a rallying cry for the masses, a call to arms if you will, actually comes across as a cautionary tale against revolution.

In real life the big evil corporation is not so easy to identify. The Rockefellers and Rothschilds don’t give us one unified target. It would be so much easier to do nothing. In fact we’ve been taught to be actively apathetic since childhood. We only do what we’re told to do, and even if we can see that something needs doing, we turn a blind eye. If we do otherwise we risk getting in trouble.

There’s a patch of grass at the end of my street. It badly needs to be mowed. I ha en no idea what would happen if I took it upon myself to mow it. Would I be arrested? Fined? Or would nothing happen? Would people just assume I worked for the council? Would people be angry at me? I doubt I’d receive any compliments or appreciation for it. Last night I even imagined a ridiculous scenario in which I would be arrested and sentenced to public service, which would involve mowing the exact same grassy area. If I had my own lawn-mower, I might have been curious enough to try it. I have been known to learn what my limits are by testing them, from time to time.

I’m not a hacker. If I was maybe I could have convinced the credit card company’s computers that I was making regular payments and got my mortgage zeroed out while I was at it. Done the same thing for a few random people so if it was discovered that there was a hack, it wouldn’t be obvious it was me. However,  maybe such a thing would be impossible without a team of hackers working together. I don’t know, since I’m not a hacker. So instead of being able to trick the American  computers into thinking I was wealthy, I had to sell enough of my stuff to buy a ticket home to the UK.

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I can’t do anything personally to upset the electronic financial applecart, but I can write about it. In fact I’m thinking of adding a character to the rewrite of Hermes925. I won’t try to squeeze him into the current version of the story, he’d have to have been there from the beginning. A friend that loudly speaks out against the N•Viron system, but doesn’t actually do anything about it. Actively ignores the pile of dog shit that would get him Arpies for picking it up, and rant about how we’re all being used. He considers himself enlightened, earns his Arpies by convincing others to be charitable and selling the occasional hand crafted item.

Jaime likes this guy, but feels sorry for him. Thinks he’s bought into too many conspiracy theories. The N•Viron identifies his condition as bipolar disorder, which he believes is a part of the conspiracy to keep him oppressed. I haven’t thought of a name for him yet. Feel free to suggest one that sounds like it might be a hippy conspiracy theorist in the future. Someone who claims to want to undermine the system and tear it all down, but actually takes advantage of it to live and lacks the courage to disconnect entirely.

Adding this character will allow Jaime to explain why certain aspects of the N•Viron based society is important. He can therefore explain these same ideas to the audience without it seeming odd. It may help clarify a few aspects of the story that I’ve had to leave as subtext until now. I want the orwellian undertones to be a little clearer. It would also provide a sharper contrast to Psy-Man, a programming genius who likes to exploit the N•Viron system for everything he can get.

All comments are appreciated, especially name suggestions for the new character. I’m currently thinking I may call him “Rook”.

Have a great day. 🙂

Techno-Babble

I like technology in general, and particularly internet and mobile devices. Occasionally it can be very frustrating and expensive. I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk would agree with me. For those unsure what I’m referencing, here’s a video of a SpaceX rocket containing a very expensive Facebook satellite exploding on the launch pad.

It seems SpaceX were doing a test launch of the Falcon9 rocket containing Zuckerberg’s $200 million (about £150 million) satellite, and something went wrong when they tried to bring it back down. To me it looks like the rocket simply didn’t land straight and it toppled over, causing the the remaining rocket fuel to ignite. A very expensive mistake resulting in smoke on the water and fire in the sky.//embeds.audioboom.com/boos/3736250-deep-purple-smoke-on-the-water/embed/v4?eid=AQAAAKBXyVe6AjkA

However, that’s not the main topic of today’s article. My family and I have just moved to a new home in Kidwelly, as I may have already mentioned, several times. We were supposed to have had the internet service connected yesterday, but we were told by the customer service representative at BT that the engineers wouldn’t know anything else until next tuesday. It’s now friday. BT have had 18 days to figure this out, and didn’t tell us there was a problem until my Mum called.

This means I had to resort to plan B in order to get internet access. You may be wondering why I don’t just do without. You are currently reading the reason why. This is currently my only job. If I don’t have internet access, than I can’t post articles. If I can’t post articles, I have no chance of building my audience and increasing traffic to my website. Without traffic I don’t get new subscribers. Without donations from generous subscribers I have no income.

It’ll be a little different when I get Hermes925 published, but that’ll require money too if I self-publish. If I go through a traditional publisher, assuming they don’t flat out reject it, they may require me to make drastic changes. After working with my audience (that’s all of you reading this) to beta test each part of the story and come up with a book that you are all excited to read, it would be very disappointing to produce a book that doesn’t match your expectations, or my vision.

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My Dad also uses the internet for his work. The reason why we moved is because, once he’s licensed for this parish, he’ll be priest-in-charge of 3 local churches. He needs to check his e-mail and coordinate with various persons within the church community so he knows what he’s doing and when.

So, as you can see, We need internet. Luckily I’m tech-savvy enough to buy myself more data on my pay-as-you-go phone and turn on the wi-fi hotspot. Significantly more expensive to me personally that just using my parents’ BT wifi, but I don’t have much choice. My parents have already offered to help me pay for the data usage since they’re using it too, but I’d love it if I was able to generate enough income to make their help unnecessary. If you’d like to help a little, here’s the Paypal link.

Speaking of my self-proclaimed tech-savviness, perhaps those of you who are more so can help me solve a mystery. After I topped up the cellphone, I decided to do some recon around town to see where I could get a signal and where I couldn’t. What better way to do that than with Pokemon GO?

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I found I was able to get a signal loud and clear around Kidwelly Castle and the public footpath that runs along the river from the castle back to the town centre. However I found the town centre itself to be a complete deadzone. No signal at all. Very frustrating since there are several Pokestops that I can’t activate since the signal drops whenever I get near them.

As inconsistent as it seems for there to be no signal among civilisation, but a clear signal on a path cutting through grassland, that’s not what really confused me. Parts of town where I could at least get a weak signal on the way into town had no signal at all on the way back. I literally stood in the exact same spot where I had hit my first pokestop, and this time had no internet connection whatsoever. I do not understand this.

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The internet works great here!

Luckily I have not problem getting a signal at the house. It’s on the outskirts of town, apparently far enough from whatever jams the signal in town for uninterrupted access.  The only thing that makes sense to me is that the signal in town is being deliberately blocked. There is public BT wifi available, but you can only make use of if you have a BT sim card in your phone. I do not. I’m using 3.

Sorry Team Instinct, I’m not going to be able to be able to claim the local Pokemon gyms anytime soon. I will, however still be able to get plenty of writing done. I’m going to get the new Hermes925 posted next!

Have a great day, and thanks for the help 🙂

 

Coming Along

I got some more actual writing done today. Not just this blog article, but also the next part of my Hermes925 story, Discon in Distress. Obviously it’s a little silly to get excited about being able to keep up with my writing goals for just 2 days in a row, but I’m choosing to feel good about myself anyway.

I think the journaling format works. Though I wonder if I should include some kind of date system. Having dates would clearly indicate how long it’s been since the last entry, but there are inherent problems with setting sci-fi in a particular year. I want the year vague to try an make the story somewhat timeless, and make the story relevant for as long as possible. However the technology itself is going to date the story before too long. Perhaps I could use a day and month, with no year? I might be able to get away with that. I could even use a two digit year I suppose, leaving the century uncertain.

There is another possibility of course. It could be an alternate timeline. The current Hermes925 story arc already combines 3 older story ideas into one narrative. I could bring in another. The working title had been ‘time-chain’, and the core idea came to me in a dream once. In the dream I had been walking through an American town in the fifties. In a used car lot next to a diner, among the beautiful vehicles you’d expect to see in the 1950’s, was a modern Chrysler 300.

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I kept walking and entered a small hardware and homewares store. Again, most of the items in there where fairly typical of the time, but there’s a pegboard display that’s a little out of place. Hanging from the hooks are little plastic baggies containing electronics components. Resistors, diodes, transistors and chips. This is what I had been looking for, to complete the time machine, the plans arrived on my kitchen table that morning along with a list of parts I would need to purchase.

It occurred to me upon waking that if you could build a machine that could send things back in time, you could send them the means to build another time-machine, along with instructions to do the same. The time-line would be drastically altered as people send back car-parts, components, computers, and even literature. I abandoned the idea, because I couldn’t imagine the chaos the world would be thrown into.

I’m fairly certain I’m not going to try an incorporate this into Hermes 925. It would completely confuse the current plot. If you don’t want to know what the plan is then skip this bit until you get to the paragraph starting ‘It’s safe now’.  The plan is to have Jaime jump at the chance of joining the Hermes project after his relationship with Tanisha goes spectacularly wrong. The project involves using a set of quantum entangled ‘doorways’ to allow people to be astronauts from 9-5. When your shift is over, you just walk through the doorway and go home.

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Of course something goes wrong, leaving Jaime, a female bio-technician, and the ship’s AI Hermes, stranded in space, unable to communicate with earth. Cut off from the N•Viron system. The bio-technician goes crazy first and kills herself. Jaime gets depressed and neglects his duties, resulting in an overpopulation of the ship’s lab rats.The rats and plants from the hydroponics bay spread throughout the ship. Hermes itself narrates the story from here.

Decades, perhaps even a century or two passes, before Hermes flight-path brings it back to earth to find the connection it was seeking long gone. There is no N•Viron, nor any recognisable civilisation at all. Hermes crash lands allowing the savage rat-folk on board to spill out. This leads to a fight for dominance against post-civilised humans (or whatever new species has taken their place), and a new narrator for the last part of the story. Adding the time-chain plot could make nonsense of all of this. Unless the time-chaining is actually directly responsible for the fall of civilised humanity? I may need to think on this some more.

It’s safe now. I hope you like what I’ve posted so far, and that you’re looking forward to another Hermes925 entry tomorrow. If you have any comments, concerns, suggestions, or words of encouragement, I’d love to hear from you. I have a new e-mail address AntonyM.Copeland@gmail.com, or you can use the comments section below, contact me via the Contact/Commissions page, or track me down on Facebook.

Have a great day.

Back on track

I’ve been spending too much time wallowing in self-pity and indulging in egocentricity. As a result I’m spending too much time on these blog articles and nowhere near enough time working on Hermes925. You may not see quite so many blog articles, but I’m still going to be writing every day. Of course if I have a particularly productive day, you might see both a new journal-style entry of the story, and a blog article too.

Today, for example, I’ve already got the next part of Hermes925 posted, and I’m already working on a blog article. This one. Do me a favour though, go read ‘Tanisha‘ and come back to this. If you haven’t read the story so far, read the other pages under the Hermes925 heading too. I want to hear what you think. You add your comments on those pages, or at the bottom of this post.

Did you read them yet? No? go read them. I’m serious. We can’t talk about it until you do. Go.

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Okay have you read them now? Okay good.

I want my protagonist, Jaime, to come across as well-meaning but naive. Raised by good parents, who were possibly just a touch over-protective. Is that how he seems to you? What, if anything, do you think would make it clearer that his worldview is more than a little rose-tinted?

Conversely, Tanisha’s worldview is jaded. She’s been exposed to the hardship of life outside the system since infancy. Her character will be explored further in future articles, but entirely from Jaime’s perspective. Again though, I’m happy to hear your opinion on what I might have done differently to make the contrast clearer.

Is the technology, the N•Viron, understandable? Do you fully grasp what it is that it can do and how deeply it’s ingrained in the culture? If so, please tell me what you think of it. I want to be sure I’m getting the point across. If you find the concept difficult to grasp, then please tell me what it is you find confusing, so that I can add clarification to the redraft.

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How about Arpies, do you know what they are? What about reclaimers? I only ask because it will be important to the rest of the story that these elements all make sense and fit together.

I’m really excited about the prospect of getting this book written and published. I’ve read more than a few ebooks and self-published books with poor descriptions, continuity errors, and even spelling and grammar mistakes. They’re great stories, but the errors tend to break up the narrative and take me out of it. I don’t want Hermes925 to do the same.

Thank you for your help and support.

Have a great day.

Summoning a Short Story

I was going to try and get a short story written today. At least get one started, but my brain is not cooperating. In America I could put a familiar movie on in the background, pick up a pen, and start writing. Today I found myself watching the movie instead. It was Avengers. A great movie, but one I’ve seen countless times before. When I did get writing it wasn’t particularly helpful.

A US periodical called ‘Fantasy & Science Fiction‘ offers 7-12 cents per word up to 25,000 words. So I used up half a page just figuring out how many pages I would have to fill in my notebook to get to 25,000 words. They want the document printed, so I would have to type it up and print it. That shouldn’t be too hard since my parents have their own printer, but these thought processes don’t actually get the story written.

Even now I’m thinking that I should research UK magazines and find out how many words they want, and how much they pay. I’d be very frustrated if I spent time and effort writing a story, only to find it’s too long, or that there aren’t any magazines that are looking for that genre. I’d like to write The Lord Highwayman, but I’m not sure it’ll sell, being historical fiction. I’ve also thought about writing the barfight scene from Hermes925. It’s in the draft I only have in my notebooks right now. I’m not sure it still fits in the new version of the story I’m mapping out, or even if it has to.

Does anyone know of a UK website similar too ‘Freedom with Writing‘? It’s a website I currently subscribe to that tells you about paid writing opportunities. Or does anyone know where I could start looking for writing work in the UK? Which magazines take submissions and which ones pay?

I should just write something first, then I could send out samples right away to whomever I think might publish it. I can worry about editing the length and content later based on their feedback. If it doesn’t get accepted, I’ll just add it to the archive. I can always dust it off later if I find a niche for it. That’s what I set it up for.

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I’m I just hesitating because I don’t want to be rejected? Maybe. I just need to suck it up. In the states, when I felt like this, I had access to a herbal solution that would calm me down and return my thoughts to the imaginative and creative, instead of the practical. Even if I were to acquire some I’m not going to smoke it in the vicarage. I just need to get writing and let the story out, and hope that I get caught up in the flow enough to keep my concerns from distracting me from my goal.

So having got this all off my chest, I’m now going to attempt to write something. I’m sure you’ll end up seeing some, or all, of it in a future article. Please follow, if you don’t already, so you don’t miss it, and have a great day.

PS. The video took so long to upload I did get a quick draft of the barfight written up, taking into account the new direction of Hermes 925. Click here to read it!