The last time I gave an update on my writing, I announced that I was
working on a new project called Land of the Free. I had just scratched
the surface of that novel when Covid-19 rolled in full force, and I
found myself scrambling to reorganize all aspects of my life instead of
writing. Now that I have settled into a new routine, I find I have some
time again. However, Land of the Free, while still compelling, is no
longer first and foremost in my mind.
Am I compelled to capture our societal moment on the pandemic in the
same way that the Trump presidency compelled me to pen The Other? Not
exactly. Pandemics have been with humanity for as long as our species
has existed on this planet. The sociological effects of quarantine,
irksome as they may be, are not, in and of themselves, noteworthy or
remarkable, at least to my mind.
What I think does merit exploration is the fact that we have constructed
economic and social systems that are so astonishingly fragile when hit
with an event such as this one. Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic
humanity ever faces, but I would hope that by the next time around,
we’ll be more prepared. And by that, I really mean, prepared at all.
Perhaps we’ll also have managed to marginalize the portion of the
population who wants to believe ridiculous nonsense about the pandemic,
such as that it doesn’t in fact exist, as opposed to what we do now,
which is have them run the country. There’s a thought.
But I digress. Literature has a role in interpreting this situation.
What exactly is wrong with how we’ve constructed our society? What is it
like to be an atomized observer watching enormous and complex social and
economic systems falter?
These thoughts provided substance to an idea that I have been sitting on
for about six years, ever since I finished my second novel, Insomnium.
In Voyage Embarkation, I introduced the idea of the metaxia, a kind of
quantum space that separates each parallel world from all the others.
Insomnium introduced the concept of a “metaxic contortion,” a kind of
twist in the metaxia resulting in the creation of a new (albeit
unstable) universe. Ever since finishing Insomnium, I wanted to write
a story set in an artificially created universe called “the
Intersection.” The idea was that a group of people found a way to
permanently stabilize a metaxic contortion. Unlike Insomnium’s
contortion, which was an accidental creation, the Intersection would be
an intentionally generated construct.
As I have noted before, a “neat idea” isn’t necessarily a compelling
story. In order to actually write this story, I need a telos, a point.
For six years, I haven’t had one. Covid-19 supplied it.
The novel I am working on now is called Intersection Thirteen, and I’m
currently two chapters in. As the name implies, I have expanded the idea
from a single metaxic contortion to multiple. Once its creators figured
out how to stabilize a metaxic contortion, it clearly wasn’t sufficient
for them to do it only once. As should be unsurprising from the theme
I’ve described, the sheer scale of their quantum contortion-stabilizing
infrastructure proves less than resilient to a
once-in-three-hundred-year phenomenon. The protagonist, a witness to
these events, is a metaxic explorer from our Earth timeline, who
stumbles upon the intersections accidentally.
Another point worth mentioning is that Intersection Thirteen
represents a break from the internal consistency of my novels’
timelines. Voyage and Insomnium establish a history for the 21st
through 24th centuries on Earth. Alterra and The Other are set on
parallel universes wholly isolated from Earth, and Schrödinger’s City
is set on some completely unknown quantum plane. With Intersection
Thirteen, I will explicitly break the timeline I set up in Voyage and
Insomnium. I don’t feel compelled to apologize for this. Rather, I
want it on record, just in case a future reader feels compelled to
attempt their own contortions trying to fit all my novels onto a single
As such, the projects I have going currently are, in order of priority:
Intersection Thirteen, Land of the Free, and The Ghost King.
I also have a single short story I wrote last year called “Hear Ye, Hear
Ye!” which I’m quite fond of. I’d love to get it into a collection, but
I’d have to write many more short stories I’m fond of first. I’m
wondering if perhaps I should get back into the habit of forcing myself
to write a short story every week, even if I don’t have a compelling
idea. Running a writing group is how I managed to produce both Lore &
Logos and Transmutation of Fire and Void. Something for me to
Tags:Intersection ThirteenLand of the FreeThe Ghost KingShort Stories