So Many Ideas, A Catalogue

Serder Yegulalp has been doing monthly updates on his blog on how his writing projects are progressing, including updates on the ones that are currently simmering. I realized that, while I’ve been pretty transparent about what is coming up next, I haven’t shared anything in a great long while about that projects that are still potential projects, but which are on the back burner and why. I figured a post was in order in which I go through everything.

On Deck

Chronicles of Ytria is complete save for a few final editing passes. It is a collection of nine short stories and novellas, all of which take place on planet Ytria. Ytria is at a stage of human development similar to twelfth or thirteenth century Europe. It also happens to sit within the boundaries of the Galactic Consortium. The Consortium does have rules forbidding its citizens from interfering with the populations of non-space faring worlds, but the person who entered Ytria into the databases made a mistake, and now all manner of people have been showing up there—those with ill intent, those merely careless, and those sent in to protect the natives from those first two groups. I expect to release it in September.

When the Gods Wish to Punish is my current novel project. Its draft is roughly halfway complete, and I expect I will wrap up that work in the next two weeks or so. It is about a man in his early twenties named Ashley Amund who is trying to coax his friends and acquaintances out of an artificial reality called Amrita and back to reality. This is shaping up to be the novel I release early in 2022.

The Five Kingdoms of Daniel Worthy is a series of five-novellas that together compose a single novel-length story arc. Daniel Worthy is about to graduate from college and can’t wait to move to the capital and start really living his life. All he has to do is get the stuff he inherited from his father moved out of the family estate and into storage, and then he can go on his way. One of his professors shows up, ostensibly to help him move his things, but instead retrieves a strange device called a ‘computer’ from amongst the boxes and uses it to whisk Daniel off to another world entirely. Daniel’s real inheritance, the professor reveals, is not an estate and a pile of money, but the responsibility to guide not one but five parallel world societies away from corruption and vice and toward healthy forms of self-government. The first draft is done, but it needs a significant amount of editing. I’m planning on getting this out in late 2022.

The Ghost King is an epic arc of five sub-stories that feed together into the tale of a world ravaged by petty dictatorships rising and falling (and generally dragging their subjects down with them) until an obscure inventor, the son of a merchant who only barely found entrance into his kingdom’s Wizards Guild, creates a device capable channeling and synthesizing magic from multiple human sources. The outcome is a kind of decision-making magical engine, a substitute or “ghost” king, who can make decisions when a real monarch or other leader becomes incapacitated. For generations, societies will quarrel over whether ghost kings or human monarchs are legitimate heads of government, the ghost king model all the time gaining in power and influence. But will the ghost king turn out to bring freedom and prosperity to humankind, or will it prove a more degenerate ruler than any individual dictator could ever hope to be? I’ve written about 20,000 words of it. It will probably be my first novel that hits up against 100,000 words since I started focusing on concision with Alterra. Right now, the plan is to work on this in 2022 after When the Gods and Daniel Worthy are out and release it in 2023.

Voyage Redux is a series of novellas taking place in the future Earth timeline depicted in Beati Qui Inveniunt Feles, Intersection Thirteen, and When the Gods Wish to Punish. The stories feature a protagonist named Kal Anders who is similar to the character from Voyage Embarkation, except that he grew up in the Hegemony rather than the Pan-Atlantic Union. In this timeline, Kal Anders comes to work for the Echo Lake Cooperative in Colorado, one of seventeen cooperatives on Earth that have popped up since Mira Rous established the Granite Lake Cooperative after the conclusion of Intersection Thirteen. I wrote the first story in the series, The Demented, last year. The plan is for this to be a late 2023 release.

Planning and Development

Land of the Free is easily the oldest novel project still hanging on to the development stage. I first had the idea for it sometime around 2015, when I was putting the finishing touches on Schrödinger’s City. In a fantastical hellscape version of the United States, all major urban areas have gained a kind of life of their own and are violently dangerous to anyone who crosses into their borders. Seattle is alive with living microchips and blooming transistors that will attempt to grow into a person and re-wire them from the inside (literally). Chicago erupts with volcanoes of molten rust. New York’s infrastructure can turn to paper and reshape itself at will, then re-solidify, trapping and crushing careless humans. And so on. I have an idea for an arc and an idea for the characters bridging the pieces of the arc, but this idea can’t move because the individual pieces have never come together for me. I know what the whole should be like, but not its constituent parts. At present, it’s hard to imagine any of those constituent parts as being anything but reiterations of one another with a different set of fantastic imagery (per city). I hope to one day figure out how to do this story justice because the world and its arc are compelling.

The True History of the Ksezian War is a novel set in the world of Palípoli from The Shipwright and Other Stories, albeit at three different time periods. The first would be immediately after Palípoli’s war with the Ksezians, a few decades after the stories of Shipwright are set. The second is from twelve hundred years later as a historian attempts to piece together what really happened during the Ksezian War. The third is from yet another twelve centuries later, as a popular novelist attempts to turn the events of the Ksezian War into a compelling narrative for his readers. As they write, their relative worlds start to bend and blur around them, merging with one another and twisting to match their respective narratives, and even, frighteningly, veering toward a world in which Palípoli lost rather than won the conflict. This idea is currently half-baked. I want to finish Thucydides’s The Peloponnesian War before writing it, and I’ve been dragging my feet on that.

The Programmieriad is a really fun send up of Homer’s Iliad. It takes place in strange, alternate universe where Seattle programmers wage deadly war against one another with their code, possessing both laptops and bronze weaponry. It is a essentially a direct re-telling of the Iliad in a comic mode, taking the corporate struggle for money and mapping it onto a bronze-age siege story. Expect to see this story in print well after I am financially independent.

Divinity is a novel I will write when I have said everything else I wish to say with my writing. In the far future, climate change has fully run its course, and most of the Earth is uninhabitable. In a corner of Northern Canada that is still barely alive, a small society is eking out a relatively stable existence and finding some small time to dedicate to the arts using what very little that remains from times before. All of this is thrown up into the air when the city wakes up one morning to discover that half of their residents have vanished and a portal has appeared. The portal leads to another world, where their family and friends have been whisked away to, but only five citizens find themselves able to traverse the portal connecting Earth to the new world they call Novalis, a young, biologically teeming world, and with incredibly dangerous fauna, a stark contrast to Earth’s wrecked biosphere. In between the two worlds, accessible only to the five, is a realm they call Eden, because it possesses a copy of every work of writing ever burned, every painting ever destroyed, and every song whose last recording was deleted. But none of those things can be taken through the portal to Earth or Novalis, either. It is up to the five to decide how to spend their time. Do they focus on the practical effort of helping their vastly depleted infantry on Earth defend itself from persistent raider attacks, and their friends on Novalis to build the infrastructure that will help them survive a ravenous biological environment, or, do they focus on communicating the wonders of ancient art to them, for it doesn’t seem likely that anyone after the five will gain access to Eden ever again.