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At The Bright Empire....
By the way, FIRST PROTECTOR has gotten 780 hits since it was posted March 8.
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brantley wrote: "The Popcorn War" and "Blind Justice" were posted only yesterday afternoon. By midnight, they had gotten 170 and 60 hits, respectively – and most of these must have come from here (on the Aurora Universe thread) and the AURG, because the What's New page had only 20. Thanks, guys!
By the way, FIRST PROTECTOR has gotten 780 hits since it was posted March 8.
Not a real update, but I noticed I'd neglected to update a 2008 story, "Judgment Day," to conform to my usage of "Aureans" as opposed to "Arions" (to avoid confusion with "Aryans" as used here on Earth):
As of last night, about 360 hits for "The Popcorn War" and 150 for "Blind Justice."
Passion Play, the first part of which appears today (a traditional Spring
holiday in Europe, long before it was adopted by the Labor movement), is about a
Velorian heroine who has appeared here before. She's bcome one of the most key
players in my own fiction, and yet I can't claim credit for her, any more than I
can claim credit for the Aurora Universe itself.
Alisa-zar Kim'Vallara, alias Alisa Liddell, was the creation of Shadar (then
still calling himself Sharon Best) for Ordinary Velorians, a serial that began
at his old Aurora Universe site Jan. 12, 2003. We had some correspondence about
it at the time, and as best I can recall he thought of her as a female version
of Star Trek's Spock and the Survey Service ships of Kelsor 7 to be the
equivalent of the Enterprise.
A couple of months later, after posting four episodes set on Reigel Five, and
without having gotten to the point of Alisa's refusal of the Rites and escape to
Kelsor 7, Shadar took down the Sharon Best site. I ended up writing the last
three chapters of Ordinary Velorians and, when he returned with his Aurora
Universe: Other Worlds site, collaborated with him on Alisa's Story, which
appeared there July 28 and has been revised a couple of times since. And then
came Shore Leave, a monster of a serial – mostly by Shadar but with input from
me and a couple of other collaborators who didn't want their true names revealed
although they got credit under their initials.
I'd already made Alisa a supporting character, decades later (her time) in
Throne of the Gods, which dates back to Feb. 15, 2003 – just after the fourth
installment of Ordinary Velorians. She returned later (but earlier in her own
life) in Pictures of an Expedition, and much later in terms of both real time
and her imagined life in Encounter at Westfold – one of several projects begun
by Shadar and taken over by me. I could tell that all of these works were part
of a life story. For some years now, I've been toying with the idea of a story
about the highlights of her life, as seen by her in later years, and at various
times I've written various segments of Passion Play.
But it's been awkward, because I found it nearly impossible to reference the
events of previous stories without simply rehashing them. This was especially
the case with Shore Leave; that may still be the most awkward part. In the
present version, I've tried to convey the sense that Alisa is reminiscing about
her time on Rostran, as she is in other segments, and that her reminiscences
focus on her relationships and her learning experiences rather than on the
events per se. I've added a few bits of dialogue that fit the situation, but
weren't in the original serial. The opening scene of Passion Play and the first
flashback will be new to readers here, as will the early scenes aboard the
Anders Flame, the details of Alisa's breakup with Peter Durgin, and the love she
and Andre Kalik find with each other on the return from Rostran. The terrible
fate that awaits them at Cygnias 275 has been alluded to in Encounter at
Westfield and elsewhere, but the next installment will deal with the aftermath –
and be entirely fresh material. A note of thanks to Velvet Belle Tree: for
advising me to change the narrative to first person, and for proofing the text.
Those who have followed the saga of Alisa from the beginning should be familiar
with the events. But I'm also posting slightly revised versions of The Gwyndylin
and Primal War, the first two segments of Shore Leave. The changes relate only
to Durgin's attitude towards Alisa, and my updated concept of the Cygnias 275
wormhole that already figured in Encounter at Westfold – but there's also a
brief reference to the language of the Rostrans, and to the need for a quick
Deepteach course to allow the Kelsorians to communicate with them. For those who
may need them, I'm including links to those stories, Ordinary Velorians and
Alisa's Story at the end of the Passion Play file.
Also new today is an op-ed piece by Velvet. She's a fan of all sorts of things,
and she has always been refreshingly frank in her opinions. In "A Tale of Two
Musicals," she offers her take on South Pacific and Carousel, two Rodgers &
Hammerstein musicals that are generally regarded as classics. Only, are they
actually both deserving of their praise? Not in her contrarian view!
One last thing: an entry on my Occasional Blog, the first in more than a year,
not about AU fiction as such but the decline in fan participation.
So much for May Day. Now M'aidez. All you lurkers out there, de-lurk. Post
comments and suggestions!
--Brantley Thompson Elkins
CORRIDIDOR first appeared in 2004 at Aurora Universe: Other Worlds, and was all Shadar's work -- one of his best.
But it tied in with the story line of Ordinary Velorians, and even with my THE HIGH CRUEL YEARS, although in a strange way: I gave detective Vance Calloway, whose front story Shadar tells, a backstory on Reigel Five that leads to him leaving that troubled planet.
If you haven't already read CORRIDIDOR at AUOW, it has to do with a nuclear reactor disaster in the making at an asteroid mining colony, but the core of the story isn't in the reactor, but in the characters: the B-Class Velorian Vera Sho'tovic, who welcomes the chance to escape the stifling kind of life people of her class live on Velor, the people she meets while dealing with the crisis, especially the engineer Calen Donaldson and, later, Detective Calloway; and the Aurean Zarla, torn by conflicting loyalties.
My main edits have to do with some aspects of Vera's freedling gang background on Velor that seemed too mundane, too much like Earth; and to clarify several instances of who knew what and when and how. But the essence of the story remains the same; I just couldn't and wouldn't tamper with that. Nor with the character of Vera.
FIRST PROTECTOR is proving a tougher job for me than other projects that I've been involved with from the start. Some have complained that the details of the on-again, off-again testing program for the heavy GAR are implausible, and one of the reasons for this is that Gazrall, the plutocrat who holds Vespyr's indenture, is so enigmatic – rather like Grigory Arkadin in Orson Welles' MR ARKADIN. Where does he really come from? What's his real game?
For a new chapter, I'm introducing a hint that he has a secret past elsewhere, but in such a vague way that this might turn out to be a red herring. Most of the chapter is admittedly a sort of information dump – things Vespyr needs to know that she couldn't have learned back on Tazzi's World. Trpcic takes its name from the costume designer for FIREFLY, the cult TV series created by Joss Whedon, so of course the Scalantran factor general there is named Jossalem. It was seeded from what is now Slovakia, hence "sokol"(falcon) and "zubor" (aurochs). But I'm trying to make this transitional chapter as entertaining as possible, with our heroine getting some needed R&R, and learning a few things about interstellar trade.
Happy Summer Solstice!
"Arden" is a short story Shadar wrote last fall as a one-shot. When he sent it to me, we'd just been hit by Hurricane Sandy, and although I read it at the time and did a few copyedits, it kind of fell between the cracks because I was caught up in other projects, including The Popcorn War, Empress of the Dawn and, of course, First Protector. As I said, "Arden" was intended as a one-shot. But it implicitly tied in with First Protector in featuring a Halfen (halfling) Aurean character, and it occurred to me to tie the two stories together explicitly – not in terms of plot, but in terms of background. It's set in what I imagine to be within the first two centuries of the Enlightenment, and one of the early Protectors figures off-stage. But the story itself is still the same. It's a love story with what romance fans call an HEA (Happily Ever After) ending.
I'd alluded to this eight years ago in a conversation between Kalla and Ju'lette I wrote for Homecoming II, knowing full well that I was writing myself into a corner. It was only three years ago that Empress of the Dawn itself, based on an outline by Shadar, began to appear, and only last year that I got to work on Book Two. But I knew all along I'd have to face up to having Kalla face up to what she had to do, and I knew I couldn't weasel out of it. So here it is, and I hope I've succeeded:
I have also made some tweaks to the scene in Homecoming II, but only in a few details. And I've uploaded a slight revision to Book I of Empress, correcting a few glitches.
Shadar might be weighing in this week. He's just returned from one long trip, and is soon to embark on another. The reboot of First Protector has been in abeyance for several weeks as a result, but I'v been working on my end.
--Brantley Thompson Elkins
It's my birthday today, and I have something to show for it: finally, finally the final chapter of Empress of the Dawn 2, plus an epilogue that sets the stage for Empress of the Dawn 3 -- in which Kalla Zaver'el will spearhead a space program for Andros, and lead the world's defense against an Aurean attack.
It's taken longer than I expected to finish Part Two, because while the crucial events were clear in my mind, I needed to find a new way to lead up to them, and give them more substance, greater nuance. Moreover, I had to deal more effectively than I did before with the hard choices Kalla had made, and why she made them, and the pain that they brought to her.
Of course, there's also a teaser at the end about Alexius. He'll appear again in Part Three, but he already appears in the epilogue of Homecoming 3, and will play a part with Vespyr in First Protector -- not that he can have any idea of such a destiny at the tender age of 16!
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And then I thought of SHORE LEAVE. Last spring I fiddled with Shadar's old version in connection with another story about Alisa Liddell, PASSION PLAY. But PASSION PLAY didn't get much readership because it couldn't just rehash the events of SHORE LEAVE as part of her background, but without that background it's impossible for the reader to understand where she's coming from. So now I'm taking another look at SHORE LEAVE and its two sequels, trying to do a bit more world-building (The façade of Rostran versus the reality), and clear up some confusion of the whys and wherefores and multiple conflicting motives, and take a more serious look at what it will mean to Alisa and Andre Kalik -- who are the real center of the story, however spectacular the events around them. I may also tweak a couple of other stories to accommodate this, and will do major surgery on PASSIONPLAY.
It’s been just over ten years since Shadar posted the original version of THE GWYNDYLIN –first book of the Shore Leave series – at Aurora Universe: Other Worlds. Last April, I mirrored the most recent edit at The Bright Empire (along with the second book, PRIMAL WAR) to tie in with a new Alisa Liddell story, PASSION PLAY.
At the time Shadar was writing Shore Leave, I was still working on the last episodes of ORDINARY VELORIANS – the series he had begun in 2002 that had introduced Alisa Liddell. Earlier in 2003, he had posted “Alisa’s Story,” the account of her (ill-fated, as it turned out) affair with Captain Peter Durgin aboard the Anders Flame. Even before that, I’d given her a part in THRONE OF THE GODS, and made her a lead character in “Pictures of an Expedition,” a prequel to Throne and sequel to Shore Leave – then still in the final stages of composition. But a lot has happened over the past decade, including another major Alisa Liddell story, ENCOUNTER AT WESTFOLD, and in looking over Shore Leave recently, I thought it was time for an overhaul of the mirrored version – and even time (Shudder!) to make a stab at completing the series – the third part of which has been in virtual limbo since 2004. That’s a major gap in the Alisa Liddell saga, as is a yet-unwritten story of what befell Andre Liddell at the Lost City of the Old Galactics. This reboot is part of the groundwork for that.
Some of the changes are only a matter of convenience. There were characters named Tyla and Tala, and Mara and Marla, which might be confusing to some readers, so I changed the latter in each case to Frida and Gudrid – old Nordic names, those. I also decided to Nordicise some titles – Prester for priest and Lawgiver for senator, both actually adopted by the progeny of Vikings after they became acquainted with the rest of Europe. Prester was a variation of Presbyter (hence the Presbyterian Church), but in Medieval times it also took on the meaning of patriarch, notably in the legend of a Christian kingdom in Africa ruled by a Prester John (possibly inspired by vague reports about Ethiopia). Of course, here signifies a matriarch. Kirke, likewise, was the Nordic word for church.
Shadar had described Tala, head of the Gwyndylyn salon as “Mother Superior,” but I thought that was confusing because it made the salon seem like strictly a religious order – and yet it is locked in a power struggle with the Church. So besides changing her name to Frida, I made her title Heysta (Highest), and had Mara Kaltquest address her as such. In the same vein, “bishop” seemed an odd title for the head of the Lawgivers (senators), so I replaced that with Vorstaler (a Nordic portmanteau word for First Speaker, a term used in sf by both Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven). In the case of Marla (now Gudrid), the new terminology clarifies her role in playing a double game as a disgraced former Gwyndylyn now working secretly for the Kirke. One other thing: to be consistent with my other AU3 stories, I toned down the effects of a Velorian removing her gold – that could cause some real problems in tight situations.
Despite making these changes, I wanted to keep the complications of Rostran political intrigue – and how Alisa and Andre and then Durgin and his men become unwittingly involved in them. I wanted to keep the problematic details, such as the roles of the child woman Lara and the Goddess Tyla/Aayla, and the connection between Sanctuary and Rostran. And I wanted to keep the raunch – can a Shadar classic be stripped of its raunch and remain worth reading? But for me the core of the story is the development of the relationship between Andre and Alisa, even if they don’t realize it yet, and the extant version seemed to lose track of that – Andre disappears from the story after his chance encounter with the human underground (and is hardly mentioned in Primal War).
Alisa sometimes seems slow on the uptake – from the start, I thought it was important for her to come up with a theory to account for the origin of the Rostrans, based on what the Culture Section thought it knew about the time it had been settled. When she learns from Lara that Durgin is launching a rescue mission, she seems slow on the emotional uptake, her reaction is just too casual. I wanted to convey how fearful she must be about in face of what may happen – and how frustrated that she can’t do anything about it. For a hard-headed scientist, moreover, she seems all too gullible during her tête-à-tête with Excelsia, coming out of it as practically a convert to the Rostran cause – like the “useful idiots” on Earth who bought into Soviet-style Communism in the 20th Century and are buying into religious fundamentalism (Christian or Islamic) in the twenty-first. So it my version, she is playing a game – a game which she can only hope to win. That’s not to say Alisa won’t make mistakes, in this or other stories, but the very last thing I want her to be is a useful idiot.
But I’m trying to remain faithful to the spirit, if not always the letter, of the original story. You won’t catch me trashing a crucial Aurora Universe story the way J.J. Abrams has trashed STAR TREK!
But I love reading what you do with my old stuff, and how you add such interesting new angles and tweaks on characters. Also the great writing you do in putting together stories that knit the AU together.
I am also enormously pleased that you are doing a JJ Abrams on the AU. I am literally unable to watch his Star Trek "adaptions". I try, I look for the good (I love Star Trek), but I just can't do it.
Of course. Peter Jackson isn't doing so well on the Hobbit now either. The LOTR movies were pretty good (except for the growing trend toward violence by the third movie), but now Peter's gone completely into gratuitous, video-game level violence. (On the other hand, Evangeline Lily is hot -- she just didn't have very good writing.)
But I can't resist seeing any movie that deals about Middle Earth. I need to see Desolation of Smaug one several times before I talk too much about it. An Unexpected Journey grew on me after a few viewings.
shadar wrote: You've been busy, Brantley! My goodness. You are the awesome at extending, connecting and fixing the problems that came from my being more interested in making new stuff than with fixing and pulling together what I left behind.
Speaking of "new stuff," how about the lead-in to FIRST PROTECTOR? I would have done more of the story of Vespyr's journey to Velor, maybe even finished it by now, if...
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Hope that's all. Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!
Anon wrote: Usually I'm [not] too interested in the AU, not because I don't recognize the effort and the quality of the story, but rather because it's too big of a deal for me. Even so I can't but plaude at such a monumental effort from Brantley. Excellent work is all I can say.
THE GWYNDYLYN was Shadar's story to begin with, and is still mostly his. The same will be true of PRIMAL WAR. But the third part, CHANGING GODDESSES, will be at least half mine because Shadar and his collaborators got bogged down and lost any sense of direction. I hope he'll return to writing other AU fiction. We'll see...
Shadar (then posing as "Sharon Best") was my inspiration back in 2002, and even later. COMPANIONS and EMPRESS OF THE DAWN were both inspired by ideas of his, but the writing was all mine.
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It would have been better if Abrams hadn't used the label Star Trek and had come up with something else that he acknowledged was "inspired by Star Trek".
But... one thing about attempts to remake movies... you get a lot of different (and strong) opinions about the process and results. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and they all weigh about the same when placed on the scale.
d_k_c wrote: Thank God for JJ ABrams and his new take on StarTrek. He's essentially wiped out 30 years of nonsense, And his ST movies rocked. Don't get me wrong, I was a huge fan of the old stuff.....But after mistake, after mistake....Nonsense after nonsense I'm relieved that in a way.....All those episodes with gigantic plot holes left unattended by future episodes, have effectively been wiped out, as if they never even happened