Book Release: Insomnium, Second Edition

Insomnium is a weird novel.

It possesses both surface and sub-surface weird. A group of people, each from parallel realities of late-twenty-first-century Seattle, wake up to discover themselves in the City of Nowhere, a place populated with anthropomorphoid creatures and sectioned off into "wards," each of which operates according to different physical laws than the others.

Two weeks ago, when I released the second edition of Alterra, I wrote about how that novel was a turning point in my writing. Insomnium marks an earlier victory, smaller but still important. Within science fiction, there exists a certain ideological group of writers and readers who believe that technology is the absolute measure of human progress and that the goal of science fiction literature is to proselytize the scientific worldview and aggrandize scientific achievements. While writing Voyage: Embarkation, I endured and attempted to incorporate significant amounts of such feedback, but it took only a few months for me to realize how misguided such feedback was.

The big shift with Alterra was still a year off, but when I sat down to write Insomnium, I reflexively reached for the bizarre, for an opportunity to twist, contort, invert, and skew the physical laws of the universe each and every way I could. In response to my detractor's insistence that I be more "scientific" I served up a story whose setting was inspired by Escher.

Insomnium also wasn't supposed to happen.

There was a confluence of situations at the beginning of 2013. I was putting Voyage: Embarkation through its final editing paces, and I was simultaneously writing the first draft of Voyage: Windbound, the second book in the Voyage series (which proceeds to Adrift, Wake, and finally Tempest). In February 2013, for reasons I'll go into in another blog post, I found I could no longer work on Windbound.

I set that manuscript aside and began Insomnium instead. I remember being conscious of the fact that I wanted to use the setting to poke fun at the science absolutists. What I was not consciously aware of, at least until I was a good way through the manuscript, that Insomnium was the novel that I needed to write in order to be capable of finishing Windbound, which I did. The moment Insomnium's first draft was done, I returned to Windbound and found myself able to continue through it.

Sometimes the novel a writer wants is not the novel a writer gets. Sometimes what a writer wants to write, and what a writer needs to write are two different things entirely. This is one area where I feel I have a big advantage over people trying to make this their living at novel writing. If I need to scrap a project and start another, I can. I wrote in the introduction to Lore & Logos about how restrictions can drive creative development. Freedom more certainly can, as well. The trick is getting them in the right ways and at the right times.

Insomnium explores people who have made mistakes, really big ones, and all emotions that come with that. It explores sorrow, it explores loss, it explores persecution, and it explores something like redemption. More like owning up to where you've been and how you got yourself there so that you can build a better present. It makes some not-so-subtle allusions to this happening at the societal level, too.

Insomnium is a good novel for the times we live in now, for the answer is not more hatred, more blame, more regret, more angst, more recrimination, nor more selfishness. The answer, at least to such problems as the one described above, is forgiveness.

Goals Progress

  • Voyage: Embarkation
    • Release a second edition with a new introduction, in ebook, paperback, and hardcover.
  • Insomnium
    • Release a second edition in ebook, paperback, and hardcover.
  • Alterra
    • Release a second edition paperback and hardcover.
    • Update the ebook formatting.
  • Schrödinger's City
    • Release a second edition paperback and hardcover.
    • Update the ebook formatting.
  • Our Algorithm Who Art Perfection
    • Release a first edition paperback and hardcover.
    • Update the ebook formatting.
  • Voyage: Windbound
    • Release the first edition, including an introduction about why it took me three years to release this novel, in ebook, paperback, and hardcover.
  • Commencement Day
    • Release the first edition in ebook, paperback, and hardcover.

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