A few posts back, I mentioned that, in the development of my forthcoming novel Intersection Thirteen, I found it necessary to rewrite elements of the future history I established in my first two novels, Voyage Embarkation and Insomnium. In those two novels, I established a timeline from present day Earth into the 24th century. Intersection Thirteen, just like Voyage Embarkation, takes place in the 24th century, and much of the setting is shared. However, there is also much that is different.
What Stayed the Same
The metaxia. I invented this word as a derivation of Greek μεταξύ (“metaxy”), which means “between.” It is the space between parallel words, depicted as a void of blue whorls. Voyage’s Kal Anders travels through the metaxia to reach parallel worlds, and this is exactly how my characters in Intersection Thirteen reach parallel worlds as well.
Metaxic organisms. Organisms don’t just live on parallel worlds, some of them also live in the metaxia itself. Metaxic organisms are depicted as eccentric and aloof. They perceive space and time very differently from us, but they can communicate with us, when they choose to. They tend to ignore humans, but with one exception. Whenever a person or group is about to venture into the metaxia for the first time, a metaxic organism emissary will show up and tell the would-be explorers that they are free to travel through the metaxia so long as they do not damage it in the process. The metaxic organisms and their expectations for human behavior in the metaxia are also present in Intersection Thirteen.
The Pan-Atlantic Union. I have excised it. After Brexit and Trump, the idea of multi-continental political entity with actual clout, uniting North America and Europe, and whose influence was expanding year over year, became simply unbelievable. There is no Pan-Atlantic Union in Intersection Thirteen. I have left Europe largely unremarked upon (to be worked out at later date), and in North America, there are instead two major political entities: the Hegemony and the Equum.
The Hegemony. It is your typical totalitarian dictatorship. Remnants of democratic process and a free market remain, but the people who have power want to keep it, and they will wantonly break the laws or manipulate the market in order to secure their positions. They are not above violence, extortion, or blackmail to get their way, either. Most regular folks learn to survive by staying out of power’s way. For the average person, to live in the Hegemony is to be constantly afraid that you might draw attention from the people in power, and that they will want to take what meager advantages you might have accrued for yourself and your loved ones.
The Equum. It makes a claim to freedom of speech, citizen’s self-determination, and the equality of all, but these tenets are hollow. The behavioral laws that ensure no citizen violates the freedom of any other are vast, complex, and change so frequently that no one could ever reasonably abide by them. They are also ruthlessly enforced. Punishment for violation is swift and severe. As a result, a ruling class has emerged, which is savvy enough to follow most of the rules most of the time, and has horded enough wealth to make themselves effectively immune to the minor infractions which would prove deadly for common folk. For the average person, to live in the Equum is to be constantly afraid that their words and actions will be somehow misconstrued against them.
What Remains Ambiguous
I’ve left the metaxia and its organisms unaltered, but rewritten the political structure on future Earth. I alluded to one question above—what is the rest of the world besides North America like? Another question is, what of all the parallel worlds that Kal visited in Voyage Embarkation? Do those “still exist?” (Am I keeping them in this altered universe or removing them along with the Pan-Atlantic Union?) If I keep them, what are they like? Need they be any different?
For that matter, what about Kal Anders himself? Does he exist somewhere in this new universe? If so, what is his life like? Is there enough nanite spread in the Hegemony or the Equum to incite his illness? I would also have to do some deep thinking about whether future Chicago is part of the Equum or the Hegemony, as that would be the largest shaping influence on his life. If there is a large spread of nanites in the Hegemony, and if Kal lives there, then there is no way that his parents could have successfully moved him off Earth as they did in Voyage, unless they were the kind of parents who would produce a very different personality than the Kal Anders I wrote about.
I would never try to rewrite Voyage in the new universe, but there might be some short story fodder in this somewhere. Definitely something for me to think on.