I finished the first draft of my Saturday Short this weekend. This was the one about the monks whose abbey is protected from literature-destroying drones by an army of cyborg cats. I found the end of the story at around 8,000 words, a length I have discovered technically makes this a novella (just barely).
Interestingly, it ended on a much more somber note than I had originally envisioned, but I quite like how it turned out as a whole. I feel I got the theme I wanted on this one.
Since I’ve been having so much fun with the word ‘cat’ in Latin, I decided to give this one a Latin title, too. I’m calling it Beati Qui Inveniunt Feles (“blessed are those who find cats”), it’s a play on the Latin Proverbs 3:13, “beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam” (“blessed is the man who finds wisdom”).
I liked how this story went so much, that I’ve decided to publish it as an ebook just as soon as I can get a cover created for it. Don’t worry, it will appear in print eventually, too, just not as a standalone.
Saturday Shorts for the Foreseeable Future
As of now, I’m planning to use my Saturday Shorts time to write new entries in the Feles Daemonica series, the first entry of which I kicked off this week. It went well enough that I’d like to continue it. If the series works out and turns into something publishable, that will likely be next short story collection. If I stall on this concept for any reason, I will go back to producing stories based on a random prompt. The “surprise me” feature on Wikipedia is useful for this.
Three draft chapters of Intersection Thirteen, my next novel, are now complete, for a total of 14,800 words. I have the feeling this novel is going to be significantly longer than anything I’ve done recently. Ever since Alterra, I have challenged myself to practice economy. I have tried to do the maximum amount with the fewest words possible. As a result, Alterra, Schrödinger’s City, and The Other have all been relatively short, especially when compared with typical lengths in SF/F, where an excess of 150,000 words is common. I have breached 100,000 words only once. It was with my first novel, Voyage Embarkation.
Intersection Thirteen might be long, but I don’t think it will be that long. Right now, I’m thinking it will be more in the range of Insomnium, around 80,000 words. It’s still hard to say with any certainty just yet.
The writing itself is going well. The protagonists are starting to come alive, and the universe is coming together, too. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve completely reimagined the 21st to 24th centuries of Earth’s timeline for this book. Gone is the stable, prosperous nation that builds itself back up from the ruins of the climate cataclysm in the 22nd century. The 24th century of Intersection Thirteen contains no stable, progressive, liberal democracy. I’m afraid the future of my imagination is now a much darker place. But, crucially, it is not a world devoid of all hope. Slivers of joy are still possible, and I think that those elements shine through the bleaker aspects of my depiction. Also, I try to imagine my characters as people. I don’t set them up like chess pieces to be murdered or tortured so that my readers will be shocked. I don’t go in for that sort of thing as a writer or a reader.
If you read Beati Qui Inveniunt Feles when it comes out, you’ll get a preview of this world. It’s set in the same time as Intersection Thirteen, but on Earth, whereas the bulk of the action in the novel is in the artificial universe of “the Intersection.” Despite the difference in place, the novella and novel both reference many of the same elements, particularly the presence on Earth of a political power called the Hegemony.