Unfolding an Idea


I’m in the  middle of first draft work on a new novel these days, which means, unfortunately, that I’ve slowed down on writing content for this blog. So I sat and thought about what to put up for this week (I’m already a day behind on my self-imposed once a week deadline, my apologies) and the hell with it — let’s kill two birds with one stone. I can share some of what I go through in the course of generating a story, help myself to work out some of the kinks, and create a blog post all at once. It’s a neat trick.

The premise of Refuge is that two alien species, living far away in another galaxy or maybe an alternate universe, blow each other up with weapons of mass destruction and then use magic to reincarnate on Earth as human beings, continuing their war in secret. The Droon are nasty buggers. Their society was utterly vicious. They altered their own genome to produce a master class, and this master class owned all of the Droon hoi-polloi. Their favorite pastime was to corral a lower-class victim or three for long, drawn-out, excruciating torture sessions and other imaginative games. They had conquered and absorbed several alien races before they encountered the Andol, and reduced them to slaves and torture-dolls, too.

The Andol are much nicer. They also altered their own genome, but did so in an egalitarian fashion, so that all of the Andol were highly intelligent, healthy, and inclined to happiness and peaceful behavior. Both they and the Droon have magical powers and skills in addition to their advanced technology (which is what makes Refuge a fantasy instead of science fiction, or in addition to science fiction).

The Andol and the Droon did not get along well, needless to say. Refuge doesn’t go into a lot of detail about the non-military conflict between them, but the Andol were on the verge of winning when the Droon decided to upset the playing board. They launched a massive attack using weapons of mass destruction, the Andol counter-attacked, and both species were rendered extinct, their respective planets shattered ruins.

But the Droon had an escape planned. They used their magic to enable the master class, or much of it anyway, to travel out-of-body to another world where they would be born into the bodies of the intelligent species that lived there (us). This would allow them to rebuild their nasty culture by guiding human social evolution towards something resembling it.

The Andol had no such plan, but as the missiles (or whatever) were en route, put one into action on an emergency basis, and some of them managed to escape the destruction in the same way — and found themselves on the same world as the Droon. Outnumbered about twenty-five to one. In the fourteenth century.

Flash forward from the Middle Ages to modern times. The human genome has been mapped. It won’t be all that long before the technological capacity to repeat the achievement of either the Droon or the Andol will be part of human science. The Andol, who have been in hiding for centuries, have now emerged (cautiously) and are seeking human allies, because that’s the only way they can counter the Droon numbers. The story is told from their perspective, that of humans who are chosen as possible allies, and that of the Droon.

So — what are some of the ramifications here?

The Andol and Droon are effectively immortal until one or the other side wins. Until then, when one of them (in a human body, of course) dies, he or she reincarnates in a newborn baby with full memories of his or her initial alien life and all of the human ones in between. That means no Andol can (permanently) kill a Droon or vice versa, but of course it takes a while for a newborn reincarnation to reach maturity, so death is still a setback.

Each alien has memories from between ten and fifteen human lives as well as one alien life. That means each one speaks a lot of different human languages. (Although some of them will be archaic. A Droon or Andol whose first life was in England and who has never since been an English speaker would speak Middle English like a contemporary of Chaucer.)

Each alien also has some dozen lifetimes worth of skills and knowledge, but as with the languages, some of these would be archaic and out of date. Each alien is no longer an alien, having more human than alien memories. Each has a human sex drive, which creates interesting possibilities between the Andol and humans (and, much less pleasantly, between the Droon and humans, too). How much Andol is left in the main Andol characters? How does it color the type of human being each of them is? A romantic interest between Amanda, the leader of the Andol, and Michael, an important main character human? Not yet — let the sexual tension build and I’ll think about whether to release it before the end of the book or not.

There’s the question of their magic, too. It needs to be powerful, but not too powerful — let’s not leave the humans totally outclassed here. They can see auras (and identify the Droon on sight that way), and do feats of healing and telepathy and mind-control. I don’t want to add too much or the plot gets upended.

Do either of the two races (well, it would have to be both of them if it’s one) have a stash of reconstructed home-world technology hidden away somewhere, like a cavern complex or in the middle of a desert? I haven’t decided that yet. Of course they couldn’t bring anything with them except knowledge, and anything they rebuild would have to be within the capabilities of human manufacturing.

What would happen if the Droon captured an important Andol? Would they dare keep him/her alive? Would they subject the Andol to torture, or consider this prisoner too important to use for sport? Got to have some grisly death scenes in the course of the book and plenty of scary stuff.

Will the Droon have any human allies? Mind-controlled or bought off ones, sure! Corrupt, dastardly weasels. Bankers and corporate heads, most likely.

I want to leave an opening for a sequel, so I can’t resolve the whole struggle by the end, but there should be some massive violence and near-disasters in this one.

Well, as you can see, I still have a lot of things to figure out, and this is the kind of thing that happens when I work on a new novel. I started Refuge with the overall concept and two main characters, and am unfolding it like a flower, or putting the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle when I’m lacking the picture of what it’s supposed to look like in the end.

Hopefully it will all turn out well, and I’ll keep you posted.

Image credit: rgbspace / 123RF Stock Photo


1 Comment

Filed under Fantasy Storytelling

One response to “Unfolding an Idea

  1. That’s a fascinating concept, one that could leave you with a setting to use in multiple stories with ease.

    I also share your constraints on time when it comes to writing stories or writing blog posts. It’s not always a simple choice, especially on an independent release level.

    Best of luck on everything. I look forward to seeing REFUGE when the time comes.

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