The novel I’m currently working on is a science fiction space opera entitled “The God of the Dead”. On the titular spaceship, which is ten months into a thirty-month trip to Pluto, the ship’s executive officer discovers the body of the ship’s captain. It’s apparent that the captain has been murdered.
So begins the novel, which delves into big corporations controlling and ruining lives as they scrap amongst themselves for superiority. Throw in a small insurrection and the arrival of a Navy corvette, and what you have is 180,000 words of … well, I don’t know. I wrote the manuscript by hand, and I’m currently typing it up – an onerous task that I wouldn’t recommend anyone else try. I’m reading it as I type it up, and for the most part it’s good prose. But of course it will require extensive editing until it reaches the final draft. Only then will I know whether the novel is too long, should be split into two, is rambling and nonsensical, or should be scrapped altogether.
Writing science fiction is easy. Well, I say easy, but only insomuch as there is always a deus ex machina which can rescue the plot if the writer gets stuck. But how different will the world be in 200 years? My vision? Well, there will be space colonies orbiting some planets or moons throughout the Solar System, where men and women travel to the surface to mine valuable resources which cannot be found on Earth. Okay, so the rare elements are a deus ex machina because they provided me with a reason why there are colonies orbiting other planets, other moons, and anyone who understands chemistry will tell me that there are no undiscovered elements remaining in the universe – and doubtless they’re correct. But this is science fiction!
The spaceships travel fast, but not fast enough to reach Pluto in less than thirty months. Why is there a crew onboard a freighter which delivers supplies to the colony and brings those rare metals back to Earth? Well, there doesn’t need to be a crew, because that kind of thing could be automated. But in my sci-fi world, we’re talking about a huge freighter, almost a mile long and a quarter of a mile in diameter, and over the course of thirty months – sixty, if you include the return journey – things can go wrong, especially as the God of the Dead is a hundred years old, and so a crew is required for maintenance. But who would want to be part of a crew for a return trip that could take up to six years? That’s a long time. Enter another deus ex machina, the drug Telometform, which is an anti-aging medication that slows down the aging process and can allow people to extend their lives beyond 150 years or more. It’s based on the loose theory that one of the drugs which treats type 2 diabetes has properties which, theoretically, could help slow down aging. There you go. A science fiction device which has some basis in reality. Throw in the fact that antibiotics are all but useless in my sci-fi future, and life becomes more dangerous, in spite of Telometform.
Pluto Colony, which comprises Pluto Station and Charon Station, two rim stations which rotate to simulate gravity, together with a refinery station, a penal colony, and numerous mines on the surface of Pluto and Charon, was originally set up 150 years in the past, and unlike the other stations throughout the Solar System, it is not a sovereign entity. It’s a facility owned by London Terran, the largest corporation in existence. But it’s been neglected, it’s falling apart, and only those with absolutely nowhere else to go would ever choose to migrate to it. It’s a frontier world, where arguments are settled by “spacing”, where the loser in tossed into an airlock and ejected from the station. “That’s how folks settle their differences out here,” says Sheriff Anderson Wake. Enter the insurrection, consisting of a group of people who want either independence from London Terran or a huge investment in modernization. Throw in double-crossing lawmen and security officers, a cast of characters with secrets, and political and corporate corruption, and what you’re left with is, well, 180,000 words of a first draft. Oh, and a scenario which could potentially be used in follow-up novels.
But then, I reckon I’m getting too old to write another novel 180,000 words in length.
Watch this space …