Saturday, June 21, 2003

Just a little progress on Henderson this evening, but the scene I wrote last night is now much improved and moving right along. Patty Paek and her dad are moving in, and next comes the bad news about Patty's brain damage and what's going to be needed to repair it.

Meanwhile, Mike's pain is going to increase, making it harder for him to concentrate and think. It's going to be a struggle for the next few days.

I have a deplorable fondness for "weekend wasters" -- SF novels that are really pretty dumb but that shut me up for a day or two when I could be doing much more productive things. Just finished a fairly stupid parallel-world story, the first volume of a series that I don't plan to read more of. Now I'm starting the third volume of another epic (I missed volume 2), and it's pretty bad too...bad enough to provoke me into putting it down and getting my own writing done. Having been shockingly undisciplined for the past two or three days, I hope to get a lot more done tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2003

After a couple of unproductive days, I went back to Henderson tonight and got about 500 words done. Nothing too thrilling, just moving Patty Paek from the hospital to her new home in Mike's apartment building. Tomorrow I'll go back and add a few details to make it more meaningful. But it's going OK.

Meanwhile I'm going to have to do some more research on Canadian battles of 1915. Stackley had to have been at Festubert in May, but I've skipped over that period to deal with the death of an officer in August. Festubert is going to be very important to Stackley, even more than the experience of seeing the effects of gas in April.

Looks as if I'll be spending part of the weekend in the past, and part in the future. I'm jumping around in time as much as Jack Auslander is.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Less than 100 words on Deserters tonight, but that's OK--I spent the evening re-reading the manuscript so far, catching a couple of minor inconsistencies, and trying to get a sense of the narrative flow of this deliberately jumpy story.

Despite the flashbacks, I can see the story developing; the plot is much less obvious than in most of my stuff, but it's there, working away below the surface. I've been worrying about the sequence of flashbacks, thinking they might be too random, but they're going OK. Jack is gradually learning about Stackley, about Sid, about himself.

But I can see I need to do some chores: rough out a plot of Stackley's novel, do more research on real deserters in the Canadian army, figure out when Stackley had to deal with such a deserter in the 18th Light Infantry. Also need to get him out of the trenches now and then for extra training, convalescence, whatever--if he's always in combat, he doesn't have a chance of surviving the war. And while I'm thinking about it, I need to learn more about Stackley post-war--what he was doing while writing his novel, how he adjusted to civilian life, and so on.

Similar kinds of research into Sid Gardiner's life, especially in the weeks before his suicide...and into the news events of the summer of 1996.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Here's the post...hope it works this time!

Today was all textbook revision, dull but necessary. I'm not going to work on the novels this evening, because I need to spend some time and energy thinking in sentences about Henderson.

I've stuck on the techie transition: What do I write about that makes the nanobots (and their transformation into thinking creatures) plausible? Well, I'll work on that, but the story beyond the transition is still very vague--a few scenes, not much else.

So let's consider what has to happen:

Mike Henderson has to develop nanobots to cure his own cancer as well as other bots to re-grow Patty Paek's lost brain cells. His Korean sponsors want both, and he's reluctantly agreed (he thinks he'll waste valuable time on his cancer when he could be tackling the much bigger challenge of neuron regrowth).

Meanwhile we can assume that the FBI is still watching him, probably planning to step in and seize his work when it's succeeded. His old buddy John is dying of prostate cancer, and the community is suffering from the ongoing effects of decades of war and economic stagnation.

When Mike finally roughs out the anti-cancer nanobots, and injects himself with them, he spends several days asleep. The Koreans are watching him closely but don't interfere. Then he rises into a kind of semi-conscious state in which he simply surfs the Web at a high rate, mostly sites full of information on genetics and physiology.

At last he's fully awake again, and feeling pretty good. But he keeps blacking out--losing consciousness, then regaining it. The Koreans are getting alarmed by now, especially since the second stage of their project has gone nowhere during Mike's sleep and twilight state.

Rather than go into a scene-by-scene outline, I'll just point out some key events:

A medical exam that shows Mike's cancer has vanished...and that his hair is growing back in, he's put on 15 kilos, and that strange little organs are appearing in his bowels and elsewhere.

Some upsetting episodes when various impulses, the kind he could normally suppress, suddenly erupt--temper tantrums, sexual advances, that kind of thing.

Eventually, he finds himself communicating with the nanobots, which have been not only growing but learning. His programming means they take care not to harm him, but that also means making him much more, uh, durable.

He learns that his impulses come from "sub-personalities," aspects of his mind that normally don't reach consciousness--or if they do, they get suppressed very quickly. Mike realizes that he has tenants, who contribute a great deal to his mind without his being aware of them. He and the nanobots have to come to terms with these tenants.

The nanobots quickly figure out how to repair Patty's brain and tell Mike how to do it. But by now the Koreans are getting really nervous; this project seems to be getting out of control. Still, Mike manages to inoculate Patty with a new form of nanobot that will multiply in her body, merge with her nervous system as Mike's bots have merged with his, and then proceed to rebuild her.

The FBI steps in, arrests everyone, and puts Mike in a cell in downtown Vancouver. They're astounded at his recovery, and at some of his physical powers.

Mike soon breaks out (not a major problem) and rescues the others as well. They disappear into Vancouver; Mike and Patty easily change their appearance, and the Koreans have their own escape routes.

Around this point we're going to have to see Mike and Patty transforming themselves (or being transformed by their bots). They remain human, but must sort out their inner conflicts and come to some kind of agreement with the nanobots about who's in charge. While the bots have most of the power, they realize that they function best with the conscious help of their hosts.

I can see that Mike and Patty are going to spread their "contagion" far and wide, while the authorities desperately try to close them down like the virus carriers they are. They're prepared to destroy anyone who's "infected," and anyone who happens to be in the vicinity. The bots, meanwhile, are determined to survive and protect their hosts, as they've been programmed to do.

Well, that clears up a few points, anyway.

Posting problems tonight--I wrote a long summary of the plot of Henderson, but Blogger didn't want to preview it or publish it. Will try again tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Deserters is cooking right along. I'm up over 24,000 words on the main section, more than I had in the old version before I ripped Maddy out of it. I thought about Jack inviting Jen Park out to lunch, and then decided he wasn't anywhere near ready for chatting ... or chatting her up.

So instead he's got the fonds (the list of documents, books, etc.) of Sid Gardiner, donated by his widow Astrid after the suicide, and lo and behold, Jack is amazed to find Sid published books Jack has never heard of before. That's because Sid was getting a little past his youthful egotism, and trying to come to terms with his life...very much as Jack is.

One of the books is a memoir called Saigon Days, about Sid's time in Vietnam. Jack will probably get a hint of what Sid was up to that led to his fathering (and then "adopting") Maddy. But the book will have a good proportion of lies.

Gee...I didn't even know about this stuff myself, until Jack took the fonds with him to lunch and started reading it over a pint of Granville Island pale ale.

I've also started an "alternative review," something I've been meaning to do for a long time. It's the first of a series of reviews of books and works of art from other timelines--one of them may be a review of the controversial recording by Leonard Bernstein of Beethoven's Tenth, and another will be about Scott Fitzgerald's autobiography, Three O'Clock in the Morning, published just before he died in 1947. These will go into a new blog I'll create just for them.

The first one, about half finished, is The Making of the President 1964 by Theodore White...only in this one, JFK loses to Goldwater after a string of horrendous sex scandals become public in the spring and summer of '64. In this world, Jackie was killed in Dallas, becoming a huge cult figure as a result. We'll see what else happens as a result of this strange and dramatic election...

Also reading a new book, Nanocosm, about nanotechnology--should give me lots of ideas for Henderson, who's been patiently waiting for some attention while Jack Auslander rummages around in dead people's lives.

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