Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The Day's Progress

I've yet to do much more than quota in a day, even though on the last three projects I've managed considerably more words a day. It's either because life keeps getting in the way, or the fact that this story is taking place (a) entirely in an invented alternate history and (b) in space is requiring more time spent on little details than even something like End of the Century required. In this story, when they're on a space station, I can't just say that they go up and down in an elevator without first thinking out the mechanics of how it would work, and then figuring out how it would be described in a Chinese dominated society. Sheesh. At least I abandoned early on the idea that I would use direct Chinese transliterations for all of the technical terms. It sounds nice and poetic to call a telescope a "remote-viewing-mirror," and calling a robot a "machine-man" or a computer an "electric brain" is kind of cool, but when you get to the point where you can mention a camera without calling it an "image-capture-device" it can get a bit cumbersome. So it's just "cameras" from this point onwards, thank-you-very-much...

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
29,805 / 90,000

In Chapter Twelve I introduced a character who was little more than a spear-carrier, a female technician who was supposed to walk on stage and give the protagonists some necessary information about the captured Aztec ship. For some reason, when I went to write her, she turned into a woman I met this spring who exhibited all the indicators of Asperger's syndrome. No idea why, but when I got to the part about the human sacrifices, I suddenly had an extra layer of tension between her and the listeners, which made for a nice bit of business.
There was a trace of Hunan pronunciation in the sailor’s Official Speech, which Zhuan had ample opportunity to identify as she led them through the corridors of the habitat ring to the outer accelerator, and from there back to the hangar where the nine had first seen the captured Mexic vessel the day before. Sima demonstrated a conversational focus, and a lack of observance of appropriate social protocols, which Zhuan had encountered many times among technicians and ships’ engineers. It was a certain personality type, seemingly inborn, which combined a savant-level ability to understand extremely complex information with an almost complete inability to navigate in social situations. Zhuan had been tipped off by the fact that Sima seldom if ever made eye contact when speaking, and his suspicions were confirmed during the long trip from the habitat to the shipyards, in which Sima did not so much converse with her charges as lecture them. People who exhibited such traits, Zhuan had found, made invaluable artificers and technicians, and a ship could count itself lucky to have one as her engineer, but Zhuan had learned to avoid being trapped in confined spaces with them, if at all possible.

From their expressions, it was clear that Steersman Ang and Bannerman Syuxtun were quickly learning this lesson, as well, if they didn’t know it already.

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