A Pliocene / Intervention / Galactic Milieu reflection

September 21st, 2012

Seeing as The Great Intervention is nearly upon us (due next year in fact), I am doing a reread of the Julian May books – Saga of the Exiles, Intervention and the Galactic Milieu trilogy.

For those who like their stories on a grand scale with a lot of philosophy, Jungian archetypes, history, pseudo history (which, because it is in the future, hasn’t actually happened yet), religion, and a good dose of literary references thrown in, this is a good series to get your teeth into.

Part sci fi, part fantasy (particularly the Exiles books) there is a bit of something for everyone – and the writing does get better as the series progresses.  I find the series quite good to start with, and even more enjoyable once Uncle Rogi becomes the narrator from Intervention onwards.  The scope is a looping time-travel sequence that covers millions of years, and the start is the middle is the end kind of thing.

I actually read an interview with May online that was posted some years back, and I was looking for it again.  I haven’t seen it, no doubt long gone.  In the interview she mentioned that she actually wrote the Galactic Milieu books first, and submitted them but they were rejected by publishers.  So she then wrote all four books of the Saga of the Exiles in the space of about 3 months, and used the background from the Galactic Milieu books she had already written – the metapsychic rebellion, the Remillards, the Intervention etc.  However by using the time travel motif she was then able to create a kind of sci fi version in a fantastical earth of ancient myths.  They proved to be a hugely popular success, and then she was able to rework the Galactic Milieu books (and I suspect added not just Intervention but also Uncle Rogi at that point) before getting them published.

Anyway as I searched around hoping to find this old interview, I found a fan site of the series that I though had a lovely summary of what the entire sequence is about:

  1. An unpardonable and heinous sin.
  2. A great Intervention; and,
  3. A remarkable Atonement.


On Writing

June 13th, 2012

I have been reading a few craft books on writing lately.  I have had the Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card for a while, and can really recommend this.  Published by the Writers Digest, it is one of a series of books on the art of writing called Elements of Writing Fiction, and it is full of techniques and examples, lots of easy to understand references and guides.  I got this book a few years ago and read it at the time, but am still enjoying this reread.

I managed to pick up another one in the Elements of Writing Fiction Series at the end of last year, this one is on Conflict, Action and Suspense by William Noble. This looks specifically how to ramp up action and suspense in a story and examines the difference between story driven and character driven action and suspense.  This is also an excellent and interesting technique book – while I know a lot of the information already, it is great to have it laid out in a visual way with examples from a range of novels by different authors.

The Writers’ Digest website looks quite interesting, there are online courses, other books, and all kinds of articles there (the one when I checked just now is on The Pros and Cons of Self Publishing – I know some people who might find this worthwhile.

Anyway, other books in this series, which I have not yet read include:

  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress
  • Description by Monica Wood
  • Dialogue by Lewis Turco
  • Manuscript Submission by Scott Edelstein
  • Plot by Ansen Dibell
  • Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham
  • Setting by Jack M. Bickham
  • Voice & Style by Johnny Payne

Given how good I have found the two I do have, I may try to find some of the others – perhaps the RWA conference in August will have some (that is where I got the other two previously anyway).

Reflections on ‘Wild Cards’

March 14th, 2009

Originally posted September 29 2008

I’m rereading the  Wild Cards series, a shared world anthology edited by George RR Martin.  Inspired by a superhero roleplaying campaign that was gamemastered by Martin, and included Roger Zelazny, Melinda M Snodgrass, Lewis Shiner and Walter Jon Williams, amongst other luminaries who would become writers in their own right.  Wild Cards is set in an alternative history of our own world, where a virus is released that gives some people superpowers (known as ‘Aces’), and turns others into monsters (‘Jokers’).  Others are transformed into non-viable forms and die – often in agony – which is called ‘Drawing the Black Queen’.

Once again I came across the short story ‘Witness’, by Walter Jon Williams.  Which is probably my favourite of all the stories in the first book, and possibly my favourite of all the ones I have read (the first 6 I think), but it is so brutal it is always difficult on a reread.  It is one of the few first person narrations in the series, and while Jack Braun’s (Golden Boy’s) story is fiction, it is also so close to reality that it hurts.


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