Exordium: The Process of Creation

Here are some snippets of e-mail Dave and I exchanged over the course of the writing of the books. Though the overall story was nearly fifteen years old when we sold it, the process of changing it from a 'streamlined' five-hour miniseries to a roman-fleuve occasioned all kinds of new ideas. Try to guess who is writing to whom in the various segments below, some of which are dated, and some not…

end 1989…

Eusabian's son

I don't know how much of a role he will have to play in this first series of books. However, I think that at the end he should mount a successful coup, aided (I think) by the false report of Eusabian's death on the Suneater, and take over the Fist of Dol'jhar.

Quote illustrating the underlying ethos of the Panarchy, especially the HD cultures…

"So long as the machine was uppermost, people thought quantitatively in terms of expansion, extension, progress, mechanical├║multiplication, power. With the organism uppermost we begin to think qualitatively in terms oof growth, norms, shapes, inter-relationships, implications, associations, and societies." Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities.

…Anaris is better; Anuris makes it sound like he hasn't been able to pee for most of his life (though his father is certainly capable of scaring the pee-pee out of anyone, and might treat bed-wetting with a soldering iron!). Not so much for this first series of books, unless we have room, but it would be interesting to develop what it was in the Panarchist training that gave Anaris a leg up on his rivals. Although Eusabian will never admit it, Panarchist government and culture is MUCH more complicated than their Dol'jharian equivalents—maybe that's it.

If there is a military ball on Ares, it will be held in a large dome on the top of the saucer, overlooking the "docks" that hold the battlecruisers during refitting. The view is similar to that portrayed in the screenplay during the mustering of the fleet.

1990…

Boy, that conversation with Beth and then you has really gotten my creative juices flowing again. I had a brainstorm on the way down to the car. Deralze is the answer to several problems. Not only does he eliminate the need for Brandon's POV in the first scene, and not only can we use him to illustrate the polloi attitude towards Service, but we can use him to satisfy one of Beth's fundamental demands: "you must kill people we care about." Deralze should accompany Brandon all the way to Dis, only to be killed there during Jakarr's unsuccessful coup attempt!

The master/servant archetype is such a familiar one that we can use it to lull the reader into complacency about the relationship; into the assumption that B & D will be a team throughout the book. Then, when D is killed (and we see B's reaction), the reader is put on notice that NOBODY IS SAFE, which is exactly what Beth wants. In fact, if we set it up right, we could even lure the reader into thinking that perhaps Osri is the expendable one (or is that too sneaky?)…

On Charvann, D will not be a part of the veranda sequence; instead, a brief scene with Parraker can be used to illuminate more about Service. I see them as discovering that they have military service in common (both Lancers), which frees them for a little backstairs gossip (but responsible gossip) about their respective masters. The fact that no one questions D's going along with B & O in the booster underscores the perquisites of Service, esp. high-ranking ones (D goes instead of Omilov).

I can already see the Dis firefight scene in my mind. The death of Deralze makes Brandon's apparent craziness much more credible (refusing to yield and thus imperiling both himself and Osri—esp. Osri, who is held at gunpoint and threatened for leverage on Brandon). Then, the second hammerblow falls: Markham is dead. Now B is cut loose from all his moorings, and the reshaping of his character can begin. Here might be the first point at which we see Brand's POV…

In the first scene with Brandon getting ready to leave, Deralze should reflect on the "right to untraceable exchanges." He's the one who has set up everything, so he knows how things work. He will see the irony of the Jaspran Unalterables enabling a descendant to escape the gilded cage…

By the way, what do you think of making the two divisions of Panarchic society the Douloi and the Polloi: the servants and the people?

Notes on Cultural Differences for Court scenes (6/15/91)

Question: why would B.O. be a serious offense to Highdwellers, if they are used to scent-as-signal? For what is B.O. (unless someone hasn't bathed in a week) but the smell of fear-sweat, or sexual arousal cues, or else sickness?

I can see where the Downsiders would hide their personal scents with perfumes—after all, that is part of hiding your thoughts and feelings, not to give body cues. (Their body language will seem very stylized to the Rifters, as well. And Rifter body language will seem remarkable free and clumsy-but-attractive to Vannis et al.)

But for those others, reading body scents is part of cueing in to what the other is trying to tell you; it helps in the interaction. I'd think that perfume (which would carry in spaces where air is in limited supply) would be a faux paus.

What kind of bathing do we posit, sonic screnes? Whatever it is, it is common enough so that most highdwellers do it before changing their clothes, and it doesn't waste supplies. So their body scents are immediate, and part of the social interaction.

Thus, the Downsiders associating with Highdwellers would be offended by the "human" smells, and the Highdwellers would be offended by the aristos hiding behind perfumes that stir the air behind when they walk by, and which hide important body cues.

Yes? No?

I'm starting to write down the threats for the Court sequence; have to decide on POVs, and transitions. I think I might have to pick a stylized interchange, like a quadrille form, for when to switch from one to the next, so it won't be confusing. If the reader senses a structure, and then comes to expect a certain POV next…well, we'll see.

Good points; much better. Washing is still done with water—H20 is very common in space (comets, etc) so no need for any special sonic shower; besides, recycling technology is very highly developed, and nothing will ever replace the sheer sensuous pleasure of water on the skin! Remember that HDs live in huge cylinders that are worlds in themselves. THeir space is not limited so much as it is structured in a more 3D fashion that DS; and they are more aware of the "inherent malignity of the universe" because of their exposure to danger from living in a fragile bubble in space…

I love the idea of a quadrille structure for the shifting POVs in the courtly scenes, leading up to the climax at the party on Srivashti's glittership. depicting the atmosphere engendered by Ravel's Valse Triste: glorious display with a fundamental decay underneath; gaiety overlaying fear; the fall of the old order, etc. Vienna, 1912. If handled right, this could be one of the classic scenes of SF, summing up the basic contradictions of the Panarchy in all its glory and chaos—with representatives of every class of player in the Great Game represented! By the way, I think we need to develop a link between Srivashti and one of the Rifter Syndicates (it might be too much to make it the Karroo, do you think?)…

Don't forget, also, to develop role of Gnostors of various colleges in courtly intrigue. They're a big part of the Panarchic balancing act—and you know what academics can be like!!! Another thought re body language, distance, etc. Don't forget the story of the English diplomat and the Arab! If you think you might have time and would find it useful, I'll send down my copy of "The Hidden Dimension" by Edward Hall, which talks about this in great detail. Let me know.

In the first scene with Tallis and Luri, Tallis should wonder (again) if Luri was perhaps "gennated" (genetically modified) for pheromonal production, which would explain her ability to seduce men and women alike. This would introduce the concept for later use with Marim, who was gennated for the "sticky feet" (like ultrafine velcro) that give her such control in free fall.

I think gennation is frowned upon in the Panarchy (certainly Theophanic Hominics doesn't much approve), so it may be that Marim wears shoes (slippers?) around Brandon and Osri until after Arthelion…

Also, we should give the Telvarna a gennated ship's cat, with the same kind of feet as Marim (for free fall), and somewhat larger (and more intelligent) than today's domestic cat. With all the different environments the Rifters visit, they desperately need vermin control, and it's unlikely we'll ever find anything better than a cat for that. If you agree, please intro him/her in your scenes. I suggest giving it the personality of a Siamese: demanding, noisy, and physically affectionate & demonstrative. I also think it would be amusing if the cat attaches itself to Osri, who doesn't like cats (he has exactly the personality of a cat-hater).

I'll put dogs into the Granny Chang scene, too.

The more I think about it, the more concerned I get about Brandon not receiving messages`from Galen and his father. I could live with Semion's intercepting a message from Galen; but he'd have to be a fool to fiddle with the Panarch's communications. The minute Gelasaar found out (as he would have to) that Brandon had not received his message, heads would roll. At the very least, Semion's insider would be compromised or dismissed, at worst, the trail would lead back to Semion. And remember, not even Semion knows who the Invisibles are! No, I think Semion's machinations are far more subtle: making sure that communications are misunderstood, not mislaid. So, I think it would be better to have Gelasaar's message illustrate the gulf that has grown up between Brandon and his father as a result of Semion's meddling. And, I would urge you to seriously consider a brief, cryptic message from Galen, too. After all, that's the only kind of message that could possibly get through: one that seemed harmless on the face of it, but referred to something in Brandon's and Galen's common past, unknown to Semion, that could be used to impart a message…

Possible generic terms for Prince Chyron or Kyron (hand) Heimos (blood) Geras (gift of honor) Hegetor (leader) Kouros (youth) Agos (leader) I rather like Geras, perhaps you can think of a modification (Gerast, keras, gerasarch, krasarch (AHA!)…)

"Royalty is a government in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions. A Republic is a government in which the attention is divided between many, who are all doing uninteresting actions. Accordingly, so long as the human heart is strong and the human reason weak, Royalty will be strong because it appeals to diffused feeling, and Republics weak because they appeal to understanding." (Walter Bagehot)

About the Kelly. This ties in to later scenes. Please DON'T READ ANY FURTHER UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE SCENE! OK? So, later, in the Hall of Ivory scene with the Rifters, Brand discovers a fragment of Kelly ribbon, still green and alive. This is the only chance of survival for the Archon's trinity (and of some memory, as well, since the Kelly have a Lamarckian genetic structure). Thus, Brand carries the ribbon as he carries Tanri's ring, demonstrating that the Panarchy can serve aliens as it serves humans. The ribbon also triggers the "slapstick" association in the Pie Fight scene: Brand "avenges" the Archon of Kelly with a weapon that would have delighted it. Later, perhaps, we can make a Kelly trinity an ally of Brand's on Ares. Of course, if you really hate this, all bets are off. Talk to you later…

Instead of Brandon, we can have Ivard pick up the ribbon, not knowing what it is and have it bond to him. Then, the ribbon is why his immune system acts up and his wound won't heal.

Tallis News Flash… Tallis, being quite vain, replaces his missing eye with a glass one. However, because he's normally somewhat popeyed, and the supplier of the eye was not quite competent, the eye tends to pop out at moments of stress—especially if he shouts. Eventually he gives up and adopts a patch after losing the eye during a passionate scene with Luri, which so disgusts her that she won't have anything to do with him for a while. (They're making love in free fall, and the eye comes loose in the heat of passion without Tallis noticing. Luri sees it hovering next to Tallis, apparently watching them, and screams.)

Poor Tallis. We have so much fun with him!

Looks real good! I cleaned up some minor POV confusions and usual techie stuff but I think it's real solid. I think at this point you ought to work on the booster sequence through to Dis, because I'll need that to write the scene where Deralze is killed. I do think we need somehow to show pressure building on Brandon, because he really needs to explode when Deralze dies, and that explosion needs to be credible. I don't know if these scenes you just delivered need to be pointed up this way, or if you can bring it in to the booster flight sequence. Anyway, don't make further changes to what you sent until I send them back with Hreem modifications (which will be minor; just Norio, I think). In the meantime, while you're "boostering," what should I be working on?

…Dis death scene with switch to Osri's POV when Brandon is holding everybody at bay over Deralze as he dies, and Osri really fears Brandon will sacrifice him (Osri) and go out in a blaze of glory. Oh, I know what I'll work on next: Eusabian's landing on Arthelion. I have so much fun with Dol'jharian savagery, and E is such a wonderful villain…