I’ve been pretty quiet here lately — work and life and a nasty summer cold intruded. But I’m still scribbling away in that little black Moleskin of mine and in Scrivener and, mirabile dictu, progress is being made.
Most of my worry these days is about prologueing. Survivors as I have it outlined will be a very sedate novel: a murder that doesn’t look like one, and people who want it stay that way. I’ve changed the conflicts a bit, made them a bit more hands-on. Nobody here is simply waiting and hoping that Inspector Crandall does what they want: they’re making plans, taking out insurance, and keeping their eyes open.
But it still does not open with a bang. Currently it opens with Crandall trying to sleep through the jump to normal space, keeping a trash can close in case he pukes again. There are exciting bits referenced — the disaster at Nuova Italia, for example, which has been made twice as exciting with extra niacin! And that is basically where the story starts. If I wrote a prologue detailing those events, then I can introduce the universe in an exciting way, with explosions and stuff.
I’m not sure how it’ll work, is the trouble. The rest of the story will be sedate by comparison, the dangers more subtle. And the prologue will inevitably draw attention to that aspect of the plot long before I would otherwise like to. I can’t tell whether it will add dramatic tension by so doing, or just destroy the mystery.
The answer, probably, is to just write it and tack it on and see how it works with and without it. Good beta readers will be crucial to this part, which means that I will need to pass out candy and booze and other bribes, and will probably wind up shopping it around with the prologue attached, then getting into long discussions over whether it ought to stay. Fun!
In addition to thinking about prologues, I’ve also had to read up a bit on why, exactly, FTL travel implies time travel and allows non-causal messages. This is a danger, as the story at hand centers on the concept of the light cone. The whole thing makes my head hurt, though. I’m an engineer, damn it, not a physicist! Fortunately, the Wikipedia page on time travel is excellent. I think, after reading all that, that I’ve set up my universe in such a way that non-causality is minimized. I may write another story at some point playing with it, once I fully understand it. But for now, I’m just not going to worry about it: I’m waving my wand and saying that travel through ‘shift space’ does not cause Einsteinian time-dilation, and phooey to anyone who says otherwise. And just in case I change my mind later, each of the characters carries a personal chronometer to tell them how old they are.