Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thoughts of NaNo

It's October 1st, and that means that like sane writers everywhere (yes, that's sarcasm you detect in my tone), my first thought is of National Novel Writing Month and what I'm going to create this year. I am going to do NaNo this year. I have a lot of good reasons for not - brand new and terrifying career, a wedding to plan (not to mention fights to have with the Abigail about said wedding planning), and a human body and it's pesky need for sleep, to name a few - but if I let good reasons stop me from doing great things, I'd never get anywhere.

If you'll recall from December's NaNoWriMo postmortem, I didn't win last year. I'm trying not to let this trepidate me. There are lots of reasons I didn't win: I developed this stupid idea that I wrote best by hand and wasted time writing and then transcribing, I wasn't sure I was going to do NaNo until the day before so I had only the barest idea of what I was doing right until I started doing it, and most of all I didn't write. None of those good reasons are going to get in my way this year. Especially that last one.

Anyway, as October unrolls before me, I find myself suspended between two possible NaNo ideas, and I'm curious which one you all think would be the most fun/the must likely to net me a coveted win.

* * *

The first idea is a new one, based (believe it or not) on a dream.

The premise is science fantasy (that is, a science-fiction flavored story that follows the rules of fantasy). I'm kidnapping the good old neofeudal futurism popularized by the Dune series and the Fading Suns RPG. In the grim dark future of humanity, we are nearly enslaved by cthulhu angels from beyond space and time attracting to this continuity by the development of pseudo-real psychic technology (including summonable space fighters... which is coincidentally what returns the "knight in shining" armor to the status of a viable combat tactic). After being saved by a heroic pair - a tactically brilliant soldier and a woman with an unmatched political genius - a humanity that has largely forgotten how to think for itself finds itself needing new leaders. An oppressive and puritanical church arises, and in order to prevent it from becoming the sole leading cultural force of the future, the pair announce that they will marry and take on the role of Emperor and Empress of the galaxy.

What makes this complicated is that the marriage is purely political. In fact, the emperor is gay. Although friends and partners, this isn't a love match. But, since they have to play a complicated media game with an anti-gay anti-sex anti-fun church for dominion over humanity, the crowned heads of the galaxy can't let anyone know what's really going on.

Fast forward several years. The emperor has found a boyfriend (his valet), but the empress is still frustrated, lonely, and bored. Enter the The Empress's Gendarme. One of the new generation of soldiers bonded to the pseudo-real summonable warships with which the Emperor and Empress freed humanity, he is everything the Empress wants. The Emperor makes the introduction, and they fall into bed pretty shortly thereafter. Everyone's happy, right?

If they can keep the church off their backs. If they can survive the inevitable political bullshit. If they can keep humanity free when the cthulhu angels return. In short, it's far future political drama with a romance at its heart. It's kind of sexy, in a neofeudal Sun King France sort of way. With summonable AI warships.

* * *

My second idea is something I wrote part of, once. But, it's been a long time and I'm planning on basically starting from scratch, so it isn't cheating, right? Anyway, the story lay fallow for a long time before being awakened by the brilliance that is Mur Lafferty's Heaven.

A long time ago, I had an idea for an epic. It's a postapocalyptic fantasy story dealing with what it means to be a god or a man, a mortal or an immortal. The world had lasted for millennia, before the Enemy came. In a war that took a thousand years, he slew the gods, broke the afterlife, and just as he was about to destroy the world... he vanished.

Now the world is a strange and broken place, filled with the surreal and dangerous remains of old enchantments and half-dead remnants of gods (in particular, I'm fond of a city once known for its diviners and now known for its glassworkers; it's in the middle of a field of broken glass that used to be a sandy desert... until a god fell out of the sky and smashed into it) (oh, and I also wrote an "afterlife" full of lost ghosts who can't find their way to whatever comes next because the psychic landscape is full of wreckage from heaven).

One of the more common of these bits of weirdness are the Alarkine, the remnant of the heavenly host that had once served the gods. At the command of the gods, the Alar - the angels - had mixed their blood with humans, to produce powerful warrior-children who didn't require obscure circumstances to come into being and centuries to mature, the way Alar did. After many generations, the Alar find themselves weird mixtures of human and divine, with no place in the world. Some of them are crazy, some are bitter. Some want to bring the gods back... and others would like to, but only to kick their asses.

The main characters are a priestess of an old god (because what does religion have to do with the existence of the gods, anyway?) and her bitter god-hating Alarkine bodyguard who swiftly become caught up in the return of the gods and the Enemy, and have to find within themselves the strength to rebuild the world before its destroyed altogether.

It's a surreal dark fantasy epic of self-discovery, with heavy metaphysical, philosophical, and ethical angles thrown in. And one of the main characters is a half-angel paladin who hates the gods. And also there's a line (which I will keep in a new version) that makes the Abigail's knees weak:

"Look at the stars, Kaleyin. You're not dead. The prophet said that you and I would stand on the edge of the world and watch the last star fall, so you're not dead." He kissed her cold lips, and as the world vanished in white fire, he whispered "I will love you until the last star falls, and after."

This is always an important consideration.

* * *

So which do you think I should pick? Science fantasy political romance or apocalyptic dark fantasy journey of discovery? Half angel paladins or cthulhu angel antagonists? Fire from the hands or lasers from the eyes? Wait a minute...


Anonymous said...

My vote is for the cthulhu angels, b/c I think they're cute, sexy & cool!

I also happen to find that the only redeeming thing in either synopsis, but it is getting late, and I only skimmed them. I may feel differently in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm not fond of either blurb. They both don't do justice to the ideas. Or, the ideas don't really do justice to the ideas, but there's only one way to be sure of that.

Anonymous said...

I still vote for the cthulhu angels. They'd look better in the made-for-TV mini series.

Scattercat said...

I vote for half-angel paladins because it's way more interesting of a premise. Frankly, there's far, far too much "monolithic oppressive church" in fantasy and scifi to begin with. I'd rather see a complex and divided theology with no obvious right answers.


You can't go wrong with cthulhu angels but I say write the one you think will challenge you the most.