Home > My Fiction > What I’ve been writing: followup

What I’ve been writing: followup

I fixed that awkward scene in my fantasy story — found a way not only to make it less awkward but to add a whole new level of creepiness (which in context is a good thing).  I’m not quite ready to submit it yet, since the scene before that bit is maybe a little too talky and I’m going to see if I can improve its flow.

I got to wondering something about the universe of “The Hub of the Matter,” my recent Analog story.  Namely, why do they risk sending live Hub scouts to test new vectors, a job that’s tedious and potentially lethal, rather than using robot probes?  I’ve thought of a couple of amusing answers, and I’ll try to work at least one of them into the next Hub story I write.

I reread “No Dominion” and concluded that it wouldn’t be too hard to rework the Default-verse history to incorporate it — but I just decided this morning that I don’t want to.  As I said, it has ramifications that would have rather sweeping impact on the Default-verse and limit my storytelling in some ways.  Also, on reflection, I think it maybe exaggerates the degree to which certain new technologies would spread through society, which works in the context of a single story exploring the possible ramifications of those technologies, but isn’t necessarily likely or inevitable in a larger future-historical context.  Part of my reason for wondering if I should incorporate “No Dominion” into the Default-verse was that I asked myself, “Why wouldn’t these technologies be adopted there too?”  And I realize now that, while they probably would be to some degree, I doubt they’d be as ubiquitous.  I may incorporate the ideas into the Default-verse to a degree that’s appropriate, but the story itself would still stand apart.  I’m a little concerned that if the same ideas show up in the Default-verse, readers might get confused about whether or not “No Dominion” is part of it.  But then, that’s what my website annotations are for.

What got me started thinking about this was reading the TV Tropes page about “The Moorcock Effect,” defined as “the tendency of long-lived genre authors to, at what is usually a later point in their career, combine two or more distinct series they’ve created into a single continuity.”  Like what Asimov did later in life by combining his Foundation, Empire, and Robot universes into one (and even hinting at connections to The End of Eternity and possibly Nemesis).  Or what Larry Niven did much earlier in his career to create the Known Space universe.  Or the way Poul Anderson combined his Flandry and van Rijn tales into a single future history.  What I always wanted was to have a big, unified continuity from the get-go, to plan it out in advance and keep it all cohesive, rather than start out with separate pieces and later mash them up, possibly creating continuity problems in doing so.

But what I’ve lately ended up doing instead is creating a bunch of different universes that can’t possibly fit together because their histories and physical laws are too contradictory.  It was easy enough for Niven, Asimov, Anderson, etc. to combine their various series that took place at different points in the future and reused similar physics and technologies.  I don’t have that option with most of my universes.  And that’s cool.  I enjoy the prospect of exploring several wholly different approaches to FTL travel, to the prospects of posthuman evolution, and so on.  It’s more creatively liberating than sticking with a single set of assumptions.

Still, the temptation to construct a grand unified theory tying it all together is there, even though it’s pretty much impossible.  That’s why I was tempted to fold “No Dominion” into the Default-verse — because it’s the one other “written world” I currently have that’s similar enough in its physics and broad history that it could potentially be folded in if certain storytelling adjustments were made.  But there’s no point restricting the storytelling of the whole universe for the sake of consistency with a single story.

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