Arachne’s Exile Annotations

Page numbers are for the print edition of Arachne’s Exile. Page numbers from The Arachne Omnibus print edition are in parentheses.

Cover

This time, the cover image depicts a moment that could have physically happened in the novel, the approach to Lode Seven at the end of Chapter 6. I don’t mention Arachne’s physical avatar watching along with her crew, but it stands to reason that she would have been. The size of the window is poetic license, though.

Indeed, the main scene of Arachne’s avatar looking out a window is Chapter 1, Scene 2, which takes place at Antares Star Palace. The cover image could thus be seen as an amalgam of the two scenes. It would’ve been cool to see the Star Palace depicted, but Lode Seven is the more important and unusual of the two megastructures in the novel, so it was definitely the right one to depict.

As for Lode Seven, it’s difficult to depict visually, but I think Mike McPhail’s art does an effective job of conveying the idea of a vast linear structure stretching to the vanishing point. A more distant vantage might have conveyed its length better, but not its size.

PART ONE: PENAL TRANSPORTATION

Penal transportation was the historical practice of removing criminals from society by shipping them to a distant place such as a colony, often used as a method of colonial expansion, letting convicts work off their sentences by helping to build a new settlement. The most famous example is probably the British colonization of Australia, and the Botany Bay penal colony that was the namesake of Khan’s ship in Star Trek: “Space Seed” and The Wrath of Khan.

Prologue

Solsys Equivalent Date: November 6, 2176

Pg 1 (249)

Since I wanted each novel to stand reasonably well on its own after I split the book into two volumes, I needed to figure out the best way to reintroduce readers to the story so far. Initially I decided on a brief opening recap scene from Arachne’s perspective, but my editor Danielle McPhail correctly pointed out that it was too distancing for the reader, telling rather than showing. I ended up discarding that portion and redistributing the exposition through the prologue and first chapter.

Pg 2 (250)

“Kit” is British slang for clothing.

Pg 3 (251)

For more on the Local Bubble and the surrounding voids, see the following pages:

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/slowerlight3.php#ramproblem

http://www.solstation.com/x-objects/chimney.htm

Pg 4 (252)

A video of a kangaroo’s slow “walking” gait can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi53VlMA31I

Pg 5 (253)

I feel I dropped the ball by setting up the complexities of the Chirrn’s formation of a new guild identity and not following up on how it affected L’chellin or Nilly. Maybe it’s an idea I can explore further if there’s a third book.

Chapter 1

Date: November 10

Scene 1

Pg 7 (255)

The nebulae in the vicinity of Antares can be seen in this photo (which is also my computer desktop background): https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120828.html

For more about Antares: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antares

Pg 8 (256)

Here’s Escher’s Tetrahedral Planetoid: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.46829.html

“The floods” of Shanghai were implicitly the result of the same global sea level rise that devastated Stephen’s Florida birthplace.

The Star Palaces and the Seekers of the Zenith are long-ago creations that I folded into this novel. I originally called the species Astraeans for no compellingly good reason, and their constructs were Star Cities, in honor of the LEGO-like Star City building blocks that inspired my earliest imaginings that were the seeds of the Arachne-Troubleshooter Universe (see https://christopherlbennett.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/origin-story/). I later renamed the structures Star Palaces and the species Palatines—both names assigned by humans, as my original plan was for humans to make first contact with them at a Star Palace. Here, though, the Arachnen meet them before learning of their connection to the Star Palaces, so they needed a different name, one expressing their concept of themselves. That could only be Seekers of the Zenith.

Pg 9 (257)

More on the Kardashev scale: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale

Scene 2

Pg 10-11 (258-59)

This scene between Stephen and Arachne was created in copyedits and takes the place of the Arachne internal monologue that previously opened Exile. I think this version is a vast improvement that helps re-establish Arachne as a character in her own right.

Scene 3

Pg 12-18 (260-66)

The first Unrenounced scene originally came later, after what are now the first two scenes of Chapter 2. In revisions, I realized I was piling on too much heavy science and worldbuilding exposition too soon, so it was better to move up this scene, which focused more on character and emotional engagement. It also made more sense to reintroduce the Unrenounced at this point, just after the newly added scene ending with Stephen reflecting on them.

Chapter 2

Date: November 10, continued

Scene 1

Pg 19 (267)

The Zhalevey are descended from one of the earliest alien species I created back in my teens. They were originally the Linya, but I changed that in the late ’90s when I discovered that Anne McCaffrey’s Acorna series featured a species called Linyaari. They were going to be humanity’s first alien contact, over radio and later in person, and I had a whole generations-long saga of stories written out; but they never quite worked out and eventually fell by the wayside as my plans evolved. (Indeed, I seem to have lost the final rewritten version of the stories, which were meant to combine into a fix-up novel. I came up with some interesting revised ideas for their language and perceptions that I no longer have a written record of, to my frustration.) They went through at least as many name changes as the Zenith (they were Pharenya for a while but that sounded too much like Ferengi), and some rethinking of their anatomy, before getting to this final form.

Zhalevey sketch and notes: Click here.

Zhalevey are similar to Mrwadj from the Hub series in that they tend to speak mainly in present tense. However, they’re a little more flexible about it (as with everything else), as we’ll see later in the book.

Pg 20 (268)

Fred/Phlrntsya is based on the main Linya character from those early stories, where her name was spelled Phred, inspired by a character from the Doonesbury comic strip by Garry Trudeau.

Hypercapnia is an excess of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. All three conditions mentioned here can result from excessively high air pressure.

Pg 21 (269)

The iconic depictions of nucleonic life on neutron stars are Robert L. Forward’s duology Dragon’s Egg and Starquake.

My longtime readers may recognize the concepts of metasapience from my Troubleshooter story “Aspiring to Be Angels,” available in Among the Wild Cybers.

Broadwing’s reference to nested Dyson shells (Arachne’s translation of whatever chiming Zenith chord pattern he uses) is based on the concept of Matrioshka brains as proposed by Robert J. Bradbury: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrioshka_brain

Pg 24 (272)

Vestalia was established in Only Superhuman as the center of the Main Asteroid Belt’s entertainment industry, basically Hollywood crossed with Las Vegas.

For more on Eta Carinae, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eta_Carinae

Pg 27 (275)

Shayal sketch and notes: Click here.

Pg 28 (276)

“Butchers” is short for “butcher’s hook,” Cockney rhyming slang for “look.” So she’s saying she wants to take a quick look.

“Cheers” is British vernacular for “thank you.”

Scene 2

Pg 29-31 (277-79)

The Tarik-Kweli scene was added for the duology version to re-establish the characters and their backstory.

Scene 3

Pg 32-35 (280-83)

The arrival of Velesh and the eavesdropping scene jumped around in various drafts. Initially they were at the Star Palace, then I moved them up to Ss’chh to introduce Velesh sooner, and then I moved them back to the Palace once I split the book in two. The eavesdropping scene was originally a continuation of Sita and Nilly’s conversation in what’s now the Prologue.

Chapter 3

Date: November 11-12

Scene 1

Pg 37 (285)

Gaurim sketch and notes: Click here.

So why aren’t there more small aliens in these novels? Because research suggests that the ideal type of planet to support life would be somewhat larger than Earth, able to retain internal heat and a protective magnetic field for longer and to hold onto an atmosphere longer. (See https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2020/10/06/the-best-of-all-possible-worlds/.) Most such planets would have moderately higher gravity than Earth. I used to think that would produce shorter, squatter aliens, but somewhere along the way, I realized that longer limbs would provide more leverage. Moreover, if these are “superhabitable” worlds, they might be more lush than Earth and have more abundant biomass to sustain larger organisms, as in the periods in Earth’s prehistory where megafauna such as dinosaurs reigned.

Pg 39 (287)

Humans are unique among primates in having permanently engorged mammaries even when not lactating, so it’s understandable that an alien doctor would find it an odd feature. (As I said in my annotations to “Hubstitute Creatures,” the leading theory is that human breasts are permanently engorged to facilitate the flat-muzzled shape of the human head; the tapering of the breasts enables infants’ nostrils to remain clear while they nurse. There’s another theory that permanent breasts evolved as a sexual display to attract mates, but that one’s more controversial. It certainly sounds credible from my point of view, though…)

The dialogue here was originally a bit longer, but I had to trim Arachne’s Exile pretty ruthlessly to fit the word count limit. Here’s the expanded version:

“Bloody hell, I hope not. No, breasts are permanent from puberty onwards.”

“How unusual. Why carry the excess weight when they are not needed?”

“Oh, they have all sorts of uses, don’t they? Holding pencils… keeping up strapless gowns… estimating gravity levels…”

The pencil joke originally came from Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda writer-producer Ethlie Ann Vare when I asked her on the show’s fan site what utilitarian purpose could be served by the décolletage on the android avatar Rommie’s uniform — her answer was “You can keep pencils in there.” I was trying to devise (or borrow) ways a woman might joke about her breasts, rather than something that would give away the author’s male gaze within a woman’s internal monologue, a mistake I made on occasion in Only Superhuman.

Scene 3

Pg 43 (291)

The second Unrenounced scene, like the first, initially came two scenes later, at the end of the chapter. I realized it was an anticlimax after the big reveal about mentoring, and it would improve the pacing if I put it in as a pause before we got to that reveal.

This scene went through more changes before that, though. It originally centered on a different character than Nik, one whom I eliminated to streamline the plot, with the scene cut out along with him. I restored it for the two-book version to give the Unrenounced more early business in Exile, which required making Nik a more prominent character, something that would play out later in the novel.

It’s true that the frequency of the feline purr has been found to play a role in stimulating healing in bones and muscles, which may be why cats do it when they’re injured or scared as well as when they’re resting contentedly. For more:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-cats-purr/

https://asa.scitation.org/doi/10.1121/1.4777098

Pg 45 (293)

The Robert L. Forward idea (see Acknowledgments) of using degenerate matter encased in diamond as a gravity source is one I originally used in an unsold story about the Zenith Star Palaces (under their earlier name). While Diego is wrong to suggest it here, it was correct in the original story, which was about trying to prevent the kind of disaster proposed by Diego. I cannibalized the idea in my first Star Trek novel, Ex Machina, as the gravity source for the Yonada worldship. An earlier draft had Diego saying he’d once read an old novel proposing the danger, a winking reference to Ex Machina.

Scene 4

Pg 48 (296)

While “hermaphrodite” is now considered a medically inaccurate and impolite term for intersex humans, it is still a valid scientific term for creatures of other species that have full sets of both male and female genitalia.

Pg 50 (298)

“Go pear-shaped” is British slang for “go horribly wrong,” though there’s no consensus on its origin. One theory is that it originated in the 1940s Royal Air Force to refer to improperly performed aerial loops.

In peppering Sita’s dialogue with English and Cockney slang, I tried my best to favor terms that have been in steady use for at least a couple of generations, to make it plausible that they would persist into the 2140s when the Arachnen left Earth.

Scene 5

Pg 51-2 (299-300)

The Civilizing (or Civilising) Mission was the British Empire’s view of its purpose, to uplift other, more “primitive” cultures by instilling them with the values of superior British civilization and teaching them to abandon their horrid, foreign, dashedly un-British cultures and religions and all that tommyrot. Like all cultural imperialism, it led to devastating consequences for the colonized populations. Star Trek’s Prime Directive was devised as a counter to cultural imperialism, a hands-off rule that respected other cultures’ right to make their own decisions, though in later series this was often taken to ridiculous extremes that were just as condescending and imperialistic as the attitudes the Directive was meant to counter (e.g. “These aliens are too primitive and stupid to handle knowledge of our existence, so let’s unilaterally decide on their behalf to let them all die from a natural disaster rather than risk harming them” — huh?).

Studying world history and cross-cultural interaction let me see a wealth of problems with Star Trek’s approach to the Prime Directive, and the Mentoring Protocols are my attempt to work out a more balanced and subtle policy. To an extent, the Prime Directive makes sense if you understand it as the policy of a culture that recognizes its own potential to inflict well-intentioned harm and thus avoids the temptation altogether; but such avoidance is the simplest way of dealing with one’s limitations, and eventually as one matures, one must take responsibility rather than dodging it. So it stands to reason that far older starfaring civilizations would have developed procedures that would allow contact to be carried out with care and delicacy, rather than simply avoiding the issue.

Pg 53 (301)

I presume that by the 2100s, human laws have evolved to recognize the sapience and personhood of species like elephants, dolphins, great apes, and possibly others.

Chapter 4

Date: November 13

Scene 1

Pg 55 (303)

Sympatholytic drugs are often used to deal with anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress. They can reduce the neurological damage caused by traumatic experiences, and if administered soon enough after a trauma, can reduce the risk or intensity of PTSD onset.

Scene 3

Pg 59-63 (307-311)

This scene with Cecilia was another addition when I split the novel, to give Cecilia more to do in the first half of Exile, and particularly to give her some interaction with Stephen before the climax. It turned out to be quite an effective and important character scene.

Scene 4

Pg 64 (312)

The name Stephen is from Greek Stephanos, meaning “crown.” Jacob is from Hebrew Yaaqob, “supplanter” or “usurper.” Wong is, or can be, the Cantonese or Yale romanization of the Chinese surname 王, meaning “king” and generally transliterated as Wang. It’s pure coincidence that his name includes both a name meaning “crown” and a name that can mean “king,” though of course I chose that one out of the numerous other possible meanings of “Wong” because of the connection. I had no idea of any of this when I named the character back in the 1990s, but I looked it up when I realized that Zenith would be unable to pronounce human names phonetically and would have to fall back on their meanings, as humans have to do with Zenith names like Broadwing, Sunflash, etc.

Scene 5

Pg 67 (315)

A clerestory is an elevated wall in a high-ceilinged room with windows to let in light or fresh air, like a skylight but on the side. In which case maybe these actually are clerestory windows rather than just resembling them, though they’re on a much larger scale.

Pg 71 (319)

Sita is a major goddess in Hinduism associated with the harvest. I (and presumably Arachne) had to cheat in translating “Bhatiani,” since it’s apparently derived from a place name whose etymology I couldn’t determine. I settled for basing it on Sanskrit bhā́ti (भाति), to shine or gleam, which might be entirely wrong (though it’s not unprecedented; I think Chinese renderings of Western names are sometimes based on homophones or puns). I don’t remember where I got the “morning” part from.

“Apastron” is the point in a planet’s orbit that’s farthest from the star, and thus highest above it, as “down” is toward the star’s gravitational pull. It’s the generic equivalent of the aphelion, the farthest point in an orbit around our own Sun.

Pg 74 (322)

“Holy shite” is not a typo, but a variant form used in the UK and Ireland, pronounced the way it looks.

The PQM neutralizer doesn’t entirely make sense, since in theory there should be ways to block the signal. I presume that the Ryohoch devised some way to get around that through the quantum entanglement or whatever, something beyond what current theory can devise or explain.

Chapter 5

Date: November 15 (Scene 1), November 16 (Scenes 2-3)

Scene 2

Pg 90 (338)

More fun with names: Tarik is the Turkish form of the Arabic Tariq (طارق), which means, basically, someone who knocks on your door in the middle of the night. By extension it’s been used as a poetic term for the stars, and specifically for Venus as the morning star. “Bahar” (بهار) is Turkish for “spring” or “blossom,” from Persian.

Diana is the Roman goddess of the hunt, and “Thorne” meaning “thorn” is pretty self-explanatory.

Pg 95 (343)

Despite how the term has been misinterpreted by the West and corrupted by extremist groups in recent decades, jihad is defined in the Qur’an as a purely defensive struggle against threats to the Islamic community — and more fundamentally the inner, personal struggle against doubt, anger, folly, and other such threats to one’s own faith and goodness.

PART TWO: HIGH CRIMES

Chapter 6

Date: November 17 (Scene 1), November 18 (Scenes 2-3)

Scene 1

Pg 103-4 (351-2)

The Unrenounced escape attempt that became the climax of Arachne’s Crime originally took place before the first scene of this chapter, so the discussion of what to do with the Unrenounced was an immediate reaction to the incident. When I moved the sequence, I considered inserting a second escape attempt here, but I realized the concern could simply be about the risk of a second attempt. It does lessen the immediacy of the cause and effect, but it would’ve been contrived for the Unrenounced to give Stephen an excuse for putting them in hibernation immediately before he needed one.

Scene 2

Pg 108 (356)

Readers of the Kickstarter/Patreon bonus story “Comfort Zones” will recognize Cecilia’s “sink into the marsh” line as a callback to a comment Stephen made to her when they first met. Of course, I wrote the two works in the opposite order, but I liked the idea of retroactively adding an extra resonance to the moment here.

Scene 3

Pg 110-11 (358-59)

Haim is thinking about Exodus 12:35-36, which in the New International Version goes: “The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.”

Pg 111 (359)

Lode Seven is in a dust cloud to explain why human astronomers never observed the cool stuff going on around its neutron star.

Pg 112 (360)

I imagined the swirls of light around the neutron star as a cross between something like this:

Casey Reed, Penn State University

and the more colorful swirls around the planet in Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

I was also influenced by the description of the magnetic structures around the black hole entity in Gregory Benford’s novel Eater.

Pg 113ff (361ff)

I came up with the idea for a radial megastructure with tidally generated gravity many years ago, initially imagining something really huge in orbit of a regular star, but the math just didn’t work out. I realized it was only viable with a gravity gradient as intense as the one near a neutron star or black hole, which meant I could create an excitingly distinctive and original environment — though admittedly “Stringworld” is not the most original name for it.

David Brin’s story “Tank Farm Dynamo” is a good primer for the physics of a tidally stabilized radial structure getting power and maneuvering thrust from its interaction with its primary’s magnetic field. I only know about this stuff because I read it there.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty graphic of the Stringworld I did in an e-mail for cover artist Mike McPhail’s benefit (shortened a bit so I could copy most of it as a graphic):

      { * } — neutron star (and swirly stuff)

        ~

    (c. 466,000 km)

        ~

       \/    — this way to bottomless abyss of space

     The “ȏ” symbols are meant to represent habitat modules with conical “Chinese hat” radiation shields on top of them, but of course the shields should be wider than the modules. I’ve tried to convey how the number of tethers increases toward the center, but it’s less a matter of the Stringworld getting narrower toward the ends and more a matter of the tethers being less densely packed.

Chapter 7

Date: November 19

Scene 1

Pg 117ff (365ff)

Kazuko was a late addition to this scene, as I wanted to give her a bit more to do, rather than having her all but disappear from the second half. I would’ve liked to have more room to develop her and other supporting Arachnen more fully.

In earlier drafts, Stephen had this conversation with Velesh, until I realized it was more dramatically effective if it was Sita pursuing her own alternative to Stephen’s plan.

Pg 118 (366)

“the two diminutive women”: Sita is 150 cm/4’11”, and Kazuko is 158 cm/5’2”. When I wrote this, I believed that Martians would be shorter than Earth-born humans, rather than taller as generally believed, because the lower gravity would put less stress on their bones and stimulate less growth. I now know that was erroneous and Martians would probably be taller and lankier. Presumably Kazuko is an exception for some reason.

In an earlier draft, this whole conversation took place in the Ocean Module, with a lot more exploration of its environs and inhabitants. I must have changed my mind about it early on, because I have no complete draft containing that version, though I’ve preserved the deleted scene in my story notes. I suppose I found the detailed description extraneous to the story. But I hope to find a place for it in some future work.

Concorde rays are a leftover idea from the original spec novel that I eventually used as the basis for Star Trek: Titan — Over a Torrent Sea. They were not sapient in that novel.

The paragraph about ecoforming the ocean planet draws on the same principles I used in Over a Torrent Sea to justify such a planet being inhabited. I felt free to reuse the ideas on the assumption that my original SF work would have a distinct audience from my tie-in work.

Pg 119 (367)

“some hazards still remain in Spinward”: If you’ve read “The Caress of a Butterfly’s Wing” in BuzzyMag or Among the Wild Cybers, now you know the origin of the ancient booby trap that stranded the characters’ ancestors. I had already written early drafts of Arachne by the time I wrote the final version of “Butterfly’s Wing,” so I was able to cross-pollinate ideas.

Scene 3

Pg 125ff (373ff)

The “going over the plan” scene is my homage to the apartment scenes at the beginning of most episodes of Mission: Impossible, where the IMF team members would review the plan they already knew, laying out the ingredients of the scheme but leaving the viewer in suspense about how and why they would be used. It’s also a good idea to let the audience know how the plan is supposed to work if you intend it to go awry later on.

Chapter 8

Date (Chapters 8-11): November 20

Scene 4

Pg 135 (383)

Mykhshad sketch and notes: Click here.

Pg 137 (385)

Since Ryohoch find personal pronouns insulting (see Arachne’s Crime), Diana may have committed a faux pas by saying “your drone.” On the other hand, it’s possible the phrase doesn’t translate literally into Ryohoch language (say, perhaps there’s an affix denoting attachment to the listener rather than a possessive pronoun).

Scene 6

Pg 139 (387)

Though I established the Oort-cloud ice planet in this scene, I didn’t name it Aita until I later wrote “Comfort Zones,” whereupon I added the name here in copyedits. Aita, or Eita, is the Etruscan god of the underworld, equivalent to the Greek Hades and identified with him and Pluto by the Romans. I’m probably cheating, since current International Astronomical Union convention is that trans-Neptunian objects should be named for creation deities; see https://www.iau.org/public/themes/naming/#dwarfplanets. But since Aita is a full-fledged planet, I decided to stick with something closer to the tradition of naming planets for Roman deities, while also resonating with Pluto’s underworld connection.

Pg 140 (388)

I describe the room as slanted because I envisioned the habitat modules being arranged radially with their noses pointing toward the center of the warp-cage collar. This doesn’t track with my final description of them being clustered like a bundle of logs, all pointing in the same direction. It could be that the whole ship is resting at a slant in the docking cradle for some reason, but Cecilia is only aware of this module so far. I considered rewriting this part without the slant once I changed my mind about the configuration, but I liked the suggestion that the ship isn’t built to accommodate gravity, especially from an external source. It also helps convey Cecilia’s disorientation.

Pg 142 (390)

Just to be clear, “A fully nude Nik” is in no way meant to be a pun on nudnik, the Yiddish word for a bore or a pest. This is another scene originally written for a different character.

Chapter 9

Scene 1

Pg 148 (396)

Deinococcus radiodurans is a bacterium able to thrive in hard radiation due to its robust DNA repair mechanisms. I established in Only Superhuman that it’s routine for Striders and other spacefarers to get gene therapy to gain its anti-radiation abilities.

Scene 2

Pg 152ff (400ff)

Negative mass is, at least theoretically, something that could potentially exist and would behave as described. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_mass

Chapter 10

Scene 1

Pg 159 (407)

Why is Churrlaya saying “years” instead of narranl? He isn’t. Arachne is still translating his speech into Earth units for Cecilia’s benefit, because the Unrenounced haven’t adapted to Chirrn units. The Arachnen have chosen to assimilate, so Arachne stopped translating the time units for them. (Either that or I goofed, but I think I did it on purpose.)

Scene 4

Pg 170 (418)

Normally I have Striders use “vack” as a curse and “fuck” only as a verb for sexual activity, while Terrans still use the F-word as an expletive. Cecilia switches between both expletives because she’s an Earth native who’s lived in space most of her adult life.

Scene 5

Pg 171ff (419ff)

Here’s the sketch I drew to keep track of the battle arena, though I erased and re-drew part of it to reflect changes in the battle, and some of the characters were rearranged in revisions, so the initials don’t quite match. This is a cross-section viewed from above, with the thickest hexagonal tether bundle in the middle and the other major tether bundles arrayed around it in a basically triangular grid, with maybe half a kilometer between adjacent bundles (thinner supplemental tethers such as elevator cables are not shown). I show three concentric rings of tether bundles around the central one, but there are probably one or two more rings further out, and they aren’t necessarily to scale. The numbers are for the cutting charges, with the V-shaped lines extending out from them representing the intended path of destruction from each charge. The charges that actually went off are crossed out.

Scene 6

Pg 177 (425)

The rescue sequence here is the one place I most regret losing the reporter character who was prominent in earlier drafts. Her subplot involved her estrangement with her husband who joined the Unrenounced, and this scene where he rescued her from the PQM charge was where they finally came together and reaffirmed their love. It was a bit hokey, maybe, but it carried more weight and drama than it does with Tarik rescuing Diana.

Note that when Tarik arrives next to Diana, her dialogue switches from radio italics to Roman text. This shouldn’t strictly be the case, given that they’re still communicating through spacesuit radios. But I felt it was less confusing if I differentiated face-to-face dialogue from remote dialogue, the better to keep track of character positions. It’s not that important here, but it works better for the several face-to-face confrontations in the next chapter.

Chapter 11

Scene 1

Pg 179 (427)

For a long time, it was Ibrahim who died at this point. After I made Nik more prominent, I realized it was a copout that both fatalities were minor characters. It would carry more impact if the first casualty were someone the audience was invested in, or at least better acquainted with. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hard to reshuffle character movements to approximately swap Nik and Ibrahim’s positions. There’s maybe a bit of fudging there, but not enough to matter.

Scene 2

Pg 180 (428)

The principle that keeps the tension in the cables after they snap can be seen in any number of YouTube videos about falling Slinkys.

Scene 3

Pg 182 (430)

For pacing purposes, we’re now jumping back to shortly before the previous scene.

Scene 7

Pg 190-1 (438-9)

I think Diana’s negative-mass trick would reduce the weight. The math does seem to work out that way, insofar as I understand it. I only hope I’m not missing something.

Chapter 12

Date: November 20 (Scene 1), November 21 (Scenes 2ff)

Scene 1

Pg 197 (445)

The “wearing a wire” bit is the other place where I regret losing the reporter character, who was a better fit for this “gotcha” moment than Stephen was.

Pg 198-9 (446-7)

I call the submissive gesture Meridian performs here the “clawtow,” as a pun on “kowtow.” However, there was no room to work that detail into this scene.

I’m a little uncomfortable having the triumphant moment be a male dominating and humiliating a female, but hopefully I’ve sufficiently justified it within Zenith culture and established that it’s not an analog or endorsement of any human behavior. If anything, it’s really Apastron’s dominance gesture, further humiliating Meridian by instructing a mere male to place himself above her.

I should also clarify that the clawtow is not forceful, does not choke the recipient, and only lasts a few seconds, as it’s a ritual humiliation rather than an act of violence. To Zenith psychology, the mere fact of having one’s head below another’s foot is so devastating that inflicting physical pain would be redundant.

Scene 2

Pg 206 (454)

I came up with this elaborate scheme to give humans PQM in secret as a way to slot this story into my pre-existing future history. In “The Weight of Silence,” humans in Solsys are experimenting with PQM in 2202 without any mention of the Chirrn, and in “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele,” humanity evidently still doesn’t have FTL by 2250. I had other works planned in which humans developed FTL on their own and never learned what happened to Arachne, but those haven’t yet seen print, which gives me some leeway; but I still decided that the sneaky approach presented here was the best option storywise.

Epilogue

Date: c. December 2, 2176

Scene 1

Pg 211 (459)

Hopefully readers will remember the concept of utility fog as depicted in Arachne’s Crime.

Scene 2

Pg 214 (462)

If this last scene feels like it’s setting up a spinoff, that’s definitely what I had in mind — at least to give myself that option going forward.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: