Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Sitting idly in my sidebar in dire need of updating, sits the prologue of my novel.

It's had a chequered history. I started writing it on A4 paper back in the year 2000, just before I met Claire.
The origins were very simple. I had already embarked on some of the speculations that underpin this blog, and my original vehicle for expressing some of those thoughts was 'In the Service of Order'.

Unfortunately, I'm not the most organised of people. Initially, I got quite into writing it, but I got sidetracked by work and Claire and DIY and visiting country homes at the weekend.
So ISO got shelved.

At various times in my life I returned to it, and before I started this blog, was starting to re-acquaint myself with the basic premises and go back and re-write bits of what I had already written.

So far, eight years after it's orgins, it hasn't progressed very far, really. The prologue and five chapters exist on paper. The prologue and two of those chapters exist on my hard drive. The full plot outline, such as it is, and the appendices also exist on my hard drive.

Why write the appendices first?

Well, because of the nature of the novel. I suppose loosely, it would be classed as sci-fi fantasy, which means that EVERYTHING in it, is made up. It is a hypothetical state of existence, with hypothetical places depicted.

The basic premise, is that it depicts a species that resembles the human type, living in a state of technological development an estimated four millenia or so after our state of development.

And I guess it is part dystopia, part utopia. The point really as to indulge some of my speculation on future technology and power structures.

The idea is that at some point in ancient history, a portion of the human race developed what might be termed psychokinetic powers. Inevitably, over time, those with those began to use their abilities and pretty much demand special treatment. Over time, they began to form essentially rogue confederacies inhabiting the further reaches of civilisation, forming bands known as the Septs.

In time these groups began to war against eachother and a dark age of perpetual war broke out during which the cradle world of the species and countless others were destroyed.

Out of this dark age finally emerged, however a concrete unity with a concrete philosophy.
The Galangic philosophy's fundamental tenet, is power for it's own sake. It states 'God is not omnipotent because he is God, he is God because he is omnipotent'.

In other words, those with psychokinetic abilities are recruited into a quasi-religious military order, the Servants of Order, organised into a rigid pyramid structure. At the top of this, are several tiers of Lords of the empire, each having personal dominion over thousands of world, and above them, His Divine Omnipotence, The President of the Unified Council of Septs, Bringer of Light, Ordained Arbiter of all Sentient Life, the Emperor himself.

A human being, with the literal power of God in his fingertips.

Writing the appendices in such detail was necessary mainly because one needs to ensure consistency. Full details of all the Imperial Directorates and how the Empire is administered needed to be worked out. Plus an account of the different factions existing within Imperial politics. as well as the 'heresies'. And of course, the history of all this.

The idea is that the Galangic philosophy works unceasingly to perpetually increase the number of sentient beings obeying a single will.
I intended to have on the opening page that quote of Voltaire's 'If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him'.

The novel is set in time of crisis. For 51 reigns, the Empire has had a single goal- conquer the galaxy. It always believed that before it achieved this, it would work out how to cross intergalactic space.
But it didn't.
And now a system which has been driven for as long as anyone can remember by perpetual expansion, has shuddered to a halt in its tracks.

And it is turning in on itself.

I made several decisions when I started writing. Firstly, I didn't want to focus on space travel. Novels about to days world don't focus on air travel, so why should all the action in futuristic novels be set in space?

Much of the action is set in the cities of the future- at least a third of the novel in the greatest of them all- Imperion.
Imperion, is a planet in its own right. A planet, which is entirely covered by buildings. It is home to 2 TRILLION souls. The entire star system it exists in, could be considered its metropolitan zone. The concept of such a city and the scale of activity there, of slum tower blocks so vast some of its inhabitants never see daylight, of vast road networks 100 lanes wide, of 'Pleasure domes' open to perpetual parting twenty four hours a day where devotees actually sacrifice themselves before holographic images of the Emperor, were things I was keen to explore. A city where the Execution channel shows the daily execution of thousands of 'heretics'.

But also the possibilities of future technology. The fact that really, the Lords of the Empire are no longer human. The Godhead programme- a kind of galactic internet is perpetually pumping so much information into their brain, that their thought processes can be regarded as largely computerised, and their body chemicals are entirely controlled by machines as well, so nothing they do or think can really be regarded as 'natural'.

When writing the history of the Emperors, I decided to have a majority of the later Emperors die of brain haemorrhages. The idea that those who rule under such conditions are eventually going to start going mad and eventually be themselves physically shut down by the network they are the centre of, I found rather compelling. I found the idea that the further up the system one rose, the less pleasant existence became at all, to be an interesting theme, and the idea of human beings no longer in control of themselves, completely oblivious to any natural thoughts or emotions being perpetually driven to surrender their humanity ever further just to feel a greater sensation of power to be a fascinating concept.

So I suppose it was a study in tyranny. But underlying it all, I guess, lay the shadow of our own times, which possibly was finding its expression in this vehicle.

A lot of themes would have been touched along the line somewhere or other.

Sometimes I think this blog has rendered the novel kind of obsolete. It seems to cover all the issues I wanted to explore when writing it.

I get the impression it may never be finished now.

But I've updated the blog, and added part of the first chapter.
I should add that if I ever DO decide to continue, large parts of this chapter have been earmarked for replacement.

I will post the second and slightly longer part of the first chapter, on Thursday.


Anonymous said...

Where do you come up with these ideas?

Anonymous said...

never say never - what happend about having faith.

and on second not, what nunyaa said ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry... can't resist...

How're you coming on that novel you've been working on?