OK – be aware that if you are likely to read my novels (when they are done) that some spoilers will be appearing in this post. But I need to think things out and maybe get feedback for you, my few but loyal blogmates.
I have finally worked out a series of ideas that seem to gel as the background and overall story arc. Here they are.
Set hundreds of thousands of years from now. Society is made up of humans, transhumans, posthumans, exohumans, aliens and so on.
The planet Shade upon which the story is set has had many uses. Initially just an ordinary occupied planet, it became part of fully human confederation that separated from a massive empire tens of thousands of years ago. Ironically this developed its own posthuman leader known later in history by a bogey-man type legend as SoulThief. As SoulThief was “dying” (note the inverted commas) he evicted the population of this planet and turned it into a huge fortified mausoleum. Millennia passed. Posthumans and advanced AIs vanished to who-knows-where. Many subsequent human civilisations have hoped to pilfer this planet, but all in vain have crashed and burnt against it constantly evolving defences. Result: a massive graveyard of starships orbiting the planet and its surface is a cratered and pockmarked junk yard of starship remains. Until one day the last but most advanced human culture succeeded in shutting down the defences. Within the month their entire civilisation mysteriously collapsed. Coincidence? Time passed, and a new human culture arose. It somehow resurrected an ancient planet-based star portal system and ran canals through the portals to link planets. They became known as the Canal Builders and the last planet that they connected to their elaborate system was Shade. They too collapsed soon afterwards. (See a pattern?)
People from the post Canal Builder civilisations settled Shade. They are not technologically advanced, but the remnants of transhuman, exohuman etc genes means that many have technology etc so incorporated into their beings that they believe the various abilities they possess to be magic. The magic stifles further technological advancement and they remain permanently at something resembling 18th century European technology (not culture, just technology).
A thousand years ago a new element enters Shade. A fleet of ships arrives above Shade. It carries a group of now woken Dreamers. They had been early adopters of virtuality who had somehow woken from their eternal dreams in order to resume living limited but real lives. They too were augmented and passed this onto the generations that followed. They also had strong beliefs that in time turned into a religion. They live in a separate city-within-a-city to the rest of the population of Shade. Mind you most of this population is pretty small and is confined to a huge crescent shaped river-valley because dangerous things lurk beyond the valley (part of the planet’s ancient defences?).
The population of Shade have an economy based upon recovering and repurposing items from the rest of the planet’s surface. Given their own technology levels this is a struggle and quite dangerous. The repurposed items get sold to other planets (using the canal system) in return for other goods.
Story arc trigger
An scavenging expedition runs into a party of non-human aliens who are investigating this planet. The aliens are part of an expanding alien empire and Shade is on the fringes of what had once been the old human empire. The encounter does not end well, with the aliens mostly killed and a lot of humans too. The leader of the expedition investigates the alien vessel (given that he has been looting ancient starships for his entire life and is technologically augmented despite believing it magic) . He then steals/loots/recovers its AI. This last act is the trigger. Several ancient human artifacts have been dormant on Shade since SoulThief’s time. Somehow the presence of the alien AI revives them and puts them on a defence footing. This is not good for the citizens of Shade as the ancient artifacts do not really consider the current population to be legitimate inhabitants, and also because the alien star navy is now heading for Shade too.
The story arc revolves around this and its consequences. However, this will not be the main focus of each story.
The books of the arc
Tempting in Shade: The 16 year old daughter of two powerful Gnossian mages must undertake her rite of adulthood – 40 days away from the community, living with main society of Shade. However she is using this to run away. Events prior to this have led her to public humiliation which then lead to a betrayal of her people (this last is unknown to her people and she is now suffering guilt). Meanwhile her father has returned semi-conscious (and insane) from an expedition and strife is increasing between her mother and her. Suffering from constant headaches, bad nightmares and overwhelming guilt, she really wants to escape. Little does she know what is in store for her below, or the strange course of events that may compel her to return to save everything that she rejects.
Pilot’s Lock: The Locks upon which Shade relies have shut down. The recently suicidal Pilot Verdant, in the midst of preparing his own death, is suddenly forced to discover a way to restart the Locks and save the fleet currently travelling within the system. If he fails then Shade will be isolated from the rest of humanity forever and may even find itself struggling to feed itself in coming years.
No Flower Boy: A mercenary named Burns turns up in Shade, part of the last fleet before the Locks shut. He finds himself working for a private peace-enforcement company where he must solve the mystery of a missing boy and a stolen magical gem recently retrieved from Out Beyond. He also has to deal with the underworld of Shade and his unfortunate resemblance to the cloned mindless slave class.
Ghosts of Futures Past: Negan is the Protector of Shushtar, city of the Gnossians. Caught up in political struggles with a powerful group of religious fanatics, she is unprepared for death to start stalking Shushtar. Her husband is semi-conscious and apparently insane, the result of an expedition. Her daughter is down below on her tempting. And something is killing Gnossians. She has to stop it quickly before her enemies use her background (she is not a Gnossian) against her and remove her from her position. Because once they do so they can also follow Gnossian tradition and humanely euthanize her husband.
Stealing magic: Kephulu was born to a witch but has no power of his own and he really resents this. Luckily he is an evil genius and intends to steal magic from those who have it. A joyful psychopath, he and his sidekicks begin their bloody experiments only to find themselves caught up in something all the much greater and more terrible. Something that might see everyone on Shade perish. Can an evil genius become a world’s saviour? At what price?
SoulThief: SoulThief is reborn. Not a resurrected rebirth, but old memories now living in someone who has just discovered that they have his form and powers. Can he work with others to stop the ancient devices from killing everyone and also save the planet form an alien fleet intent on destroying it?
How do these sound?