Update from your humble and diligent author

Deadprogrammer (http://www.livejournal.com/users/deadprogrammer/) asks: When is the book due? And did they give you the date for The Last Guardian of Everness? And I hear that another fantasy book of yours got picked up by Tor, right?

In all honesty I am looking forward much more to your next sci-fi book that you mentioned here. The world you started building in your short stories is a gold mine. I am really intrigued. Which two stories are you talking about?

Answer: It will be a long wait for EVERNESS. Patience and faithfulness will be required.

You will get that joke once you read the book. (Or, I could just tell you now: Patience and Faithfulness is the motto of the House of Everness).

I have just this week gotten my initial editorial comments back for LAST GUARDIANS OF EVERNESS. I am in the processes of re-reading the manuscript and making small and large changes. After I return the second draft to the editor, there will be (at least) two more steps to the process: a copy-editor review, and a galley review. No deadline has even been discussed. I suspect it will be more than a year before EVERNESS sees the light of day.

David Hartwell is my editor at Tor, and, so far, has proven himself a wise and thoughtful editor, and has not asked me to change any scenes that do not need at least some tinkering.

My greatest fear had been that he would be too leftist for me, and that he would prefer me to remove any libertarian or conservative passages in the book, lest I unnecessarily alienate leftist readers. (After all, most SF fans are young, and socialism appeals more to ungroomed younger than to grayhaired and wiser heads).

Ironically, this fear turned out to be exactly and diametrically wrong. Mr. Hartwell’s strongest criticism of my manuscript draft, is that it is not conservative and patriotic enough!

The manuscript was written in the early 1990’s, last millennium, and contains snide references to the massacre at Waco, the murder at Ruby Ridge, and other outrages of the BATF. But, post 9-11, the mood of the nation has changed, and casual slights against our boys in uniform will be receive far less sympathetically by readers in the twenty-oughts as in the nineties. At the editor’s suggestion, I have added a scene or two which (I hope) will change the mood to something less unsympathetic to our government.

A second fantasy of mine has just been bought by Tor. It is called ORPHANS OF CHAOS, and it concerns five school children of indeterminate age, being raised, alone on the campus, of an English boarding school. When the children observe that townsfolk growing older, but they are never allowed to graduate, never allowed to leave, they begin to suspect a sinister conspiracy afoot against them. One of the children thinks she is not a human being; one of the boys scoffs at the idea that the world they are on is Earth.

The two short stories of mine that share a common background are NOT BORN A MAN (published in Aberrations #25, December 1994.) and FARTHEST MAN FROM EARTH (published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Vol. 19 # 4 & 5, No.229-230, April 1995.)

Both short stories suppose that human beings discover a peaceful and primitive alien race, the Ophiuchans, whose bodies contain a neural symbiot which, if removed from the alien and implanted correctly in a human, grants him eternal youth. The removal is fatal to the alien, and irreversible to the human, since the symbiot binds itself to the host nervous system, and takes over vital cell functions.

In FARTHEST MAN, Adam Drake is a member of the Jesuit expedition that discovers the secret, and he must chose between helping his aging crewmates, and saving his alien friends from murder.

In NOT BORN, a member of a later expedition which has gone to raid 36 Ophiuchus XIV, is stranded on an alien planet circling Bernard’s Star. Knowing the vessel must return here some day on her way back to Earth, he prepares a surface-to-orbit weapon, and waits, decade after decade, for his revenge. Meanwhile, the native life, which can mimic human beings down to a cellular level, attempts to interfere with, or perhaps to aid his dream of revenge; a dream which, in an odd way, outlives him.

Other short stories were written in this background, but languish gathering dust on my desk, since I have found no buyers for them as yet.

In the manuscript I am writing now (and I have been working, on and off, for years on this idea) UNCONQUERED EARTH, alien invaders have conquered the solar system after 900 years of war. The war had been a long one, and took place in multi-generation warships at slower-than-light speeds.

The immortals, who have either murdered Ophiuchans or previous immortals to rob them of their symbiot and gain their eternal youth, formed the aristocracy of the war effort, since only they were long-lived enough to see to the needs of interstellar war: but with their downfall and defeat, for the first time, there is a chance that liberty might take root again on Earth, but only if the scattered and defeated remnant of the Earthly forces can find a way to communicate with, understand, and defeat, the five alien races attacking them. The purpose of the alien invasion is unknown, since no communication has been established with them.

My ambition with this work is to portray aliens as truly unlike humans, and yet to have some goals, affections and passions that might be dimly understandable, or even sympathetic, to the human reader. I am taking up the gauntlet hurled down by John W. Campbell long ago, to write of an organism that thinks as well as a man, but not like a man.