Progress Report — A Deleted Scene

Well, I normally do not talk about my work progress in my journal, but I am pleased that after a long dry spell (not writer’s block — I have personal reasons for believing such a thing does not exist, which I will reveal if anyone asks — but the press and tumult of travel, day job, and other affairs) I have written up version number 800. Sacrifice a chicken to Urania, the muse of SFF!

Now, this is not 800 complete drafts. I make a copy each time I sit down to a writing session, and save each in a separate file, just in case I want to return to an earlier version. But the timestamp on the earliest version (back when it was called ‘Concubine Vector’ and was about a revolt on a multigeneration slave ship) is 5/25/2005.

I think I have changed every element of the plot, character, and theme since then. I also collided it with notes I had been gathering for a spacewar saga on the epic magnitude of an E.E. Doc Smith book, and strange new particles of ideas fled outward from the collision path, making odd shapes in the cloud chamber of my mind.

If anyone asks where science fiction writers get their wild ideas, the answer should be: my ideas come from radical high-energy brain experimentation outlawed in all civilized nations. (The answer is not true, of course, but then again we writers are people who make up stories for a living.)

Fourteen pages of copy since about 7.30 this evening. Not great, but not bad.

If you are curious, here is a scene I decided, for reasons of timing and character development, to delete.

Montrose and Del Azarchel are a studying an electronic copy of Del Azarchel’s brain which has been ramped up to superhuman levels of intelligence. The electronic copy is telling Montrose what Del Azarchel plans to do to maintain his position of power in the world:

"…A few grams of antimatter, launched at near-lightspeed from secret orbital acceleration lances, entering in the upper atmosphere will produce a vortex of plasma that can lick cities off the globe, with an accompanying atomic explosion and electromagnetic pulse that will wipe out an estimated …"
The image and voice suddenly shut off. Del Azarchel had tapped the red amulet at his wrist.
Menelaus Montrose slowly said, "There is no way that creature could be lying. It knows we can read its thought logs."
"But it is mad," said the living Del Azarchel wearily. "We cannot model the hypothalamic structures correctly when the cortex structures are reduplicated to superintellectual levels. As I told you, it is like a prisoner suffering sleep deprivation."
"You going to bomb Australia with contraterrene?"
"Of course not. My Princess is working on a peaceful solution."
"But your mirror image there said…"
"A distorted image. A fun house mirror. I have had nightmares about what I might be forced to do, should it come to war, that I do not plan to act on. Who can say how those thoughts were amplified and distorted in this version? As I said, this is a work in progress. Your help, your new breakthroughs, are what I need to set it right."
"And you are going to kill it?"
"What does that word mean? I have a daily data backup, and could recompile this particular version from today’s session at any time."
"It does not seem to want to die."
"Of course not. When I built copies of myself who did not fear death, they did not think like me. The desire for endless life is one of my ruling principles. Every man feels the same; most are not honest enough to admit it."
"This is your plan for living forever? This monster? It’s not you. Even if you made it a perfect copy, it’s just a copy."
Del Azarchel dismissed that thought with a wave of his hand. "Every seven years each cell in the human organism has died and been replaced, including nerve cells. From a scientific point of view, the me whom you see before you is but a copy or a model of the version you once knew. My thoughts will be preserved into the future. What do I care about the flesh?"
"Your thoughts will not be preserved. Nothing but a copy of your thoughts."
"And from the point of view of that copy, that copy will think of itself as me. The metaphysical considerations are of no consequence."
"Still won’t be you."
"It will embody my will. I shall have my way. Nothing else matters."