Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Little History

(In case you haven't noticed, I have a new novel coming out soon. This is a bit of background. Also, it's my 1000th entry on the blog.)

One thing that's certain about the future: it will have more history than the present. Even if every record is somehow burned or wiped, all the events between now and then will have a weight, a gravity. They'll leave their mark.  In The Quiet War, I wanted to show how history trailed into the present of its future; how it affected those who lived there. So: some of Earth's wealthiest people escape grievous climatic changes and the resulting political chaos by setting up a refuge on the Moon. Later, their descendants, and the descendants of the technicians, engineers and other servants who maintained the refuge, move further outward, to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The resentments of those left behind on Earth, and the belief that the hard work done to rebuild shattered ecosystems lends them a moral superiority, are the tinder for a crusade against the Outers.

The Quiet War depicted the slow build-up towards outright war; the next novel, Gardens of the Sun, is about the consequences of Earth's victory. War is not a solution to a problem that can't be solved in any other way. It is not an end point; it does not reset history to a notional Year Zero. As the history of the twentieth century has shown, time and again, the violent assertion of power often causes new and unexpected problems.

The two novels follow the stories of five protagonists as they threaded through larger events; I wanted to give views from a variety of perspectives, and to show how human stories are affected by history, and how they can sometimes affect history.  In The Mouth of the Whale jumps forward 1500 years or so, and also jumps right out of the Solar System, but the colonists of the circumstellar rubble belt of Fomalhaut have not yet managed to escape history, although the stories of the three protagonists show how they try to transcend their circumstances.

And Evening's Empires, set around the time of In the Mouth of the Whale, but back in the Solar System, is the story of a single person, Gajananvihari Pilot. He has escaped the hijack of his family's ship, and although he's been stripped of everything he knows, although he's hardly ever left his ship before and knows almost nothing about the hundreds of little empires scattered across the asteroid belt, he's determined to get it back. And soon learns that his family's history is stranger than he thought, and entangled in the wider wreckage of human history.

The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun were designed as a diptych, but In the Mouth of the Whale and Evening's Empires are separate stories from the same history.  The four novels in the Quiet War universe are not episodes in an overarching story: there are connections and echoes, but no continuous narrative. But there is a theme.


Blogger Andrew Cummins said...

Would you class your recent work
set in the 'Quiet War' series as
being in the mundane class of SF?

-- Andrew

June 07, 2013 12:44 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I doubt if even the mundane SF crowd would, as there are too many gleeful violations of their doctrine. And besides, I don't believe in mundane SF. So, no.

June 07, 2013 12:27 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts