The Book That Ran Aground

By Shamus
on Jun 27, 2012
Filed under:
Projects

For a couple of months before PAX, I was working on another book. Then PAX happened and I lost the desire to write. Then the desire returned, but… not for that book.

So now I have 50k words – about 99 pages – worth of book, and I have no desire to add a single sentence to the thing. It’s not that I have writer’s block. I can write. Just… not this.

Perhaps I talked about it too much. I get enjoyment from telling the story. The problem is, if I tell someone about the book I’m writing then I no longer want to write it, because I feel like I’ve already told the story.

Whatever the reason, I’m sad to see so much work go to waste. On the other hand, it’s not really wise to release this to the public. The book basically ends at a really bad cliffhanger. But if you think you can stand reading half a book, then I’m happy to oblige.

That’s the entire book, minus notes, dumped into HTML. I’m sure there’s proofing errors and inconsistencies, not to mention the frustrating lack of resolution. You might be able to avoid some of the frustration by stopping when you get to the section titled, “Down”. It’s not a proper ending, but it at least resolves a section of the book, more or less.

Anyway, I offer it here for the curious. Maybe I’ll return to it someday. Maybe not.

Synopsis: This is the story of Rin, a young woman working for some fictional future space program. The book was intended to be darker in nature than The Witch Watch, possibly closer to Free Radical in tone.

And yes, I’m writing something else. I don’t dare say more.

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  1. MadTinkerer says:

    Well, maybe you could take what you’ve written, toss out what you were going to write, and write something radically different instead, while altering what’s written so far as little as possible? I haven’t read the work-in-progress yet, but there’s always room for at least one big twist in a story.

    • Piflik says:

      Changing a story mid-novel is not as simple as just writing something different. A story is a whole thing, at least for me, changing part of it transforms it into something different, something I probably didn’t want to write. When I create a story, I don’t start at the beginning and see where it goes, I start with both the beginning and the end, usually also several points in between.
      And even if you are willing to change part of the story, you have to make the new stuff work with the existing stuff, or you end up with loose threads, plot holes, dei ex machinae and/or characters that don’t make sense. Usually it is easier and more fulfilling to write something completely new instead of changing something existing.

      Might be different for Shamus, of course.

  2. PSJ says:

    I think it’s absolutely incredible that you’re willing to put your work out there like this.

    Here’s to the best on your next project! I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve.

    This is my last summer when it’s even reasonably kosher to waste time on the internet before I offer my life to Princeton’s workload, so I want to thank you for being the absolute best “waste of time” I ever stumbled across. You were one of the catalysts to my decision of Comp. Sci. as a major and an inspiration both in the content you create now as well as the story of your past you shared. I realize now that this may not be the place to say this, but thank you for everything.

  3. arron says:

    Turn it into one of those “Choose your own Adventure” books. That way, you can have the rest of us decide how the story turns out.. :)

  4. Exetera says:

    Hmm… spiky trees with sheetlike leaves? Slightly miscolored everything? Sounds more like the project Frontier than the final frontier.

    Snark aside, excellent story. You seem to be doing very well with characters.

  5. Angie says:

    Project block is actually pretty common. You might find that if you put it away for a while, some number of months or even years, you might be reinspired to work on it later. Or maybe not. But it’s possible. I have chunks of story on my hard disk from ten years or more ago; sometimes I go back and finish them. I never willingly throw anything away, though. :)

    Angie

    • X2Eliah says:

      Taking a large break in writing, however, has the unfortunate symptom of the writing style changing mid-book, essentially. Things like that are pretty easy to notice, and quite often the general mood and tone expressed in any creative work leading up to a block and a lot later after it is really distinct.

  6. Simon Buchan says:

    Only read the preface so far, since it’s 00:38 here, but the talk about how all FTL in SF is pretty much just magic made me wish for a story where it literally *was* magic (with a good dose of “Magic A is Magic A” to keep SF tone). Any readers here have recommendations for something along those lines?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Well there’s Dragonstar, the “totally 100% hard science fiction except for the part where every D&D world is 100% real”. It’s an old 2001-ish-era setting based on the D&D 3.0 OGL that sought to fill the Spelljammer niche with a Traveller-like setting. There were some really, really neat ideas, though the execution of some parts was a little iffy. Still, the magical bionics were pretty neat.

      You can still get three of the books on RPGNow, though mysteriously the Guide to the Galaxy (the GM book) is missing, so quite a lot of important setting information would be lacking if you just got the PDFs available. Still, the Starfarer’s Handbook by itself gives a pretty good idea of the tone of the overall setting.

      • SleepingDragon says:

        Another RP setting rather than a novel but isn’t Cthulhu Tech a bit down this venue? Only it borrows from Anime rather than D&D and I may be getting it wrong since I’ve only got a brief look at the corebook.

    • Mephane says:

      Warhammer 40k. Every spacefaring culture/hive/whatever there (except the Tau) use some form of magic (psi), in order to cross interstellar distances. Of course that means there are also wizards (psychers), and even navigation in space is to a large extent dependent on a form of clairevoyance.

      Heck, there is an entire culture whose technology can only operate because they believe it can, and their collective subconsious magic ability makes it so; without that, their stuff would mostly be scrap metal…

      • Klay F. says:

        Da red wuns go fasta? (sorry) ;-P

        • Eärlindor says:

          It kinda hurts my head that that actually works…

          • Soylent Dave says:

            It works specifically because the (Kr)Orks were engineered by the (Precursor) Old Slann to succeed in a galaxy without high technology or trained psykers. They didn’t evolve; they were engineered.

            Anything too psychic gets possessed by an Enslaver, anything that isn’t at least a little bit psychic can’t resist the C’tan – the Krork have the additional advantage that they’re spawned pretty much capable of fighting, get stronger the more they fight and are infest any planet they land on so they’re almost impossible to eradicate.

            (Almost makes Orks cool, doesn’t it? Almost.)

            • Bret says:

              The Boyz are awesome. But you get them a little wrong.

              They’re naturally competent with tech on an individual level. Give an Ork any kind of machine parts and he can make a nice gun. It’s just they’re incredibly sloppy, and that’s where the psi comes in.

              It plasters over all the ways the guns should backfire and explode, the planes without connected fuel lines, etc.

              Also lets their axes cut up power armor.

            • Eärlindor says:

              Okay, but what does that have to do with red paint actually making things better? 0.o

              • 4th Dimension says:

                All Orks believe red vehicles are faster, and since they believe it utterly, it becomes truth.

                • decius says:

                  It isn’t true because they believe it, they believe it because it is true.

                  The way the Orks think things work is exactly how things work, not the other way around. Reality is strange, and the Orks understand it better than anyone who relies on strict causation to explain why things happen.

                  • Piflik says:

                    Wrong. Orks have latent magic capabilities. They can salvage junk and cobble them together to make a weapon and it will work, because they think it works. Take a pipe, glue a magazine, trigger and handle on it, and an Ork can shoot you with it ;)

                    • 4th Dimension says:

                      Exactly. And I think even the effectiveness of the weapons increase if there are more orks in the WAAAAGRH!

                    • decius says:

                      MacGuyver can do the same thing. Does that mean he has latent magic?

                      An Ork knows that a gun has a barrel, trigger, and magazine, and he also knows that it doesn’t need much of anything else. Humans can’t use Ork weapons, because they think that guns need sears, sliding actions, springs, ejectors, sights, and all of those other things. An Ork cannot use a firearm that doesn’t look like a gun, because it doesn’t have the bits it needs to work.

                      In short, Ork physics is not math- speed is not the second integral of force divided by mass over time; the red ones just go faster.

    • Simon Buchan says:

      Weird! That’s now 3 science fantasy RPG settings recommendations, but no (independent) novels. Is that reflecting on some weird gap in the “novel-sphere”, or just the local readers? :P

      I’ve not heard of Dragonstar, sounds like an interesting setting, though I’m not seeing much novels.

      Of course, 40k is awesome, in that special cheesy omni-cynical way, but keeping in tone and canon’s requirement to keep the status quo means not terribly much effective can happen on a larger scale in that universe – with the obvious exception of prequels like the Horus Heresy. Since I prefer when stories can have a lasting impact, that pretty much leaves fan-fics….

      … which is OK, since what I know of Cthulu-tech is pretty awesome – and I’m mostly familiar with it through EarthScorpion’s fan-fic crossover with Evangelion Aeon Natum Engel and his re-write Aeon Entelechy Evangelion – currently on hold unfortunately. I recommend them despite that, they are brilliant at making you really deeply empathize, even root for, deeply immoral or just inhuman characters. Not to mention casting demon-summoning spells by using ship-mounted lasers on mountain-sides….

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Well considering the size of the Galaxy and Imperium, how much could one man (unless he’s a Primarch), really galactically affect Imperium. I mean if you started conquering planets now, one planet per month. It will be DECADES until the paperwork and reports about you even reach Terra. Simply put Imperium has TOO much of inertia.

  7. The Infamous Catbag says:

    I have the same problem! Very much a beginning novel writer, with only a few months and several works under my belt. I got a bit too excited about the premise of my latest book, and all the friends I have have all had the rundown of the beginning and middle of the novel. Now when I come to sit down to write it, it feels more like a chore than getting my idea down on paper. Sure, the ending still feels rich and exciting, but I’m not quite there yet. I still have to slog through the middle part.

    It’s almost like there’s some sort of internal pressure. We have the desire to talk about it to friends and family to relieve that pressure, but then when we come to write the story itself, we’re running on empty with nothing to really keep us going. I guess the best way to get over the desire to yap about the story endlessly is to tell yourself that this story deserves nothing less than to be presented in a complete, proofread, and finalized form, and that anything less is presenting the birthday cake before it’s even baked. :)

  8. SleepingDragon says:

    Ahh, I’m going to skip this one seeing as I have a deep addiction to resolutions and endings and the gaming industry made me simultaneously develop a severe allergic reaction to stories dropped halfway through… Here’s to hoping you feel like picking this project up/rebooting it someday, eventually.

  9. Earlindor says:

    It’s all my fault! I’m so sorry! D:

    Lul…

    Okay, I say that with half seriousness–perhaps a little bit more than half; a part of me really does feel responsible…. :/
    I can’t remember if I brought the new book up before or during the last Middle-earth interview, but darn it all, I did…

  10. MichaelG says:

    I have this problem with programming projects all the time. The beginning is fun. That’s when you have a blank page and you are all excited about the ideas. Anything is possible!

    The end is fun, when it actually starts to work. You can show it to people, and get them excited.

    The middle …. not so much. I get really, really bogged down and bored. You just have to sigh and work on it an hour at a time (then switch to browsing the net), even if it feels endless. It’s not really.

  11. Samopsa says:

    This excerpt is awesome, almost done with it. You have a great way of building characters and worlds, Shamus. I also loved Free Radical for it.

    Some minor points (stream of thought incoming!):
    You do kinda fall into the same ways of describing things though: all big organizations are full of red tape and inefficient, young, capable, bold people save the day, a director of a big corp has a shortcut for the young guy, most workerdrones don’t care about anything, etc.

    Especially regarding the robots. I think most people would really love to converse with a robot, I mean, look at how popular stupid things like cleverbot and furbies are/were.

    I’m also not really sure if the structure of the novel is such a good idea (I mean 1 chapter of ‘current’ and then a really big part ‘flashback’ before we reach the ‘current’ timeline again). It doesn’t seem to have much purpose at all, and I even forgot about the robot in the first chapter until later on.

    The Project Bootstrap thing is an interesting experiment, but you sell it kinda short with, again, red tape and dumb people destroying the project. It’s a shame, because I can’t really see any purpose to it now, and just serves as another compliment to the protagonist (she’s not really dumb, like most of the rest of the world!).

    Don’t take this as harsh critique or anything, just some observations from me.
    Anyway, really really enjoyed this piece, and I hope you can find some inspiration to continue. A nice reminder to finally buy the Witch Watch!

    • ooli says:

      On the structure here is my feeling: I was all in, with weird wake up on crashed ship. Need to find food. Why everybodies dead. Why was she awaken so late. Dangerous planet to explore. Not so helpful robot. So MUCH mystery and then .. Flashback .. WHAT?!
      She’s on a verge of dying of starvation and flashback?
      Building tension is one thing , but , like, flashbacking tension?

      Very good first chapter anyway.

      • Rick C says:

        It’s not that uncommon to have the story start out in a bad place and then have a really long flashback.

        • Falling says:

          Chances are it’s something that would be corrected in a revision- just start wherever it is that you flash backed to. That’s probably the real start to the story anyways.

          • Nicholas says:

            Probably solvable by linking the flashbacks into the crashed narrative and interspersing them, but I think it works well enough – the crash is the hook to draw you in, make you curious about how you’re going to get there.

            The characters were interesting and had more of an engineering than philosophical view of sci-fi, which is probably to be expected given the author. I found the world believable as a possible extension of our own.

            It’s a pity you’re leaving this one for now because I really like the story and the protagonist. Cue a thousand fan-fics, I guess :P

        • krellen says:

          It’s actually the way I started the novel I started writing 18 years ago. Though I started with a present-day action scene, rather than a survival cliffhanger, but it’s the same basic idea.

  12. Paul Spooner says:

    Bless you Shamus. Now I have a reason to live.
    Or, you know, go on the internet and read stuff.
    Here’s to hoping it’s awesome enough to inspire a whole series of fan-fic spin-offs!

  13. kikito says:

    “If I tell someone about the book I’m writing then I no longer want to write it, because I feel like I’ve already told the story.”

    Dude. Totally change the story.

    I don’t want to ever hear you talking about a story you are writing before you are done writing it ever again.

  14. Amstrad says:

    Welp, I just finished it and thoroughly enjoyed what there was of it. I gotta imagine that what stopped you from continuing with it was the same thing that had me second guessing if I really wanted more. Where as the bulk of the written work so far is about a spaceship and space-travel, the rest of it would have been about exploration and survival, a pretty significant shift in plot/tone in my opinion.
    It still would have been interesting, but it would have been completly different from the bits you’d already written.

  15. Steve Online says:

    The other day, i was thinking, “You know, Scalzi and friends are entertaining, but why aren’t people writing nearish-future space books that i want to read?”

    And now, i’ve been informed that the question does have an answer, but it’s deeply unsatisfying.

    What i’m saying is that if you finish this story i will, as a young person with an internet connection and a torrent client, literally pay you money for it. Cheers!

    • X2Eliah says:

      Aren’t writing nearish-future space books? Whaaaa? … Seriously?

      Leviathan Wakes;
      Caliban’s War;
      2312;
      Blue Remembered Earth;
      Up Against It;

      That’s just the few off the top of my head, only the very generically-genred space-operas, I’m not even including all the unnumerable post-apocalypse and social-commentary scenarios that deal with the next two centuries or so in terms of tech & culture. Sci-Fi literature is showing a large shift towards solar-system-locked near-future sci-fi, especially in the field of space opera, as far as the good, award-winning recent works are considered.
      Well, unless you don’t want to read stuff that’s fresh and popular by merit of being mostly great.

      • Steve Online says:

        I’m actually using Caliban’s War as a mousepad at this very moment. My problem with it and Leviathan Wakes is that all the main characters are psychologically broken, and there’s horrible atrocities everywhere. I mean, yeah, sure, conflict is part of a story, but really?

        That’s why i was enjoying Shamus’ tale here. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re not irreparable. People are flawed, but reasonably so. The problems are bad, but can be overcome. And even if they weren’t overcome, it’d be sad, but not something that kills billions.

        I’ll have look at those other books, though, thanks.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Aye, can’t argue there, the characters might be seen as somewhat off-kilter, especially in the second book (CW). That’s slightly indicative, again, of the larger situation in SF right now, it seems – very distinct focus on destructive/corrupt mentalities (for characters) and ideas (culminating in some kind of apocalyptic scenario as far as the settings go)..

    • Alex says:

      I really enjoyed it too, and would pay for it in a full version.

      Since you ask about near-future space books, I thought I’d add to X2Eliah’s list a recommendation the book Ark by Stephen Baxter. It follows a story, similar in some ways, of learning and preparing for a low-tech long space journey.

  16. TMTVL says:

    I feel like such a bast… for saying this, but you say you have 50k worlds? Did you mean words?

  17. Factoid says:

    I realize you didn’t actually ask for any advice, but this is the internet, so here’s some anyway! If you are writing and suddenly lose the urge the continue writing…force yourself to write 5 more pages where your characters do something incredibly interesting, whether it fits in your story or not.

    I was writing a 70 page novella for a collection my friends and I were compiling when I got stuck on about page 40. I just wasn’t interested anymore. I’d written the parts I was excited about writing. I knew where the story was headed and there wasn’t any thrill in writing a conclusion. So I force myself to write five more pages in which the characters were suddenly called into a meeting and the ventilation to the room was shut off. They were going to suffocate in a matter of an hour.

    How did they react to this? A couple of the characters are not good under pressure. A couple couldn’t handle being helpless. One of them (unbeknownst to me before this experiment) was calm and collected and showed real leadership in a situation that deliberately had no outs for the characters other than waiting for someone to rescue them.

    It made me like my characters again. And that character that surprised me became more prominent to the story.

    The sad ending is that the book was never completed. Not everyone was able to push through the wall. I’m in the middle of attempting to retool that story to be a full novel.

  18. 4th Dimension says:

    Oh man, why did I have to read this? Why did this have to be so good? Now I want to read the end and I can’t. damn!

    Anyway, for me this is better that Witch Watch, MUCH better. While I felt WW was okay, I devoured this thing.

    Although I guess those comments of people that think you quit this because of change in narrative. You went from writing a SciFi in the first act to probably writing a SciFi Robinson Crusoe story in the second act, where the protagonist has to engineer tech from ground up in order to build coms or something. Unless Project Bootstrap wasn’t a Chekov’s Gun.

    But still it doesn’t make my urge to read the end that doesn’t exist any better.

    Anyway onto the nitpicking if you don’t mind :D

    Nitpick no 1.
    From what I get you intended for Rin to spend extended time on that planet, and those last scenes were setting stage for her to find true edible food on that planet. Well from what I know, that in reality isn’t likely to happen. Simply it’s not likely that another planet plants and animals have same proteins our bodies require. As far as our bodies are concerned it would be like eating rocks, something the stomach can’t dissolve and body can’t process. Yeah bleak prospects.

    Nitpick no 2.
    Why hasn’t anyone come to rescue them? I mean they aren’t on some uncharted world. And aren’t there protocols by witch you send distress signals. A relatively simple robotic probe with only an FTL engine antenna and simple memory storage could be used to send back distress signal back to Earth. That is if they do not posses FTL coms. And they seem to have those, because Rin sends all those messages to David, and in the middle of the mission David instructs Ando to find out about her father. That suggest they have SOME contact back with Earth.

    Nitpick no 3.
    What is Akimbo’s source of income if only thing they do is make there robots that can learn? It seems awfully expensive way to make robotic forklifts and cashiers.

    Nitpick no 4.
    This might sound a bit rough/unplesant, but I don’t mean it to be an insult.
    For all your talk about realistic space propulsion and not liking magic drives, your drive is excatly a magic drive. It IS much better than most that gain traits as plot demands. And your system has a set of hard laws and thus doesn’t break Sanderson’s Law of Hard Magic.

    Nitpick no 5.
    The part where Ando explains how they crashed is a bit uninteligble because I can’t grasp how it happened. What’s the ‘exit’ and so on. Mind to clarify?

    Hmmmm. That might be for now.

    PS. Why is your Word 2007 licensed to Trioptimum, Inc. Shamus? What SODAN are you hiding in your closet? Talk to us :D

    • Steve Online says:

      Just to point out that different people will see different things, i found most of your points fairly clear, and was confused by other things :D

      My opinions-
      2 – Rin was writing notes from her intelligent-outsider’s point of view on ways to improve the space program, so she wouldn’t forget them and could hand them back to David when their trip was over. David asked Ando to pry into Rin’s lfe before they left. The ship definitely doesn’t have contact home.

      4 – That’s the point. He set up some rules of magic to move the story forward, and then went on with the story.

      5 – They tried to bounce off the atmosphere to grab some samples, and either FTL hop out of the atmosphere or just deflect off and fly away (unsure). This didn’t get them far enough away, and the ship fell into the gravity well instead. The Armstrong was a fairly good aerofoil, so the crash was semi-controlled, which is why everyone lived.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        5 – Well uncertanty was my point. That part definitely wasn’t clear enough. I mean, if they meant to bounce off atmosphere, they still were going to need jump drive fairly quickly (like half an hour or so) because it’s unlikely they would have been bounced back into a Solar orbit. A bit of clearer language there wouldn0t have hurt.

      • decius says:

        The fact that the ship is aerodynamically stable is lampshaded, but not the fact that it can support it’s own weight.

        Before the question of “do we wake this person up” comes before the reader, we need to develop every single person in question as a unique character. Yes, that’s a lot of character development, but otherwise the question comes off as abstract morality rather than as personal responsibility.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Umm, I never mentioned having problems with the flashback.

          Although structural point is a good one. This is a deep space ship. Even with reinforcements that insure it doens’t fall apart due to centrifugal forces, and stress of the jump, it’s surprising lower sections can take the weight of higher ones while resting on the surface, basically four times the projected weight.

  19. Legal Tender says:

    Dear doG, man. Don’t do this to me! I’ve been jonesing so bad for this type of story you can’t just dangle it like this in front of me and then tell me you are not going to finish it!

    Srysly now, thank you for sharing! I mean it.

    /anybody got any recommendations? ANything similar to this? Ta!

  20. Gary says:

    I’ve noticed the same thing about my own writing. The more I talk about it, the less I actually have the desire to write. I really DO think it is tied to the desire to tell the story. Once you tell it verbally you get the itch out of your system and have no need to tell it in writing.

  21. Piflik says:

    So…after reading it I have to say I like it. I like your writing, I like the characters and I like how the story was developing. I’d like it even more, if you finished it.

    Two details that stood out to me:
    1. The worm filled eggs at the end, that use mimicry in their reproductive cycle. I liked that.
    2. In one paragraph you describe Rin moving cargo that she wouldn’t be able to move under normal circumstances. You equate weight with mass. It is true that the cargo wouldn’t weigh much in microgravity, but there would still be inertia to overcome. You simply cannot move a ton by hand, regardless of gravity. If you have a ton of cargo drifting towards you at zero-g with miniscule velocity, you’d still be crushed by it, albeit very slowly.

    Oh…and the use of the word ‘shoulder’ during her crash…she was looking over her shoulder, directing her car towards the shoulder and a second car is driving over the shoulder…as a not-native English speaker I was briefly confused (but that is not your problem ;)), but from a language point of view I would hope there is an alternative to using ‘shoulder’ thrice in two sentences. Just nitpicking, though

    I hope you will eventually finish writing the story. I’d like to know how Rin eventually manages to get off Shitplanet.

    • lasslisa says:

      That’s not actually true. It just has to be sufficiently miniscule velocity. The force you apply causes acceleration or deceleration in inverse proportion to mass, so you can only affect it a little bit (and in a typical having-gravity scenario friction is sufficient to counteract that) but you can still affect it.

      • Piflik says:

        You can affect it, but not enough to save you from being squashed by it…and definitely not enough make it behave like a cardboard box filled with styrofoam…

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Basically the mass and momentum are still there, only now there is less gravity so there is less weight. Also big problem with manipulating heavy things in space is that Action and reaction apply completly. Let’s say you are trying to lift half a ton weight. So you take it by the handle and you push. Thus you apply momentum to the object inversely proportionate to it’s mass. But you figure the object has floated high enough, and you want to stop it, and push it in desired direction. What will happen when you try to stop it, unless you have grabbed something fixed, the object you are manipulating will LIFT YOU UP! And it won’t slow much because your 70kg are nothing next to it’s 500kg.
          Handling and moving stuff is MUCH more dangerous in space.

          • decius says:

            You could also describe your action as grabbing the massive object, and using it as an anchor, push the spaceship ‘down’. It is just as easy to stop, but you have to orient yourself in such a manner as to push the spaceship up.

            By the same token, the massive object coming slowly at you crushing you against the ship could also be described as the ship crushing you against that object.

            For that reason, massive objects would NEVER EVER not be permanently mounted to the structure- any acceleration to the ship needs to result in acceleration to the cargo as well. If there’s any kind of adjustment to the rotation or attitude of the ship (for example if it is necessary to point the heat sink away from a nearby star), then the cargo rapidly enters a state of Brownian motion that is the opposite of safe.

  22. ChickenDownUnder says:

    Been in the works of finishing a book of mine, also. So far, so good. Just have a hundred pages to go. Hopefully I can be done by the end of the year and my editor will be happy. Woo.

    But throughout all that I did figure out a way to trick myself to keep on writing the same story, so as not end up with fifty different half-finished works. I dunno if this’ll work for you, but every little bit helps… right? It is at least something to consider.

    To keep myself writing I basically gave myself a goal on top of just wanting to finish my book: I can’t play any more video games until I am done.

    Naturally, you shouldn’t feel compelled to make the same goal for yourself, just pick something that the lack thereof will free up some time to write and not get in the way of your day job. No more pizza. Can’t read the latest and greatest manga/comics. So on so forth.

    And if you do ever ‘break’ that self-inflicted secondary goal, such as visiting a site mostly about games, then you’ll feel so guilty that you’re compelled to write even more. Heh.

  23. Warstrike says:

    I knew I shouldn’t have read that – Like some of the others I really want to hear the rest now.

    I like how you worked the bootstrap project in there. You tweeted about how you aim for thought-provoking and get nutty adventure, so I’m guessing that the bootstrap idea was really the driving philosophical point there, since she’s now in her own real “bootstrap project”.

  24. Azulsun says:

    I really do want to read this, which is saying something since I almost never have time to sit down and read things for fun anymore. However, lack of resolution in a story drives me crazy. It’s a lose-lose situation when it comes down to it. I do appreciate you not leaving it to languish forever on your hard drive, at least. Whatever I decide, I’m still looking forward to your next finished work.

  25. Michael says:

    I’ve been there, Shamus, you have my sympathies. All I can suggest is, stick what you’ve got in a drawer, start on another project, and in six months when that’s at the 350 mark, come back and finish this then.

    You’re probably going to end up having to rework a lot of it after you restart it, because they story you started out telling isn’t the one you’re going to end up telling, but, there you go.

  26. Syal says:

    I’ll just add, you’re lucky; at least you have to talk about a story before losing interest.

  27. Turgid Bolk says:

    Excellent read. I love your clarity of description and explanation.

    I found a few typos, but the only thing that really threw me off was the mix-up of “birth” and “berth.” First mention here: “The first problem is that the birthing arrangements are stupid.” and a few instances after that. This is a character mistake, but this character probably shouldn’t make this mistake. Other than that, I really enjoyed the story and writing. More sci-fi please!

  28. John says:

    Hi Shamus,

    I am sure this sort of thing happens to artists all the time. Just spend some time reading up on artists deaths and see what sort of stuff they left behind. I am reading a Robert E. Howard book at the moment with a number of unfinished drafts in it. It may take years to finish something as well. I think Joseph Heller took about seven years to write Catch-22.

    Next time I would suggest:
    – don’t tell us about it. We don’t need to know. It is none our business.
    – put it away.
    – pull it out later to work on, or don’t.
    – if you feel the need to release it read about techniques for forcing it or talk to a friend, colleague or editor.

    There are going to be times when you can’t or don’t want to finish something. Don’t worry about it. What purpose does releasing unfinished work serve?

  29. Paul Spooner says:

    After finishing reading, I think we can work with this. Who wants to set up a wiki to catalog the givens, and a google doc to finish the story? I’m interested to see how far our collective “ending” differs from the one Shamus had in mind, but not until it’s done. I’d be happy to spearhead it, if no one else has the initiative.

    I’d also like to make a 3D model of the Armstrong. I can see it in my mind. Anyone else want to help with that?
    If you don’t want to publicly volunteer, contact me on “dudecon” insert that character here hotmail.com

    Also, I’m going to be on-and-off the net this weekend (little brother’s wedding) but I’m excited to see where this story goes. Shamus has done his part. You want to know how the story ends? Join us and we’ll create it together!

    • topazwolf says:

      I may be persuaded into helping. I don’t have much time (since I am a university student majoring in Aerospace Engineering) but I like this story. I would be partial to expanding on the robotic matters in particular, but I will also offer some in the way of xenobiology and spacial matters.

  30. Jon DeLaRosa says:

    Someone already mentioned it…. The world described sounds a lot like Project Frontier. So, since you don’t want to continue writing an otherwise excellent story, and you still don’t know what to do with Frontier, how about you combine the two? The marooned-on-a-planet story would make for a great scenario for an explore-the-planet game.

    Or something.

  31. hborrgg says:

    It’s ok shamus, you aren’t the only one who has completely stopped being productive recently.

    Say, has anyone else only just now discovered and installed the technic pack?

  32. Alex says:

    I’ve heard about that problem, of not wanting to finish writing a story after you’ve told someone about it.

    For me though, I just get discouraged and think no one will read it when it’s done. Regardless of whether or not I’ve told anyone what happens. Nobody reads my s***, so it’s like I HAVE to tell people before finishing it. That’s the only way anyone can prove that a story of mine, and all of the work that went into it ever existed.

  33. Duffy says:

    All I can add is that I enjoyed what you have so far and would not be disappointed if you did someday finish it.

  34. topazwolf says:

    I am very fond of this story. I love the character building and practical concerns of life aboard a space ship. I adore the occasional hints towards Asimov stories (probably unintentional given your dislike of varied reading) that can be seen in how you refer to problems of engineering that lie not in the device, but rather the interfacing between machine and man.

    The only bit of confusion I find is when you are discussing the silhouette of the ship (and its lack of spherical dimensions) and you state that the blade like shape is optimal because it makes gravity easier to generate, you do not address the fact that since the mass seems to be of negligible concern (won’t change curvature much) why the blade doesn’t have four or more sides which would have the same benefits of the dual blade while also accommodating more room so that it would not have to be as long.

  35. lethal_guitar says:

    Very nice read, and too bad it’s left unfinished.. I’d certainly love to read more of it and find out how it ends! Should you somehow ever feel the desire to continue working on the story, please go for it ;)

    Although I think “a really bad cliffhanger” is a bit exaggerated, since there is no serious immediate danger in that situation there. If it had ended at the point were the robots tell her they were thinking about killing the remaining crew members – now that would have been harsh. Well at least for me, it’s not too frustrating that way. It’s definitely sad that there is no resolution to the story, but I don’t regret reading it.

  36. Zak McKracken says:

    Have read the story now, have spent much more time on it than intended, and now I have to write about it … I just hope I’ll manage to keep it short…

    I love the whole thing. I like Rin, (actually I know someone very alike to her), and I like how the robots are learning, and Captain Wheeler … I know her too, I’m afraid. You did a few little and a few big things here reaaally well. The technology es pretty well thought out.

    But that gets us one of the weak points, actually: I think the story could do with a lot less technical exposition. There are many scenes where you stop the action to explain how something works. I like all of the ideas in these scenes, but they are quite a few, and it’s showing. Also, you did it so often, that a few weaknesses snuck in:
    Automated docking is already working, no expensive laser painting thing and no reflective tape needed (basically, transponders on both vehicles). Look here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_Transfer_Vehicle
    Also: In the age of autopilots for cars, not only have spaceship pilots to dock by hand, but people forget to turn the light on their cars on? Half the new cars on the market can do that by themselves, and damn if it’s not the law to have automatic lights within five years. Daytime lights are the law in Europe already, for every car model new to the market.
    (okay, those were very detailed things, but still)
    Larger thing: With space travel, volume is not usually the biggest problem but mass. Space freight (at least these days) is paid by mass, not volume. And if you construct a ship in space anyway, there’d be almost zero penalty for adding volume to a ship (except for needing more material for the walls), but still the same energy per mass unit to accelerate the ship.
    Your words from the preface that getting too deep into technology forces you to become an expert yourself are true.

    On a wider scope: There are so many things about the story that I like. I like the type of things that happen, the fact that some designer just had to curve the damn HUD, that ISAC is a bloated bureaucratical monster, but you just have to put up with it, how robots are commonplace but not flawless, how different voices for your computer are the new hip thing to show off.

    The coincidence that Rin was the only person “getting” that robinson crusoe experiment and then being in just that situation, even with a robot or two to help fill in the knowledge gaps … that seems kind of weird and constructed. I’d still have loved to see how it worked out, but yeah.

    Shamus, knowing that this is an unfinished thing, it makes you look pretty good at consistent world-building.

    And thanks for letting Germany build the best robots. That sounded a little like fanservice, but I’ll take it anyway :)

  37. decius says:

    I particularly like the writeup for the “long chain of reports and studies regarding Technician 4 William ‘Billy’ Burke”. You captured the feel of an accident investigation that states its conclusions of the current work ethic based on simple uncontestable facts (Billy didn’t seem to find the absence of a spotter unusual. He arrived in airlock 4 and proceeded to exit the ship without making any effort to contact his spotter.)

  38. topazwolf says:

    As I said before I am majoring in Aerospace Engineering, so I was going to do a quick concept render of your ship. Unfortunately when I sat down and took notes on your descriptions of the ship I found I had several questions and problems with the design. I shall ignore all maters of the actual singularity and just treat it like magic. I will start with the questions.

    Questions:
    1. Since you directly stated that the ship has a distinct hollow circle in the center of the ship and a ring of mechanics around it (that are stated to be wider than the hole). How does one access the aft of the ship? The description was unclear on this point. I figure you probably have the transfer apparatus have a smaller diameter than the total height of the ship. This still necessitates that the crew members have to go to the lowest deck to go from one side to the other, but it is ultimately trivial, I was merely curious what you have in mind.

    2. How does your ship avoid being pulverized by small space debris when transferring?

    3. When your ship transfers to a new gravity well how does the crew compensate for the change in gravity? For that matter how does the crew deal with “Surfing” and “bleeding”? These processes would create some pull towards the front or back of the ship that would be noticeable by the crew. Quick surfing or bleeding could create a sudden and dramatic shift in gravity. If carefully regulated, these changes can be minute.

    4. Why is “Dipping” even a thing? Slamming a rapidly spinning, non-aerodynamic ship with a massive hole (structural weak point) in it into a friction filled atmosphere can only end in disaster. I can’t imagine this ship being able to do this maneuver without sustaining damage.

    Problems:
    1. Since your proposed society lacks proper automation technology to maneuver without the pilot needing to eyeball his surroundings, how exactly does someone dock with this ship? It is constantly spinning to create gravity, so the edges would be a poor place to dock. And since you have sensor arrays in the nose, and heat sinks in the rear a ship cannot dock in the relatively stable spine of the ship. I am not saying that docking on the rotating edges is impossible, merely it would take me a bit of time to simulate a successful docking with a ship purposely design for docking on your vessel. Eyeballing such an operation is infeasible at best.

    2. Probes. How are you launching probes from this ship. If your launcher is on the edges, a single moment of mistiming would cause a significant difference in the probe’s destination. An issue that would be great compounded by the quick rate of spin needed to generate significant gravity in the crew areas. Do you have a probe bay on the spine and if so where?

    On a random note, since mass doesn’t seem to be a disabling factor in the transfer process why is there no robots on board as part of the intended design. I would have some matters of the ship have their own non-humanoid robots that monitor and maintain (namely the reactor and large cargo handling).

    • Shamus says:

      1. Lots of people have been curious about the shape of the ship. I have a drawing around here somewhere. If I find it, I’ll post it. In the meantime – the accelerator ring sticks out from the sides of the ship going starboard-port, not top-to-bottom. The bottom and top decks are untouched by the ring.

      2. I don’t understand why debris would be more of a risk during transfer than when sitting in orbit. It jumps through space point-to-point, not by flying around Trek-style, so unless I’m overlooking something it shouldn’t be more at risk than anything else in orbit.

      3. Not sure why surfing or bleeding would be perceptible inside. You’re weightless in space, and you’re weightless in fee-fall. The changing of gravity wells is what produces the shuddering in the hull, which is covered in the book. Basically, the ship is really, really bendable. It has a lot of give, which lets it get jerked around in space. (As well as survive the crash.)

      4. Yes, “slamming” into the deep atmosphere would be crazy, but this is supposed to be a slow approach in the high atmosphere. They take a sip of atmo and trans away before it gets bumpy. They do it because it’s pretty much the only way to get anything from the planet. Drones go down, but they don’t ever leave the planet. I know I’d love if we could grab a few cubic meters of air from a Jovian moon, or mars.

      Problems:

      1. I never got around to describing it, but I always imagined the ship stopped rotating when it came in to dock.

      2. Doh! I can’t believe I never even considered this. Yes, launching a probe from a spinning structure would be ridiculously impractical.

      Re: Robots. Obviously David is working on adding robots now. As to why it wasn’t done SOONER, well – This was to be covered later in the book, but generally boiled down to culture, public opinion, administrative sloth, and union politics. (Remember that Ando is unique. Most robots are pretty dumb and are often custom-made for a specific task.)

      • topazwolf says:

        Wow, thanks for replying!

        The questions were more of a clarification thing than real problems.

        1. I figured it might be something of the kind. It was a possible scenario.

        2. Not that you would hit debris per say, but rather that you would transfer into them. Its more of a question of what keeps the ship from transferring into an occupied space (and keeping the debris from materializing inside the ship).

        3. The perception that you are weightless in space is technically incorrect. No matter what, an object has mass. However, since you have no downwards (relative when considered from no local perspectives) force from gravity you are not affected by your weight. However, your mass is still very much in tact and thus you have momentum. (off topic, this is why moving large objects would be problematic. If you weighed 50 kg and launched yourself at an object weighting 500 kg at 10 m/s, the object will move at 1 m/s in a perfect vacuum since the best you can do is transfer momentum. Moving large objects will be possible though if you can remain stationary since you do not have to overcome the force of earth’s gravity in order to move said item) When a ship is at constant speed, you are traveling at the same speed as the ship inside as it is outside thus relatively you are not moving. If you were to jump out the airlock, you would keep your previous momentum making it inadvisable to ditch your ship and be picked up later. Yet when the ship accelerates or decelerates, you will not necessarily do the same unless an object or sufficient friction holds you in place. Its like when you are on a bus and you can stand easily while the bus is moving, yet when the bus goes to stop you have to brace yourself. Sufficiently rapid acceleration or deceleration would result in you previous momentum carrying you forward or backwards until impeded by another force. “An object in motion tends to stay in motion…” This effect could possibly be counteracted by friction from the floor as long as the change in speed is gradual. Small changes to the extremely high mass ships speed will be much more noticeable to small mass objects like humans. This could be counterbalanced if the ship had a strong gravity force with the human, but it is pretty much impossible for the ship to be massive enough to generate said force. I’m not much of a teacher so feel free to question me about oversights, I’m better with the quantitative measures of such a reaction than the qualitative.

        4. Okay, you made it sound a bit like they wanted a reading of the Stratosphere but I see now that all they wanted was a bit of the Mesosphere.

        1. Makes sense.

        2. You could have the probes located in a launcher in the nose of the ship I suppose. You would have to make it free from rotation though…

        Yeah, people never seem to want to take the easy way out and build several highly specialized items, they’re always looking for the Swiss army knife of devices. It has always bugged me when I design something for a particular task and the higher ups (I have interned, so this is non-school experience) demanded I redesign it to do something it should never have any reason to do, “just in case.” I would prefer to just build another machine. Also on a slightly more random note, what does your private sector space agency do for profit? If I had to guess I would say mining resources, like Helium-3 and various easily accessed minerals.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          Q 1. “This still necessitates that the crew members have to go to the lowest deck to go from one side to the other” This is described in the text. So yes, that’s what it looks like.

          Q 2. Assume that all mass is swapped. Imagine writing on both sides of a piece of paper. Now turn the paper over. No conflict! What about stuff on the edges? Boundary conditions? Pfft, magic.

          Q 3. You are confused and over-educated. Surfing and Bleeding is all done in freefall, IE purely from gravitational attraction. Given a distance, gravity accelerates all masses uniformly. Uniform acceleration is not perceptible, see freefall. The only uneven pull would be from drag (no drag under non-atmospheric flight) and tidal forces (which are negligible around conventional sub-stellar objects).

          P 1. Dumping the angular momentum into a counter-rotating gyro (fore or aft of the accelerator ring) would be a good idea. That way the energy isn’t lost, and you get bonus points for not spending any fuel to control the ship spin rate.

          P 2. Automated timing is easily good enough (even today) for launching from a spinning object. Especially one where you know and control the rate of rotation. Plus you get the angular velocity added to the initial velocity for clean separation. I don’t see this as being a problem, unless they are “launching” the probes by kicking them out the airlock manually.

          P.S. Send me an e-mail and we’ll coordinate on the fan-fic story completion. Also, the 3d model.

          • topazwolf says:

            Q1. As I stated, it was merely for clarification.

            Q2. We should hope that an asteroid is not in the desired destination, untold destruction could happen… On the plus side this would be greatly beneficial in asteroid and comet protection for earth.

            Q3. I was not really confused, merely my simulation was overly simple. Oddly using sufficiently advanced simulations seem to go either way. The source of confusion seems to be the angular momentum and which starting conditions you use. The reaction is somewhat dependent on the starting condition of the variables. As it is, if I had it within my power I would run a scale experiment. Using theoretical simulations has proved that this question is far from simple with the only way to possibly come to a conclusion involves lots of calculus. However if you reduce absolutely every variable to two points in space with equal velocity (only perfect if velocity is incredibly slow otherwise the results are not equal) equidistant from a planet you would be correct (discounting inter-object forces like angular momentum). I stopped my simulation building when my computer with 8 G ram began to bog down. I will have to think about it.

            P1. Conservation is a good thing.

            P2. Granted I could set a probe up to launch into a decaying orbit around a planet that would land in exactly 200 years with a sufficiently advanced program. However, the problem was that Shamus’s space fairing culture has not been shown to rely on such advanced automation. Another thing is that good Engineering would dictate to refrain from adding such complexity without a good reason. As Shamus stated entropy sucks. Every time you add something that can fail, it will eventually fail (normally during the worse possible time).

            I don’t know what your email is, I looked on your site but found no contact information. I would assume it to be dudecon@ the site hotmail, but I do not wish to send an email unless I am certain.

  39. Submersible Scout says:

    The Japanese family name Ando also belongs to Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen. If it wasn’t intentional, it’s even better, because he famously created the first batch of noodles while toiling in a shed behind his house. He’s an excellent reference for Project Bootstrap 2.0.

  40. Talby says:

    Hey Shamus, I just wanted to drop by to say that I’m loving this thing. I’m a couple chapters in and I’m already hooked. I really hope you decide to return to this story one day.

  41. Varil says:

    So, I stumbled across this story in my bookmarks(Mysteriously labeled http://www.shamusyoung.com/files/ffts.html), and not knowing what it was started reading. It wasn’t until I was 4/5 chapters in that I remembered your dropped book, and realized what this was.

    Once I set aside the crushing realization that this was a story with no ending, I decided to continue reading. Some time later, I finished. So here we are.

    I really, *really* hope you pick this story up again. The technology and premise of the story are solid, and the characters are interesting. I particularly like your characterization of the robots, and enjoyed the scenes with them the most.

    Rin is very likable, though she is perhaps a little close to “Mary-sue” territory. She’s brilliant, comes from a rich family(even if she barely acknowledges it), is well-liked and admired by this super-rich guy who kind of bends over backwards for her, and is very hard-working and determined. But, all of this works for the story(well, I don’t know about the family thing…it isn’t sufficiently fleshed out in the given story for me to see where it was going). She has to be extremely competent to survive in the environment she ends up in(and to get there in the first place), and David has to notice her to push her into space. If I hadn’t run out of story(and if her almost-certain hardships on the alien planet had been more advanced before the end of the plot-as-is) I likely wouldn’t have stopped to think about all she has going for her.

    This particular self-aware critique might also be your fault, given the time of this writing(http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=17745#more-17745).

    Anyway, I really hope you continue this story. Or even do more with this setting! I’d love to see more robots, and learn more about the technology of this “world”. “Universe”? …well, I want more of whatever you might refer to this as.

  42. pranav says:

    hey guys! i am writting a book right now. i have quit my full time job as a programmer to write full time on this book. this is the first chapter and somewhat around 1 and a half k words. it is supposed to be a high fantasy novel revolving around a war between two elven kingdoms. just think if lord of the rings met game of thrones. this is that. so enjoy and please reply(also i just copied it from my word document)-
    edit- the first word(entor) is the chapter name. it is the character’s point of vie
    Entor
    “Today, we practice with longswords” ser Aliston announced as he came out of the armory holding a very long sword. The sword had a blackish tint to them, telling it was forged from Belenial iron. Sir Aliston flipped it in the air and caught it by the tip, and then handed it to Entor. Entor took it in his right hand, but immediately dropped it. “It’s too heavy” he complained.
    Sir Aliston gave him a slap with the back of his hand and shouted “Fool! What have I taught you? A single hand is used for daggers and short swords, the weapons of thieves and dacoits. This is a noble sword, a weapon used by knights and kings and it requires both hands. Now, pick it up and show me how you hold it.”
    Entor crouched down and picked the sword up. His cheek still hurt from the slap, but he didn’t mind, in fact he had become used to it during the last five years. He carefully moved his hands around the hilt of the sword, trying to hold it as he had seen his father do.
    “Good, good. You are learning. Now!” sir Aliston planted his own sword, a thin blue blade with a sharp edge, deep into the mud “strike me. Let me see your control over it.”
    Entor couldn’t hold the sword straight. Its weight made it droop towards the ground. He thought to use it to his advantage and struck at the knight’s feet. Sir Aliston anticipated the move and pulled his sword free from the ground and blocked the attack, twisted his wrist and disarmed his pupil. The sword clattered beside him. Sir Aliston gave him another slap with his free hand and said” A lazy attempt. Come on, hold the sword over your head.” Entor obeyed and picked the sword up and held it as his teacher told “good, good. Now strike me again and put some effort into it” sir Aliston again planted his sword in the mud and stood still. Entor ran towards him and brought the sword down. Sir Aliston easily blocked the strike and hit Entor with his sword flat in the chest. The clink echoed around them. The blow caused a deep dent in the iron armor and caused Entor to fall down, his sword once again lying beside him. Sir Aliston gave a harsh laugh “That was even more pathetic than the last. Come on boy; put some effort into it, or those weak arms aching already?”
    In truth, his arms were tired, his fingers hardly managed to close on the hilt as he lifted the sword once more. “No sir” he replied. He would never let the master-at-arms have the satisfaction.
    “Then put some more effort into it” he barked and once again planted the sword.
    Entor repeated the same maneuverer he had tried the last time, but this time, when sir Aliston raised his sword to block the attack, Entor pulled back, tilted his sword so that it was parallel to the ground and struck at his tutor’s neck, swinging with all his rage.
    Sir Aliston had no choice. He caught the sword with his free hand, yanked it out of Entor’s hand and kicked him in the gut. All air was knocked out of him, as he flew backwards and landed on his bottom. His back ached, his head throbbed but still he managed to stand up.
    Sir Aliston threw him the sword. Entor noticed that his master’s fingers were stick with blood. He wiped the blood on his cloak and said with a sly smile “Well, well. It seems you are good at something other than stuffing food down your mouth. Pick the sword up, and dance with me”
    With a struggle Entor lifted the sword and advanced towards him. He slowly circled around him, his legs staggering with the effort.
    Sir Aliston was the one to attack first; he swung the sword in an arc parallel to the ground, which Entor barely blocked. Aliston tried again and swung from the other side, how he blocked it, even he didn’t knew, but he did, the blow knocking him a little backwards. But sir Aliston was quick; he raised his sword over his head and brought it down. Entor had no choice; he twisted the sword and grabbed the tip with his hand, while the other held the hilt. The bow came and almost knocked him down. The iron of the sword bit into his fingers and blood started pooling on them. Sir Aliston pressed his sword against Entor’s causing him to step back. Sir Aliston kept pressing him, until his back was against the arena’s wall. He could feel the wood behind his back, and sweat trickled down his body. Sir Aliston pressed again “what’s the matter boy? Are you tired?” he said “put some more effort into it. Even your bastard brother fights better than you.” That got Entor to loosen his grip and sir Aliston took full benefit of it. He pressed the sword until it was right under his throat. Entor felt the sword digging deeper into his fingers, the blade was now red with his blood. Sir Aliston gave him a kick, down there between the legs and backed off. Entor fell down from the pain, leaving his sword to clatter on the ground. He winced as the pain travelled through his body, buzzing filled his ears. The voice of sir Aliston seemed far away, but he still listened to him, while staring at his steel tipped boots. “Remember today’s lesson- the enemy can strike you anywhere, mostly in the place, where it hurts the most.” Aliston said “the class is over” With that sir Aliston walked away to the armory.
    Entor didn’t know how long he lay there, perhaps an hour? He thought. He did not remember when he got up, neither did he remember when he walked out of the arena, but he did remember walking towards the fountain, which stood talk in the middle of the palace gardens. A tall bronze statue of Elnor, the first elf, with his sword raised and water sprouting from its tip. He washed the blood off his fingers in the pool of water around the statue, staring at the deep cut’s the blade had made. Damm it! I forgot the sword there he thought. Renedol, the armorer would be after his skin now. He remembered what sir Aliston had said ‘even your bastard brother fights better than you’ it had always been like this. When he was little he had been fond of Elemor, but he had been a wee little boy of four then and his brother an infant. But as the years had passed, and they had grown, Elemor had surpassed him in all arts, even though he was a bastard.
    He still remembered asking uncle Genil, on his eleventh year of birth, where had his half-brother come from ‘Ah, your brother you ask?’ he took a big sip from the great mug he used to drink wine ‘well, no one knows where your brother came from. Elter came one day, cradling a child in his arms. I was the first to inquire on whose child was it? “He’s mine. And you need not know more” he had said. Now, no one else knows much more, but don’t go running off to your father and telling him I said so. He shall have my head on a stick then’ and then he had given a hearty laugh.
    But he remembered, a bastard his brother was, and he shall never forget that. He looked himself over on the pale reflection of the water. Everyone had said that he looked like his mother, but that only made it worse. He looked like the mother he had never known, for she had died in the great fire of the scorching of Glandorin. The fire in which his father had lost everything and it was the fire that sparked the hatred for the king in his father’s heart, and the fire that had caused the great rebellion. He had a brown hair, and long pointed ears, pointed even for an elf. He had a small nose and blue eyes. His half-brother had gone after their father, with unkempt black hair, green eyes, small lips, pointy nose and almost rounded ears. The only thing that kept them together was their sister. She was younger than him by only a year and was two years older from Elemor. She looked much like him, the pointed ears, the brown hair, the small nose but not the blue eyes. She had eyes a shade deeper than red roses. A loud noise broke Entor out of his thoughts. He turned around and saw his sister stomping towards. Today she was wearing a long dress, red as her eyes. She had a small bag slung over her shoulder. Her frown told him he was in trouble.
    “What were you doing in my room?” she screamed.
    “What would I be doing in your room, sis? I have much better things to do.”
    “Then what was your parrot doing in my room, dead” she screamed again and threw the bag on the ground. Father had gifted him Paretol on his tenth year. “I caught him during the last hunt” he had told him
    With trembling fingers he slowly opened the bag and from it dropped a bird. The green of the feathers was now covered in red, and the head with the beak lay separate from the body.
    “What did you- what did you do to him?” he whispered
    “I found him like that when I opened my eyes this morning.” Nadrina replied back
    “Only one person hates me enough to do this” and the only one cruel enough to do it he thought to himself “Elemor”

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