Resonant, Relativity, Re/Genesis and Other Musings On The Letter ‘R’
Re/Genesis: Schrödinger’s Cat and Sleights of Hand
Before I dive into Relativity’s secrets and grand reflections on this new trilogy, a few words on the Re/Genesis short story.
If you haven’t read Re/Genesis as part of the Beyond the Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge anthology, your excuses are now at an end. Re/Genesis is free on Amazon (in the U.S., possibly elsewhere), Nook, Google Play and Wattpad. You can also download a .mobi, .ePub or PDF version directly; you can even read the story right here on the website. It’s a quick read, yet so important. Get to it!
Much like Apogee did for Aurora Renegades, the events of Re/Genesis will play a vital role in the unfolding story of Aurora Resonant. It takes place concurrently with the end of Abysm, serving as a bridge between Abysm and Relativity in more ways than one. It zooms in to give us our first real glimpse of Amaranthe, seen through the eyes of someone who wants to blow it up (as it were).
Ah, yes, Eren. In Re/Genesis we meet Eren asi-Idoni—Anaden, anarchist and dashing rebel. He will play a huge role in Relativity and all of Resonant, and Re/Genesis provides quite the dramatic introduction for him.
Did I say ‘him’? Yes, I did. The fact that Eren is a guy may come as a surprise to some of you, with good reason. In Re/Genesis, Eren’s gender is never revealed, and this was a conscious, deliberate choice on my part. An experiment of sorts, in which I was the test subject as much as readers.
Honest, absolute truth: for a long time, Eren’s gender was akin to Schrödinger’s cat. I did not know it when I wrote Re/Genesis. I didn’t know it when I started writing Relativity, though I was soon forced to decide since Relativity is written in third person. Even then, I flipped twice during the early writing.
In a blog post a while back, I talked about striving to write characters who are unique, complex and flawed, each in their own ways. Gender is way down the list of contributing factors, if it’s on the list at all. But of course gender is a part of who we are…so I wondered. Could I make it not matter at all? Could I write an engaging, memorable character without knowing their gender?
I’ll leave it to you all to judge whether I succeeded, but it was certainly an enlightening exercise…and kind of fun ;). But if you loved Eren as a woman in Re/Genesis, I apologize, I do. Hopefully you’ll come to love Eren as a man, too, in time. Or hate him—he can be rather cranky, and a terrorist to boot.
Relativity: Behind the Scenes of a New Dawn and New Worlds
Now, about this book coming out in a few weeks!
When I unveiled my plans for the Aurora Rhapsody series in A Confession, A Reveal, and A Promise, I said the following: “Aurora Resonant will mark a return to epic space opera in the grandest sense. I plan, hope and intend it to be the true culmination of everything that has come before it, and the ultimate in high stakes choices and consequences.” Now it’s time to make good on this.
Resonant is not Renegades, and Relativity is most definitely not Abysm Part 2. This is a new trilogy, with new locales, characters and stakes, and a tremendous story to tell.
Want some behind-the-scenes details and musings on Relativity? I hope you do.
- Timeline: Two months have passed in Aurora since the events of Abysm, and a lot has transpired in the intervening time. As the blurb suggests, Miriam and Co. aren’t twiddling their thumbs waiting around for the Anadens to show up.
Further, as Alex observed in Abysm, “The sky isn’t falling—the world is turning. It’s a new dawn.” The Aurora you’ll find when Relativity opens is, in many ways, transformed.
- Setting: In Starshine, readers were introduced to a world not so different from our own—more advanced to be sure, but fundamentally recognizable. Amaranthe is not that world.
If it existed in our reality, Relativity’s Amaranthe would occur approximately 1.2 million years from now. If Anadens remained human, we still wouldn’t be able to assume we could understand anything about their society, culture, history or technology.
- Aliens! We met some pretty intriguing aliens in Renegades, but we met them slowly, gently and one at a time. Not so in Relativity.
In addition to the Anadens and Katasketousya we already know, in Relativity we encounter or learn of no less than twelve alien species. Some are walking, talking, more-or-less humanoid aliens; others are decidedly not. I’ve worked hard to introduce them in ways that are natural and organic to the story, but get ready for the deep end of sci-fi immersive storytelling.
Okay, maybe I’ll ease the way a little. Here’s a couple of tidbits on several of the more notable and influential species in Amaranthean society:
- Novoloume: a humanoid species considered beautiful, elegant and refined. Their favored roles are diplomacy, public affairs and other formalized social interactions. In close proximity, they secrete pheromones that most mammals find sexually arousing (certain to make for some fun moments, no?). Note: we meet our first Novoloume in Re/Genesis.
- Naraida: a humanoid species reminiscent of the fae of lore, they are slight of frame, with long, hyper-flexible limbs and delicate features. They tend to be free spirits, preferring to be close to nature and the outdoors, but are deceptively astute when it comes to the workings of Amaranthean culture.
- Ch’mshak: a hulking, strong, brutish species that walks on two legs but runs on four. Naturally violent and exceedingly difficult to kill, they serve as shock troops for the ruling Directorate’s messiest and bloodiest missions.
- Yinhe: a mysterious species whose members manifest only as a shadow and a chill in the air. Their origins are a mystery, as are their motivations and goals.
- …there’s one more species I’d love to tell you about today, but its reveal is one of my favorite moments in the book, and I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it for you.
- Galaxies! While the Anaden Empire is headquartered in Amaranthe’s version of the Milky Way, its borders encompass at least 40 galaxies. Using massive wormhole gateways constructed by the Anadens, in Relativity we visit eight galaxies beyond the Milky Way: Andromeda, Antlia Dwarf, Cetus Dwarf, Eridium II, Large Magellanic Cloud, Maffei I, Triangulum and Tyche.
- Dynasties! For all the varied alien species, the Anadens are the rulers and masters of Amaranthe, as well as its most numerous inhabitants. Their ruling body, known as the Directorate, is composed of the Primors of each Anaden Dynasty.
The Primors can be thought of as parents, progenitors, godfathers, matriarchs/patriarchs, kings/queens. They reside at the pinnacle of their Dynasties and have done so, in one form or another, not for centuries but for centuries of millennia.
As was hinted at in Abysm and explored further in Re/Genesis, the Dynasties are organized around specializations. Complimentary groupings of genetic traits have been honed and perfected over the millennia such that each member utterly embodies their Dynasty’s aspect.
So what are the Dynasties? Well, we see eight of them in Relativity:
Role: Criminal investigation and enforcement
Role: Resource cultivation and management
Role: Research, science
Role: Entertainment, pleasure seeking/provision
Role: Administration, bureaucracy
Role: Engineering, construction
Role: Commerce, trade
(highest to lowest)
Primor ~ Elasson ~ Ela ~ Asi
- But what about Aurora? I said things were going on back home, and they are. In fact, the Aurora storyline grew far beyond what I’d originally intended—and I loved every minute of it.
A few months ago I shared some concept art on social media, because I was too excited not to:
Following the climactic gathering at the conclusion of Abysm, the governments of the Earth Alliance, Senecan Federation and IDCC enter into a new initiative: the Galactic Common Defense Accord, formed to ensure humanity is prepared to stand and meet the Anaden threat.
The GCDA includes 3 divisions: AEGIS (military), SENTRI (intelligence/investigation) and ASCEND (tech/science). It’s a gargantuan marshaling of manpower and resources, and as a character observes early on, “I suppose we’re all finding ourselves working for AEGIS in one way or another.”
I probably don’t need to tell you who’s in charge.
As for the rest of the Aurora storyline, I can’t disclose much about it, except to say it’s an unexpected mystery in the literal sense. Somebody should see about bringing Richard in to solve it, stat.
- Structure: Relativity is divided into eight Parts—but they don’t serve to divide events in Amaranthe from those in Aurora, as in Renegades. While the storylines are nominally separate to begin with, they are on a collision course with one another from the first page and become one storyline long before the end.
PART I: SUPERPOSITION
“Listen: there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go.” — E. E. Cummings
PART II: SINGULARITY SHADOW
“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” — Dr. Robert H. Goddard
PART III: MOTES OF DUST
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller
PART IV: MIRROR, MIRROR
“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.” — George Carlin
PART V: GHOST IN THE MACHINE
“Something unknown is doing we don't know what.” — Sir Arthur Eddington
PART VI: VERGENCE
“Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.” — Winston Churchill
PART VII: BIODIGITAL JAZZ
“The only thing in the world worth a damn is the strange, touching, pathetic, awesome nobility of the individual human spirit.” — John D. MacDonald
PART VIII: KAIROS
“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” — Neil Gaiman (with attribution to G. K. Chesterton)
Echoes and Reverberations: Thoughts On the Aurora Resonant Trilogy As It Begins
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘resonant’ as “exhibiting, or capable of inducing, resonance.” Thank you, Merriam and Webster.
…But maybe they’re onto something. What is resonance?
- a quality of richness or variety, or of evoking response.
- an emotional effect produced by something that reminds you of something else.
- in physics, a phenomenon in which a vibrating system or external force drives another system to oscillate with greater amplitude at a specific frequency. At resonant frequencies, small forces have the ability to produce large amplitude oscillations.
- derived from the Latin resono, which means ‘to give back a sound,’ to reverberate, reecho.
So which meaning did I mean when I chose the title of the trilogy? All of them, of course!
To an outside observer, at the end of Abysm it appears the Anadens are coming for Aurora—but in truth, Aurora is coming for the Anadens, and they are likely to produce one hell of a large amplitude oscillation when they arrive.
“An emotional effect produced by something that reminds you of something else,” makes me smile. No question, consternation will ensue as humans encounter Anadens and a doppelganger Milky Way. But it’s possible this will work both ways—what might the Anadens think when they come face to face with humans?
The Latin root of resonance strikes quite a chord for me. I’ve greatly enjoyed weaving echoes—of themes, of tone, of events and truths once thought known—into the stories of Aurora Rhapsody. I’ll leave most of them for readers to find (for now), but I will mention one example, which lies in the structure of the trilogies themselves.
In many respects, Aurora Renegades (the middle trilogy) is intended to echo Vertigo (the middle book in the first trilogy) writ large. Alex and Caleb are cut off from home, discovering aliens and their worlds for the first time, driven by a search for answers to very big questions. Their allies struggle against powerful governmental authorities and even society itself, and in doing so change the world around them. Both Vertigo and Aurora Renegades are detective stories as much as they are adventures.
Similarly, my intent is for Aurora Resonant to echo Transcendence in tenor and scope, painted upon the ultimate canvas. For me, Transcendence is embodied by a quote from Ray Bradbury: “Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.” Humanity leapt into the unknown and soared past their previous limitations; they forged new technologies and new alliances to not merely defeat an unbeatable enemy but rise above it.
And space battles. There were space battles ;). Transcendence gave us a galaxy at war; Aurora Resonant will set fire to a universe of galaxies.