February 24th, 2007

Writing TQC

So, I've finally started writing chapter 30 of my two-page short story (ha ha) and should have the chapter finished by the end of this weekend. I'm dividing the narrative into ten-chapter sections, for no particular reason except it helps me keep a little bit of structure; so this will be the conclusion of Part III. I think Part IV may include some flashbacks, in fact the whole next section may be set "in the past" because I'm realizing I need to bring the reader up to speed on some of the backstory and it's probably most economical if I just shift scenes and narrate it directly.

Originally the story was just supposed to be about Kathris, Amira, and the affair. But then I realized I needed to give Joli a friend or two, so Dess and Atubis appeared. And then I had to create some kind of concrete external threat, and so I conjured up the Anomaly. Finally I thought I ought to add an internal threat as well, so ... Singularity.

There's an extraordinary double episode of Xena titled "Sacrifice". This is the one where Xena and Gabrielle rescue Seraphin from a cultic sacrifice and learn that she's become a devotee of Hope, the goddess of Dahak. Xena realizes that civilization may be destroyed unless Hope is killed and her nihilistic cult overthrown. She enlists the help of Callisto, who is tired of immortality and yearns for oblivion. In the end, though, an old favor is called in, and Gabrielle understands that she must sacrifice her own life to save Xena.

What makes this story so amazing is that all four primary characters - Xena, Gabrielle, Seraphin, and Callisto - all seek the same thing: death. But they all want it for different reasons. Xena understands that she may have to sacrifice her life to save the world, and Gabrielle knows that "if Xena kills Hope, Xena will die" - so she herself must kill Hope (her own daughter) to save Xena ... giving up her own life as well. Seraphin wants to give her life in order to bring the apocalypse. And Callisto simply wants to end it all. (For some reason I was weirdly reminded of the Jewish legend of "The Four Who Entered Paradise" ... but that's another story.)

This is where I got the idea for Singularity. They are a doomsday cult very much like the followers of Hope and Dahak. And this is what makes them so dangerous: because their motives are completely incomprehensible to anyone else.

This also kind of goes back to one of the key themes I'm playing with in the Gilkesh material - the temptation of the "return to the source". (I explored this in depth in the chapter on "Lilith", which presents various characters' interpretations of the role of Lilith in Gilkesh mythology.) The seductiveness of Singularity's brand of mysticism is the secret of their attractiveness to certain people.

Singularity originated on Shakti, but its membership is no longer confined to the Gilkesh. After the death of its founder Q'ormis (the Q-apostrophe is pronounced like a guttural G, by the way) and her followers, the cult was believed to be extinct but in fact it went underground. With the advent of space travel its members began recruiting converts from among the Humans, the Fao, and the other intelligent races.

The current political picture on Shakti is one of superficial stability. Kathris and Amira both emerged as clan leaders. Their marriage was intended to bring union and stability to Shakti, but it's looking pretty shaky now. Needless to say, Amira's affair with Joli isn't going to help matters. Meanwhile at Earth Central Intelligence, the Humans are watching all this and trying to "read the tea leaves" regarding the internal politics of their galactic neighbors. For this, they depend on an informant within the Gilkesh government ... but how reliable this informant is, is open to question. As we shall soon see.

The main plot of TQC still revolves around the Kathris-Amira-Joli triangle. The complications will emanate from the various major and minor characters' relationships with one another, and their responses to the Singularity threat.

Here's the link to the story. The current chapter (scroll to bottom) is still in progress.