Monday, February 28, 2011

What to say...? or I keep changing things!!!

How does one go on after a silence of two months? A strange thing it is to disappear so abruptly - all I can say by way of some manner of compensation is that there has been A LOT of good work going on for the next Half-Continent story (rather than the much anticipated Harlequin romance set in outback Australia... sorry about that folks, I know you were all longing for it so :) - a synopsis written, various passages penned and muchas muchas muchas research and invention going on.

The upshot right now of this is that in going much deeper into the construction and function and crewing of a ram I have discovered that some of the information about gastrines and rams given in MBT is now revised. I must confess myself a tad perplexed: how am I to proceed?

The normal process is to present your world full-formed upon the world, an unshakable rock of continuity and consistency. Yet here I am tweaking and changing and - more properly - refining ideas all the time, as I have always done.

What concerns us here are gastrines and just how it is that they work. Here are the variations:


  • dog box & gears
  • 5-20 year life span
  • jointed leavers everywhere
  • put into the vessel individually


  • muscles work straight to screw; "gearing" is simply the amount of effort gastrines put in and the number of gastrines put to the screw
  • 30-50 year life span - I like the idea of them living as long as a generation of vinegars (& notwithstanding death due to sickness or injury or being eaten whole and entire by a ravening kraulschwimmen)
  • straight wooden beams and levers
  • grown within the vessel (though this one I am not so sure about)

My thoughts are that none of this actually varies things too much, that the previous information can be easily incorporated into the revisions and vice versa - well that is what I hope anyway... Is it appropriate to simply alter things as I go and expect you all to just keep up? Is it actually a good thing for the whole process to be evolving right out there in publicland?

Where I will draw a line is at the total reversal of an idea: what I intend is only the kind of fluctuation that will occur as a I think an idea through all the more deeply, and discover some real-world fact that adds to the whole.

So, there, I am back, fretful as ever - if anyone is still reading :/

Most earnest mae culpa for so long a silence.

Oh, and just to speak into any suspense, my current project is (at this stage anyways) a new story with different characters set in HIR 1602 - the very next year after MBT. Events in MBT have an affect on it, are part of its own motion - because, verily, they are events more particularly in the Half-Continent - but it is its own tale.

Thank you for all your - well, "suggestions" is to little a word for the depth and passion of your thoughts but it will have to do... maybe "advice"? - it helps a whole heck of a lot, even if I seem to be going in some other direction, your thoughts and ideas go with me all the same.

Final inkling: I reckon this will be a stand alone story - no multiple volumes...

OK, this one really is the last thoughts: Rossamünd's story does go on, whether a write about it or not, so let your minds run free with that one; & Europe is indeed too "cool" to let go, but I reckon I need time to ponder just how to tell about her next... & I reckon, though I seem to "avoid" or digress for now, that the Half-Continent might indeed be working up to some kind of dissolution, though do not mistake the movements in one small part of the Sundergird (as seen in MBT) to equal a threat to the greater part of it - just see how small an area we cover in the story so far; I reckon folks in Hamlin or Gottingen could not give two hoots what happens in Brandenbrass (bar the impact on trade, I suppose.. hmmm...)

It must be said though that cataclysmic dissolution is a bit of a genre cliche, too, and though I keep finding myself in my inexperience committing them , I am trying not to do so, and all conquering baddies threatening the existence of everything seems an obvious one to avoid. The original premise of the Half-Continent was that the existing relationships were/are enough to generate stories without then needing to break the idea.

Apart from a certain LoTR, the few genre novels i have read always seemed their best at the start with the original concept of the world, before everything gets broken - it was where I wanted to stay, and I haven't and continue to put all this work into figuring just how the H-c works "now" to bust it all up again. That said, I do think there does need to be some manner of larger and obvious conflict... hmmm.

...& Aphrodine, expect to find "rumsibol" in some form in the next book too, if i may, simply brilliant!


smudgeon said...

Good to hear you're still alive, busy on the new octopus, and still refining H-c concepts.

Personally, I am pleased to hear that not all concepts are fixed - although please don't suddenly decide Freckle is actually a robot, or that Europe has a periscope - evolution is important. It means you haven't stopped thinking about things.

I know it's probably a while off, but I'm looking forward to the new (and subsequent) stories.

Keem 'em coming, Mr C.

Ben Bryddia said...

Welcome back. I'm sure we've all been in hushed suspense, awaiting the fate of the H-c. I know I'm very pleased to hear there will be more vinegaroons romping about in the acidic mayhem of the world. I haven't read many such tales, but have seen a few old films in that line.

Oddly, what I'm most curious about right now is where this new romp will take place. I'm itching to get out of the neighborhood established in Monster-blood Tattoo. As usual, your call.

Speaking of, I see no reason why you cannot modify your world as you go. Obviously, if it violates the internal reality of that universe, it's unwelcome. Still, I think we can all accept a few minor retcons. It could be gastrines are made different ways in different places, or that one sort of gastrine contraption is more expensive to grow or install. How long does it take to grow a mature gastrine anyway?

On a side note, I'm also curious, how long will you be able to keep throwing new things our way. One thing I loved about opening up Lamplighter and Factotum was the sheer bulk of new world at every turn. I'm looking forward to this new story.

ingspar: an archaic term for an ironclad ram.


Sam Hranac said...

Sounds like you have some sort of Q at work who has quietly been reinventing things. Can you incorporate these updates as such?

Master Come Lately said...

If you're planning on a larger conflict, I'm sure one or more false-gods are itching to stretch their legs... Maybe not have them threaten all of the Half-Continent, but maybe the area around a city.

Master Come Lately said...

That said, I'm glad to read from you again, and I actually like the new streamlined form of the gastrines, except I was kind of fond of the idea of them being replaced every few years or so. However, I can imagine it being more interesting this way, like maybe some vinegaroons seeing the gastrines as "part" of the crew.

Darter Brown said...

The wonders of creating your own science, the rules that govern the physical workings of the H-C.

Being a grass neath my toes lad, like many others, my knowledge of gastrines is limited. I guess like most things technical, the deeper you study, the better your true understanding. Many things make great common sense, even with little knowledge, yet usually serves most of us adequately. Technicians, masters; they need a thorough understanding, maybe we will meet a few masters.

I assumed there are different types of gastrine to suit different needs. A large ram would require much more complexity, to efficiently transfer energy to effect movement. They obviously have great mass, thus great force required to create momentum. Speed and acceleration are crucial in battle.

I say go with your further exploration and tinkering, we love your rich detailing.

Welcome back.

Alyosha said...

It's good to see a new posting, though if the choice is between keeping up with your blog or writing new stories, then I hope that you keep choosing the latter.

As others have said - but I'll say also, just in case you're counting votes - fleshing out your ideas about things like how gastrines work is not going to cause any heartache. And, if you positively don't want to contradict yourself, then you can take the already-suggested out of deploying your more mature gastrines only in larger ships.

An error: this is trivial, but something you might want to correct if you put out a second edition. On page 513 (U.S. edition) of Factotum there is a line "Taking an audition in the hiatus of an armonium player..." the kind of slip that, unfortunately, the modern spelling and grammar checkers don't bat an eye at.

A question: Were the columbines of Columbris in league with blithely monsters all along (Threnody being too young (in Lamplighter) to have been initiated into that secret) or did Lady Dolours do a high speed job of evangelizing her sisters just prior to the sack of Winstermill?

A compliment and suggestion: I was delighted with Dr. Crispus' plan to give a talk on "The Existence of Providence over the Theory of Deeper Forces" and on whether such Providence was "personal cosmic action or impersonal cosmic rebalancing." If you ever, for your own edification, doodled out some portion of that talk, that would make a lovely future blog posting.

Regarding your ending comment about thinking that you might need some manner of larger and obvious conflict, you already have quite the closet full in the story of the uprising and crushing of the false gods. I wonder, though, if that's not best left in partial shadow. The world you've crafted creates a sense in the reader's mind (at least mine) of infinite depth - of a place where, as you said, Rossamund can go on exploring and adventuring long after the book is closed. A story with too big a conflict, one that digs too deep, so to speak, might make a fun read, but tear the fabric and let the reader see more than enough behind the curtains. This though, is just the opinion of one person - who is not a story crafter himself - so take it with a grain of salt.

Darter Brown said...

Alyosha: I do so agree with your final words. Definitely I want more, much more, but this world needs to remain wonderous.

This is not necessarily how I felt immediately after finishing Factotum, but with further consideration and the words of many such as yourself, I began to grasp more deeply why I loved MBT.

BrandenRose said...

I must say that i agree with both those people who posted directly before me: I did want to see a huge, all-destroying conflict happen in the HC at the end of the third book but now I do believe that would hurt more than it would help.
As for the gastrines, there's no reason why the original ones can't have come out first and then the new ones you created be a later discovery or a more expensive one, so much so that it ony makes sense for them to be in large ships....or, of course, the smaller ones could be used for power wouldn't want overly powerful gastrines in a small ship any more than you would put a truck's engine in a motorcycle. And as for any other changes, the world around us is constantly changing, so I see not why the HC should be any different.
And as for Europe, I am more glad to hear that you're not all the way through with her her than you could ever know. She is truly an amazing character and I must say that I am yearning to hear the rest of her tale.
Best wishes on the writing, and I must say I agree with whoever said it that it would certainly be better if you were not posting on your blog but cooking up great stories than if you were to update the blog but leave the story behind. Don't worry, we'll still be here, waiting ravenously for whatever little morsels you do decide to share.

Aphrodine said...

Technology is constantly changing in *our* world, so why would it be weird for it to change in the H-c?

[Thank you! That totally made my day!]

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to hear about a new Half Continent story! Although I have been cherishing hope for a Europe-centric prequel, a naval setting with new characters sounds really cool too. Looking forward to your future works,


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Cornish,
So glad to hear from you again. The discrepencies in the gastrines could be due to simple evolution? Seeing as the new novel is set after the previous, several ingenious people may have been working on improving the gastrines and succeeded, thus creating the altered gastrines in your newest book. Also, the idea of a False-god seems enthralling, it would be brilliant if you could do something with that, however, anything MBT related is a masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Cornish,

I am an avid reader and a newly minted writer. Before I say anything more I must tell you that I love your stories and the worlds you have created. To me, your works are right up there with JRR Tolkien, Poe, Phillip Pullman, Anne McCaffrey and Rudyard Kipling.

As far as the gastrines go, I agree with the general sentiment that it is fine to change them. If you really feel that it is a conflict with your previous writing and that bothers you, just look at how many different types of computers, MP3 players, OS types ( Mac, PC, Linux), etc. we have all around us. I would actually be surprised if there was only a single type of gastrine. There is variety in everything in our world.

Keep up the wonderful work.


miztres said...

Welcome back.

Gastrine, when I think of them I think of a cyclist's leg. It can be made to work harder to go faster or go up a hill but the most effective use of that energy is to add gearing. Gears make sense.

I do like the idea of the Gastrines having the same career life as a vingeroon. There could be parting tears from some of those old salts when a gastrine is finally retired.

So if it's a living thing and it's past it's life, how is it retired, just left to die, minced up to feed something else?

Speaking of the death of a gastrine, I would think that looking after a gastrine would be a serious job and anyone found to cause the death of a gastrine would be in serious trouble.

What always interested me was how they got the organs and muscles to power all their wonderful technology. I assumed they were harvested from monsters, at least originally.

monday said...

I'm fresh out of wisdom and cannot jion the discussion, but I am glad you're back, Mr C. Eagerly looking forward to whatever you end up creating.

Such a Wondrous Place this Faery Space said...

Just picked-up your Foundling book and am already thinking of how to fit it into future lesson plans! I have been creating a unit on orphans and foundlings for awhile now and was at a bookstore and this literally fell off the shelf onto my foot. Love those little elves shoving books around... sigh. Then, to see the art within, I am enthralled and thus, here. I will catch-up a bit here and hope to come back with more time on my wrist and coffee in hand. Glad to meet you sir! Walk through a portal to my blog if you ever have a moment. Charmed, Amy Sperry Faldet

portals said...

This is lovely.

Pirate Trish said...

I understand how you feel about things changing when you start dealing with them specifically. It happens!! and while it may seem irregular at least it's not some weirdness like what happened with Star Wars. I don't think anyone can go as far out of the tree as that franchise did. I'm ready to roll with the punches just put out the book. ;)

I love the world you created almost as much as I love all the characters so any direction taken would be enjoyed by me since you take such sincere care with it all. Also - any story about a postman would be awesome. How crazy must that job be?? ;)

Drue said...

Dear Mr.Cornish! Last time I posted on such a blog was when you had just released Foundling! Such a long time it has been and in that time my name has changed from Skold_lover to Drue. How I miss Rossamund already, even though I have just finished the epic novel that has partially concluded the Half-continent and Pink lips' tale.

If ever you were to write another book about Rossamund's adventures - here's hoping you do - I would sincerely wish you would write at least another 2 books before revealing such a main plot as to crush the remaining hopes of another novel of such high standards!

For me, and as such probably most of the MBT readers, it's the sheer mystique of the world and Rossamund and the connection one get's with the little creature which keeps you going; turning you into a book vampire, constantly hungry for the next chapter in the mysterious life of Rossamund the pink lipped manikin. Perhaps an idea would be to explain how the world started? Perhaps letting Rossamund meet that of which not even the Duke of Sparrows knows exists, the very being of everything: Providence. Maybe that is an idea for the last book, but an insight into what the false-gods are, and what the actual gods are. As you must have gods to have false ones!

Well dear sir, here's hoping to a happy writing season and wishes that every threwdish being protect you from the bane of all writers! Writers block!!

Drue said...

Also I would find it sorrowful if you wrote a novel without Rossamund, because I know you would hint at him (The new "Insert name here" The beautiful)as the vinegaroons already hint at their own little manikin. As most writers you would no doubt sneak him in somewhere, reminding us of the fellow :(.

E.N.R. A.k.a Elma Faux said...

Ahh, every author ponders of topping their own story. Good to see you're back, and I can't wait to see what new material you have for us.

Ken said...

At the risk of creating a zombie thread (reverthread?), one way to handle the revision you propose is to make it a technical advance, a new generation of gastrine technology: "We found that when we started doing it this way, the gastrines lived longer too." (The old version could be consigned to the past, perhaps.)