Friday, November 18, 2011

A rod for my back

gday gentle readers

Methinks I have unwittingly done just as my title suggests and made 'a rod for my back'. Let me explain. 

Somewhere in my world creating phase I decided my New Earth's civilisation, before it self-immolated should have made a couple of advances beyond old Earth. For this story I chose

1. Matter transmission
2. A tenfold extension of life expectancy

Nothing new or dramatic just a couple of well-worn SF tropes as backdrop. 

Now all this may seem straight forward until you think (even superficially as I did at the start) about someone living to be 700 to a 1000 years old. First I assumed that childhood is still about 20 years (Can't have our heroes not walking until 12 and still in nappies at 25) Next it occured to me that at the other end they are going to be old, as in their frail, pain-ridden, health challenged eighties and nineties,
two hundred years

Now the rod

but first a crock of ... (keep it clean)


My story takes place a thousand years after New Earth's aforementioned planetary self-immolation called in the story "The Days of Fire." The planetary survivors are being helped by an AI they call the goddess who wants to breed a host for its consciousness to wake some orbiting survivors (Sleepers) in hibernation. The sleepers were about to journey forth and colonise another planet - New New Earth (only joking about the name)- when their existing civilisation went pear-shaped. 
Back to the future: To obtain said suitable host the AI goddess has been paddling around in the local gene pool.  

I decided (authors do that you know - a few taps on the keyboard and a whole planets disappear ) that longevity ought to be an inherited trait that has regressed on the demolished planet to the traditional three score and ten. Can't have non-contributing old people using resources - fine while the machines do all providing but The Days of Fire ended all that.

Cut to the rod: Again for reason of story I have POV colonists, POV locals of pure colonist stock, (who live to a 1000), POV locals with one colonist parent (live to 500) and POV locals with one colonist grandparent, (250) and a POV character of purely local stock (100) Arbitrary life spans decided by author and colour-coded for your convenience. (Willard, Averil, twins Sarah and Lisa and the heroine of book III Rowena (not shown in box) are locals of pure colonist stock - the other three are awakened colonists.) But that's not all: some of my characters pair up with people who are going age and die before their eyes if my story doesn't kill them first.

None of this was by design. I made it up as I went along and only now when I want to edit the monster are the complexities of differentially aging relationships coming back to bite me.

Here's a 1000 word picture slice of a spreadsheet I spent days of good editing time creating to sort out what's when two or more POV Character gather. I need to know how old they are and how old they look.  

Why do I bother? Because no matter how good the story is, one wrong detail and suspension of disbelief collapses.


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