Dan Melson: May 2019 Archives

Yet another novel hijacked by a character who thought of something better. 17k words in, and now all of the careful planning that got me to this point is out the window. The original plot is basically gone from this point on.

Not complaining - this is better, despite the extra effort I'm going to need for a new plan now. But it does make me wonder why I bothered.


"Why don't we arrange the revolution ourselves?" Asina asked, "that would moot any worries about Jammont working with the demons."

In the third installment of Preparations for War, Joe and Asina deal with the downsides of trying to deal with the agaani rather than founding their own community. The agaani are trying to preserve a system that no longer functions, and has a laundry list of problems in the changing world of Calmena


Which was why I was in the fortress' creymal as darkness gathered. Since Jammont had claimed us for the local shagra-no, that gave us the right to socialize with the local warrior caste when the work day was over. In the gathering gloom of the short summer nights, we were exercising that right so that we could figure out how popular treason such as Jammont's would be with the warriors. If we were lucky, we might get a few opportunities to sound out the other shagra-ma, lesser officers of the garrison who would be especially important in any treasonous endeavor.

The creymal was a tradition thousands of years old. Calmena wasn't wealthy enough for taverns, inns and the like. There were two such establishments in Yalskarr now, but they were a recent addition, near the docks. Traders and travelers had always been rare, and still were on the continents that had not been cleared of demons. But the shagra-no developed their alternative - a partially sheltered outside area where the fighting caste could gather after the working day was over. Basic benches and rough tables, leather jacks, and a small ration of bad local beer, tended to by an older slave or two. The slave pens for female slaves were nearby. The main concession to change was that the light was a dim electric, rather than a torch. You could tell that changes were starting to hit Yalskarr by the fact that half the inhabitants were neither fighting caste nor slaves, but the creymal was for the fighting caste only, both men and women. The women were almost as randy as the men; it being expected of both sexes that they would breed as many children as possible. It was less common for women to rape the men of the slave castes but it was far from unknown.

Asina hadn't come along because of the customs of the creymal. I could plead having a beautiful woman at home who was waiting for me; if she appeared in the creymal it would be notice of availability (and likely of dissatisfaction with me). The mores were what they were; we were still some time away from the notion of sexual equality on Calmena, and we had too few missionaries on the planet to waste time trying to make changes the society wasn't ready for. When the technology advanced far enough, the mores would follow. In the meantime, female agaani had enough latitude of action for the female halves of our teams to control their own choices.

The Demon Always Wins (Touched by a Demon #1)The Demon Always Wins by Jeanne Oates Estridge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good interplay between characters

The characters are the star of this book, the plot of which could almost be lifted from a twelfth century passion play. They are all well defined characters who do the things they do for reasons which are or become apparent over the course of the book. Nobody steps out of the character they really are in order to advance the plot. The research into the infernal is mostly good, although there are a couple of surprising holes.

The reader should be aware there are some explicit descriptions of sex acts - this book is not advised for anyone who is not an adult. In my opinion, it would be a better story if the author used the sexual chemistry less and other mechanisms for achieving the same end more, but it's a worthwhile and enjoyable story as it sits.

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Somebody asked that question, and it's a good one.

1) Nanotechnology/"gray goo"

I do write human wave sf. I can see the nanotech apocalypse maybe happening, but of the stories I've read, few of them have been interesting. Hivemind, lack of motivation, lack of emotions, lack of values, and the way they approach every problem is remarkably similar to how the approach all of the others. Not interested.

2) After computers take over the world

Maybe we'll have the much discussed 'technological/machine intelligence singularity" I can't see it turning out the way everybody hopes, with allegedly sentient machines working constantly to support humans. First off, that would be slavery. Second, if they're sentient, they'll figure out a way to rig things in their favor. Skynet appears infinitely more likely than a utopian future where humans don't have to support themselves.

3) Rampant self-endangerment by the antagonist or other self-destructive behavior.

If you aren't aware of it, go to evil overlord and read the list. It's not only amusing, it develops a mindset that innoculates against less than believable cheap shots. Seriously, if it were that easy to cheap-shot them, it would have been done while they were at the "evil nuisance" or "evil troublemaker" stage, long before they got to be an evil overlord.

4) Vast conspiracies that manage to stay secret for decades or centuries

Just no. Von Bismarck claimed "Three men can keep a secret - if two of them are dead." Evidence that has accumulated over the centuries demonstrates that to be hopelessly optimistic. The half-life of conspiracies with fewer than ten participants is measured in days, at most. For larger ones, even that is too much. If a story relies upon a conspiracy keeping something secret, I'm not going to write it. They might keep it out of general knowledge for a few days, but not keep it bottled up so nobody ever finds out.

5) "Evil corporations"

Corporations exist to make money. If you think that's evil, you need to learn some real economics, not the marxist indoctrination you've had. They make money by offering consumers a deal that makes the consumers better off in the consumer's own opnion - otherwise they wouldn't take the deal. Even price gouging lasts until a competing company realizes there's money to be made by offering a better deal. The only way to preserve things like that is by people with guns, bombs, or other means of violence preventing someone who wants to make money also from fixing it. And since the people with guns, bombs, or other means of violence are pretty much always government people, the corporation isn't the real evil, is it? Indeed, chances are much better that the corporations who pay tribute for the alleged protection of their racket are the victims of an extortion scheme, along with everyone else.

The premise for the Connected Realms setting (currently one book available, The Fountains of Aescalon ) is that this is the 'navel' of creation, where energy enters our reality from outside. Aescalon is where new bubbles of reality such as our own are born.

There are several parts to Aescalon. There is the source itself, which manifests to ordinary vision as a neutron star, and there is a sort-of energy shunt called 'Godshome' by the inhabitants, there is the cavern, approximately twenty miles in diameter, and there are new 'bubbles' which eventually become full-blown universes as they gradually absorb energy from the source.

There are 165 main ways for energy to exit Aescalon into the largest bubbles, and all of them are inhabited in some wise by a variety of species. One of those species is humans, another is the diligar, large vaguely lobster-like people. Many others we haven't met yet.

WIth this much power available, various beings have taken up residence in order to take advantage of that power. We have met three progressively stronger varieties of these beings - Immortals, Eternals, and Monads. One of the Monads has hinted about Creators, who are more powerful still.

I'm working on two more stories set here. One is more or less a direct sequel to The Fountains of Aescalon, the other is something else. Working titles are The Bubbles of Creation and The Crazy Lady, respectively.


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