Reasons to Trunk a Novel: No Theme or Premise

Posted on | December 20, 2018

I’ve decided to trunk another story.

After Star Kingdom, which at 95,962 words is among the longest things I’ve ever written, I was a little burned out on writing in general. I’ve been a little burned out on life, for that matter; I took a sabbatical from work and I’ve been doing very little with writing.

But the fans of Star Kingdom keep asking for more. That story generated more fan mail in one year that the Journal Entries have in a decade of writing, which only shows that the classic problem with having OCs is that it takes work to relate to OCs and most people aren’t willing to do that work. A pre-made assumption about characters makes for a more digestible story, and often the "twist" of fanfic is watching the characters do, erm, things that aren’t normally shown in the original.

The thing is, Star Kingdom had a lot of interesting things to say outside of the whole "Huh huh huh watch Disney princesses bang" thing that was the trope I hung the story around. The story literally started as a rant I wrote about how stupid the economics are in the "Napoleonic Wars In Space" genre of military SF, and how writers like Weber and Bujold, for all their gifts, have to do weird and stupid things with economics and science to create "impoverished colonies." An ice world like Komarr doesn’t need a massive, billion-dollar, irreplacable soletta made with the latest technology; it needs hundreds of small, cheap, disposable solettas that can be built with off-the-shelf components available today.

Along the way, Star Kingdom also had something to say about the differences in the way straight people and queer people interact, about how experienced couples and inexperienced couples do negotiation, and, yes, in the end we do indeed get to watch fairy tale princesses bang.

Since it was so popular, I decided to explore alternatives. What else could I say about, say, Star Wars? Star Trek? The Culture? Warhammer 30K? Cyberpunk? Sense8?

The cyberpunk story is actually mostly fleshed out and, curiously, is turning into something of a trilogy about posthumanism, and three different variants of posthumanism (robotic uploads, artificial genomes, and wholly artificial indibiomes). The Sense8 story has an interesting opening but not much more.

It was the Star Wars story that bugged me. I enjoyed earlier novels of the Clone Wars, like the Medstar series or The Cestus Deception, and wondered if I could write something in that vein…

… but I have nothing to say to Star Wars. Or about it. There’s very little sex in the Star Wars universe, and none of it anywhere remotely on-screen, but that’s just a given of the universe. It’s not a cultural touch-stone for me anymore, it’s just another franchise about which I care only when it’s in the theaters.

I also have nothing to say about Star Trek. It was an important show once upon a time, but now it’s just repeating itself. It’s always been a politically and culturally progressive show. (I learned the other day that Shatner went out of his way to act badly for the studio re-written kiss scenes from "Plato’s Stepchildren" so that the studio would have to use the interracial kiss between Shatner and Nichols.)

So both the Star Wars and Star Trek fanfics go into the trunk. There’s not a whole lot there to talk about. And right now, to be honest, there’s not much reason for me to write at all. I’m angry at how the world is going (which means I’m failing Robert Anton Wilson’s "Intelligence Test," and I hate when that happes), I’m getting older myself, and I’ve started to cocoon against the coming shitstorms.

My stories have themes and premises. And for the Star Trek and Star Wars fanfic crossover stories, I just couldn’t find any. Into the trunk they go.


2 Responses to “Reasons to Trunk a Novel: No Theme or Premise”

  1. Mark Atwood
    December 20th, 2018 @ 1:32 pm

    I do like the (un-fan)-fic that Alistair Young writes about Star Trek. The United Federation (backspace overstrike) Voniensa Republic are the *bad guys*, and are on the edge of defeat and collapse.

  2. Falbert
    January 25th, 2019 @ 6:31 pm

    I submit that as far as “Star Kingdom” generating more feedback than the Journal Entries stories, one thing to take into account is the current level of exposure.

    I first started reading the Journal Entries way, way back in the USENET days, and I suspect that the absolute number of readers of the series in total since then is significantly less than that of “Star Kingdom”, because of the latter’s placement on . This, I think, has led to a larger number of comments in part due to a larger audience.

    Also, I have noticed a significant number of comments of fanfiction in general regard the setting and characters used from the source material. So comments on how true the depiction of Queen Elsa is to the source material are to be expected; but it’s difficult to comment on how Aaden is completely mis-characterized, since the stories he’s in are and must be the source material.

    When getting older, one must either adopt the view that the world is getting worse and that the end is inevitably nigh… and in the meantime, you kids better get off my lawn! Or… that you might have learned a thing or two along the journey of your life, and that might be worth passing along to current and future generations. They, of course, will be the judge of that, ultimately. Why do Socrates and Aurelius and Heinlein’s stories endure if not for what they can teach us?

Leave a Reply