As I may have alluded to elsewhere, my intention is to become a full time writer (hey, Bob Heinlein got out of the Navy and was modestly successful, so there’s a precedent!).
I’ve written extensively for a number of professional publications, formal articles dealing with the application of technology in the Intelligence field. And I’ve written a large number of papers and publications dealing with my specialty, tactical and strategic Information Warfare. But I’ve always wanted to write fiction, specifically Science Fiction. And now that I’m retired I’ve got the time, and sufficient worldly experience, so it’s either start making a serious effort or go find a real job.
I’ve been working on a novel for a while now, and it’s roughly halfway finished. I am extremely happy with my work; it’s the kind of stuff I like to read, and the direction the novel has taken often surprises me, making the process an enjoyable voyage of discovery for me. The story is heavily peppered with cool technology, but is focused on how that technology affects the characters and shapes their individual stories. There are enough clues dropped along the way that an astute reader just might be able to figure out the ending, and still have a surprise or two along the way.
As you might expect, that particular work is near and dear to my heart. So when I embarked on the National Novel Writing Month project, I didn’t want to use this particular work. Instead I decided to start from scratch and use NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to do something else I’ve been thinking about. (I should mention that I didn't formally register as a NaNo participant, I meant to, but an apparent incidence of brain damage on my part precluded it. But I decided to proceed as if I was anyway).
Some of the classic stories I’ve enjoyed over the years were told first person, and in a format that made you believe that you were reading a diary or journal (The final section of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, for example). There is something inherently intimate in that format, as if the protagonist is speaking directly to you, the reader. You see events filtered through the writer’s eyes, through his perception and prejudices and maybe not how they really happened. And even though I rarely, if ever, use first person (other than, you know, here) I wanted to do something in this format. I’ve been playing with a story about war and disaster of biblical proportions, told by a character that lives through strange and sometimes incomprehensible events. Also I wanted to do something, that, while not completely throwaway, was not so important to me that I couldn’t just give it away. And finally, I wanted to update the diary story concept into a more modern format.
So here it is:
Meet VanDerDecken – former Soldier, former LAPD cop, ex-con, and blogger. His has both feet firmly planted on the bottom rung of society. He’s got a high school education, a year or two of college and a lifetime of rough experience from which to shape his worldview. Recently paroled into the near future (yep, that’s exactly what I meant to say), and trying to put his life back together. His world is an extrapolation of our own – and I doubt you’ll have any trouble spotting those extrapolations, some are bleeding obvious, but some are fairly subtle (though if you speak German you’ll be more likely to spot at least one straight away). You may think that VanDerDecken is trying just a little too hard to appear repentant, and you’d be right. You may also think that, despite his protestations, Van is suffering from a bit of self denial, and you'd be right about that too.
A couple of things:
1) I intend to play this straight. It’s a blog, from the future. Not everything will be explained, Van assumes that you've lived, and are living, through the same events he has, and is.
2) Blog Commenting is enabled. Comments are neither encouraged nor discouraged. Commenters may either ‘play along’ with the story, or not, as they please. VanDerDecken may respond to comments made ‘in character,’ or he may ignore you. We’ll see.
3) If this generates sufficient interest, I may, at some later date, roll it up with additional fix-up material and turn it into an actual novel. ‘In character’ comments may be included, or not, and I’ll deal with the legal aspects of that if and when this becomes something more than an experiment.
4) VanDerDecken’s email address on the blog is an actual email address; you may assume VanDerDecken is monitoring it.
5) The name of the blog, Deep Thunder, and its URL, are taken directly from William Blake’s poem America A Prophecy, one of my very favorite things, ever. There is a link to the poem’s text on the Deep Thunder homepage. And if you haven’t read it, you really should (and if you’re a Bladerunner fan, you'll recognize this poem as the source of Roy Batty’s famous misquote, “Fiery, the Angels Fell…”) You may also consider this poem something of an outline for events to come. (and yes, before somebody points it out, I know that the URL is misspelled – that was done on purpose for reasons that may be explained later, for now you may assume that Van is dyslexic).
6) Van’s ‘voice’ sounds remarkably similar to my ‘voice’ here at Stonekettle Station, from this you might infer that I am Van. You’d be wrong. Van and I just happen to sound the same, because Van likes my blog, eventually he’ll find his own voice.
7) Feel free to link, or forward links, or ignore this whole damned thing, as you will. However, I’d prefer that if people are coming to Deep Thunder other than through Stonekettle Station, that they not have knowledge of the link between the two. Savvy?
8) Note the dates on each post, they’re important in the context of the story, some are extremely significant – but I’ll leave it up to you to figure out why.
9) and finally, Van’s a busy guy, posting may be sporadic and come in batches. This is only the first couple thousand words or so, Van has a lot more written and he'll put it up as soon as he gets done washing the dishes and cleaning the cooler. Van also expects to be posting long after NaNoWriMo ends.
10) Thanks to Janiece Murphy for her advice.
10) Thanks to Janiece Murphy for her advice.