When I started this blog, my intention was to use it to comment on my fiction and do all the other things that an author’s blog is supposed to do. After all, I’m issuing new chapters of the first volume of the Anomaly Trilogy and I’m sure I should just be promoting it like it was detergent or something.
However, I’ve been receiving a fair amount of feedback and most of it has been encouraging and quite thoughtful. Although there isn’t much of a theme running through it (unless it’s do with Beatrice’s role in all of it), there have been some comments that the novel just sort of zigzags about.
This is a fair assessment, I won’t deny. The structure of the Anomaly is exactly like that and continues to be pretty much so right up to the bitter end. It zigs about in location and zags about in time, and in pretty much zigs and zags about between protagonists and viewpoints.
So why do that?
Well, it’s not for fun, although it does raise some interesting technical challenges for those who’re bothered about that kind of thing. The principle reason in this case is the kind of story this novel is supposed to be.
Although several readers have mentioned Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels as an influence, this can’t be true (at least not directly) as I’ve only ever read one short story by the man and I didn’t really enjoy it. In fact the most direct influence is William Golding‘s Rites of Passage trilogy. It’s a terrific novel that is set on a single sea voyage from Britain to New South Wales in the early 19th Century. The entire novel, more or less, is set on the same ship and in common with almost all Golding’s fiction its real subject is religion and its relation with the real world.
What, I wondered, would it be like to have a long space voyage that was also a long way from home?
However, I think what most of us know already is that it would in fact be very very dull.
There’s even less of anything in space than there are on the oceans and the likelihood is that in the future (especially one just fifteen hundred years hence) space flight will not even be enlivened by seasickness or bad weather.
So, if there’s to be a story associated with a long journey across space, it’s been pretty much necessary to drag in a whole load of stuff that doesn’t happen on a space ship and, in most cases, happens pretty much in the relative past.
So, in the first novel, there are three main strands and several more minor ones. First of all there’s the voyage of the Intrepid across space, which can be described as the primary frame of reference. Then there’s the story of Paul’s journey from his anarchist space colony, Godwin, inwards towards planet Earth (and then onto the Intrepid). And then there’s the story of Isaac and the Holy Crusaders.
My guess is that if I’d told this story in strict chronological order, it would actually be rather more confusing and by the end of the first volume we’d probably not actually yet even have started our journey across the Solar System towards the Anomaly.
However, I can’t promise that the rest of the first volume or either of the next two volumes will be any less non-serial or potentially confusing, but I hope readers will be patient and enjoy the journey as it zigs and zags all over the place but will eventually (I promise) come to a satisfactory conclusion.