Saturday, January 29, 2011

Xax's Journal

I've been toying with the idea of scattering some excerpts from the journal of the wizard Xax throughout my fantasy novel, mainly because without them the novel is purely fantasy with the readers getting little idea of the sci-fi roots of the story. My feeling is that agents who read the story as it stands will keep rejecting it on the basis of it not seeming original enough. Would the journal excerpts make a difference?

I began typing out entries in the 'journal'. This one below was the first, but it doesn't feel authentic to me. After all, Xax already knows the history behind the journey to the new habitable planet, so why would he bother writing about it? He would write from his own perspective, even if that is less illuminating for my readers.

Excerpt from the Journal of Artyom Komarov

It was the first habitable planet found by the new Hubble/Yi VII telescope, or as close to habitable as 97.8% certainty can provide. And it was less than eighty light years from Earth. Who could resist? China began building the first generation ship, and a Mormon sect led by trillionaire Trev Johnson started the second, naturally called Mayflower II. They had no clue that they would be beaten to the punch by poor, corrupt Russia.

Even our own government was surprised by the turn of events. It had secretly funded our group, nine of the best Russian scientists along with an Icelandic geneticist, a biologist from Bosnia, and a Danish molecular engineer, for more than three decades for the purpose of perfecting new military clones. On the side we called ourselves the ‘Immortality Club’ and set about figuring out how to digitize a dump of all data from a living being’s mind and reinject that data back into the empty brain of the being’s cloned body. Thirty-three years it took us, along with enough chimpanzees to repopulate the Congo, but we succeeded. We proved there was no such thing as a soul.

Immortality was our primary aim. We were all getting on in years, with Kostya nearing eighty. It took twenty years to properly prepare a human clone, so all of us were impatient to set a few copies baking. We began taking new snapshots of our brain data each week, so we could always have nearly up-to-date versions of ourselves ready to go.

It was Volodya who gazed up at the two generation ships lighting up the nighttime sky and imagined another use for our new technology. We could automate the cloning and reconstitution process using super-advanced crèches on a small, fast ship and beat the Chinese and Americans, claiming the new world for ourselves. We didn’t even tell our bosses what we were up to, since we dared take no chances they would strip away our funding.

It’s an odd feeling to wake in a fresh young body more than three centuries later and know that another version of yourself may still be living back home on Earth.


  1. Excellent excerpt, especially the part where the scientists prove there's no such thing as a soul. As far as an agent taking it on, well, you never know until you submit. I wouldn't get too hung up on genre, either, especially where science fiction and fantasy are concerned. The two genres serve as a great example of overlapping. Just keep at it and you'll get somewhere with it, I'm sure.

    Oh, and as for someone "borrowing" your storyline, every story has already been told. What keeps the story new and fresh is voice. From what I've read here, yours is excellent, just so you know.

  2. I know, Jeff, and I was half-joking with that line. I do think I have a couple ideas that I haven't seen anyone do specifically, and that makes me a tad nervous.

  3. That sounds interesting but you're right, it doesn't quite sound like a journal entry. Otherwise: Awesome!

    You probably shouldn't worry too much about what agents will think because I don't think anyone can really know what they want to represent. I wouldn't even think that they're entirely sure until they actually read it, you know?

    If you want to do the journal entries I would make them important to the plot cause, from what I've heard, if it doesn't add to the plot they will want to get rid of it before it's printed.

    Anyways, awesome! Love that idea for the people of earth trying to get to that planet!

  4. This is certainly a way to get the sci-fi in (though it may be worth remembering that both David Gemmell and Janni Wurts have done the technologically advanced precursor to a fantasy world part). It really doesn't read like someone's journal, though. Instead of being personal, it's a piece of scene setting exposition. Journal entries should be used, if anything, to personalise the story and give hints of a different approach.

  5. It sounds like first person narrative to me. I like it. Is this the beginning? If so I'm definitely interested.

  6. "Xax already knows the history behind the journey to the new habitable planet, so why would he bother writing about it?"

    I think you answer THAT and you give yourself a tone and a purpose... maybe some evil person has BURNED all the other records? (who has a stake in it not being told)--maybe that evil dude who almost won out before ALTERED them for his purpose, so XAX is trying to set the record straight before he dies. Maybe there is a young (relative, understudy, apprentice?) who he wants to have a more PERSONAL version.

    I find all of this SUPER interesting--the whole background you've worked up, but i feel like the tone is too different from the rest of your story. YES, the other part feels like fantasy, and this grounds it in Sci-Fi, and I see why you'd want to do that for originality and to show what a cohesive, well-thought out world you've created, but unless these journals are part of the MAIN story (this story becomes part of the final battle) I think you create more problems than you solve.

    That isn't to say this couldn't be woven into the ending--maybe understanding all this allows somebody to solve a riddle that turns the tide or something, but i do think you'd have to change the ending a fair bit to add this stuff in.

  7. Interesting, good sir. I kind of like the sci-fi aspect. That in and of itself is a great story idea, y'know? Worth exploring at some point in the future...?

  8. Yep, Simon, much of this is part of the very first story in the arc, which I call The Immortality Club. It takes place mostly in Moscow in the early 2100's.

  9. I get that you're concerned about the 'telling' aspect of Xax writing things in his personal journal that he would already know, but I actually think it works. I mean if you consider that he was a scientist, I don't think it's a stretch to think that he would keep a journal, for posterity's sake, if you will, in the hopes that someone would eventually discover it.

    I've known about the Sci-Fi aspect practically since we met in the forums, and I definitely think it's one of the coolest aspects of your story. You probably can't work it into the first story too much, but I think as much as possible is a good idea.

  10. As I read this, I felt it answers a lot of questions a reader may have about the origins of characters and how they came to be where they are.

    As for the why he would write the history if he already knows it? This journal feels like a professionals way of documenting the experiment, the outcomes, the reasonings behind it. I can see why he would write it. I like the perspective in the entry. The info is interesting and relevant, and might sound like author intrusion disclosed in any other context.

    I enjoyed this entry, and the insight into your novel. What awesome writing skills. The story sounds fascinating.