robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)
Way back in 1995, I had a novel in progress titled "Garden of Earthly Delights." I was in love with it. I wrote the opener in a passionate frenzy describing the launch of a colony ship full of religious colonists. Pagan religious colonists, progressive people with plenty of diversity. I had a grand idea that burned bright and fierce.

I loved Edgar Rice Burroughs. I enjoyed Pellucidar and The Land That Time Forgot and every Dinosaur Novel that I came across. Except that when I was a little kid, I hadn't noticed the stories were extremely sexist, racist and right-wing capitalist. It was a shock when I got hold of them again as an adult and realized that I stood against so many childhood heroes.

So I set out to write my own Dinosaur Planet with all the grand wildlife and glorious adventure of the old pulps - and a modern progressive viewpoint. Boys' adventure for boys with two mommies. Or for adults who used to be those boys, girls who wished they could have adventures instead of just being rescued, people who weren't straight or white, well, you know! Everybody Else! If you add up all the minorities, we're the majority, the number of right wing straight white evangelical Christian males is not that high.

Not to mention that in the decades since ERB did the first round of grand Prehistoric Places where everything survives and extinctions get rolled back, new discoveries in paleontology have made all the ancient critters even more exciting. Dinosaurs are fast-moving warm-blooded ground-running eagles with teeth. Sauropods got bigger and better. Smaller theropods got feathers. Ceratopsians lived in herds, so they could stampede!

The story possibilities are endless.

There is a big fat novel in that premise. Unfortunately in 1995 when the first iteration was half finished along with the funniest chapter I ever wrote, I lost the laptop I was writing it on. Worse, the backup disks were in the laptop case. I lost the novel.

Recently, I remembered something about Raven Dance. I remembered how many versions of it I abandoned or threw out because I thought the idea was stupid and then started over from memory. I missed my greatest Lost Novel periodically, like thinking of a beloved cat that died. Then it finally hit me.

I wouldn't miss it if it was dead.

There's a better version of Garden of Earthly Delights that has been banging on my head several times a year since 1995. It's screaming for attention. It's got a big diverse cast that I haven't met yet and the characters I remember are strong enough to keep their parts. It doesn't matter if they change their names because I forgot their original names. One of the clearest is the middle aged Indian woman who's the doctor in the group. An empty-nest high achiever with long black hair to the back of her knees, barely five feet tall and a genius. Stunningly beautiful if you like middle aged women with gray streaks in miraculously long black hair. I'll have to rename her, but I can hear her voice as if I worked on it last week.

So I'll start over from premise. It's set in the same universe as Raven Dance, so the stuff about the colony ships is already worked out. The backstory of the planet is solid. I had that worked out so well because I told the story a few thousand times at parties bragging on the book in progress.

So every now and then I'll blog my progress on Garden of Earthly Delights.

I'm not going to wait till November. I'll start hitting keys and go back there, because I miss that planet and I miss those people and the critters are even cooler in 2012 than they were in 1995. They can even tell what color Confuciusornis was and some of the smaller feathered theropods - I didn't have feathered theropods in the previous version.

Hee hee! Nope, that is Not A Prairie Chicken! Watch out! It bites! With Teeth!

This is going to be fun.

Additional tidbit. I decided to keep the Nature Painter character from the old version. Nonny and I discussed the cast and she noticed a gap - no disabled character - so now instead of being a wish fulfillment that I had perfect physical health and could hike around Dinosaur Planet having adventures, the Nature Painter character just got my skeletal deformities and mobility limits. He also gets power mobility, a sort of spider-legged robot walker rather than anything urban with wheels - and that of course will give him plenty of heroic opportunities when the power runs down while everyone's running away from Big Beasties.

He'll have to be tough. But I get sick of the wheelchair guy always dying in those movies. He makes a great rolling mini-tank carrying all the extra firepower till one of the critters bites him off the Big Strong Black Guy's back. One or two monsters later the Brother Gets It and the white guy and the pretty white girl are the only survivors.

I have been working on characters today and that ain't how it works on my Dinosaur Planet. I had the Nature Painter as one of the narrators and he lived through to the end of the book. I also didn't have a cat in the first version, so I'm giving him a faithful Siamese companion who sneaks out of the compound when they go romping off on their expedition.

Nothing like having a sympathetic cat running for its life dodging giant dinosaurs. Besides, it can face off against those smaller theropods pound for pound, it's a cat. It can make all kinds of discoveries in the wild and almost get itself killed, then wind up shoving a cold nose into Nature Painter's armpit to shiver and meow right in the middle of scenes that need breaking up with a moment of humor.


robertsloan2: Ari sweet (Default)

March 2016



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