The Balance of Souls

[Extras]

[Victim] [Into the Unknown] [Will to Speak]

This post is divided into three time points and various links to other posts to prevent one massively overbearing mega-post. It exists as an online reference for both me and anyone who’s curious. Yes, I do let other people use my settings (read that bit on the extras page if you want details). Here goes:

Time point one:

A rough approximation of our modern day. If you want to get specific (to reference particular technologies, for example) think around ~2015.

Time point two:

[The politics and economy of time point two, simplified]

[technologies seen in time point two]

[WW3 to a more humane system]

[The Victim Remembrance movement and The Imperfect System]

[Ventures into space]

~50 years after time point one. The world has reached what most consider a definite peace after WW3. I’m going to look back on this and laugh in 2065, aren’t I? Well, that’s part of the advantage of sci-fi: I get to lay out one potential timeline, not necessarily what I expect to actually happen. I can play up certain extreme conditions to play with particular concepts, like the bickering government and chosen one mythos, rather than trying to be as realistic as possible. To clarify: I tried to keep certain concepts realistic, such as the literal technologies characters encounter. I set up the specifics for this time point back in 2015 when I was writing Victim while at college. At the time, I wrote it as a day after tomorrow type sci-fi setting, then later inserted it into The Balance of Souls as time point two. A day after tomorrow type sci-fi just means a setting roughly fifty years in the future where all the technologies are based off of what I could imagine us creating from modern day technologies. So, it fits very well here.

By this time point, technology has advanced far enough to cover the means of production. Essentially, humans for the most part no longer need to work. To clarify: forced labor is still seen as a way of convict reform. There are still humans elected to the top positions of government, but they bicker for almost laughably absurd proportions of their days, to the point that infrastructure improvements, public mental hygiene programs, and other programs someone decided a human should sign off on (to prevent negligence and apathy, supposedly) are either grossly neglected or randomly excessively extravagant. For example, there exists a park with silver orbs for a waterfall, an artificial purple sky, and blue grass. However, the crumbling parking lot outside is riddled with weeds and potholes. The majority of the populace considers their government a running joke, and is actually grateful to give technology more power over their lives. For more details, see the link above pertaining to the politics and economy of time point two.

The younger generation, including Mica and Rina in Victim, are the first in too long to grow up in peace. They see their parents’ generation still dealing with the aftermath of war and adjusting from a hyper-capitalist system to a non-capitalist system (again, see the link above for specifics). But the younger generation has grown up with a reliance on technology to the point that most of them are less suspicious of it. There are exceptions, of course, including Rina and various proud individualists. Overall, though, they do accept the premise that technology improves their lives. They enjoy a profound freedom to navigate their world.

However, this is not a perfect system. For example, violence is still considered an issue. Their government has put multiple safety measures in place, such as confiscating illegal weaponry and requiring new safety measures (including fingerprint scanners and more detailed background checks). Media has been banned from publishing certain details about killings, such as the suspect’s name and allegiance (yes, terrorism still exists, just to a lesser extent). Mass shootings are essentially unheard of by now, and progress has been made to dramatically curb all forms of violence. But the populace still faces a murder rate of roughly 800-1200 per year worldwide for a population of ~10 billion. For reference, the best estimate I seem to be able to find for the worldwide homicide rate in 2012 was 6.2 per 100,000, so the problem is dramatically lessened. Other issues, such as addiction and domestic abuse, are still present but all to a much lesser degree than our modern day (think a similar shift as the homicide rate). However, fearmongering is still strong and this supposedly more humane system has yet to resolve all issues. The Victim Remembrance movement has been especially loud in mourning the departed, and in creating a large cultural influence. For more details, see the link above. To clarify: discrimination has been virtually eliminated by name in favor of the more humane system, but instances of bias do still occur on occasion, mostly pertaining to criminal record, former allegiance, and involvement in WW3.

Time point three:

[The language of time point three]

[technologies seen in time point three]

[Aaaaaaaaaah! Time travel and its effect on the world]

[Lilchtee and other escapes]

[Territories around Sol]

[What exactly are the Pyrrh?]

[Nimbles and Empaths]

~150 years after time point one and ~100 years after time point two (think around ~2165). The Pyrrh have taken over. What’s left of humanity has been driven into shelters. The military police and shelter leaders (usually voted on by the residents, but not always) are what’s left of human authority. Inner zones exist for agriculture, production of resources not provided by functioning technologies, safer travel between shelters, and as a buffer to defend the shelters. The military police maintain order and defense around the inner zones. At this point, open conflict is rare even around the inner zones. However, anyone in the outer zones is on their own, and almost definitely will encounter Pyrrh. For more details on shelters, vouchers, and zones, see the link above to the language of time point three. That link also includes a list of established shelters.

The chosen one mythos has had tremendous cultural influence (mostly because this author wants to play with this concept). Shelter leaders have greatly exploited the concept to the point that it has seeped into the culture itself. Here’s a paragraph on this from Into the Unknown:

“Why does he even bother with that ‘chosen one’ anyway? We all know this world is doomed! He must be desperate enough to hold onto that false hope, that idoltry. I can’t stand when people do that! He should be devoting that energy to his own cause!” Aiden’s movements were getting even more obnoxious, ranting now about one of his favorite topics: the falsity of the chosen one. The chosen one is based in myth and faith: so many religions, myths, and legends involve someone coming back in humanity’s time of need. Even the legend of King Arthur tells of him coming back to save Britain. People have turned that into a prophecy: the chosen one will come and save us! We have to prepare for the chosen one! Well, this was certainly a time of need for the world. Whichever ‘chosen one’ has yet to come back, and Aiden at least thinks they never will.”

Most of the younger generation enjoy a relative freedom in the shelters and inner zones since their parents are the ones who faced the Pyrrh. There is an innate desire for self-expression. This i greatly limited by the environment, and can manifest in ways that are not ideal. For example, someone might try to dye hair with powdered food from the food replicators. The clothing that has survived is often very faded and heavily repaired.

There is a lot of fear in time travel (and, yes, shelter leaders will exploit that fear to prevent people from leaving). For more details on time travel in this setting, see that link above.

[Random trivia of The Balance of Souls]

Short Stories

[Novels]

I do (somewhat regularly) submit to anthologies. One of these submissions is soon to be published, another is in publisher limbo, a third was accepted and then rejected because the editor accepted too many submissions (last one in, last one out, but that’s more a reflection on them). Eventually, I do hope to actually include at least one of these here. in the meantime:

It’s Always a Dark Topic

It’s Always a Dark Topic is the name I gave my portfolio at the end of high school creative writing. Yes, I noticed a theme when I picked the name. Also included from high school are Poison and Cursed, although these were actually published in my high school’s literary magazine.

[We Cry] [Misplaced]

[I.S.H.]

[The Death of Ingvar Batista] [Misplaced]

[The Prince’s Ascent] [Misplaced]

[Poison]

[Cursed]

[Nightmare]

It Began with a Dream

(Is in the process of getting a new tentative cover)

[Novels]

[link to excerpt]

[kindle] [paperback]

Genre: Horror

Pages: [Not yet recorded]

Word Count: 81,960

Publishing Date: Pending a final readthrough and betas, est. May 2021

 

Summary (tentative):

Goren would be perfectly satisfied living life off his father’s savings, content with no real aims or goals. But it seems that life has other plans for him when, one night, he dreams of committing a grotesque murder as a blue-grey monster. His fractured brain puts him in denial, until a friend tells him some horrible news: there’s been a murder. A horrifying, grotesque one that’s put the city on edge. When Goren immediately starts recognizing the details, he jumps into panic mode. What happened to that monster? And what about that dream? (TW: gun violence, f*ck appears 3 times written as f*ck, this is a horror book)

 

Sum it up in one sentence:

Goren has a dream where he commits a murder, only to discover the next day that the murder actually occurred.

 

About:

I have been challenged to write horror! In many ways, this feels like my first novel, but the timing isn’t going to work out that way. This work was my first NaNoWriMo project, originally drafted in November 2013. I you’re unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, [link]) is a challenge to write 50k words in the month of November. I lost in 2013, ending at 42k words. But I gained a draft to edit, a new genre to love, and a challenge for next year.

My friend Madison had challenged me to write horror, not long before NaNoWriMo began. She had seen certain darker elements in my writing, and thought I should try horror. So, since NaNo was approaching, I took her challenge. I outlined the idea around 11:50 the last night before NaNo began, diving in at (approximately) midnight. The second night, I was up around three am speed-writing the second chapter (almost 8k words in one sitting). When editing it later after NaNo ended, I could see by my spelling and grammar that I had written it at three am. But I still loved the rhythm of the words. The majority of the original draft was either written near closing time in my university’s library or in the (now repainted) Westmo dorm basement. Since originally drafting it, I have updated the first chapter, added a lot to phase three, counted how few people survive (2.5, the golem being difficult to count), and edited it several times. I’ve since rewritten and replotted parts two and three. More people survive now, which feels weird when you compare it to the original.

However, this project had been overtaken in progress by both [Victim] and [Into the Unknown], to the point that It will end up being my fourth published book (sixth if you count Y and Wing).

 

Goren’s song? It’s a bit of an odd choice. I kept going back and forth on this one, to the point that I actually considered not giving him a song. But I’ve made my decision. Some of the lyrics don’t quite fit, but it has the right sort of energy to it. The mysterious we in the lyrics fits him and Chi very well. His song is Skillet Collide. You can [find it on youtube here].

 

Original tentative cover, since I enjoyed designing it:

I did ultimately decide against this cover art. Although I enjoyed creating it, I am well aware of the fact that it looks amateur. I still think it has charm, so I’ve kept it on my website. I tend to get a mix of comments on my book covers, ranging from strong praise (“That’s genius!” “I love it!” “It makes me want to look closer”) to troll-worthy cynicism (“Oh, Pah-lease!” “Just get a professional to do it; obviously you can’t”). When someone wants to bash one of my books, the cover usually gets hit first. I don’t think my earlier prototype was necessarily bad, but I started thinking about ways to do it differently. I do fan art as a hobby, and a new style I was experimenting with really inspired me with a different idea that was too strong to ignore.

 

[link to excerpt]

[link to amazon page]

[link to return to novels]

Victim

[Novels]

[link to excerpt]

[kindle] [paperback]

Genre: Sci-fi Horror

Pages: 202

Word Count: 48.1k

Publishing Date: October 28, 2017

[Afterword (Victim)]

[Victim’s Original Third Chapter]

[Victim’s Stance on Guns]

[Looking Back and Looking Forward]

[Genre]

 

Summary:

Mica spends a lot of his days in his own head. He’s not much of a daydreamer, but is certainly the type to question reality. His girlfriend, Rina, suggests a change: a trip to the big city. At first, Mica refuses – he has the distinct feeling that something will go terribly wrong. But, eventually, he relents. When the man in the mind offers him a mysterious gift, Mica learns that they will face a series of external and internal dangers. The man in the mind cautions him: he doesn’t know if they’re strong enough. (TW: cutting, suicide, gun violence)

 

Sum it up in one sentence:

Two teenagers go on a (death-related) journey to the big city.

 

About:

It’s finally finished!  At approximately 48k words, this work was previously a project for [NaNoWriMo] (a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November). Obviously, I did not win, but I did end November 2015 with most of a draft. Since then, I have rewritten the ending, adjusted the setting, contemplated [genre] and edited it several times. Officially, this was my secondary project, but my progress on this one overtook my progress on IBwaD to the point that this one essentially became my main project until its completion.

This work is set in the Balance of Souls setting, midway through their timeline. It is a day-after-tomorrow type sci-fi, meaning that the technology level is only advanced roughly fifty years and every piece of technology has to be based in something real-world that we have now (even though it takes place in the Balance of Souls setting, since early in that setting’s timeline is meant to be reminiscent of our modern day). I had a difficult time placing this work in [genre]. Although there are certain horror aspects to it, I don’t think that it could stand as only a horror book. However, there’s a wonderful silver lining to my pen name change: amazon has updated their system. Victim is now classed on amazon as both a sci-fi (general) and a horror.

 

Mica’s song is Linkin Park’s Somewhere I Belong. “I will never know myself until I do this on my own.” Yep, it fits Mica very well. So does the energy of the song. You can find it on youtube [here].

 

[link to excerpt]

[link to amazon page]

[link to return to novels]