For More Than Earthly Ends

I’ve been writing a novel. Surprise! Surprise? Fine, probably not a surprise.

It’s the one I started during NaNoWriMo just gone; a complicated telling of three threads that are tied together in a knot, following the lives of three separate characters as they face an impending extinction event. It’s not the most ambitious thing I’ve ever planned nor started, but out of the Novembers where I’ve hit my fifty-thousand words, it’s definitely the most complicated.

The working title is For More Than Earthly Ends. I don’t know if that’s the eventual title, but it captures the tone of what I’m writing.

The premise is that the condition of the world has withered to the point where those living are part of the penultimate generation of humanity, and those few born next would be the last. There’s a lot of reasons why – rising infertility, rapid environmental changes, genetic disease. Their earth is sick and while it’s not going to die, the humanity of this future earth will. Fun times! The story follows the three characters living their lives in different places around the world, an astronaut, a scientist and a detective. The crux of it is about how these individuals approach the apparent inevitability of human extinction, and what they do to try to escape it. They’re flawed people. They make mistakes and do horrible things, and it’s one of the things I love about the story so far.

There’s a lot of different elements used, though the main (and respective) ones are space travel, artificial intelligence and cloning. I have another twenty-to-thirty thousand words left before I’ve finished the first draft, then have to do three bouts of structural editing before I consider the draft complete. There’s a lot to do after that point, but this is what I’ve been working on since the start of November – originally as part of NaNoWriMo, but that didn’t get me to the end of the story.

I consider FMTEE to be the entry point for my main science fiction setting, and the same one which two of my other completed drafts belong to. I’ve attached a bit of importance to it as a result, but I’m also excited about the prospect of having it done. There’ll be lots of work required in the subsequent drafts, especially with regard to parts set in places I don’t know as well as my hometown of Sydney. I love the feel of the other locations, but I want to make sure they feel authentic – I’ve only been to Shanghai once, and a visit to Seattle is not going to happen anytime soon, yet they’re the locations that felt right. I’ll need to determine the specifics of the infection spreading amongst humans that isn’t leaving them mindless, but marked and altered elseways.

As the story opens, it goes through each of the three characters and their lives – the astronaut up in space, having a video call with her sister – the detective in a sweaty cafe called in to investigate a strange body in a factory – the scientist moving down to a refridgerated lab to commence work on a monument to our existence. Each begins with good intentions, but again, they’re only human.

I seriously can’t wait to share it with people, even in small doses. That’ll have to wait until this draft is complete, and then maybe I’ll spread a bit of it around.

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