Tuesday, August 21, 2012
When I was a child there were these things people read called newspapers. And I saw headlines that said the Vietnam war was escalating. Escalation can be a terrifying prospect in the context of a conflict between nuclear-armed antagonists. This is a Bad Thing.
But escalation is exactly what you want when you have a novel or a trilogy to write.
I first saw this in a long-running series of Science Fiction novels from Germany -- Perry Rhodan. You also see escalation when reading the Lensmen series. This brings us to Raven's Children wherein Sabrina Chase uses escalation to good effect.
Raven's Children (5 stars) is a rollicking yarn that takes up where The Long Way Home left off.
The protagonist, Moire Cameron is now a Captain in her own right with a loyal crew and the same pack of evil corporate types is out to get her.
The Long Way Home introduced a mystery of where and how Moire's son came to be. This mystery provides the axis about which this novel and it's title turns.
In Raven's Children Moire manages to make some more friends and some questionable allies as well.
When I reviewed The Long Way Home I noted how she provides answers to prior story questions and uses the answers to raise more questions. She manages to satisfactorily resolve story questions along the way.
In contrast to The Long Way Home, Raven's Children shows Moire doing more than just running from Toren (the evil corporation), but she is hitting back. This is good, because we've already seen a lot of Moira fleeing the bad guys. In fact, the stuff Toren is throwing at Moire is now serving to make her stronger.
It is helpful to see that story questions that have not yet been raised are being foreshadowed. I can see the outlines of a very satisfactory solution in some of the little details that have been left for the reader to notice if she has eyes to see. As a writer I think I like anticipating how the conflicts will be resolved as much as the story itself.
Let's look at a larger context than fiction writing momentarily. You may someday be given an impossible job to do. If you are smart, creative, brave and/or persistent you can fine a way or make one to do that impossible job. After that it gets interesting.
There's a limited amount of competence in this world.
The boss who gave you the impossible job last time will think of you when the next, harder, more impossible job comes up. And if you manage to do that impossible job, you'll get another impossible job. And after that another.
It is easy to get discouraged by this pattern, but that's the wrong way to look at it. Each impossible job is a reward for being a problem solver. And each time you do the impossible you become more capable.
This is the truth that a lot of fiction depicts. Or the fiction that I like to read depicts.