In the 25th century a mysterious group of humanist philosophers rose from among the ranks of those Underground Archivists. They came to be known by the collective name “Mythmakers.” They composed works of rare beauty and symbolic power from which emerged a new behavioral code, a new system of morality based not on arbitrary prescriptions of religious dogma but on the humanist tenets of respect for life, the unity of humankind, and personal responsibility. [from The Termite Queen]
I'm getting good results after publishing The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, Part One: Eagle Ascendant. I've already had six reviews, all of them 5 star. It seems my friend Neil Aplin was right in maintaining it would be a success. I had my doubts about publishing any of the book, because the entire piece is way longer than any book should ever be. Neil didn't think so -- he read it in manuscript and he wanted it to be even longer, and it was his enthusiastic support that convinced me to publish the beginning of it.
Part Two: Wounded Eagle is in the works; I'm revising like mad, trying to shorten it. Part One is a long book, but at least it covers the first 31.5 years of Capt. Nikalishin's life. Part Two only covers 2.5 years and it's even longer than Part One. There will be at least six more parts after that so you see my problem. The ultimate conclusion isn't even written yet.
You might be saying, how in the world could you let this happen? I've written a bit about my writing history before, but now I have new readers and Facebook friends who may not know how my writing came about, so I need to construct an apology, in the sense of a justification.
Sneak peak: cover for
Part Two (tentative)
I've always been inclined to write long. In college when the professor would assign a 20-page paper, the other students would be groaning -- how would they ever be able to make it that long? And I would be wondering how I could keep the paper under 40 pages.
I started to write fiction after I read Tolkien in 1969, and I had no real thought of publishing at that time. I simply found the act of writing to be tremendous fun. So I wrote my first endless story. It was somewhat Tolkienesque imaginary-world fantasy and it was my million-word learning process. It will never be finished and I will never publish it, but in case anyone is interested, my novel Children of the Music was written as a prequel to that long piece.
From 1983 through 1999 I took a hiatus from writing because of family responsibilities. Then in January of 2000 I bought my first computer, which made the act of writing infinitely easier. And I had a sudden surge of literary inspiration, beginning with "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (a novella! Amazing!) and then The Termite Queen and the rest of the termite stories (I've discussed them plenty elsewhere, mostly on my other blog The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head). I completed the sixth volume of Labors in July of 2003, so you can see that I wrote furiously for those 3.5 years. By that time I was a little tired of termites and even though I needed one more tale to complete the Quest, I wanted to do something else for a while. (I did manage to compose the sequel volume for the Ki'shto'ba tales in 2015 while I was on chemo.)
I should say that during this time I also never contemplated publishing -- I was simply enjoying myself too much.
And then I got the idea for The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars. I had invented the Bird People of the planet Krisí’i’aid, along with their language, for The Termite Queen, and I decided it would be interesting to write about the first contact with the Krisí’i’aida, which had occurred a couple of centuries earlier. How about writing a biography of the spaceship Captain who made the first contact? This would also give me a chance to develop my future history to an extent greater than I had been able to do in TQ. I never intended for the piece to be so long or so detailed, but it was one of those stories that just grew like a clump of mushrooms. And again, with no intent to publish, I paidabsolutely no attention to the length. (A really serious mistake -- again I say to beginning writers: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!) I started writing in November of 2003 and worked on that thing until January of 2011, when it suddenly hit me that I was 70 years old. If I ever wanted anyone else to read my books, I'd better suspend writing and focus on publishing. So I began to work up "Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder," self-publishing it in November of 2011, and that was followed by The Termite Queen and the Ki'shto'ba series -- and the rest is history, as they say.
So what was I going to do with all that manuscript for The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars? (By the way, that was not the original title, but I don't seem to have recorded the original title anywhere and unfortunately I can't remember what it was. Once I thought of MWFB, it seemed perfect and I never looked back.) I decided to publish excerpts from the book on my blog -- those excerpts are still here, on this very blog, but they've been radically altered in the final form of the book. My friend Neil Aplin was mesmerized by those excerpts and so I agreed to email him longer pieces of the book. He continued to be crazy about it and finally he convinced me to begin to working over the piece for publication.
At one point I considered getting a professional editor to shorten it. I'm sure a professional could do that -- just take shears and whack away. But then it wouldn't be my book and I think I would have an apoplexy trying to deal with that person no matter how tactful and truly interested they were. Nope, that doesn't work for me. I'm not concerned with becoming a bestseller, and it costs me nothing but time to self-publish, especially since I do my own covers. However, I do like for people to read what I write and enjoy and comment on it. I'll take my chances that the lengthiness may exhaust my readers' patience.
So I think the world is stuck with something no writer is supposed to do -- an interminable novel cut into many segments, each one too long in itself. That's why I call them Part One, Part Two, etc. It suggests a single story rather than a series. I made that mistake with The Termite Queen. It was too long for one volume, but it is really all one story, and by designating the halves v.1 and v.2 rather that Pt.1 and Pt.2, I made people think it was a series and too many people have stopped reading after v.1 and so don't get the full effect. The Ki'shto'ba books really constitute a serial rather than a series, but the volume designations seem to fit OK in their case.
So here are the upcoming volumes in the endless progression of MWFB:
Part Five: Phenix (this is the one that requires drastic cutting -- Fathers and Demons was extracted [and will be cut] from that section)
Part Six: Rare Birds (still experimental)
Part Seven + : ??? not written yet!
Do you think any reader can survive all that? Do you think I can live long enough to actually accomplish the required editing? I had some other books I wanted to write, too. Sounds hopeless! Anyway, I just wanted everyone to know how this all came about and warn them about what might be coming. I beg your indulgence! At least you've seemed to enjoy Part One. Who knows? Maybe you'll enjoy the other parts just as much!
Here are the texts of two great reviews on Amazon:
Science fiction epic!
An epic of true Taylor proportions! In the 28th century world of the future created as home to our hero Robbie Nikalishin we share all his trials and tribulations as he seeks to fulfil his ambition to fly to the stars. As with all Taylor's characters we are faced with our own shortcomings and weaknesses despite the distances of time and space that separate us from Robbie and his compañeros. A page-turner of a book - impossible to relinquish until the pages run out ... leaving us hungry for more.
What a ride!!! More, please!
This may be the best book I have read in the last ten years. Certainly it is the best science fiction book I have read since Mary Dorian Russell's "The Sparrow" and "Children of God" books. Please, PLEASE, Ms. Taylor, write the sequel soon!
This is a story of flawed heroes and perfect plot, of hard science and tender hearts. It is intelligently written, fantastic entertainment for the imagination, fascinating, and the characters are very three-dimensional. There is excitement, humor, adventure, and exploration not only of quantum physics but of the human spirit, all against a backdrop of an all too plausible future.
The only complaint anyone could possibly have with this gem of a story is that the sequel isn't here yet. Eagerly awaiting the next part of the saga.
This isn't the first time my books have been compared to Mary Doria Russell's. Here is a paragraph from a review of Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder, written way back in January, 2012:
Lorinda J. Taylor's imaginative and entertaining science-fiction novella, Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder, reminded this reader of Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow (1996). Both works are first-contact stories that turn on what happens when human beings, acting with best intentions, behave in ways that cause catastrophic damage. Doria Russell and Taylor both explore the nature of good and evil, cultural difference, and prejudice, and both choose to tell their stories, for the most part, in framed flashbacks.
Like all my other books, I began this one years ago; I found older versions of the MS that were created in 2005, and I continued writing no matter how long it became. After I began to self-publish my books, this one remained on the back burner because its length had gotten out of hand and it still wasn't finished. I put up some samples on this blog and one person who read them was ecstatic about the piece. I proceeded to send him the MS and he read the whole darn thing and urged me to publish it. So -- I'm making a beginning on that, even though the entire opus still isn't finished.
A lot of you have been reading lines from Part One on the Twitter hashtag author games lately, and others have seen excerpts on certain Facebook events like Tidbit Tuesday. I hope this has whetted your desire to read the entire book.
Also, some of you have read an extract from a later part of Man Who Found Birds, which I published as Fathers and Demons. The current offering gives you the earliest history of the Captain who appears in that book.
Here is the description that you'll find on Amazon and Smashwords (an expansion of the blurb on the back cover above):
Robbin Haysus Nikalishin was born on 31
October of the year 2729 and ultimately became the first starship Captain to
make contact with extraterrestrials.
This fictionalized biography, composed 50 years after Nikalishin’s
death, recounts the first 31 years of the life of a man who is hailed as one of
Earth’s greatest heroes. During this portion of his life he enjoyed many triumphs,
joys, and loves, but he was not immune to failure and tragedy. In 2761 a major space disaster completely
changes the course of his life. Whether
it will be for better or worse is left for the reader to decide.
All heroes are human beings and all human
beings are flawed, and the man the Earth came to know as “Capt. Robbie” was a
very human man.
So how did I come up with these Precepts? I’m really not quite sure. I only know that somewhere back when I was composing
The Termite Queen, or maybe even
earlier (when I was writing “Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder”), I started
writing them down. It’s almost like they
just emerged from the void. I knew I was
creating a humanistic civilization and I felt guidelines were needed. The only revision I’ve done recently involves
the final four or five, which I reordered and renumbered. This has caused some of the numbering to be
off in my previously published books, I’m afraid, and if I ever update those
books, I’ll fix that, but I figure nobody will pay much attention, since the
whole list of Precepts doesn’t appear in those publications. Everything should be correct in The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars.
The list begins by dealing with religions and gradually
progresses to what it means to be human.
Most of the ethical material is in the middle along with the nature and
value of science and art. The order is
pretty arbitrary, however.
All I'm doing in this post is presenting the list so you can get
acquainted with the Precepts. Remember, they are
not meant to be laws or rigid rules – they are meant to be guidelines, capable
of interpretation. They are intended to
make you think. In subsequent posts, I
intend to discuss the individual precepts, some in groups and some as
stand-alones. In the meantime, I welcome any comments or questions.
The Mythmaker Precepts
Precept No. 1: No
one can know deity; neither can it be proven that it does not exist.
Precept No. 2:
Humans have within themselves the ability to see beyond themselves and hence to
act rightly without supernatural stimulus.
Precept No. 3:
Since the purpose of deity for humans, or even whether it had a purpose for
humans, is unknowable, it is incumbent upon humans to look within themselves
and find the way to right action.
Precept No. 4:
Humans must take responsibility for their own behavior, not seeking to put
blame on imposed rules (of deity or human) or on fate, chance, or the
intervention or willfulness of deity.
Precept No. 5:
Humans will never succeed absolutely in achieving these goals; nevertheless
striving for right action is its own purpose.
Precept No. 6:
The closest humans can attain to deity is the symbolism of myth and art.
Precept No. 7: If
a human have nothing else, it has its own soul, which must remain inviolate.
Precept No. 8:
Science has a soul; technology is soulless.
Precept No. 9:
Conduct your wars with words, not weapons.
Precept No. 10:
The Right Way is universal; the Truth is parochial and divisive.
Precept No. 11:
Institutions that grip souls merely for the purpose of gripping souls will
always become destructive.
Precept No. 12:
To achieve understanding of the unlike is a divine goal.
Precept No. 13:
Love is as unknowable as deity, but every soul attests that it exists.
Precept No. 14:
Let men and women make the vows of love in the music of the bedchamber, not with
Precept No. 15:
Evolution has failed to structure the human organism for moderation;
nevertheless the ability to recognize and strive for this virtue distinguishes
human beings from other animals. [Corollary: The human
organism is not innately a peaceful animal, but its ability to recognize and
strive for peace sets it apart from other animals.] [Corollary: Moderation
Precept No. 16:
Animals neither punish, seek revenge, forgive, nor blaspheme, nor recognize a
need for any of these things.
Precept No. 17:
Study history and learn from it, but look to the future and do not let yourself
be trapped by nostalgia or revenge.
Precept No. 18:
There are creatures on this planet [amended later to in the
universe] who speak, form symbols, and share emotions; these may be called
Precept No. 19:
The humans of our planet are all the same species; therefore they should care
for one another and avoid the destruction of their own kind.
Precept No. 20:
Since humans share their genetic heritage with all the bio-organisms of this
planet [and of the universe – amendment added later], they should
always seek to preserve life.