East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Pulled towards the center


There are two ideas, or themes, that I have been juggling for a long while, now, and I’d like to use for something big to develop over the course of the 12 months, starting this summer.
I’ve been working on so much work-for-hire recently that I feel the need to flex my finger-muscles and do something completely mine.

Neither of the two themes is particularly new or original.
But the point is not how new your ideas are, it’s how new is the way you use them.

The first idea is about veterans.
Old pros tired of everything that are pulled one last time into an adventure.
I’ve seen an increasing number of stories going around – especially in movies and TV – in which the older character is a grizzled thirty-something.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, maybe it’s because I always appreciated the value of experiences, I would like to write a story about survivors. People that did their part, and now would very much like sit back and relax, but can’t.

Also, I’d like to look into old relationships being rekindled or, conversely, festering with time. I’m thinking of Dumas, of course, Twenty Years After, but also movies like The Wild Bunch.

The second idea comes from a definition I read somewhere, a long time ago, about the Trojan War – an author whose name I can’t remember noticed how the whole story of the Iliad is centripetal. You can sketch the plot as a point in the center, Troy, and a bunch of arrows pointing towards it, as all the action, all the story, all the characters arches collapse on that single point. Troy as a local singularity, a black narrative hole that will swallow everything.
This, also, is something I would like to write.
A story about people, relationships and events all collapsing into a single place, a single moment.

I considered the Siege of Vienna in 1529, but of course that’s been done perfectly with The Drawing of the Dark, by Tim Powers. And I considered the Siege of Constantinople in 1422, that’s more or less Guy Gavriel Kay’s bailiwick.
Stalingrad’s too modern, and way too brutal.

Another interesting bit is, in terms of worldbuilding and research, using a historical setting would require more or less as much time as creating a new one from scratch, and go into secondary world territory.
Because the scale of the thing would be both very small – a single point, where everything converges – and huge – a whole world collapsing on that single point. And the time frame would be equally big – long lives spent and remembered – and very focused – one last moment of truth.
It would need to be epic fantasy of some sorts, and that’s not exactly my game.
Which only makes it more interesting, because I feel like writing something mine, and I feel like writing something different from my usual.

So here I am, doodling and checking out historical resources.
The notes pile up, and the time to write is non-existent.
And yet I’m starting to see scenes, and hear snippets of dialog.
There’s characters out there, waiting.
All I need to do is find the spark of energy I need to write.
It would be nice to have a few ten-days weeks, furnished with 36-hours-long days.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Pulled towards the center

  1. Davide! I hope things are well in paradise!

    I was intrigued with stories of Deutsch Africa Corp veterans at the Battle of the Bulge or some other battle, memory fails. The DAK were the first to surrender, often after taking a single exchange of fire, preferring a POW camp to more fighting.

    On the other front, several movies address chance concentration. My fav horror movie is Legion. There have been several anthologies in cinema where at the climax they end up in the same drama. I am definitely interested in what you come up with!0


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