The Formist Series is Complete!

The Formist Series is Complete!

After four years, countless hours, and no shortage of rewriting, the third and final installment in the Formist Series – The Frost Line Fracture – is finally complete! You know what that means, don’t you? Now begins the long process of editing, revising, consulting, and reviewing. And if all goes well, the book should be released in late Fall/Early Winter.

One thing I noticed about writing this last book, it brought up a significant issue of mine that I’ve noticed only once before. Namely, I hate writing third installments! I am not sure if this is something all writer’s go through or if it’s just me. But dangit, it’s true in my case!

Let’s back up a little bit here. First of all, I should mention that my approach to trilogies was inspired by something George Lucas once said (you know, back before we got all weird!). As he explained in his famous interview with Leonard Maltin, a trilogy is basically a three act play:

“In the first act you introduce everybody. The second act you put them in the worst possible position can ever get into in their lives and it’s everything – you know – they’re in a black hole, never able to get out. And in the third one, they get out. Again, that’s drama, that’s the way it works.”

These are words that I have found myself coming back to over the years and they’ve informed a few writing projects of mine. Naturally, when writing the Formist Trilogy, I tried to do this very thing.

Whereas The Cronian Incident introduced the universe I had created, The Jovian Manifesto was all about action and things hitting the fan. Accordingly, The Frost Line Fracture was all about finding a path towards resolution for the main characters and the storyline.

But when it came time to do it, I experienced the same problem I had on only one other occassion – where I was also trying to write a third installment. The process felt  demanding and weighed down by a sense of obligation, in a way that none of the previous books did.

I guess that’s understandable. When writing a third book in a series, you have to remember all the threads you’ve established with the previous ones. This means being especially vigilante about timelines, inconsistencies, character arcs, and making sure everything wraps up nicely.

Since I’m still new to this whole being-a-writer thing, it shouldn’t surprise me that there’s a learning curve. Still, I was a bit perplexed by how the process felt so different.

In my experience, the first novel is a challenge since you’re setting everything up and introducing all the characters, settings, themes and elements. For this exact same reason, writing the first novel is fun! The second novel, where your now tasked with developing the story further and making everything take a dark turn, that’s just plain fun!

But the THIRD installment, where you’re tasked with bringing things to a close, that’s tough! Yet somehow, everything came together and I found myself writing happily and excitedly through the action chapters.

In fact, this third book contains action scenes that honestly put the previous books to shame! That’s kind of what the third act is all about, right? It’s showdown time! And when the ending finally came, I felt kind of sad and nostalgic.

Of course, whether or not I pulled it off is up to the readers. And I look forward to hearing what people think of it once it hits the shelves!

The Formist Series is Almost Complete!

The Formist Series is Almost Complete!

Hey folks! As always, I feel like I’m overdue in posting an update and letting you know what’s going on. I guess it’s just the nature of my work, but at the end of the day, I just seem to have very little energy left to write anything. But that’s no excuse. So as always, allow me to apologize for not posting this sooner!

As the headline says, my first series of novels – which includes The Cronian Incident and The Jovian Manifestois nearing completion. It’s been quite the long road and there’s been plenty of peaks and troughs. But now that the finish line is finally in sight, I’m feeling excited! So let’s do this right and start by talking about this final installment in the series…

Inspiration for the Title:

First, a little Astronomy 101. Within our Solar System, as with all star systems, there is a line of demarcation of sorts. Within this line, volatile elements like water, carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia will exist is gaseous or liquid form. Beyond it, these elements will freeze.

As such, scientists have taken to refer to this border as the “Frost Line” (aka.”Snow Line” or “Ice Line”). In this case, the Frost Line refers to the space beyond the Main Asteroid Belt. This border is significant because the Belt represents the boundary between the Extropian factions of the inner Solar System and the Retros of the outer Solar System.

Whereas Venus, Earth, the Moon, and Mars are all populated by people that are super-advanced, the moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus are populated by people looking for a simpler existence.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Initially, I was going to name it the Frost Line Accord, which (no spoilers) obviously refers to something important in the story. However, it was a friend of mine (hey Paco!) who recommended the word Fracture! He felt the word was appropriate for capturing the sense of disharmony and conflict that is taking place by this point in the series.

And so I decided to name it The Frost Line Fracture! You got to admit, it sounds better. And (no spoilers!) it also works better as far as the plot is concerned.

New Characters:

Several characters from the series of reprising their roles in the finale. These include Janis Amaru, Franklin Houte, Veronika Gallego, Adelaide Cheboi, Emile Chandrasekhar, Pinter Chandrasekhar, Xenia Elenko, Alastair Fionn, and Michael Adler. However, characters who have been introduced already (but only in passing) will now have their own important parts to play. They include:

Paulo Auriga:
Auriga is the leader of the Illuvian faction, a group dedicated to the terraforming of Venus. For years, he and Emile Chandrasekhar have been partners, but there relationship has become somewhat rocky since the events of The Cronian Incident took place.

However, with everything hitting the fan and Emile coming back from the brink, Auriga and Emile are once again plotting together. If there’s anything thing more dangerous than an Extropian with a ruthless mind and limitless resources, it’s two!

Terraforming Venus. Credit: Watsisname

Seamus Crannog:
Crannog is a terrorist or a freedom fighter (depending on whom you ask). He leads the Children of Jove (CoJ), the insurgent movement on Ganymede. Since its inception, the CoJ has fought for reform and the overthrow of the Jovian Alliance, which it views as a collaborationist government.

However, since the attack on Selket (for which they were implicated), the movement went underground and began fighting a guerilla war against the Alliance. He and his people are in a protracted conflict with the Jovian authorities and are fighting to stay alive.

However, his group is thrown an unexpected lifeline when a mysterious backer provides them with the necessary weapons and information to make a conduct a major strike. The only problem is, there’s a good chance he’s being played…

Rebecca Van Dinh:
For years, Van Dinh has controlled the Aquiline Front, an insurgency based on Callisto and the Jovian system’s oldest rebel front. Like the CoJ, they are currently in hot water because of the violence and the backlash of the past few years. Luckily, Van Dinh has been training her people for some time to be ready, and those skills have come in handy against government forces.

Unfortunately, Van Dinh and her cadres find themselves put in an impossible position. On the one side, Crannog appears to be taking marching orders from a third party who may not have the Jovians interests at heart. On the other, they swore to present a united front to the enemy. But as time goes on, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell who the real enemy is.

Syfy Channel

Xaver:
People may remeber this individual from the first book. As a resident of Hygeia, Xaver presides over a rather large human trafficking operation. In the old days, Jeremiah Ward was tasked with bringing him down, but failed when his addiction to Glow caused him to leave two witnesses high and dry (who were then murdered by Xaver’s men).

Xaver is known for a few features, like the long dark crop of hair on one side of his head, or the dynamic tattoos (aka. dynamos) that mark his face. But the real draw are the rhodopsin and phosphorous implants in his corneas, which give his eyes a natural bioluminescence. It also provides him with natural night vision, which comes in handy when you’re spelunking around in Hygeia’s rocky corridors.

In time, Xaver will find himself face-to-face with another one of Ward’s old enemies. Will they get along, or is there room enough for only one monster inside the Frost Line?

New Locations:

Ares:
People who have read the first two novels ought to recognize this place. It’s the massive installation that sits atop the Martian space elevator, where two counter-rotating sections provide artificial gravity and all major shipping to and from Mars takes place. It’s also where the home of the Formist faction is located, in a compound known as Sarak Lovelock.

Interesting fact, this place takes its name from James Lovelock, author of “The Greening of Mars” and a major proponent for terraforming the Red Planet.

Granted, Ares and Lovelock were both featured in the first story and served as important locations as far as plot incitement was concerned. However, in the final installment, they will be featured more prominently as the location where the story reaches its denoument. You could say there’s a “the circle is now complete” thing going on here! 😉

Christian Darkin/Science Photo Library

Gaia:
Similar to Ares, the Gaia Installation sits atop Earth’s space elevator, and is where people coming and going from Earth have a bit of a layover. As a massive transportation and commercial hub, it also has a few dens of eniquity tucked away within it. What better place could there be for evil men to meet up and share details of their grand machinations?

Hygeia:
Speaking of dense of eniquity, the asteroid Hygeia is also a location of some importance in the story. Located in the Main Asteroid Belt, Hygeia is the fourth-largest body between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, behind Ceres, Vesta and Pallas. Like all of the larger bodies in the Belt, Hygeia was hollowed to create a facilitiy and its rotation was sped up to create artificial gravity.

It is here that a certain someone (let’s call him Adler) is looking to discreetly book transport to Mars. Not surprising, since Hygeia is the place people go if they are looking to smuggle goods (and people) back and forth across the Frost Line. But to do this requires that they understand the inner workings of Hygeia and its operations, which are ruthlessly controlled by a series of clans.

These include the Devata (denoted by the mark देव), a clan run by the Bhakta family who control the docks and take a piece of everything coming and going through there. Then there’s the Chang’e clan, a gynocentric organization established by the matriarch (Qingshan) and denoted by a crescent moon who run all of Hygeia’s “special services” and a piece of the recreational substances market.

There’s also the Jokos, an old family clan that are identifiable by the Basque crosses on their necks who control the rest of that drug racket, as well as gambling and credit. Last, there are the Galeans, who represent themselves with an icon of an ancient sea-faring ship and who (predictably) control shipping and emerged in response to the Devatas taking control of the docks.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Phobos:
For those who don’t know, Phobos is the larger of Mars’ two moons. In truth, its two moons are believed to be asteroids that were kicked out of the Main Belt in the past and were captured by Mars’ gravity. As the larger of the two, Phobos will undoubtedly serve as a sort of gateway to Mars once it is colonized.

The way I see it, a base on Phobos would be built in the Stickney Crater, which is located at the tip of Phobos and measures about 9 km (5.6 mi) in diamter. This would allow for the colonists to simply build a dome over the crater’s rim and fill the inside with all the housing, buildings and utilities they needed.

Since the gravity on Phobos would be near-negligible, getting around inside would be interesting. The only way to avoid drifting around would be to have magnetized or adhesive boots, and people would have to reorient themselves as they moved from one place to another (since the moon is not round and travelling along the surface would be ill-advised).

Well, that’s what I’m working with, what’s new, and what’s familiar. I was hoping to have it finished this month, but history has taught me that deadlines need to be a little flexible. Regardless, it is coming together and it will be the culmination of this trilogy! I hope people like it when it comes out.