“Revision Complete” means that I won’t be adding characters, changing scenes, or altering storyline in any major way. “Edit Complete” (i.e. fine-tooth comb, zero typo tolerance) will be a couple months from now. I’d like to have something finished and ready for the world by Oct. 1, 2017. We’ll see what I can do.
I’m sending out a finite (fixed but undisclosed) number of copies, even before I shop this out to publishers. It’s an intermediate draft (obviously) and So, to people who’ve read my writing, if you’re interested, please let me know.
Here’s the summary / blurb / trailer for Farisa’s Courage, intended as the first in a series (“The Antipodes”).
The planet is hot. Civilization thrives close to the poles, but the tropics are uninhabitable. Sea temperatures exceed 50°C (122°F) and violent storms make entering (much less crossing) the tropics impossible. Deserts broil, and the jungles are filled with strange creatures such as skrums, squibbani, ghouls, and dragons. The two hemispheres have been out of contact for thousands of years. There are rumors of a high-altitude path between the two worlds, the Mountain Road. Unfortunately, that path is as dangerous as it is uncertain. Some rumors hold that it doesn’t exist. Others say that it’s protected by a mysterious, ancient magic that sends the unaware to their deaths. There are darker theories involving espionage, ethnic persecution, and the deeply corrupt political and economic environment of the time. Even if the Mountain Road is real, no one knows whether there’s something more dangerous on the other side. The known path passes through cursed cities, dangerous caves, and deserts reaching 80°C (176°F) where the only sustenance is a poisonous cactus. It’s largely believed that what is in the southern hemisphere is even more terrible.
State of the World
Humans have won. Dragons, orcs, and elves still exist, but the human world stands at a population of at least a billion. Technological marvels like steamships and machine guns dominate the world. Trains achieve a blistering pace of twenty to thirty miles per hour. Plank turnpikes supporting carriages connect the cities. However, all is not well. The industrial economy is in decline. Age-old ethnic hatreds are broiling. Cryptic graffiti on city walls suggests danger. Economic inequality and climate change are roiling continents. The lynchpin of the modern world is an organization, originally a detective agency specializing in witch hunts, strike breaking, and bounty hunting known as Alcazar Detectives, now known as the Global Company.
The Global Company
The Global Company in the business of… everything, from alcohol to fossil fuels to railroads to murder. It topples nations, it funds pogroms, and it chooses losers and winners everywhere it can, in order to win at all costs. The Global Company controls seventy percent of the known (northern hemisphere) world economy, and it’s running out of world to conquer. One man, Hampus Bell, in that firm owns more than 45 percent of it, or a third of the world’s wealth. Even as the chief executive, he isn’t safe from internal intrigue, bureaucratic incompetence, and the mysterious syr Konklava that lives within his firm. The Global Company has been studying magic, to limited success, for decades. Yet something is changing. Magic is starting to work, there. No one knows why. Meanwhile, the Company’s mercurial chief executive seems to be increasingly unstable and dangerous. A corporate presentation ends in a grisly murder. The price of Global Company stock (the only stock that matters) fluctuates wildly. Mysterious suicides by high-ranking executives mount.
The Blue Marquessa
Magic is very real. Few deny that it exists, but its practice is discouraged. People with magical talents, or “mages”, suffer from a terrible disease known as “The Sickness” or “The Blue Marquessa”. It causes fatigue, infertility, amnesia, insanity, and death. Every spell has a cost, and numerous dangers come with the practice. According to the Global Company, the vast majority of mages either quit or die within six months. Most dangerous are those who continue, but gradually go insane. This is a world where everything has consequences, and knowledge and virtue (sophya wy fariza, an ancient inscription) are mandatory for a mage’s survival.
Not all, but the most powerful mages can enter minds and control others. If two mages enter one mind, disaster can ensue. Entering the mind of another mage is dangerous. Entering that of an undead means certain death. And being in the mind of a person when that person dies can have unspeakable consequences that continue beyond death.
Farisa is a smart, good-looking 20-year-old girl “from everywhere and nowhere”, a brown-skinned girl in a snow-white land, a bookish erudite in a world of conflict and anger, an orphan in a mostly friendless and cold world, and a known person in a society where invisibility is the greatest asset. Protected by an ancient, despised ethnicity and a burgeoning resistance movement, she’s an orphan who knows little of her past. Her mother was killed by the Global Company. Her father is believed to be on the Mountain Road. Her three living sisters, like her, live in hiding and rely on espionage and magical assistance to survive.
Farisa’s also one of the most powerful mages in the known world. After a freak accident and, one year later, being accused of a murder that she could not possibly have committed, she has become a symbol in the Global Company’s historic business of witch and bounty hunting. Hampus Bell lacks an interest in her, but can’t prevent his subordinates from chasing the golden trophy among all witches. Presumed missing or dead for a long time, and able to reinvent herself under a different identity, she was once able to attend college and be “a normal girl”. Yet, very recently, all of that went horribly wrong in a way that she must understand, in order to survive… but cannot remember.
26 April ’94
It’s two in the morning. Barefoot and wearing ill-fitted clothing, Farisa is running through woods, then rural by-roads, and then the drunkard- and john-filled, declining industrial city of Exmore. She’s been running for at least ten miles, maybe more. Her memory is rapidly deteriorating, presumably due to an attack of the Blue Marquessa. If she finds a safe spot, she’ll get better. But where? She knows that she needs to reach “House 139”, where her questions might be answered and her journey can begin. As she passes through the dilapidated outskirts of the strange city, she comes to a frightening conclusion based on the offensive, cryptic graffiti. The people of the town already know that she’s there– before she arrived. Mages? Spies? Something dark in her past that drew her there? It isn’t clear. To add to her disadvantage, Farisa has no memory of the four years leading up this point, 2:00 am on April 26. If she wants to survive, she’ll have to recover these memories– and figure out why she lost them.
The two most powerful people in the world– a talented mage with a big heart and a terrible illness, versus a trillionaire who dislikes profanity, harbors a perverted secret, and loves the Global Company more than anything in the world– are drawn into a conflict that neither of them really wants to fight. Hampus must find Farisa in order to prevent unrest in his own company. Farisa must avoid Hampus to survive. Possible fates range into those worse than death, as the Global Company’s engineered pogroms increase and its prison camps proliferate. The stakes get higher and higher with every mile.
Farisa meets Claes Bergryn, a gun-toting steam-era knight in a leather jacket. She meets Mazie, a beautiful resistance fighter with a million secrets. She meets Vikus and Wegen, the key to deciphering a dangerous city’s haunting graffiti. She meets Andor Strong, a college professor considered by the Global Company to be one of its most dangerous adversaries. She meets spies (whom I won’t name, spoiler-duh). She meets orcs and dragons and machine gunners and, perhaps the biggest danger of all, other mages. She finds love and loses it. Her skills develop. She learns, over time, not only who she is but who she was… because her survival depends, though she may not know it, on her ability to remember what happened on April 25– the night before.
There’s also a mysterious trash novel called Jakhob’s Gun, rumored to contain a coded message that might save the world. Unfortunately, no one– not even the brilliant Farisa– can decipher it…