What is "The Chaotic Destiny?"

13 July 2017

 
 The first printed draft of "A Chaotic Destiny" circa Jan 2013. Note terrified graph paper in the background.

The first printed draft of "A Chaotic Destiny" circa Jan 2013. Note terrified graph paper in the background.

Since I first floated the idea to friends and family, I have fielded this question. Mostly it is the obvious, literal question. However, from my inner circle of readers and editors, the question takes on a deeper meaning. In this post, I will address both forms of the question.

On its face, I describe “The Chaotic Destiny” (TCD) as a ‘gritty military science fiction series.’ Here are the specifications as of the writing of this post. It is planned to be a twelve-book series, informally consisting of three, four-book groupings. Book one, “A Chaotic Destiny,” was released to Kindle February 2015, followed by “The Last Immortal” in October 2015.  Book Three, “Limitless Dawn” is currently in production, hopefully to be ready by mid-2018.

I have described the world as “pseudo-apocalyptic” Earth, which mostly serves to manipulate the environment to my whims, while remaining believable to the audience. My writing style has been termed as unique; I’m still not sure whether this is a compliment or not. TCD is written with the intention of crossing Tom Clancy (attention to Operational/Tactical details) and J.R.R. Tolkien (scope and worldbuilding). See my previous blog post about facing challenges head-on.

 Artist rendering of the XM129 MPRS, one of my "little inventions." Building a world where this weapon could exist spawned this entire project!

Artist rendering of the XM129 MPRS, one of my "little inventions." Building a world where this weapon could exist spawned this entire project!

As for scope, I did take about five years to build the world and history before putting the first book together. While book one was only 67k words, book two was 105k, and book three is looking like it might be on the north side of 200k. I am hoping to stay around the 150k mark for the rest of them, making this a 1.5 to 2-million-word project. Like many projects of this scope, for every 1000 word of book, there are about 3000 words of backstory or concept development. These numbers should paint the rough amount of effort put into scope.

As for what TCD “is,” I think of this in a couple of ways. Primarily it is a sweeping epic. Cultural, political, technological, and anthropological considerations are wrapped up in a military/conflict shell. In this way, many of the story devices are like Star Trek: The Next Generation; not entirely by accident either. This series has also become a repository for some of my little inventions. I have been designing (military) machines for over 25 years, terrifying reams of graph paper with my mechanical pencils. This is yet another manifestation of the “Why not?” attitude. Readers with knowledge of modern military equipment will know the difference, but the layperson might not know what is real and made up. That is the environment I am trying to create. In this way, they become inanimate characters I can use to drive the story indirectly.

 Environmental imagery plays a huge part in setting the tone for scenes. This foggy morning view of Wade's Gap, VA, is the inspirational and literal setting for the opening scene of "The Last Immortal."

Environmental imagery plays a huge part in setting the tone for scenes. This foggy morning view of Wade's Gap, VA, is the inspirational and literal setting for the opening scene of "The Last Immortal."

The last aspect of TCD I want to address is the tone. The protagonists are beacons of light in a dark world. They are capable of some dark things and some of their moral decision points contribute to emotional climaxes, but their virtue tends to shine out against the bad guys (for the D&D crowd, they all have Good alignments). I want heroes who are…well heroes. What I dislike about modern science fiction is the insistence on using the entire grayscale palette to confine their actions. Furthermore, there is a bit of revisionist history going on with older titles; a pet peeve, but I digress. The bad guys, oh yeah, they’re bad. Uncompromising baddies like the Borg, Ori, and Necromongers served as primary inspiration for antagonists like the Jehud, but that is for another post.

So that is “The Chaotic Destiny” is a very small nutshell. The blurbs on the “A Chaotic Destiny” and “The Last Immortal” pages do a pretty good job of setting the stage. I will be examining further elements of this series as I go. It is an expansive universe with a story I am begging to tell.

Until next time

- Z.E. Duval