Sancta Futura, the Novel Series

I thought I would post something about the novel I have in hand, and those planned to follow. Theoretically, at least, the Sancta Futura series will comprise a minimum of nine installments, broken into sets of three (no, I don’t want to call them “trilogies,” however popular that designation may be). Each set will cover a separate portion of my protagonists’ contributions to the development of an experimental community on a remote planet (whose existence will be carefully concealed from the rest of the settled galaxy).

Michael York and Jennie Agutter in Logan's Run
Love is always challenging --
even more so in the future!
The first three books will be about beginnings, corresponding to the settlement of the planet and founding of the new community, and will follow my protagonist(s) through their decision to join the settlement group (first book, Cast Into the Deep Sea of Stars), the group’s first steps toward becoming a real community while still in transit to the new world (second book, At Sea Among the Stars), and the first days of the settlement (third book, Island in the Sea of Stars). These stories will be follow each other closely, without any lengthy narrative gaps. Thematically, the novels will follow a twin track, showing the growth in the relationship between my two protagonists (who get married in the first book) and the relationship amongst the settlers, who gradually become a united community.

The second three novels in the series will pick up a few years after the end of the third novel. The settlement is still pretty young, but no longer new – already their numbers have increased by a number of children who have been born. Their understanding of their purpose will be expanded, as they send ambassadors back to Earth and gain a clearer understanding of what is really going on in the rest of the galaxy. We can call this the adolescence of the community, when childish security begins to give way to the equivalent to the hormonal upsets of puberty and first steps toward taking on adult responsibility. Lead characters’ marriages may also start feeling some strain amidst the other changes.

Red Dwarf lead characters
It takes more than being stuck on the same ship
to make a team out of a bunch of strangers.
The third three will show the mature community finally beginning to fulfill its purpose, which is both to be a refuge for the outcast, and a model from which other worlds can learn. By this point, the settlement is now seeing its children taking on adult responsibilities, even as new settlers come, as refugees from other worlds. In these, we will see a number of apparently disparate threads that have run through the earlier books now tied together. What had been mysterious will now be illuminated. We will see the central characters in their full maturity, wise where they had been dubious and hesitant, and perhaps also tired when they had been full of enthusiasm and energy – but still prepared for new challenges that arise.

I’m writing all this out at least partly to give the series some form in my own thoughts, to give myself
something to shoot for. I’ve got a head full of stories about these characters, and I’m sure new stories will occur to me as I go along, but since time is finite, I may not get them all written. The first three books, however, are pretty clear in my head.

I’m two-thirds through the
first round of revision on the first book, Cast Into the Deep Sea of Stars. Since I decided very late in the game to end the first book at the point where my leads join the settlement group, that has required a re-evaluation of the narrative arc. So a few things got shifted a bit. Also in this revision, I’m working a lot on defining the characters more clearly and giving due emphasis to important subplots. All of this has requires about 40 new scenes to be written, and about half of the previously written scenes to be recast.

A lot of work, but well worth it. When this revision is finished, I’ll give it out to some beta readers to see if there are any plot or character problems I’ve overlooked. Then I’ll turn my attention to
the finer points of craft and work my way down toward niggling details. I’m really having fun with the revision, because I can see how much better the story is getting to be.

I’ll talk more about my revision process and how it is transforming the novel in my next post.

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