Every part of “Philia” is tagged “Guidant.” There’s a reason for that. A number of years ago I conceived a story that centered on a Christian starship captain in a universe much like ours: while Christians exist, so do many other religions. The basic idea was to tell science fiction stories centering around a Christian character, as opposed to “Christian science fiction” or what most science fiction has become, which either ignores religion or ignores Christianity. I wrote up a full outline for the first story and did full workups on both the ship, every member of the crew, and a number of other pertinent characters.
“Philia” is part of the backstory of Captain Mary Bala. It was not meant to be the main story in the least, and in fact, I considered very little of it except as part of her past. Something got in me that I wanted to tell this story, though, and so we now have it. As we continue the blog, I imagine I’ll be telling more stories set within my Guidant universe, and I’ll tag them thusly. In fact, there’s already another one on here besides “Philia”…
When I first thought of this story, the focus was all on the pregnancy and none at all on how the pregnancy occurred. This was a travesty. Have I paid enough attention to Philia’s father? I’m not convinced I have, but it’s still better than I’d originally considered.
As one astute reader observed, I do owe quite a bit of my handling of the issue in part one to Peter Prellwitz’s Shards Book 2. He used a shower in much the same way, and I did steal that from him.
I made a conscious decision to never explicitly use the word “rape,” nor even to describe it. This is an example of “show, don’t tell.” I imagine that I was mostly successful in transmitting the idea, and I hope it was more potent because of what was not said.
Wait a second, why the time jump? Honestly, this story could easily fill a novel. I didn’t want to take that time; I wanted to show highlights from the time. I could easily come back and do more scenes in between parts. However, as it was, the story got to be longer than my original plan of five parts. For a blog, eight parts is already too long, in my opinion. More on the nature of serials later.
Brandon suggested to me to make each chapter of the story focus on a different stage of grieving. It’s a great idea, and I wish I’d had it before I’d written the rest. Alas, the idea will have to be saved for another tale, and since Brandon came up with the idea, he gets first dibs.
Brandon also suggested I should have Mary struggle more. In the first draft of this part, Mary actually went to see the prisoners with the express consent of killing Philia’s father. I thought that was too much, and pulled back from it. I agree with the criticism, though: I pulled back from that too much. Mary is too strong, it seems.
After I completed the first draft, I realized we needed to see more of the crew and get their reactions to the situation. We also needed to see some more problem solving. Part three was inserted in the second draft, and I think it’s pretty obvious. It doesn’t fit into the flow of the story nearly so well, in my mind.
I also wanted to get a little more of “why are we worried about the baby, anyway?” taken care of. I’m not sure if it succeeded there, either. Overall, we could probably lift part three out of the story and miss very little.
I am a Confessional Lutheran. Mary has the same faith (though the designation Lutheran no longer exists in her world), and I wanted to make it clear that she doesn’t assume every child goes to heaven. Children in the Guidant universe are born in original sin and are in desperate need of forgiveness, just like anyone else.
I also wanted to avoid sermons, but still be clear with the theology. It interrupts the story, but at least here in part four I’m ok with that.
I wanted to develop at least some guilt on the part of others, though I think I do way too much showing rather than telling with both Trent and James.
Like part three, part five was dropped in after the first draft, and just like part three, you could probably remove it without harming the story too much. I realized after the first draft that we never get to see any happiness associated with the baby, nor any mundane problems like figuring out where to put the baby to sleep. This part was written to alleviate that problem.
And another sermon. Well, I’m at the seminary. I guess it’s only natural. Doesn’t make it great for a story, though…
I wanted to show why space travel would harm children. I also didn’t want to simply do an infodump by showing Mary’s or Paul’s research into the problem. I’m not sure if I really did enough here.
I also did want to show Mary struggle at least a bit. I wanted to show that she put on a brave face for her crew, but with her pastor, she could express those doubts.
What? Action, in a science fiction story? I wanted to extend these scenes, but as I wrote them, it just didn’t solidify in any good way. I think I may need to practice writing spaceflight scenes. I’m not convinced any of this works well, except perhaps the emotional responses during the flight.
This is another example of my consciously decided to show vs. telling. Never does anyone say, “The baby’s dead.” Rather, we see in the reactions that medical care is now pointless. I think that last scene works well.
I struggled a lot with this part. How to give closure, but make it clear that healing would have to continue for a long time yet? I’m disappointed with how it turned out. Also, another sermon, though this one is pretty much necessary, so I’m more ok with it.
Brandon and I talked a bit about the nature of serials on the blog. I think posting daily for Philia was a mistake, and Brandon concurred. It’s just too much too fast. However, I finished the story (or at least a final form) before posting part one, and I wanted to get it out without making anyone wait.
We’ve talked, and in the future, if a serial is completed before posting part one, we’ll likely post two or three parts a week. Fast enough to show that there will be regular progress, but not so fast that the reader is overwhelmed (hopefully).
Thanks to those who read the thing. I expected that by the end we would lose a good number of those that started; it’s simply the nature of serials. While we did shed readers, it was far less than I anticipated. Many thanks!
And now I’m going to go write something shorter form!
In the meantime, feel free to leave some comments. I welcome them!