A century and a half after a weaponized message from space devastates Earth, leaving the few survivors with telepathic abilities, the recovering society faces the arrival of the species which sent the message.
With society still rebuilding, its delicate balance threatens to collapse with the tensions of facing an invasion, and the revelation of a secret at the heart of their way of life. Then there are the aliens.
This was based on a short story Mind/War Games the ideas of which continued to grow in my mind until I needed to turn it into a full novel.
I was slightly concerned that the shift from the preparation for the invasion in the first half of the book to the action stuff in the second half could feel odd, but it is a logical progression of the story, so hopefully it isn’t too offputting to readers. Not that the early chapters are that slow (I don’t think) and possibly don’t have enough world building early on.
One comment is that I didn’t fully explain ACTORs (Artificially Constructed Thoughtforms), which is something I may need to review. I didn’t explain everything about them straight off, but thought I’d done enough.
ACTORs are basically telepathic AIs implanted in telepaths at birth to regulate their telepathic abilities. They started off since I decided telepathic abilities developing as individuals grow wouldn’t be as interesting as if they had them at birth (or before) and had artificial minds implanted to help control the abilities. They grew then to become a teacher and eventually confidante. In writing terms they also allow me to explore the character’s thinking in conversation rather than just thinking to themselves, which makes it more interesting (I think).
While writing this blog post I started to wonder whether Carver’s accent might be a bit too strong, and unintelligible to some readers. So I’ve put a glossary on the website for his version of a Yorkshire dialect (while I worked in Yorkshire for six years its possible the dialect is a bit off, but than Carver is working from reassembled memories of what it should be, so you can hardly expect it to be exact).
I do have a kind of sequel in mind, some centuries after this one. It comes from the idea that ACTORs are kind of like a policeman in every telepath’s mind. How then do you do a murder mystery in such an environment? I have a few ways, and haven’t yet decided on which one to use.
UPDATE: Since writing this, the ideas for the sequel have become a lot clearer. A few things click into place and I’ve basically got the structure of the story in place. It looks like I may be able to use more than one of the ideas I had for how to get around the inner policeman. Not sure when it’ll get written yet, since it’s one of four novels I’ve got planned for after my current projects, but at the moment it’s pushing its way to the front of the thought queue.