Q&A with Aldous Mercer: The Prince and The Program discussion

The Prince and the Program (The Mordred Saga, #1)
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Aldous Mercer (technomance) | 7 comments Mod
You can ask questions about plot/theme/characters etc. by creating a discussion topic here. Mostly, I'll answer. Mostly.

Charming (charming_euphemism) You are an evil person, leaving me in suspense at the end of the book. My main question is when is the next one coming out, and how many are there? I try not to read series until they are done, because I suffer. :-)

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Aldous Mercer (technomance) | 7 comments Mod
There's three books in the main Mordred series. Except that there are seven :)

I'm writing Book 2 now...anybody's guess as to when it actually comes out, because I'm not finished writing yet. The extensive, extensive outline tells me I'm 42% of the way through in terms of storyline, 56% of the way through in terms of wordcount (projected). I started writing in February.

Would you like a teaser? *grin*
(view spoiler)

And the first line of the book:

(view spoiler)

Andi (AndiReads) | 1 comments That is one hell of a first sentence. I can't imagine anyone not wanting to know where it goes from there. *can't wait*

Okay, I have a question. Do you think of yourself as a very visual writer? That is, can you "see" your fictional landscapes in your mind's eye. Granted, Toronto might not be that difficult, but what about the Sunless Planes? Where do you get the imagery for that amazing creation? Or is your imagination just really fertile? Actually one of those scenes in the SP came to mind when I was looking at some of the Mars panoramas online. That seems appropriate somehow!

M.J. Willow | 1 comments I've been letting this book sink in for a while, and I think the only question I'm left with (aside from 'omg what will happen next?') is if Mordred ended up inside Alan, and Alan inside a cyborg, how did Mordred get to Ian's body? Did Alan bring him to Ian's body in the hospital?

I also got confused on whether Mordred was in his own body or not after waking up back in the real world; at first I thought it was his own, but as far as anyone knew it was still bleeding out from a bullet hole somewhere, and I don't think the body was identified as Ian's when Mordred woke up. So later when Mordred stepped out of Ian's body I went 'wait, who's Ian? Wasn't this Mordred's own body?' Not sure if I missed some clues, there...

And this is not a question, but the scenes in the desert kept feeling familiar, and it wasn't until I was done that I knew why; it reminded me of American Gods and Roger Zelazny's Amber series, which I both loved. Maybe that prepared me for the chopped, otherworldly scenes that were ahead, because I seem to have had fewer problems with that than some other readers. :)

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Aldous Mercer (technomance) | 7 comments Mod
@Andi: All my worlds grow out of first-principles. The Sunless Planes grew out of the Easter Eggs - as you know, if you lay out all the times in sequence as they appear in the book, convert them to binary, then to ASCII, and you get a poem by Alan (part of his "Messages from the Unseen World" postcards to his student, Robin Gandy) which was later inscribed on his headstone:

Hyperbolids of Wondorous Light,
Rolling for aye through Space and Time
Harbour there waves which somehow might
Play out God's holy pantomime.

Then I had to go backwards, and determine what special circumstances and natural phenomenon could result in such a timesystem.

The geography and physicality of the Sunless Planes grew out of this, actually. I'll be talking about this in more detail in Book 2, but essentially in a world without a visual Sun, the primary influence you feel would be the movement of the gravitic subsurface point of the moon. Add to that movement in all 3 dimensions, and Euler rotations to have a constant frame of reference to the main subsurface point, and you get a very pretty spiral set of numerical increments. Except some properties of spacetime have to be modified (I have to grow a couple of extra dimensions). A "minute" in SPT is a time-unit of varying length depending on where you are with relation to the subsurface anomaly. Know how our Lat/Long values are spherical triangle values? Similar, except in quaternions.

So how the hell does a space which makes Quaternions intuitive behave? I got my universe's explanation of Dark Matter as well, btw. In a "world behind a world", one does not feel the EM effects of the matter in our world - only Gravity. But even if you were relying only on quantum tunneling, you're going to get matter accruing. Regular matter - not WIMPs or MACHOs. And mostly the lighter elements. That, my dear, leaves me with a gaseous planet "beside" the Earth, based on the gravitic dance of the Earth-Sun-Moon system - the Sunless counterpart of the Earth we know.

So once we have time, and space, and the elements we can work with, and a planet to base things on, the rest becomes a matter of closing my eyes and thinking "if I was [so and so], how would I colonize this place"?

It's part creativity, of course, but I'm really helped by the fundamentals - building worlds from the physics up. :)

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Aldous Mercer (technomance) | 7 comments Mod

This part was very dense. So, a breakdown of what happens:

1. Mordred is shot. This is *not* fatal for one of the Deathless. But his soul is being sucked into the Desert because the absorbed the Demon's -- Michael's -- death. Mordred is a bit overconfident - he kissed Michael, gave him his rites, took his "place", and he thinks he is strong enough to hold death at bay. But Michael's death has been waiting for him since long before Mordred was born - Alan's will is enough to anchor Mordred's soul to this side, until the Ghost-Demon shows up (through Gabe).

2. While Mordred and Alan are running around in the desert, Gabe, with the Ghost-Demon now firmly in control of him (possession, full) turns Gen-Mai off, and drags Mordred's body to the Russian consulate.

3. The Ghost-Demon is in the midst of turning Mordred into a god (more on this, and why, and how, in Book 2) by "grafting" soul-eyes into Mordred's body. Without Mordred's soul and mind in there, the Symbiot-virus gets confused, and starts "growing" eyes (like, literally) where the soul-eyes are being grafted. This is an allusion to the biblical Cherubim, btw. The Ghost-Demon plans to possess Mordred's body, thereby becoming physical and immortal and all-powerful.

4. Then we get Alan possessing Mordred's soul, then both souls riding a robot/cyborg until Alan looks in a mirror, "bringing him to himself". Mordred is snapped back to his *own* body--if you notice the scene right at the beginning of the Return to Toronto segment, Mordred finds himself on a table, eyes growing everywhere, Ghost-Demon gloating. Mordred has learned some new things while in the Desert, mainly Alan's heartfelt desire to not be there, to run. So he does.

5. The only person Mordred's talked to in any significant capacity *other* than EK's people (as they're currently zombies and being tortured) is Ian. Mordred's Symbiot also felt a strong pull there, which he remembers. And memory is everything at this point - Mordred snaps into the closest unoccupied body his memory provides to him. Really, the only other options in the city (people Mordred's soul remembers) are Tom, Natalia, Emma, Gabe, or Mrs. Ramasundarm. Geographically, Ian is *much* closer to Mordred's location than anybody except Gabe, and Gabe is being possessed. So Ian it is. Gen-Mai's body, actually, would have been a much, much stronger pull for Mordred than any other. Which would have led to some very interesting developments that I could not allow. Luckily, Gen-Mai was turned off by the Ghost-Demon earlier. *grin*.

6. Again, Mordred is over-confident. He believes he cannot be possessed by anyone other than Alan - he's right, under certain circumstances. We're going to learn this in Book 2, but Mordred's body has *not* been fully possessed, merely inhabited (like a ghost would fuck around with a regular lamp, poltergeist-style). It's his semi-sentient virus that the Ghost-Demon manages to get a hold of. But Mordred and the virus have a symbiotic relationship-at this point the two are almost the same soul- so it really becomes a "part" of Mordred that is possessed.

Wow. A long post. Hope this helps.

And thank you, all, for taking the time to read and to ask questions.


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Q&A with Aldous Mercer: The Prince and The Program

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