Author Notes: The Visions of Cireb

I am surprised no one felt certain they had read The Visions of Cireb before. It was directly inspired by, and modeled on, Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book by M. R. James. Late last year while trying to do the reading part of a Bradbury Challenge a volume of James’s complete ghost stories provided the short story one evening. My only note on it was, "how could I do this as science fiction?"

Eventually I typed out the first few paragraphs sometime around New Year’s and promptly forgot about them. In my new drive to take writing seriously after Frolicon, and specifically the Ink Track, I put it in my word in progress folder. Deciding I wanted to try for a short story a week for a year (sadly, I am closer to one a fortnight), which is the other side of the Bradbury Challenge, I took it out.

And promptly realized I had even less of a clue of how to structure a short story than I did a novel. I am familiar with the Lester Dent formula but that didn’t seem to fit a treasure hunter on an alien planet meets the devils of a lost race too well. In the end I wrote a rough outline of the inspiration in eight scene descriptions and set out to write my own.

This borrowed outline gave me the space to work. For some reason I decided it fit into the relatively far future of what my notes call the Article of Faith universe. The core idea of that universe are relatively near future and based on the question: “What if the early settlement of the solar system is by religious dissenters similar to many of the British colonies in North America?”

That idea colors the story primarily in Jake’s superior attitude towards religion. I will admit his attitude surprises me, but it seemed natural as I wrote. About two thirds of the way through, however, I realized his not just rationalist rejection of faith, but disdain for it required a stronger reaction to the revelations of the volume than his English gentleman scholar counterpart. The end was written before he even saw the ruined Ek city much less knew the book existed.

This resulted in a modification to a bit already written where he views the book. The description of its form was already in place. I added Jake’s intent to pull an L. Ron Hubbard at this time.

In terms of adding to my notes on the universe this is set far enough in the future to not affect a lot. Reading the first paragraph revising it to reflect hundreds of years is probably in order. The big innovations are The Verge and the Real. The Verge was just a name that came to mind to signify a “Dark Age”. At this point I think it will be where Earth bound nations will be unable to wield effective control over their colonies. The resulting events become The Divergence or The Verge. My model is less the US revolution and more the collapse of European colonial empires from 1918 through the mid-70s.

The Real was just my desire for a unique currency without the normal credits of science fiction. I had already used names from the Portuguese colonial period for some locations. I decided the Portuguese were the first Earth nation to restore contact after The Verge and found an old currency to use. I also conceived of it as being a hard gold currency and used that to transfer the value of the original story as an Easter Egg.

Why Portuguese? I do not have a real reason so I am just going to blame Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia, especially Ms. Hoyt.

I hope this peak behind my curtain was entertaining and, if I am lucky, informative. The story has moved from free to Amazon and is in KU. The next story in the challenge is slated for Sunday and is a modern day tale called In the Darkness Bind Them.

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