There is a link to Amazon for the title book in the line above this. Additional links are provided to original short stories involved in the development of the title book in the description of each story below.
Insecticide is the story of a bipolar planet. Bafwique is shattered into two planets by a meteorite. Civil wars, genocide, deception, exploration, and other struggles on and between the two planets lead to a search for a new home for the Clurn.
If you were born before 1975, there’s a good chance you remember the Cold War at some level.
I was born in 1950. I lived through almost the whole Cold War.
For those of you too young to remember the Cold War, it was contested mostly with threats and propaganda. There were some military actions, but other methods of demonstrating communist or democratic superiority were much more common. Track meets and swimming meets, ice-skating, hockey, and the like reached fever pitch at the Olympics.
Misinformation was commonly released. Children in Soviet countries were removed from families and placed in training facilities if they showed athletic prowess.
Better dead than red was more than a catchphrase in many parts of the United States.
The original short story is a simple account of an alien species invading and conquering another planet. Expanding the story to the length of a novel involved adding backstory to the original.
I’d first thought of marketing the book as a newly discovered history book released by the Intergalactic Alliance. The title of that version was The Book of Bafwique – An Unconventional History of a Planet and Its People. My beta readers’ comments were similar. It took too long to get to the story; there wasn’t enough action.
At that point, I decided to have one of the half-planets be the Soviets and the other the USA.
Narxon, even the name sounds ominous, is an unapologetic parody of the USSR. Leaders are incompetent, cruel, or both. Inhabitants are nothing more than commodities to use as desired. Narxonian drones are asexual brutes, with one notable exception.
Both Narxon and Bafwique use technology. Narxon tech is more—just more—in every way. The government of Narxon sends drones to infiltrate Bafwiquian society. They are charged with committing genocide of their relatives.
The basic backstory details the invasion of Bafwique and the struggle of the miraculous survivors of the invasion. Ultimately, the novel covers over 1000-years of Clurn history.
The book ends with a twist. There’s a challenge issued to the reader on page vi. I’m not aware of a single reader that successfully completed the challenge. Here’s your chance to be a leader!
Don’t skip the Epilog!
The Clurn develop some intriguing technology. Two of my favorites are
Selective Memory Eradication
Laboratory records recovered from The Fortress indicate that memory eradication was achieved by calculating the length of time phosphodiester bonds between consecutive ribose molecules in RNA had existed. All such bonds were formed within the last ten carnottis were broken. The efficacy of the process decreased dramatically on bonds formed for longer than ten carnotti. This procedure was able to selectively target “new” RNA in brains of Clurn and trigger their digestion by restriction enzymes in vivo. RNA production is an initial first step in Clurn memory formation. By removing the RNA basis for memories, those memories were eradicated. The downside was that RNA not involved in memory formation was lost during the digest as well. As a result, some early test subjects suffered the loss of more than memory—leading to the very tight regulations on the use of the process. (page 176)
Topographic Map Projection System
The transport vehicles arrived at the village coordinates five carnots before daylight. Eight Bafwiqueians leaped to the ground. P’lna pulled a portable projection system from her vehicle. After attaching an inflatable balloon to the unit, she filled the balloon with helium. The projection system slowly rose into the Bafwiqueian night, tethered to a winch on the front of the transport vehicle.
Once the balloon reached the designated height, P’lna radioed a command to the unit. Two additional tethers dropped to the ground. She attached one to a low wall and the other to the eve of a roof. The projection system now hung, motionless, directly above the village. A second radio command activated the unit. A life-size map of the village area was projected down. Each body and artifact was outlined in the image that provided both light and direction for the process. (page 216)
When you make up a world, there is a multitude of conditions and circumstances that must be addressed beyond the storyline.
What’s the gravity of the planet?
What kind of atmosphere is there?
How long is a day? A year?
What type(s) of government exist?
How do the inhabitants reproduce?
What are some of the customs, traditions, and ethical codes of the dominant species?
The bad news is that you HAVE TO make all the stuff up.
The good news is that you GET TO make all the stuff up.
Whether you have a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty outlook on that situation, the hard reality is that your planet must make scientific sense.
I include three appendices to lend credibility to Bafwique as a planet. Below is a sample from each. While not as enjoyable as writing the story itself, describing a new world was fun. Here's a sample of each appendix.
I mentioned in part one of this blog post that original idea behind INSECTICIDE was to market it as a history book. Toward that end, I “obtained” copies of twenty-eight source documents like this one.
At least one of them is real. It’s a telescopic image taken by one of my Great Oak High School students in one of her college classes. All the others have at least the ring of truth.
That’s it . . .
. . . except for an excerpt from a review of the book. I changed the font color of my favorite sentence to red. It’s the kind of comment authors live for.
I read this book thinking, maybe, I dunno, aliens? Hmm… This was my first tango with a Science Fiction Thriller. I usually have this problem with aliens or extraterrestrial beings and that is I usually cannot empathize with them. I usually label them away as alien and drop the book or movie and never give it a second thought. It’s a wonder to me that I love Doctor Who so much, though, I guess it’s because the Doctor seems pretty human and if anything, having two hearts makes him more relatable than a human.
Anyway. The reason I stuck with
Rifts [now INSECTICIDE] was because, well I am a fan of world building and this book has it. Boy! Does it have it . . .
I am so glad I picked this one up. I am so glad
Rifts opened my eyes to science fiction thrillers and mystery. Rifts [now INSECTICIDE] pulled me into an entire genre I was missing out on. I only hope that this well crafted novel doesn’t spoil me and put all the other stories in it’s genre to shame for me.
I highly recommend this book. I especially recommend this book if you are into things like Doctor Who.
The whole review is available at https://crdowning.com/insecticide.html
Maximizing a Storyline
In February 2018, I submitted an 8000-word short story for inclusion in an anthology titled, A World Unimagined. It was accepted for publication. The anthology will be released in June of 2018.
The editorial staff of https://lefthandpublishers.com/ are fine people. Not only did they accept my manuscript, the offered suggestions to consider for fine-tuning the story.
I chose to incorporate two of their ideas. One of those is a tie-in to the ending of INSECTICIDE. Learn how by reading “What Goes Around . . .” when the anthology is released.
Next book on the tour: The Observers – A Science Fiction Odyssey