# News You Can Bruise for 2012July 24

(3) Constellation Games Author Commentary #35: "The Unilateral Extradition Expedition Solution":

When I look at my narrative arcs I see myself shovelling coal nonstop into a locomotive which builds and builds up speed, until it's travelling at relativistic speeds, like the locomotive in Einstein's thought experiments, going so fast that Lorentz contraction becomes apparent, and then the locomotive crashes into a wall and that's the end. If you've seen me give a technical talk you've seen the same thing; my talks generally end with "And that's the end of my talk." Not saying that's a good thing, but that's kind of where I am as a writer.

We start this chapter in the middle of the big action scene, the climax of the climax, the moment at which the locomotive is going as fast as it's ever gonna go. As with chapter 22, I came into this scenario treating it like a puzzle. I put Ariel in peril, wrote down all the details that might be relevant and tried to figure the best way out.

The difference between this and chapter 22 is that, as Curic says after the locomotive crashes, Krakowski's failure is overdetermined. He's operating on enemy turf and his plan is insane. He only gets as far as he does because Dana is enabling him. Dana having somehow gotten the idea that a huge dramatic rescue is a good way to spark romantic interest in the person you rescued.

So here the challenge was coming up with the most interesting way to solve the problem. The only restrictions were that Ariel had to take an active role in saving the day, and I didn't want Krakowski to die. As in chapter 22, Ariel tries a lot of stuff that doesn't work, and with the introduction of Dana his problem gets even worse, but here in the second part he's able to save the day in suitably dramatic fashion.

I think this sequence is pretty good for a first try, but in the future I'm going to try to plot these big action scenes a lot better. The "write everything down and figure something out" technique is a little sloppy. I should have had this planned much further in advance.

Before the misc commentary I want to announce that the microblog archive is complete! I wrote 403 tweets for Ariel and 173 for Tetsuo, not to mention the software that scheduled their posts in a realistic way, and it was all super time consuming. There are two tweets that haven't been posted yet, but I went ahead and added them to the archive. Ariel's final tweet I wrote just now, to give his feed some closure. I didn't like the idea of the top of his Twitter feed saying I don't think that deserves a special "freezer edition" for the rest of time. That looks the Twitter feed of someone who died suddenly.

As you find out this week, Ariel doesn't die, and this isn't the end of the stuff he and Tetsuo post in-universe, any more that "A Few Ip Shkoy Games About Asteroids" is the last thing Ariel ever posts to his blog. But it is the end of the slice you'll be able to see, because the novel's just about over.

• This chapter ends the framing device, the document Ariel constructed out of his blog posts and his recollections. You could stop reading after this chapter and it'd be a good ending. (After all, that's what people are supposed to do in-universe.) But you're not in-universe, so you get one more chapter, made up of miscellaneous documents that wrap up some longstanding mysteries.

Ariel doesn't bother to reveal these mysteries in his book because he figures they'll be old news by the time the fate-lock expires, but I thought you'd like to know.

• "Might be relevant" details that turned out not to be relevant include the earlier running gag w/the strawberry pie, and the fact that Alien Ring's atmosphere is full of nitrous oxide.
• I believe "wearing your appearance like a hat" is the only explicit nod to Starslip in the novel, but see last week's commentary for an appreciation of Kris's influence.
• I think the last scene with Ariel and Curic is some of my best writing. The've been working together for pretty much the whole book, each trying to manipulate the other in various ways, and they still don't understand each other.

This scene has my two favorite Curic lines: "It's quite simple to play poker against an opponent who never bluffs." and "It wouldn't be the first time the power of love was responsible for a whole lot of bullshit."

Note the similarity between Curic's "Why would I play poker?" and frat boy's unvoiced "Why would I play a Japanese RPG?" in chapter 5. And the difference between "opponent who never bluffs" and Tetsuo's "declining to play my cards upfaced" in 33.

• I discovered a HUGE continuity error in this chapter while writing an earlier commentary, and asked to have it fixed it at the last moment. Here's the problematic paragraph, see if you can spot the error:
I ripped open the velcro pockets on the chest of my spacesuit and pulled the two strings simultaneously. Like I always did at the end of a day's work in Utility Ring.

That's right, it's already been established that Velcro doesn't exist in this universe. No, just kidding: chapter 30 mentions Velcro. The real problem is that Ariel's hands have been bound behind his back with reentry foam, so he can't pull those strings. Fortunately, I'd already established the tongue-based interface to the spacesuit HUD, so it was easy to fix.

• There's clearly some backstory between Dana and Krakowski, some story I could write about the gaslighting that went on between chapter 30 and now. But I'm not really interested in that story, so it kinda got short shrift. And by the time I started "Dana no Chousen" I'd moved on to other ideas.
• Krakowski took unknowing posession of Dana right after Ariel moved to Ring City. After going to Jenny's house to take anything Ariel might have left there, he went to Bai's house to do the same, and ended up with Dana.

But, in a comment to chapter 19's commentary I mentioned the possibility that there are two copies of Dana, one of which has been in the BEA's posession since chapter 19. If that's true, then that Dana is the one responsible for the events of the past two chapters (as well as "Dana no Chousen"), and I don't know what happened to the copy of Dana who was socialized with Bai.

I don't like this idea because it's effectively passing off Dana's identical twin as Dana, which kills a lot of the drama. But it's something I've got in my back pocket in the unlikely event I need it.

• How does the fate-lock work? It's got something to do with generating a quantum encryption key from a piece of radioactive material, and a whole lot to do with... Creative License.
• I've got plenty to say about Ariel's rearrangement of Human Ring, but I'm saving it for the finale.

The denouement approacheth! Tune in next week for THE SERIES FINALE, when Ariel will say, "You named a girl after me?"

Image credits: Unknown, Wikimedia Commons user Sissyneck, Luigi Rosa.

Month of Crowdfunding #24: Space Shuttle: Back to Rockethub today to back ROCKETS On RocketHub - Space Shuttle Movie! As you might have guessed, this project is a film about the end of the Space Shuttle program. Like many space-related crowdfunding projects, this one doubles as a Month of Kickstarter Platinum entry: high-roller contributions get you perks like a visit to a private space launch. And like many space-related crowdfunding projects, I backed it.

[Main]

 Unless otherwise noted, all content licensed by Leonard Richardsonunder a Creative Commons License.