Friday, August 06, 2010

Readers Rule!

As a writer, I have done stuff in shared universes. Sometimes I run into readers who know way more about those universes than I do; in fact, they know way more about the book I wrote than I do. I write stuff and then forget it. Readers sometimes remember the smallest details forever.

Today, I got an email from a friend who is a writer/reader, who knows more about the timeline in my Matador series than I do. (I won't mention his name, he can post a note in the comments section if he wants to claim proper credit.)

Um. Anyway, he laid out a timeline that starts with the first colony off Earth, then hits the high spots for the next four hundred and some years, births, deaths, galactic eras, and ending with the "death" of Khadaji at the end of The Man Who Never Missed.

I had a vague idea of the timeline and events, but this impressed the hell out of me. That he could figure it out from what I said. And that he wrote it down ...


Dan Moran said...

It was me. I dug my copy of "Musashi Flex" out of boxes to check one thing, and the others were all in the box with it, so I started browsing and taking notes.

There are some dates that don't line up (I'm in Matadora now and Rajeem Carlos's given birthdate doesn't fit into the chronology any way I can figure) but otherwise it's all hanging together quite well. Given the timeframe over which you wrote all those books that's impressive.

I'll post it here when I'm done with it.

Anonymous said...

I've sold books and given some away but I'll never give up my Matador series. Okay, maybe when I die my god son will inherit them.

--Rob Smith

Steve Perry said...

When I signed on to do a Star Wars novel, I asked if there was a map of the galaxy, systems and planets and all. They laughed at me. Gotta be kidding.

A fan went through the books, comics, games, movies, and did a cross-referenced list of these, just because he wanted to do it. Sent me a copy, which was great.

So I mentioned it to the editors at Lucas Arts.

Not long after that, that fan became a pro -- Lucas Arts bought his list and together they turned it into a reference book for the universe ...

J.D. Ray said...

I read the post, and before clicking through to the comments, thought, "Sounds like something Dan would do." I based that on the complete timeline for the Continuing Time.

For us avid readers of series, consistent timelines are important. The lack of consistency is what threw me off of reading the Foundation series. I realize that authors write these novels over a span of decades, but a new-to-the-series readers will suck up a good series in a couple weeks. When the narrator says Hari Seldon never met the Emperor in one book, then Hari goes to work for the Emperor, then becomes the Emperor, it screws with a structure being built in the reader's head.

Or maybe that's just me...

Steve Perry said...

Timelines are good, if you think about them in advance. Star Trek, Star Wars, those took off in ways nobody ever expected, and when somebody started trying to get a handle on 'em, they were gone.

Anybody remember Marvel comic's pooka in the SW's universe?

When I sat down to write The Man Who Never Missed, it was to be a one-shot, one novel that incorporated the first trilogy. Ace wanted to break it into three books, and even so, there didn't need to be a time line.

By the time it got to the next trilogy, and a couple of prequels, that cat was out of the bag.

One can always fudge stuff, like they did with Conan. "Some say Conan was a pit fighter from Cimmeria, while others believe his origins were ..." to account for the movie/books split.

I don't read with the same level of detail as some folks, and that predisposes me to play somewhat faster and looser. Mea culpa.

Dan Moran said...

Disclaimer -- either the Consolidation/Declination dates need to be adjusted, or Rajeem Carlos's given birthdate (and those of his families) need to be adjusted. Currently this takes the Conslidation/Declination dates as authoritative -- it might be better to rejigger it using Carlos' birthdate as authoritative. I'll do that if you like -- it moves most of the later dates up by 79 years, and collapses some of the distance between Mourn's era and Khadaji's, which may or may not be of interest to you.

Speaking only for myself, I'd love to see a reference to Gil Sivart in "Siblings," if you could work it in somewhere. I would enjoy it if Mr. Sivart were connected to Mourn and Khadaji -- maybe something to do with that boat with the German name?

500,000 B.C. – Zonn disappear per Omega Cage.
2000 – First colony (“extee”) off Earth. Per Matadora this is an L5 colony.
2041 – Ferries Brahmaputra and Prajatantri collide, killing 3800.
2046 – Presidential Yacht Lincoln destroyed by terrorist missile, killing 40 including U.S. President
2051 – Jet hovercraft ferry Mbutu sinks off coast of Mozambique, approx. 3000 die.
2056 – Birth of Gil Sivart in Northern California,
2072 – Heaven Star launched (in context, slowboat colonization)
2077 – Floating Casino City Shanghai sinks, killing 12,000.
2083 – Grande Negro resiplex collapses in Buenos Aires. Gil Sivart is a working engineer, not very senior – say 27.
2085 – Gil Sivart moves to the Robert E. Lee wheelworld.
2086 – Sivart starts studying “Glass Hands,” Kaja-tangan martial art.
2090 – Digital Effect. Gil Sivart is ~34. Revolucion Grande, resulting in the United States of South America, with Maria Passos Guerra Viera as it s first President.
2105 – Assassination of President Maria Viera.
2122 – Completion of statue of President Viera, the Pao de Acucar Monument.
2175 – Battle of Mwanamamke in the Bibi Arusi System. Implies long-term settlements (and FTL)
2193 – Bender drive (FTL)
2195 – Expansion begins
2229 – Lazlo Mourn (Pen) born
2234 – Ellis Mtumbo Shaw (Diamond) born
2241 – Mourn witnesses Flex fight
2246 – Aprox. Date, Sola Cayne (Agate) born
2247 – Mourn leaves Farbis to become Flex fighter
2248 – Luna Azul (Mourn’s sister, Moon) born on Farbis
2255 – Expansion ends
2274 – Musashi Flex
2275 – Siblings of the Shroud
2295 – Consolidation begins
2305 – “The Siblings have been peaceful for 150 years.” … implying they weren’t, previously. Per Machiavelli Interface.
2355 – Per Machiavelli Interface, Siblings purchase Manus Island.
2357 – Omega Cage prison opens.
2375 – Consolidation ends

Dan Moran said...

2378 – Kookaburra Beacon begins burning.
2379 – Mwili/Ferret/Pen born. Approx date birth of Moon and Spiral as well – they’re all in their early 80s in Albino Knife.
2382 – Sacred Glyph, an artifact of the Zonn, is found.
2393 – Juete born.
2395 – Birth of Marcus Jefferson Wall.
2400 – Declination begins – “recent turn of the 24th century,” per 97th Step
2402 – Adjusted date Rajeem Carlos born. (+79 years adjustment.)
2403 – Khadaji born on San Yubi.
2410 to 2430 – 97th Step
2415 – Estimated birth of Sleel and Bork.
2418 – Birth of Dirisha Zuri (she’s 30 in Matadora) on planet also called Dirisha, city of Sawa Mji
2419 – Birth of Bork sister Tazzimi.
2423 – Birth of Dirisha’s lover Geneva, per Matadora; she’s 5 years younger than Dirisha.
2424 – Khadaji joins military, age 21. (“15 years education” – 12th grade + 3 college.)
2426 – Omega Cage.
2430 to 2445 – Man Who Never Missed.
2430 – Slaughter at Maro; Relampago of Khadaji, age 27. Khadaji meets Pen aka Mwili/Ferret.
2431 – Pubtending. Khadaji meets Juete.
2432 – Birth of Veate, daughter of Juete and Khadaji.
2432-2436 – Khadaji is a student on Bocca. Studies 4 years, at which point he’s 32 years old. + 1 year after he states his age.
2437-2442 – Khadaji is “no-face,” a smuggler, becomes rich
2438 – Dirisha leaves planet Dirisha.
2443 – Khadaji arrives on Greaves, purchases Jade Flower.
2445 – Faked death of Khadaji
2448 – Matadora Part One. Rajeem Carlos is approx. 46, with DOB given as 2323. Other family members have similar DOBs. Can’t be reconciled.
2453 – Matadora Part Two. “It’s been almost 5 years”
2454 – Pen unmasked as Khadaji. (“had been her friend and teacher for more than six years”)
2455 – Machiavelli Interface. Kookaburra beacon fails. Fall of Confed, creation of Republic.
2456 – Khadaji retires to Muto Kato.
2460 – Albino Knife. Carlos has been President of Republic 5 years. Borke and Veate meet.
2461 – Black Steel. Sleel meets Wu Kee.
2462 – Brother Death. Birth of Saval Antoon, son of Bork and Veate.

Steve Perry said...

Isn't this great, the timeline? I am really impressed. Thanks, Dan.

Get back to writing your book ...

Dan Moran said...

@Steve, you're welcome, and I am.

@JD, Asimov's later attempts to reconcile his robot & foundation stories don't really work. If I were in a picky mood I could tear things up much worse than with Seldon (who was First Minister, not Emperor) ... but Asimov himself said he had never intended a future history, so I think you have to cut him some slack.

Of course, Perry didn't intend a future history either, and he's only got two conflicting dates across ten novels ... :-)

jks9199 said...

Wow! That's a lot of work, Dan.

Regarding timelines in general...

They only matter when they're important, to me. Gordon Dickson's massive future history Childe Cycle needed a solid timeline; Steve's Matador books? For me, they just have to be relatively consistent. (I know, I'm rambling a bit.) Same thing with Jerry Pournelle's series about Falkenberg; the timeline there is important (and was freaky accurate for a stretch...). But who cares exactly when (or if!) Keith Laumer's Retief stories take place 150 or 1000 years in the future?

And I don't even want to think about what happens when you get various groups jumping on a successful bandwagon without control... Like who really wants to try to make a timeline (I know... someone's probably already done it!) reconciling all the various Star Trek novels and the movies and tv shows?

J.D. Ray said...

Steve, are all the novels identified in Dan's timeline there? I think I'm going to go back and read them all (actually, I'm pretty sure there are a couple I missed somehow), and would like to read them in order of the events. I re-read the core trilogy a couple years ago, but could happily start at the beginning, encounter TMWNM, et al again, and go on to what comes after.

And, Dan... Yeah, what Steve said: Get back to writing your novel... ;)

Ed said...

A Gil Sivart reference would be neat and a new Gil Sivart book - I probably just killed both now.

Dan Moran said...

I'm mildly compulsive, which is a good trait in a database architect, less so in a writer. The same wiring I use to sort a business's chaos into structures that a computer can use is what I employed to produce that timeline.

It's just an exercise. Most people don't think the way I do. I read things and I try to fit them together as if they were a puzzle -- whereas most very good writers (e.g. Perry, Asimov) -- don't. I don't know that there's a huge benefit to nailing things down -- it constrains as much as it inspires new detail.

jks9199 said...

I don't tear things down quite that way -- though it's interesting to see how someone does.

What'll get me is either physical acts that don't add up (like someone describing fighting in too much detail, and doing things that can't quite work) or inconsistent logic within a story. Probably could be seen as flip sides of the same thing... Do what you want -- but be consistent about it. Or explain the inconsistencies. (Like Jack of Shadows by Zelazny; the two worlds are internally consistent... though inconsistent with each other.)

TinMan said...

I had been working on somehting like that, but never got as far as Moran. Good work sir.

Steve Perry said...

And, based on Dan's research, this: