How the Ecliptor was written

Book Four is one long but episodic part, in which I wanted to explore a number of different strange worlds. It was semi-divided into six sub-sections — two of one chapter each, two of two chapters, one of four, and one of ten. I don’t remember if it just worked out that way, or if I set it up in advance.

In this Book, I explored the idea of the nature of evil, trying to find a plausible motive for what it was doing. It took a while, and my first thoughts did not provide an answer.

I was also exploring trans-cosmic, super-cosmic, extra-cosmic facets of the greater reality, and whatever was greater than that. I had introduced some super-cosmic beings in Book Three, whose natural habitat and function was in the greater reality of many realities, and I wanted to go farther, or at least hint at what was beyond an infinity of infinities. But I also had to tell stories involving my characters and enemies as real people in real situations within this larger context.

I also explored Jeanette’s failures. A hero who always wins is no fun. But her failures should not stop her from going on.

The long section of ten chapters gave me a world in which I could pretty much deal with all of these ideas to some degree or another. It also gave me an opportunity to include a real person in the story. 

This has been done before. At a charity auction at some science fiction conventions, a writer offers to include the high bidder as a character, usually a Star Trek kind of red-shirt, who’s purpose is to die after a very short appearance. All his or her friends will know who it is. I wasn’t going to do that.

I needed a central figure in Chapter 69: Castle of Refuge, who could be the castle’s guiding intelligence. While at breakfast with some friends, one of them told me how he had always wanted to be an engineer, but couldn’t because of his physical disabilities. And here was my champion of the refuge. I asked if I could use him, he gave me permission, and I portrayed my character as my friend really was. I think he liked it. I will never do that again.

I had, at that time, planned on five Books, with a certain poignant ending, but in Chapter 70: Long Arrows, I suddenly realized that I could add a Book Six, with a new hero, and Jeanette’s surviving companions as a crucial help.

I finished Book Four with some insights into the nature of evil, and the set-up for crucial events in Book Five, which would bring my original structure to its conclusion, knowing I would have to change that conclusion to make Book Six possible.

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