So this week it begins. Compact Universe #0, entitled No Marigolds in the Promised Land. It will be the Bonfire of the Vanities of space opera. Why? Because of the Dickensian cast of characters, none of whom are sympathetic? The biting commentary on our times?
Actually, it’s because, like Tom Wolfe did in Rolling Stone all those years ago, I’m going to write this in installments. On the fly. Yeah, once you read an installment, you’ll only be two weeks behind me knowing what happens. Actually, a month. I have a private group of betas who will tear each installment apart. It’s a private group on Facebook, and you can join. Message me here, and I’ll set you up. Those in the beta group can be as detailed or as vague as they like. They can even call out what they want to see Farno do next.
Wait. What? Who’s Farno?
Glad you asked that. Farno is the hapless chap (vs. assless chaps. I don’t write that kind of fiction) who lives on Barsoom, a terraforming project undertaken by Mars. The Gelt from the later Compact Universe stories come and bomb the bejesus out of Barsoom. Farno happens to be in a rover between domes when this happens. Mark Watney? Don’t make me laugh. Watney had a space probe to talk to NASA and help only one planet over. Farno is 40 light years from the nearest human being, as far as he knows, and someone may be taking over what’s left of his planet. And in the Compact Universe, no one, human or otherwise, has invented an ansible, a device that permits real-time communication across interstellar distances.
The story will be published in two-week intervals in my newsletter, which you can sign up for here. A week after that, it will be posted on this site or the replacement site. Here’s the catch. No Marigolds will become the free novel you get for signing up for the newsletter. Online? Well, if you missed an installment, you’ll have to sign up for the newsletter.
I know. I’m evil. It’s in the skills section of my resume.
But No Marigolds will, at least early on, be removed from the machinations that lead to The Children of Amargosa. Farno stops one night between domes to sleep off a bender and wakes up in the middle of a post-apocalyptic nightmare that would make Hugh Howey’s characters count their blessings. Everything he takes for granted – Waiting airlocks, flowing air, heat, water, food – is gone. So are all the people. And the Compact doesn’t really seem interested in coming to check out what happened.
Look for No Marigolds in a month, probably around the same time I release Tishla.
And now for the question you’re all asking. Where did I get such a weird title?