Behind the Scenes: The Artifact

8 08 2011

Several years ago we had a ship come into the shipyard I work at called the USS Triton.  This was a seriously cool boat.  It had been the first submarine to circumnavigate the globe underwater.  It had also been the only US submarine to have two nuclear reactors.  After sitting for years next to the dock, it was time to cut her up.

This served as the inspiration for the Pytheas in The Artifact, a ship that had also done things no other ship had done before and a ship that also had spent long years in the queue for cut-up.

But that was only half of the setting.  I needed a location for the decommissioning yard.  I chose Ceres and immediately became enamored with its location.  Located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, I realized early on that Ceres would have an enviable view of Jupiter.  I set to researching the relationship between the two and even created a spreadsheet to help me calculate their dance throug the solar system.

I came to learn that at certain times of the Ceres year, Jupiter appears in the sky at one quarter the size of the moon as seen from Earth.  I wove this and other aspects of Ceres (gravity, composition, rotation, etc) into the story.

Instead of releasing it chapter by chapter like I had done Green Eye of Fate, I decided to wait until I was completely finished so I could post it in its entirety.  This ended up being a good thing because about half-way through the story, I scrapped the entire thing and started over.

I had a difficult time with this one.  Originally it had been written in first person, past tense.  In other words it was written as if the character were speaking of his own life as it had happened in the past.  I rewrote it in third person, present tense as if it were being described by an outside observer as it happened.  I felt this gave the story a more urgent and gripping feel.  I found it was very hard to write this way because it is not a normal narrative mode and tense combination.

It can also be a difficult story to read.  The basis of the story is a feeling or an emotion and an unpleasant one at that.  I will leave it to the reader to identify it for themselves, but suffice it to say, it creates a protagonist that is not likable.  I did that on purpose; you aren’t supposed to like him.  He is the personification of what happens to people when they let a negative emotion rule their lives.

If you haven’t read The Artifact yet, I highly recommend you do.  And if you have read it, read it again.  See if you can divine out the hidden layers.  If you found that you didn’t much care for it the first time through, give it another chance.  You may find something you missed the first time.  As always I would love to answer any questions about the story.  Feel free to post them in the comment section.

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