I’ve now finished the revisions on Guardians of Paradise. As with Consorts I found that that the longer the editorial comment, the shorter the actual change. It was the one-liners that involved the most work. The first of the three major changes I mentioned, that of ironing out the remaining lumps of info-dump, I’m still not completely happy with, but I’ll have a final read-through-out-loud and tweak after a few days of ‘mental composting’ during which I deliberately concentrate on other things (so far that’s mainly been rework on old short stories; this weekend it will be pretending to live in the 14th century in a field in Norfolk – hey, a girl’s gotta have a hobby, however odd, and it gets me out the house).
The remaining two major changes were both of a kind: they were initial meetings between characters where I was too busy advancing the plot to give the characters time to be themselves. One of the many functions of a good editor is to point out when the writer has been a bit lazy and yes, I was – twice. Both encounters have now been split to allow the characters the opportunity to act and react properly: the first meeting is between two very paranoid people who need to be given the time to decide to trust each other (rather then doing so quickly because that’s what the story requires, ahem); the second is more complex, a negotiation of future status where one character is pushing another to see what concessions he can get, without realising exactly what is at stake – it’s not about your working conditions, mate, it’s about your free will. I’m reasonably happy that both encounters now work better, even if it has upped the wordcount somewhat. I can’t say how much by precisely as I prefer not to track exact words gained and lost in the writing/rewriting process, in case I become obsessive about it.
Reading-wise The Physics of the Impossible didn’t disappoint, though Dr Kaku’s scale of impossibilities can sometimes seem a bit counterintuitive – for example he considers teleportation considerably more likely than a perpetual motion machine. I also found his argument against precognition to be somewhat shaky in comparison to the rest of the book (but then I’m biased).
I’m impressed that he managed to hold off mentioning dark energy until the final quarter of the book, though my opinion of dark energy changed after a real life expert (and ‘recovering string theorist’ as he described himself) confided that the term ‘dark energy’ is just a sexy name for the massive gap between what we know and what we think must be true about the universe. I’m not sure he was entirely joking.
Dr Kaku also got onto the analogy of bubble universes floating around in suspension. However, while I thought of the medium of suspension as water (see ‘God’s Bath’ below), he says that the universes are like bubbles in frothy beer. I feel distinctly out-analogised.