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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Propaganda of the Gods

I'm no artist.

That being said, I have, on occasion, thought of certain things in my writing that I just plain want to see.  Huge battles are included in that category, but since I'm no visual effects programmer (and have no software for it), I'm not likely to see those.  I do, however, have Photoshop Elements so I can play at being an artist.

The maps you've seen before were made with that program and they mostly served to help me in keeping the narrative's geography straight.  But here's a situation wherein I just wanted to see if I could do it.  The answer was "kinda."

Without giving up the story, there comes a time when "propaganda" (for lack of a better word) boosting the image of the gods is produced.  In my mind, I had it pretty well sketched so I wanted to see if I could make it.  I got three completed:

As you can see, I sucked at doing Ares (Mars) so I abandoned it.  Don't get me wrong: there's parts of the first two that I hate also, but they mostly get the pic I had in my head out there.

I never got the big one in my mind out, though.  Silhouettes of the entire Pantheon (the big twelve) in a long banner ...  Oh well.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chapters I and II

While an honest-to-goodness publication of my efforts seems unlikely (more on that some other time), that doesn't mean you few who have visited my blog so far should go unrewarded.

I present Chapters I & II after the JUMP.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Video the Internet Won't Let Me Share

Since I teased it some weeks ago, I've been trying to find a site that will allow me to upload the "Lords of Kobol" preview teaser that I put together.  YouTube, et al, keep claiming "copyright infringements" and all that.

So.  I've decided to do this up as right as I can and still convey what I wanted.  Essentially, the purpose of this video is to refresh your memory.  To bring certain things to mind that you may have missed or forgotten as BSG itself got further away from Kobol.

Check it out after the JUMP.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Literary Help, Part I

Obviously, a book as steeped in continuity, minute details, linguistics and science as this one is requires some outside help.  I got it from several books:

The Science of Battlestar Galactica

The Science of Battlestar Galactica is a fun and easy read, especially if you like scientific concepts.  Find out about solar systems that inspired what we saw in the show, tidbits they let slide despite scientific inaccuracy and much more.  Plus, co-author Kevin Grazier is really cool and even answered a couple questions of mine in person.

Caprica Visitor Information Set

Beyond Caprica: A Visitor's Pocket Guide to the Twelve Colonies is a small thing but it's rare and very interesting.  Lots of details they never actually used on the show.  Did I mention it's rare?

Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion
Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion Season Two
Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion Season Three
Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion Season Four

These official companions contain lots of "duh" information but they also have some good bits, too.  I'd be remiss if I didn't include them.

Classical Myth (7th Edition)

This was the textbook for my college mythology class back in the day.  The one linked above is the newest edition.  Usually, I sold all of my textbooks after classes were done to recoup some of that ridiculous cash I dropped, but I kept this one.

Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek Book 1 2e - UK Edition (Bk.1)

This (and Book II) was my textbook for ancient Greek in college.  Yes, I took Greek.  And Hebrew.  What of it?

Next time I do one of these "Literary Help" posts, I'll tackle the websites that helped.  There were a few.  (By "few," I mean "a bunch.")

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mapping the City of the Gods

Again, if you're writing a book with complicated goings on, you need to know where things are so you can send your characters where they need to go.  It helps your narrative make sense.

Thanks to Laura Roslin's chamalla-inspired visions, we got a nice pic of the center of the City of the Gods (or, as I call it for much of the book, Theonpolis).  I took a decent-sized screenshot and started labeling things.

Plenty of things to see (click the above to increase it to full size).  Pantheon Circle is a big traffic circle, in case you couldn't tell; the road "spokes" are named after some Greek protogenoi (primordial deities).

I had no official clue what anything was, other than the Opera House and the Forum.  So I labeled stuff what made sense to me and helped serve my story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aural Inspiration

Without reservation, I can say I would not have gotten as far as I did with this work without the help of Bear McCreary.  On my computer, I have a folder loaded with every track from the BSG soundtrack.  In case you're wondering, that's just under nine and a half hours.  As I typed, these mp3s played in the background.  They influenced me in ways I could not have foreseen.

(If you want to buy the soundtracks below, just click on the covers.)

Battlestar Galactica

Richard Gibbs and Bear's miniseries effort.  The twinkling bells of Six's theme may seem repetitious at first, but seeds of BSG's sounds can be found here.

Battlestar Galactica: Season One

Season One.  Great stuff, without question.  "Passacaglia" and "Shape of Things to Come" directly inspired some very specific, gods-related stuff.  "Wander My Friends" makes a Book Three lyrical appearance, as well.

Battlestar Galactica: Season Two

Season Two.  Thanks to the arrival of Pegasus and the attack on the Resurrection Ship, the action drums of this album are fantastic.  I usually tracked up to "Prelude to War" if I was working on battle scenes.

Philip Glass: Solo Piano

Thanks to Starbuck's dad, I had to also buy Philip Glass' "Metamorphosis One."  A truly great piece.  Without it, my Season Two sounds empty.

Battlestar Galactica - The Plan / Razor

"Razor / The Plan."  Since these are both Season Two based movies, I placed the tracks here.  "Apocalypse" kicks ass.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 3

Season Three.  The lead up to "Watchtower" is magnificent and I always crank the volume for the New Caprica action sequences.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4

Season Four.  With "Watchtower" fully revealed, it gets used to great lengths.  Plus, "Kara Remembers" floors me every time and the full orchestral sounds of "Daybreak" are worth rattling the speakers.

Electric Ladyland

Of course, I have to cap off the BSG experience with Hendrix's "Watchtower."  I mean, c'mon.


Lastly, for completeness' sake, I have this one in the playlist, too.  I only hope they can release the rest of Bear's great work on this show in the future.  (Along with a Blu-ray version of the series.  Seriously.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Three in One - The Trinity

When you're writing a book, you usually have, in your mind, a sense of how big or how long it's going to be.  I certainly thought I did.

I started writing and I was going for quite a while.  The formatting I had used netted me about one hundred twenty pages.  I didn't know how many that would be in standard manuscript format, so I reformatted it.  I was stunned.  I was barely halfway through the first part of the book and already I had written the equivalent of a thin novel.  In finishing just the first part, it would be around four hundred pages in manuscript format.  Again, that's just the first part.  With three parts in mind, I knew what I needed to do.

I would have to make it a trilogy.

Three books.  I didn't want to do that to begin with because of the way the story was structured.  I wasn't planning on a purely linear narrative (You'll see what I mean.) and I wasn't sure the first part would sustain interest on its own, separated from the big climax.  I remedied that later, but still ...

Here's a look at each of the three books, the logos I crafted, their titles, and the gist of what they're about:

Fans of Caprica should be able to appreciate this title.  It focuses on the creation of the Thirteenth Tribe and their departure from Kobol.  Naturally, there's a great bit of gods-related stuff, too, including the revelation of what they are.  The Kobollian "eagle" is gold because, at the beginning of the book, times are still good and, well, golden for the Lords.

This title is rather simple.  Most of the book is a big flashback to the descent of the gods from Mt. Olympus.  It details the origins of the Lords, answers questions from Book One and sets things up for Book Three.  The "eagle" is red because that's the color of blood.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the departure of mankind from Kobol is the chronological focal point of the whole thing.  Every heading of every chapter in all three books features a countdown to this point.  Obviously, this one's about putting all of the pieces in place and pushing "go" for the confrontation among the gods, the Cylon revolution, the "Blaze," and, of course, humanity's departure.  The "eagle" here is gray to represent ash.

(A future post will detail how I found/made the eagle logo.  Not as easy as you might think.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Writing, Part II

As stated before, I began to sketch out what happened on Kobol while at Dragon*Con '09 in Atlanta, GA.  All of this came from what I remembered being said in the show and is pasted from the Wordpad file I created back then:

Distant past - Flood nearly destroys mankind.
2,000 years before Exodus - 13th tribe leaves for Earth (Why?); Temple of Hopes built on Algae Planet
1,500-1,600 years before Exodus - Pythia writes her prophecies, etc., for the Sacred Scrolls
1,000 years before Exodus - probe from 13th tribe is left in Lion Head Nebula

Time of the Exodus -
Cylon revolt? (Confrontation at the "home of the gods?")
"Blaze" pursues mankind from the City of the Gods (nuclear?)
Human sacrifice (leaders at Tomb of Athena)
Choice between the ship or the high road into the mountains
Mankind (12 or 13 tribes?) leaves from the Great Meadow aboard a ship named Galleon
Athena's suicide in despair over mankind's departure at Gates of Hera (Who built Athena's Tomb if they all left?)
Arrow of Apollo
"Lower Demon" helped mankind
Dying leader
Serpents "numbering two and ten"
God abandons Kobol (why?)
Zeus warns fleeing humanity not to return; "exact a price in blood"

Since I was using just my memory, I left out a few tidbits here and there.  A rewatching of the series and a scouring of the Internet later filled in the pieces I missed.  (Such as a deleted scene from the show wherein Elosha says humanity left Kobol after a "jealous god" tried to take over.  Boy, that came in handy later.)

Interesting to look back on this and remember the seemingly intractable questions and conundrums (conundra?).  Humility alert: I solved them all by the end.

On this skeleton, I had to hang meat.  OK, that's a bit gross.  Still, these were the tentpoles on which I had to build a compelling story.  It was there; I knew it.  But I had some questions to answer first.  Big questions.

Next time, perhaps I'll find a way to present some of those questions without revealing too much.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mapping Kobol

When writing a novel about events that span an entire planet, it helps to have a solid concept of where everything is so you can keep it straight.  A map was needed.

I knew I'd have to draw one, so I pored over the latter season one/early season two episodes of BSG, looking for space shots of Kobol.  They were all of the same shot, displaying the same portions of the same continents:

With a sufficiently large screenshot of Kobol, I opened up Photoshop Elements and tweaked the hues to try and make the landmasses stand out.  Then I traced over them:

Obviously, that only gives me about a third of the planet.  Since I would need a full Mercator-type map of the planet, I needed to distort the lines I traced and then BS stuff on the other side of the world.  I don't have any intermediate versions of Kobol, so here's the final map (click it for a huge version):

(The actual nations themselves are in the bolder colors; the territories allocated to the nations by the gods later on are more pale.)

Mountains, desert, islands ... much of it based on the shot of Kobol from the show.  Only three continents to worry about with names I took from ancient Greek maps I found online and elsewhere: Galatia (the primary continent and home to the original Twelve Tribes), Scythia in the south and Illyria on the other side.  Most of the cities, oceans, seas, mountain ranges, etc., also came from those old maps.

Also, note "Theonpolis" in the northwestern part of Galatia, within the Capricorn nation.  If you speak Greek, you may have already figured it out, but "Theonpolis" means "City of the Gods."  Why did I locate the City of the Gods there?  Well, Chief Tyrol had a line in one of those Kobol-centric episodes where he mentioned the ruins being located in the north-northwestern part of the continent.  Plus, since the camera seems to focus on that part of the planet, it made sense.  (And that's about where Vancouver kind of is, too.)

Lastly, just a thing of interest, I made this time zone map of Kobol, too, since I occasionally needed to know what time of day it would be when events were transpiring elsewhere.  (The shape of the continents changed after I made this time zone map.)

(In case you're wondering, I've redacted some of the place names on these maps to preserve a measure of surprise.)

I made other maps for other parts of the book, but this is the first one I did for the first portion of LoK.