Thoughts and words of a twisted mind…
The Shan Takhu Legacy books take place after a partial collapse of human civilization and a massive coordinated effort to rebuild has lifted mankind off of Earth and out into the solar system. I know that the kind of monumental determination to do this wouldn’t come without some worldwide compelling reason, so I wrote a brief history of the world from 2075 to 2240 as a foundation piece.
Politics aside, The Shan Takhu Legacy and this timeline is a work of fiction, based on a universe built out of one of our potential future’s past history.
I personally believe that climate change is coming, but I do not attribute it to any particular source in this document. I strictly base this on potential events as they may play out, once a trigger event happens. Read it for what it is, and don’t come at me with political agenda.
Science trumps politics.
Part One: The Great Collapse
Human population: 10.3 billion.
Earth’s global average temperature has reached 1.6° C above pre-industrial levels.
Over three consecutive years with record setting summer heat waves and warm winters, vast sections of the tundra across North America and Siberia thaw. These melt-offs release massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere. The methane spike is severe enough that global temperatures begin to climb quickly (Methane is a greenhouse gas and is thirty times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide).
A United Nations study of the decomposing organic matter in the tundra, estimates that the global average temperature will rise 1°C per decade for a minimum of thirty to forty years as a result of the methane spike. Although, the scientists also warn that this condition could extend, or accelerate, as warming upsets more of the ecosystems of frozen areas.
Drought and wildfires across North America further complicate the climate outlook, and food production worldwide plummets. A critical wave of famine spreads through Africa.
Human population: 9.9 billion.
Food production falls globally by 50%. Four hundred million people die worldwide in the decade after the thaw begins, mostly as a result of starvation. Food riots have become continuous occurrences, and many nations have declared martial law.
The North American drought intensifies and spreads to Europe and Africa. Food production falls by another 10%.
Fresh water supplies worldwide begin to diminish. Agricultural use of water competes with human consumption. Industrial use of water is restricted in may locations.
Many power generation facilities shut down because of a lack of water in reservoirs. This pushes the electric grid across North America to near collapse.
Poorer nations, particularly in Africa, face water riots in addition to the food riots, and military conflicts erupt throughout the region over water rights. People begin to flee drier areas and overrun international borders. This refugee situation causes political turmoil worldwide.
Human population falls to 8.6 billion.
Global average temperature approaches 2.6°C above pre-industrial levels.
Famine and water shortages combine to cause 1.3 billion deaths worldwide.
UN Climate Scientists estimate that because of additional methane released, and the albedo change of the earth (loss of reflective ice coverage area), global average temperatures will rise by 1° in the next seven and a half years.
The Ross Ice Shelf and other ice shelves in Antarctica begin a rapid collapse over the Antarctic summer. Estimates indicate that this event will drive global sea levels up by nearly one meter in two years.
Rise in sea level causes minor wars throughout the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and across the Indian Ocean as populations move away from the coastal regions to higher ground.
Low-lying coastal cities in the industrialized nations invest heavily in seawall construction and other infrastructure work to attempt to hold the coastal areas. The economic impact worldwide is measured in trillions of dollars.
The global average temperature approaches 3.6°C above preindustrial levels. This temperature change is exactly in line with climate predictions.
Subsurface hydrostatic release causes Greenland’s ice pack to begin what climate scientists term a total collapse. Movement of glaciers that normally measure at a meter per year, are in some cases slipping at close to a meter per day.
The UN commissions an Ice Mass Impact Study and preliminary estimates indicate that Greenland will be ice free within ten years. This sudden ice release will raise global sea levels by six to seven meters and upset Atlantic sea currents in ways that will further destabilize the climate.
Southeast Asia is overrun by refugees from across the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. Entire nation states have ceased to exist because of the rising ocean water.
The lack of suitable evacuation sites and the loss of sovereign land holdings has forced many of these nations to transition into “pirate economies.” Chaos runs rampant throughout the region and naval forces from around the world struggle to contain this outlaw activity.
The global average temperature reaches 4.4°C above pre-industrial levels.
Pirate warlords control the Indian Ocean from Australia to the African Coast, and out into the South Pacific almost to Tahiti. The lawlessness of the region collapses many of the less stable governments of Southeast Asia.
The Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea dissolve in the war.
Human population falls to 6.5 billion
Famine, water shortage, and diseases brought on by a lack of sanitary management causes 2.1 billion deaths worldwide over the previous decade.
Methane levels continue to increase as more organic matter in the tundra thaws and begins to decompose. UN Scientists predict nearly 1°C rise every five years.
Global food production falls another 10% from pre-collapse levels.
Antarctica begins a massive melt off adding to the already rapidly rising sea levels.
“Siberian Flu” outbreak starts. This disease is not actually a flu, but rather is the result of a virus that has been released from virtual suspended animation in the tundra. Spreading initially by animals or birds this disease decimates cities across the northern tier of Europe and Asia. Some progress is made in protecting North America by quarantining all refugees and other arrivals from the infected areas.
Over the course of a year, 960 million people die worldwide. Those who are living in famine affected areas, even if they would be outside the most severely impacted areas have a 60% mortality rate. Those who have managed to maintain a healthier diet die at 30% rate.
The global average temperature reaches 5.8°C above preindustrial levels.
The United Nations declares Saharan Africa and much of the Middle East uninhabitable. Although this declaration is not a binding declaration, it triggers a massive migration of people out of the regions.
Most head north towards Europe or Asia. The Russian Federation enforces its borders with troops, so few of the migrants enter Russian-controlled territory.
This forces most of them towards Europe.
Under the weight of the unprecedented refugee crisis, the European Union explodes into chaos. Nearly 250 million refugees drive the collective economy of the EU to collapse.
The United Nations is incapable of helping in the refugee management, as Europe is only one aspect of the worldwide crisis. It has already exceeded its resource limits. European leaders blame the United Nations for making the declaration that has saddled them with the refugees and they withdraw from the organization.
Late in the year China and Russia enter into a border war. The Gobi Desert of central China has become decimated by relentless heat, and large portions of the population try to migrate north. This migration is met with preemptive military force by the Russian government and the situation escalates rapidly across the Nei Mongol region.
“Eskimo Flu” erupts across North America and Siberia simultaneously. Although similar to the previous “Siberian Flu” pandemic, this disease has a 60% mortality rate everywhere.
However, because of its similarity to smallpox, scientists do manage to develop a treatment and contain the outbreak, but not before 1.65 billion people die worldwide. Scientists dubbed the disease “Megapox.”
The United Nations disbands as a result of financial insolvency and political stress.
With no forum available for international arbitration, the use of military force escalates around the world.
The war between China and the Russian federation spins rapidly toward nuclear confrontation. The United States, although struggling under its own economic hardships, attempts to arbitrate on behalf of the two parties.
A heat wave grips the southwestern United States and over 100,000 people die.
The power grid from Texas to Oregon shuts down as a result of the temperatures. The federal government orders the evacuation of much of Arizona and New Mexico. The economic cost and logistical effort nearly bankrupts the United States.
Power remains out in California and Texas for over a month.
The war between Russia and China continues to escalate to the point where a nuclear exchange appears inevitable. In the last minute, military leaders of both countries stage coups and wrest the power for the weapons control from their government leaders. Neither of the two parties will admit to having worked together, but the simultaneity of the takeovers appears to be coordinated.
The human population of the world falls to below 2.1 billion.
The global average temperature breaks 7°C above pre-industrial levels.
Death toll from the wars, and famine (1.8 billion), and both epidemics of the decade exceeds 4.41 billion people.
The United States loses sovereign control of a large portion of its territory as its citizens simply leave for Canada. Border checkpoints in Canada are overwhelmed by US refugees from the south. More people drive into Canada from the US in the first month of the year, than lived in Canada at the point of its highest population.
The Accords of 2116 and the establishment of the Human Union
Economic chaos motivates leaders from the worldwide techno-industrial complex to convene the Conclave of Human Unity. With support from the Chinese and Russian Military, and the North American Joint Defense Command, the Conclave drafts the Accords of 2116 to lay out the principles of the New Vision.
The goal of these accords is to set up a new process of governance to allow humanity to avoid extinction. It is a widely accepted scientific fact that the Earth will be uninhabitable to human beings in less than a century and single-minded focus on achieving space colonization is essential to the survival of civilization.
The Primary principle of the New Vision is that any individual not actively involved in food production or distribution, must be involved in the development and deployment of the infrastructure necessary to peacefully remove as many human beings as possible from the surface of the Earth.
The Accords of 2116 establish the foundation of what becomes the Charter of the Human Union.
Part Two: The Cradle of Ice and Stone.
For those of you who are new around here (which is practically everyone), I am what, in the writing world, is known as a hard-core plotter (with almost no temptation to cross over to the dark side and be a pantser).
What the hell does that mean, you may ask? (or maybe you didn’t, but I will tell you anyway)
Basically, it means when I sit down to write, I plot everything out meticulously and way in advance. The other approach to telling stories is where an author stares at a blank page until inspiration launches them into a seat-of-the-pants adventure where their characters lead them through all manner of chaos. (I refuse to pay for the services of a Muse, and I prefer to drive, if you don’t mind!)
The way I write also means that I spend a lot of time working out details of how things work and planning the direction my story (stories) will go. Seldom am I inspired to leap sidewise, and because of that I can write pretty fast (some of my writer friends actually say 'insanely fast' … I might post something at some point that tells how I do that since my writing technique is apparently a bit unique).
The creation of a Universe is a serious thing.
Right now, I am ten books into the Wings of Earth Universe (counting the Shan Takhu Legacy prequel trilogy) with eight more to go before I finish this section of the story arc. Then, if my readers want to keep exploring in this universe, there are two other sections to the overall universe’s arc with each of those being a standalone series with different characters and settings (Think, Star Trek Next Gen, DS9, Voyager, and so on… in both TV and in the books, they are all different, but flesh out a more complete story).
Because of the fact that I have a long-vision for these novels, I also have volumes of background material that hasn’t made it directly into the stories (REALLY HUGE FRAKKING PILES OF STUFF).
For example, Legacy of Pandora (the first of the prequel stories) was set in 2243, and so I created an historical timeline that lead from less than fifty years from our current world, up until the events of that story. From the prequel, there is a leap of 125 years (and yeah, I have another timeline of that period of time too). I also have language notes, and ship deck designs, and even mathematics of energy conversion processes. Literally, I have so much stuff I have to keep it all locked away so it doesn't bury me alive.
It’s all background that I might share as blog posts here as the story goes on (Well, probably not the math since most people don't speak that language, and tend to glaze over when you start trying to explain it).
God does not play dice with the Universe.
Einstein said that, and I do generally live by that rule (apologies to D&D fans out there).
To me, the science has to work (duh, it is SCIENCE fiction). So does the technology. So do the politics. And the economy. Even laws have to make sense. (Okay, politics and laws can be batshit insane, but it all has to feel real for the story to hold together.) And in my mind, that only comes with the idea that the universe is planned out.
And now, for you science purists out there (I know who you are. I can hear you smirking). I have worked professionally in the sciences and as an engineer for a long time, but you could probably say I am a ‘science optimist’ (I’ll explain that in a later post too). While I might have technology and physics in my stories that aren’t currently part of our understanding, I still try to treat them consistently and with respect for some of the more probable work-arounds. (I actually got kicked by a reviewer once because I had windows in a starship … come on … really?)
It is science FICTION too.
Filling in the edges.
The point of this post was to invite my readers to ask some questions. I might have created the universe, but lately I have seen a lot of you move in and start exploring. There are some far-flung worlds with some seedy dives and dusty corners to be discovered. Let me know what parts you might want to drain some light into, and I’ll flesh out those details in future posts.
No question is out of bounds. Seriously. (Contact me here to ask.)
- Does One Eye Jack’s have a dance floor?
Do pirates dance? Actually, yes it does, but it is small and in the back.
- Did war break out before humanity escaped the problems on Earth?
A little bit. It was more like a pissing contest over rising sea levels. (Okay, that's a lie.)
- Why did Ethan Walker run away from his family ranch on Mars?
Ever smell cow manure in a sealed dome?
- What the hell is a graviton threshold?
It won't make you fall down if you trip over it, but it will take a lot of explaining. It has to do with propagation limits of gravity waves.
- Is Quinn’s Mom really that strange?
No... she is stranger than that.
Feel free to fire away. I’ll post real answers and go deeper as I can.
This is a weird little story I wrote a while back in response to a writing prompt on the Sci-Fi Roundtable. It's WAY outside my normal genre, but for some reason I felt the need to dust it off and put it here today.
I did not, however, feel a need to put on a stovepipe hat.
Hope you enjoy it.
It was a good day. The first in a long time. The warm spring sun filled the room and the view from the office windows was peaceful. Dogwood trees bloomed and the scent of flowers filled the air.
It truly was peaceful. And quiet. Both of which had been rare in the White House for as long as Lincoln could remember. The war had finally reached its end, and although they still faced the complex struggle of rebuilding, the Cabinet Meeting today gave him hope that they were on the path out of darkness.
Enough lives have been sacrificed. It is over. Now, together, we can begin to stand again as a nation.
Grabbing a scrap of paper, he jotted his words down for a future speech. He had a habit of tossing off extemporaneous lines, but once in a while his thoughts were worthy of posterity, and he committed them to writing. He smiled and put the note onto a pile of books that cluttered his table.
His assistant, Edward, had told him that the Vice-President arrived before lunch but decided to go for a stroll while he waited for the Cabinet Meeting to end. Enjoying the brief respite before Andrew’s return, Abe sat back and laced his fingers behind his head. Pushing the stack of books away from the edge of his table with a foot, he crossed his long legs on the corner and closed his eyes.
Somewhere in that moment sleep took him.
Jerking his feet down and sitting up with a start, he realized he wasn’t alone.
A person sat in the chair across from him. “I need your help,” the man said. His voice had the hollow sound of the wind through leaves, and his skin had a near translucence that was hard to gaze upon.
A ghost? Am I still asleep?
“Who are you, and who let you in?” For most of his early Presidency, Lincoln had maintained an open-door policy, but as the war stretched on, Edward had done an excellent job of slowing the crush of the Beggars Opera. Obviously, once in a while, someone still got past him.
“I am sorry I startled you Mr. President,” the apparition said, lifting an emaciated arm and running a fingertip over the ridge of a scar that shadowed what might have been an eye. “We need your help.”
Abe balled his fists and ground sleep from his own eyes, hoping to clear his vision and wake from the dream. “I am not sure I follow you,” the President said when the spirit refused to vanish. “What do you want from me?”
“Where I come from, we are facing what you have just overcome. My people live in slavery and have for many generations,” he said. He spoke slowly with a voice that sounded like he’d spent most of his life screaming. Or crying.
“I am sorry for your people’s plight, but why do you think I would be able to help you?” Lincoln looked around the room, trying not to stare.
“We know you brought these changes to your people, and perhaps you could inspire my people to do the same. We are truly desperate.”
“I understand how that can be. Slavery is an atrocity,” the President said. “But I don’t know who, or even what, you are. No offence to you personally.” Abe instantly regretted his words.
“None taken,” the man said, leaning forward slightly in the chair. “I am sure my unannounced arrival, and my appearance, are quite unsettling to you.”
“Perhaps a little,” Abe admitted, forcing himself to make eye contact with the person. “I am still not sure what you think I can do for you.”
“If you would consider coming back with me, you would be able to see how similar our situation is,” he suggested.
“Surely you aren’t proposing that I travel to wherever you live?” the President said. “This is a troubled time.”
“Time is often troubled, but your battles are through,” he said. “Your destiny has been achieved.”
“I will not abdicate my responsibility,” Lincoln said. “I took an oath to serve the people. Those were not empty words.”
“I understand your feelings, but there is much at stake,” the ghost said.
“My own nation is not yet back on its feet, and the ruptures we have in our society are nigh onto insurmountable.” He shook his head. “I cannot abandon my country now that the war has ended. Rebuilding peace is only just beginning for us.”
“Mr. Lincoln, you are such a charismatic figure. Surely you see how you could be influential in helping my people regain our freedom. We need someone like you. No, we actually need, you.”
“I am afraid my answer must be an unequivocal no,” Abe said.
“We expected you would say that. Perhaps, if I explained what the end result of your refusal may be?”
“No amount of persuasion will change my mind.” The President rose from his desk and nodded politely toward the door. “Now if you will excuse me, I have an appointment with the Vice-President.”
The specter refused to rise.
“Please do not make it necessary for me to have you removed,” Lincoln said, lowering his voice and reaching out for his call rope.
“Please do not do that, Mr. President,” he said, pleading.
As the ghost stood, the president saw for the first time how crippled he really was. One arm hung limply by his side, and his face had burned to the point where the skin seemed to be no more than a mass of scarred flesh.
In spite of having witnessed so many of his own troops maimed by the war, Lincoln’s mouth fell open in shock.
“I am sorry,” he said, apparently reading the President’s horror.
“No, it is I who should be sorry,” he said, casting his eyes down, ashamed to look into the face of the man. “Your people have obviously also suffered through a war.”
The apparition shook his head. “This is not from a war. It is the result of the atrocities our masters heap upon us. These are the ravages of monsters beyond your imagining.”
After several seconds Lincoln shook his head. “I cannot. Please, you need to leave now, before Mary comes in. She does not need to—”
“See the ugly truth?” he finished, bitterness clear in his hissing voice.
“Please. Just go.” Abe’s voice ground out the words slowly, dragging chunks of his soul with them. His hand touched the call rope, but he could not bring himself to pull it.
He struggled to clear his mind. I need to wake up now.
“You would not abandon your own people to slavery. Why would you expect that of me?” it asked.
When the President looked up, the specter stood there with an expression that might have been sadness. He watched as it made a gesture with its good hand.
Behind him another figure appeared, not quite visible through a suddenly blinding light. This one seemed to be solid, and far more human. Abe blinked several times in confusion before he collapsed forward unconscious over his desk.
The new person stepped around him, picking up the stovepipe hat that was sitting on the edge of the table. He set it lightly upon his own head. It fit perfectly, but of course it would.
Clearing his throat, he turned to face the apparition. “Take him home before he wakes.”
With another blinding flash, Lincoln vanished, leaving the new man in his place.
“Thank you, my friend,” the first one said. “Because of what you do here today in his place, he will finally have the chance to set his people free.”
“And perhaps this time it will last,” the newcomer said. “Do not let them forget again.”
Nodding, the ghost faded as the connection thinned. “Try to enjoy the play tonight, Mr. Lincoln. Primitive as it is, I understand that Ford’s Theater was a wonderful venue."
Staring into the now empty space of his office, he sat down and picked up the paper the original Lincoln had set on the books.
"In its time.”
Well, here I sit again, trying to write a blog.
Recently, I was having beer with a couple of my author buddies, and we were talking about what it takes to write a blog. One of them has a really great blog with all kinds of interesting things in it, and the other one has only a slightly more modest offering. Both of theirs are a lot more expansive than anything I'd ever achieved.
They were both asking me why I didn't have one... My answer literally stunned them into silence.
"I don't like writing... (pause)"
Since they know that I often I pound out upwards of 80,000 words in a month, for them to hear me say 'I don't like writing...' was apparently too far outside their reality to comprehend. Of course, the long pause before I finished the sentence might have led to the explosive beer spewing on their parts (fortunately, we were appropriately socially distanced or I would have come home smelling like a brewery).
The sentence probably would have made more sense if I'd finished it...
"I don't like writing, a blog."
"Writing blog posts is a lot harder for me than writing novels."
"Why?" one of them asked, looking at me with a confused expression as he finished absorbing the non sequitur I'd dropped on the table like a brick.
"Because I don't know what to write about. When I'm writing a book, I have it all planned out... way in advance. That makes it easy. Writing a blog post is so, spontaneous. I just don't know what to write that people would find interesting enough to read."
"Write what you know. Write about what interests you," the other one suggested. "Write about your books. All you have to do is write what's on your mind."
"Physics, geo-engineering, stupid movies that annoy me, politics that absolutely piss me off," I said, shaking my head.
"Well, maybe not politics, but otherwise, why not?"
So, I sat there thinking about writing a blog, while the pizza and beer slowly disappeared into the afternoon.
Just write? Could it really be that easy?
When I got home (well, actually, the next morning), I decided to tackle the problem of me not having one of those evil blog-things.
The first step was that I had to rebuild my website so that it made more sense for blogging. Since I'd relentlessly removed all mention of such a creature from the previous versions of my author platform, I spent a week or so redesigning the site to make space for these new bloggish pursuits.
In order to make room, I had to get some new pages up before I could try it again. (That's not an excuse to put it off... Nah. Not me. I'd never rationalize something like that!)
But, after building all the new stuff into the site that I could justify (and some I really couldn't), I've finally run out of pages to create. That also means I'm out of excuses.
Everything else is done, and I'm staring at this blank screen, preparing to write my first new blog post.
This time I'm determined to keep it going. I've discovered I do have stuff to put here, and I can make the commitment to keep at it until this gets to the point where writing a blog is a habit. (I've been told that will happen ... eventually.)
Now that the countdown to launch has finally ended, I guess I'm really leaving orbit.
I'm not sure where I'm heading yet, but it will be out there somewhere (and if I get lost, blame Geoff and Zachry).
No matter where I go, hopefully there will be good beer.
(Oh hey, look at that. I guess I already finished my first post!)
One down ...
Image Credit: The image above is an original render I did of the upgraded Olympus Dawn II from Season Two of Wings of Earth. The background is a NASA file image.
Hope Dies Hard - On Sale Now!
A ruthless enemy…
A desperate plea for help.
Captain Ethan Walker is learning to accept the reality of his new life as a fugitive renegade. When an unexpected message arrives at their NuProvidence base, it plunges the crew of the Olympus Dawn into a dangerous showdown with a mysterious government group known only as The Management.
The merciless leader of this secret agency will stop at absolutely nothing to shut down Ethan and his followers. She’s willing to step well outside the law… even going as far as abducting innocent people to achieve her goals.
After The Management kidnaps their loved ones, she threatens Walker with an ultimatum: If you ever want to see your families again, you will surrender your ship and crew.
Left with no choice, Captain Walker knows their only hope is to risk the impossible to rescue them.
Alone, they must break into Dziban, the most dangerous prison in all of known space.
And then, somehow, get back out.
You should grab the next exciting installment of Wings of Earth now, and find out exactly why ... Hope Dies Hard!