Chapter 25 continues my least favorite sub-plot of this version of Nightwind. Wait, no, it continues both of my least favorite sub-plots. Sweet.
There’s very little to say about the overall plot of the “crew gets stuck on a planet being held by hostile, primitive people” bit. It wasn’t anything but a time waster for me. This remains baffling to me, since the original draft of Nightwind clocks in at a bit under one hundred thousand words, has about twelve different plots, and doesn’t really explore any of them. I will be the first to tell you that this is bad writing. Is it the worst ever? I hope not. Am I proud of it? Not particularly.
This is one of those things that can only be learned with time and seeing other people do it well. When I started the rewrite I thought I could basically take the original and tweak it. Add in some details here. Make something less stupid there. But the book itself was fundamentally broken. I had too many plots and none were being properly served. So either I make a bigger, more detailed mess or I pull back and reimagine the whole structure.
So I pulled everything back to the point where only one plot line survived. And then I added a whole new plot line that functioned alongside the main one to bring a different perspective. It was, I will admit, terrifying. I spent a lot of time worrying that the new book wouldn’t be long enough. Then, as I approached the halfway point I started to worry I had too much. So I left a couple of big chunks basically as placeholders for some ideas I had but I wasn’t sure I had the room for. The main difference is that I started asking, “What are we seeing in this place? What are we hearing? What are we smelling?” And then I started asking what the characters thought and felt about it.
In chapter 25 we see a hint of what I wanted to do. I’ve always had a sense that Anderson was in over his head and wasn’t prepared for the job. So this is where he’s starting to fall apart. But I didn’t really do the work here. I just made him suddenly go into full asshole mode when dealing with his own crew.
Furthermore, I never bothered to answer one of the most important questions. Why does Anderson have this job? We already know that Turner and Hunt have their own ships. We already know that Horatio Semmes is the most senior captain in the Earth Command Navy. While we can probably eliminate Semmes from contention because of his age and general weirdness that still leaves Anderson as, at best, the third best option.
The rewrite has an answer for this. It’s not a very good answer, at least in the way someone outside of the universe looking in would imagine. But it has its own internal logic. The universe of the rewrite is familiar but quite different. In that universe David Anderson has a particular quality that makes him uniquely suited to this role in Earth Command’s eyes.
Meanwhile, there’s the silly little mutiny sub-plot that’s just getting dumber. See, long ago I had a throwaway line about civilians being aboard the ship. Basically, I had the civilians aboard the ship to answer the question, “Why is Jackson’s husband suddenly here?”
The best thing about this plot line, though? It’s actually survived into the rewrite. It has survived in a completely different form. I’d say it’s completely unrecognizable, in fact. But it’s there.
So we traipse along to Chapter 26 where everything is awful. Seriously.
What we’re looking at here is textbook WWII convoy action. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The transports are, well, the transports. Semmes and Morgan are running destroyer escorts. The rogue ships are playing the role of U-Boats or Panzerschiffe. And Semmes starts off by setting up for a freaking broadside. Like he’s in charge of a wooden ship of the line.
I have figured out many things about theoretical space combat since then.
The other big problem here is that everyone seems to have energy shields. The only reason for that is because Star Trek.
The problem here is that it would be trivially easy for Dragon and Wyvern to take out this convoy. Dump a whole lot of missiles at the fat, slow, transports and skedaddle while its escorts try and fail to shoot said missiles down. Or, even better, drop the missiles and then engage the escorts so they can’t actually defend the ships.
Also, this hasn’t really solved the bigger problem that I have no fucking clue why this is happening other than “because plot.”
Ugh. Let us never speak of this again.