Guest Post: Andrew Matthews author of Ab Initio

Hi all,


This is a completely new thing for me but I’m here today to talk about my experience throughout my NaNoWriMo attempt this year.


But first a little background info… My name’s Andy, I’m almost 22. I’ve always loved reading but never had much time to read as much as I’d like to, and also I’m quite a slow reader as english literacy and spelling, grammar etc. aren’t my strong points (I’m much more at home in the cold logic of mathematics and science!) However that being the case, I’ve always thought of myself as being quite imaginative and creative. I’ve always felt that I could piece a good story together, IF I had the skills to get behind it and craft it professionally and expertly.


I’m not a writer. I’ve never even written anything more than a couple of pages when it comes to creative writing. I’m not the best speller or user of my mother tongue there is, but I had a thought.


And as I found out, that’s really all you need…


Ok, so I should maybe explain what’s actually going on here? About midway through October I made a decision that I thought at the time I would regret; to complete at least 50,000 words in the month of November. I remember being very anxious towards the start, not knowing if what I had chosen to do was a good or bad idea. Heck, I didn’t even know if this would possible for me to complete! But I had to at least try.


In the summer of 2010 a friend of mine showed me a video on youtube, it was a theoretical science video from the 70’s or 80’s about how it’s possible that the world could not be made up of physical matter. That everything we see and experience is simply perceptions, or energy in our brains. This is when the thought; “This could make an awesome story” crossed my mind and throughout the second half of that year I planned one.


And thus my first attempt at creative writing began. It was a gigantic failure. Or at least that’s what I felt at the time, looking back now I finally see that I had jumped the gun, I had started way too early. This story needed time to grow, and whether I knew it or not, it grew. Fast forward to the end of August 2011, I met the person who introduced me to NaNoWriMo, who reignited my smouldering desire for reading and literature.


When I first heard about NaNoWriMo, I told this person that I had an idea for a story, but it wasn’t very good. They asked me about it, and I told them. They loved it, told me I should try and do NaNo this year. I still don’t know how, but that person had changed my outlook on this, I had the confidence that I could do this, or at least try.


I had also recently gotten into blogging, writing a philosophical blog here on blogger. That’s when an idea struck me, I could do something amazing here. I chose to attempt NaNoWriMo and also to document my progress in the form of a blog; Donarex’s NaNoWriMo Adventure had officially begun.


I remember the month seeming long at first but as I soon learnt things change quickly. Over the space of 4 weeks I had many ups and downs, times when I thought I would have a fantasy epic by the end of this spanning into 100,000 words, and others when I thought I would not have anything to show at all by November 30th. But I successfully completed the month and had a very amazing novel by the end of it. I was pleased with the final product, but in a way it still doesn’t feel final.


I’ve found that I have an amazing lust when it comes to writing. Even now, just over a month after the end of NaNo I seem to be almost forcing myself to hold back on a second book. This is an amazing feeling, honestly I’ve never had anything like this before and I’ve never had so much enjoyment or had such pride and focus in anything I’ve done before. It’s a life changing feeling and I’ve honestly started considering trying writing as a career (if I can get the kickstart anyone needs to begin anything in today’s world).


I wouldn’t have changed anything about this experience. Not a single thing; everything has been unreal so far – the fact I finished, the quality of the finished product, the fact that this feels like the beginning rather than the end… It just doesn’t feel as though it’s been happening to me, and although it has been falling into a lull as of late, I feel like this is not the end. Not by a long shot.


The novel is a science fiction story that mainly focuses on the idea of the world being perceptions rather than matter and has a kind of Matrix-esque feel to it. If all goes to plan this is book one of about 5-7, I still haven’t finalised the story yet so it may change as I finish each part of the saga. Book one sets everything up, hence it’s name; Ab Initio, a Latin phrase that means “from the beginning”. I spent ages trying to find a name and then stumbled across this whilst clearing away some Uni papers – one of which was from an extra module I did “Japanese I (Ab Initio)”. When I saw that, I knew it was the title, it just felt right.


Below is the synopsis and chapter one of Ab Initio and if you enjoy that feel free to email me: andymatt90@hotmail.com or send me a tweet: @Donarex asking for a digital copy.




Synopsis


When 26 year old Tristan Lambrick finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, he is faced with the difficult desicion of stay and fight, or run and hide. However leaving his life behind would prove difficult in this new world, with new seasons and new calendars and new plains to explore, Lambrick’s possibilities seem endless. Unfortunately there are certain people who are willing to do anything to prevent the loss of Tristan and his abilities.


Alongside a mysterious girl, can Tristan find the answers he seeks? Will he escape his pursuers? And will he learn more about the girl with the pixie cut? Are things always as they seem?




Chapter One


IT WASN’T ALWAYS THIS WAY. At least that’s what the scholars tell us. That in the Golden Age, Earth was a completely different world to the barren wasteland that stretched out before me. The Human race, we thought we would last forever. In the past most people thought there would be a cataclysmic event that ended everything in one fell swoop, some thought we would eventually just die out like everything else inevitably does in the end. That was until we became arrogant…


It was called the Arc. The biggest star ship ever created, the first of its kind and it had the single most important task that we could ever ask for. The Arc was charged with the transportation of a select few, not like in those ancient science fiction stories from before the Golden Age where only the brightest and the best were taken, a true selection. Everyday people; children, mothers, bakers, writers, police officers even a few celebrities. Sure you did have the odd scientist and boffin, but how else were they supposed to keep the Arc in flight and civilisation running without just the smallest amount of crème de le crème? “A World with Wings” it was called by those who created it; half the size of the Earth and capable of carrying ten percent of the world’s population across the stars.  Full with ecosystems and animals that would keep the human race living through the generations that would pass until they reached their destination which lay in a different galaxy to our own, New Earth. The Arc, a terra-formed space cruiser that was capable of sustaining life without any need for any controlling computer systems; it really was a world with wings.


The Arc had left earlier that year and that’s when it happened. The climates had steadily gotten worse as the generations past and it was beginning to get unbearable. The people before the Golden Age had ideas of changing lifestyles to cope with the changing world around them. Unlike how the people from before the Golden Age wanted us to just cope; we were going to end the need to just cope. We were going to fix everything. They wanted us to change, do little insignificant things that when added together had a monumental effect on the world. Don’t use too much water… Turn lights off when you leave a room… Don’t leave appliances on standby… We didn’t need to think about things like that, we had just sent one billion people off on a journey that would take them generations to complete. We didn’t need to think about such trivial things as turning off lights. And that arrogance when multiplied by the nine billion lives left on this planet, would be the start of our downfall.


An ancient scientist, ancient even to the people of the before Golden Age, once said “Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth”. They named the project after him, Archimedes. The plan was just that… They were going to move the Earth. Climate change had made the world just on the edge of impossible to live in; the summers were full of droughts and tropical storms, the winters unbearably cold and some people far north had to migrate south with the birds to avoid what had finally become impossible living conditions. Earth quakes, volcanoes and all other forms of natural disaster had become common place but still we survived through the unending hell that had become planet Earth.


Then the solution arrived, using gravitational fields they proposed to move the planet, move it away from the sun to the newly calculated “Goldilocks Position” in our solar system. That one area that made it possible for life to even start on this rock, out of all the ones out there, all those years ago. Science had not found any other forms of life out there, not even an amoeba, so that strengthened our hypothesis that our planet was somehow special. The right mix of chemicals, in the right place, at the right time. And look what had come from all of that; these little accidents were going to move the heavens themselves. Or so we thought…


The Archimedes Project did work, just not at all like we had planned. The Earth did move, but now it sort of slingshots its way round the sun. Scholars call it an elliptical orbit. The distance from the sun now changes throughout the bi-year, the old definition of a year was the time it took for Earth to orbit the sun, we now call it a bi-year because it takes twenty months to orbit. Not exactly double but it sure as hell sounds better than one-and-two-thirds-year. Another consequence of AP, other than everyone having to buy new calendars, was the world changed, and it changed a lot. Governments had trouble quelling uprisings, people everywhere were angry at how science had failed them. They took to the streets rioting, destroying the places of knowledge that seem to know all there was to know, yet had not seen the hell they had forced the world into. But that was the least of everyone’s worries, Night had yet to fall.


Night, that’s the new name for winter. It happens when Earth is furthest away from the sun. Even though it’s starting to go supernova, the rays just aren’t strong enough once they reach us during the Night. It’s pitch black at night, the actual time of day not the season, as there’s no moon any more to light up the dark sky and the stars have slowly been dying out since we could remember but faster than ever in the Post Golden Age world. Although Archimedes did take the moon in to account, it got left behind to drift through space, some say that’s why all this happened that the delicate balance of all the planets in our system had been knocked out of whack by the movement of the Earth. The days are no better and have a dull glow to them; all you can see is a tiny smudge of orange in the dark blue sky. Like a tiny smouldering ember in the heart of a dying fire, but we all know that it’s really a raging fireball. We all know that that fire still burns strong. As we’re so far away from the sun it gets cold and everywhere freezes even at the equator, some say you can walk around the entire world because the oceans become like glass. There’s a legend that the scholars tell; back when it was possible a man flew around the world and saw the frozen oceans, large waves stuck in time as they curved up to crash back down, but instead they’ll slowly melt and drip pathetically onto a frozen ground beneath the crests but all photographic evidence was lost and all that remains are drawings from people who lived centuries after the event. I don’t think it’s ever been above zero degrees during the Night. Sometimes it snows, but gone are the days when snow had a magical mystery about it, children running around having snowball fights and making snowmen. Run around outside during the Night and you’d lose a foot at best, make a snowball and you wouldn’t have a hand to throw it with. Snow had returned to being the cold beast where we pray to anyone who we think may be listening, to break us from this icy prison. The Night lasts for what seems like forever, but that tiny ember slowly grows bigger as we move closer towards what we all dread.


The Floods are what come next, or spring as it used to be known. The frozen masses of water melt exponentially all over the globe. The result is worldwide flooding, and it stays that way for all of the Floods. A lot of countries got wiped out this way; all the coastal lands and islands got submerged. People just left them after the first few Floods; they couldn’t live there knowing that every year their homes would be covered in water for five months, after being frozen for eight before that, as they soon found out after the Second Night fell. The First Floods were what started the global economic crisis; the last global economic crisis. Too many countries got wiped out, too many families without homes, animals got washed away, crops, livestock and factories. Everything. The world stock markets just crashed, too much was lost and it all happened too quickly.


This had happened before when all the fuels ran out. Back before the Golden Age we used what were known as fossil fuels, our lives pretty much revolved around them. But a few decades into the Golden Age, they started to run out. We put everything we had into developing new types of energy. Nuclear power was made many times safer than what it was, and we found out how to make use of what was previously known as ‘radioactive waste’. Nuclear plants sprung up all over the planet and other forms of energy helped fill the void that fossil fuels had left. Every new home was built with a small wind turbine and solar panels covered every roof, pretty much every household could sustain itself when it came to hot water and every day electrical needs. The nuclear stations were used to cover the energy demands of companies and bigger buildings and as a reserve if the homes had down time in terms of wind or sunlight.


But, just as many homes and food sources were lost to the Floods; so too were a great number of nuclear stations. Energy became scarce again, people had to make sacrifices and this made them angrier than ever. They blamed the governments, the scientists, each other; anyone to place the blame on, anyone to point the finger at. The rioting started again but a thousand times worse than before. The governments were completely destroyed during the first Searing, as were many more things. The Searing, formerly known as summer, is the worst time for all of us. The waters of the Floods recede, soon making it a luxury, and it gets so hot. What used to be grass lands and fields get set alight in the scorching heat. During this time fields of flames cover the areas around the City I live in, and it becomes a desert soon after.
Then the Calm comes, the one time where we finally get to relax and live what lives we have left, before Night falls again and we start the journey through hell once more. It was the First Calm when things became like the world I know, the world I was surveying now, as I sat on a rock which was half charred black from the countless Searings it had endured before I was even on this god forsaken planet. I looked out into the desert, taking in the endless browny-gray vastness decorated by nothing but the odd rock or sand dune. The heat was causing the air to wave upwards off the ground in the far distance, making the setting sun look like it shimmered behind an invisible curtain. I sighed and looked upwards, a small flock of birds flew over head; a rare luxury to see wildlife in this day and age. Most of it lived out in the Elements, the vast plains of emptiness so called as there were four main flavours they came in. The Waters were the most common, over half the planet was now covered in water so it was hardly surprising. Large areas of marsh land or swamps, and some said there were even remnants of the Golden Age’s grand buildings in some Waters, if you looked deep enough. The Earths were the other remnants of the Golden Age, well even before then. Great mountains that showed the Earth can endure a lot more than the fragile Human race, and small clumps of forest kept alive by the people of the Golden Age because they were ‘pretty’ and contained all the ‘cute’ animals they didn’t want to kill.


The Winds were by far the most dangerous of all and the furthest away from any City. Empty plains full of thunderstorms and tornado valleys. The Winds never stopped blowing, and no man had ever set foot in one. No man dared step foot in the Winds, or even tread close, even the animals didn’t go near them. You could see them from miles off; I’d heard that not so far out in to the Fires that surrounded the City I called home, you could find a cliff where you could see the Winds, and hear them endlessly roar in the distance, the sound only broken by the frequent crack of lightning as it ripped through the air. The old scholar from the library in the City also said it was written that the Winds by our home turned into what was known as the Towering Inferno during the Searing, where the burning grass was pulled into the Winds and the sky literally burned. On the outskirts of the City was a vast plain that changed dramatically depending on what season you came to look out into the wilderness. These were known as the Fires; fields of lush green grass during the Calm, once they had a chance to grow back of course, covered in frozen swords of tall grass during the Night, which wilted down and became a bog in the time of the Floods, this was the only time we actually called them Waters rather than Fires.


  But they were the most beautifully dangerous by far when the Searing came, the grass dries at first, begins to wilt and then browns and turns crispy in the hot sun, and then it would happen. It usually happened the same day every year. Everyone from the City would gather on their rooftops to watch the Fires ignite; it really was the most awe inspiring sight one could behold. It would start so far away in the distance. A small glow of orange on the horizon with the sun high in the sky, massive and blood red watching the Earth burn as it should have so long ago before we interfered.  Then the orange glow would slowly build up, and sparks would start to fly into the sky, reaching higher and higher as though they yearned to be one with the sun that bore them. The fires would spread towards our City and by the time the sun had set, the entire field would be ablaze, giving our festivities a warm glow, bringing such happiness and joy out of something that was a terrible truth of the world we now lived in.


The Fire Festival was a few months ago, and a desert of gray sands from all the burnt grass that used to fill the field now took its place. This was the usual way the field looked at the start of the Calm; I often came out when it looked like this. I found it peaceful and relaxing to just stare out at the horizon and watch the red sun set. Sure the wilds were dangerous but they were strangely beautiful at the same time. All of nature was and we had ruined it all. Before the Archimedes project had been implemented, before the times that climate change had ravaged the environment it must have been so beautiful to just sit and watch the world go by. Such a shame that as humans our existence had become so overly complex and had such intricate details to our lives that we lacked the ability to simply sit and be. Somehow we had managed to reach the end of our sun’s life along with a few other animals; some of which we helped along the way. Certain animals were alive today because of us, we needed them and had bred them for so many years that even now, in this desolate world we still kept cows and sheep; all the useful animals we had domesticated. We had kept others as companions but unfortunately they could not adapt to the environment as well as others it had seemed. Most had escaped into the Elements, centuries in the past and had either died out or grown into one of the few species that had survived alongside humankind; all of which seemed to have a penchant for human flesh.


Propping myself back up onto my elbows I ran my fingers through my hair, and as grey ash fell from it I decided to shake both hands through the tangled black mass to get it all out. The old scholar was always the first to inform me “you look like an old geezer with all that ash in your hair” and I would always cheekily reply “Not as old as you old man”, whenever he did so. But I was not in the mood for such trivial exchanges today, and I’m sure the scholar would understand why.


I’m Tristan Lambrick, I’m 26 years old and both my parents are dead. Or they are to me anyway.

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