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Secrets of the Original Viroverse: Part Two

The original ideas for Outside Eternity were quite different from the finished version. I thought it would be interesting to reveal some of the changes I made and the reasons behind the changes. Of course, you should read the books before reading this:


Originally, there were no halls, no terminal, no John Down, and no Captain Andrews. If you have read Secrets of the Viroverse Part One – which you should – then you will know that I intended Adam to escape via a tunnel under the Psychoviro.

The tunnel leads to an early version of the city of Sonador, where Adam is captured. He escapes, with help from an old ‘friend’, and heads to a secure research facility in the nearby mountains – we are still in the Viroverse here.

The research facility is where Groover and the other Originals were processed during the experimental phase – although they were tricked into believing they were full-size and on the outside.

From the research facility, now solely manned by androids, Adam is sent to the surface and discovers a vast Resource and Power station that supplies the Viroverse. Part of the station is in ruins, struck by a crashed orbital weapons platform. A few full-size humans remain, but are reduced to a primitive existence due to some global catastrophe.

Making contact with the humans – a ‘Gulliver and Lilliputian’ moment – Adam organises a crude repair of the station, ensuring the survival of the Viroverse.

I abandoned this idea because it felt too much like a standard post-apocalyptic scenario. Rather than a dystopian or utopian vision, I wanted a future that that is both – much like our muddling, cruel, yet often inspiring present day world. Filthy, and without free will, the eternally pleasured slerds, and the bleak magnificence of the slerding plains, suited my vision.

Even the revised version had many changes. Instead of the Captain and the Terminal, I planned a Regency viro, inhabited by a camp elderly gentleman named Lord Albert Carresbourgh. Also known as The Navigator, Albert had a semi-autonomous position within the Viroverse. He was able to map routes through the viros – involving sleep transport and waking up in various viros along the way. This is how Adam makes his way to the surface, although is waylaid in Sonador.

I changed this because, as with the psychoviro, I wanted something urban and more brutal. The Terminal, with its horrific day spa, was a contrast of safe orderly civilisation undercut by violence and suffering. Captain Andrews, conflicted between his programming and his desire to help, doling out both pleasure and pain, perfectly fitted in.

The inclusion of John Down was a late change. I had already written much of the novel, but was unhappy with the character Adam meets in the halls, Leonardo Da Vinci (although he calls himself Vince and has an annoying mockney accent).

He had to go. I felt that Da Vinci was an overused character in fiction and would induce groans from my discerning readers. If you want to know why I went for John Down, and why they surf along the halls, then read this section:

Why John Down and surfing?

Another change from the first book, perhaps more subtle in nature, was my approach to the violence. In Outside Eternity, the violence always has a strong identifiable reason behind it: saving Kimberley, the Day Spa, Adam’s boiling, Manny’s suicide etc. In the first book, most of the violence, specifically the psycho encounters, is due to the warped nature of the beasts – they bring pain because they need to. Book Three combines both approaches … maybe.

The railroader’s viro was another late change. Instead of the ‘chaw chewing’ men of the iron road, I had a community of Cree Indians. Hailing from the 1800’s community of Mooseport in Canada, the Cree were suspicious of a 21st century westernised Cree girl accidently resurrected into their viro.

Despite heavy research, I abandoned the Cree idea and dumped the chapter. I could not get a decent hold of the dialogue. I had no Cree translator on hand, so I had the inhabitants speak English. To me, the clumsy dialogue was stereotyping, perhaps verging on racist - not far removed from, ‘me smokum peace pipe’. With the railroaders, I was on firmer ground – even with the Irish characters since I have some relatives in Ireland who would definitely say something if I put a foot wrong.

Early on, the city of Sonador was called Puritan, which was a contrast to the debauched ways of the inhabitants. I found out that Puritan is a nickname for Boston so changed it.

The ‘String O’ Pearls’ Skyway in Sonador was a late change. Only a few weeks before publication, I had huge airships, grey with elaborate fins, which docked at the tops of the city’s skyscrapers. It was called The Zeppelin DaVinci Skyway. Enjoying the wonderful TV series, Fringe, I noticed exactly the same idea. Reluctantly, I removed the airships.

Adam ventures into the halls with Manny and Rhapsody, with Kimberley joining later. The first line-up also included the Sarge, Adam’s combat instructor from the first book. I liked the idea of the manly banter between Adam and the Sarge, cut with humour and good natured jibes. The Sarge was also to be the object of Carresbourgh’s secret affections, which he sometimes not so subtly conveys. I planned a lunch parody of the deleted and recently reinstated scene from Kubrick’s Spartacus where Laurence Olivier and Tony Curtis have a metaphorical conversation about their preference for oysters or snails (vaginas and penises). My version involved Cumberland sausages and steak and kidney pudding.

It was reluctantly, and with a heavy heart, that I dropped the Sarge from the group (although he still makes a brief appearance during the final showdown with the Dreamers). He was the wrong choice. I wanted to play on Adam’s failing skills and make the journey more perilous for the group. The Sarge could just step in, making up for Adam’s shortcomings, and take away the tension.

Another character from the first book that was going to make a comeback in Outside Eternity was Drago, the Portsmouth pimp and erstwhile Croatian warlord. I wanted Drago to be the one who rescues Adam from Sonador on behalf of John Down. In the final showdown, Adam chooses Drago to be Linwood’s strategist. I still have the scene where they find out the truth about Drago:

Drago Warlord

I will admit that the only reason I wanted Drago in the story was for that one joke, although I still wonder if I should have left him in anyway (maybe I should write an extended edition).

Finally, I had a complete sub-plot involving the systematic production of clones. I will not go into details because I might use the idea in another work. I removed the sub-plot simply because it added too many words to the novel and inhibited the flow.

Stephen Ayres © 2014