Friday, October 31, 2008

'DANCE OF TIGERS' is dead. Long live 'ASLAM'.

When Tethys was finally done it still wasn't finished. When you come to think about it, stories seldom are; it's just that some are better off not told, and many, let's face it, should have been aborted long before they were.

At the time of concluding Tethys, I was also going through a period of fascination with Tigers. Truth be told, I am still fascinated with them, but after some time of reflection, occasioned by...well, 'circumstances' I guess...I've come to the conclusion that, appropriate though it is in terms of its main theme, the title 'Dance of Tigers' for the sequel to Tethys is wrong. I guess I always knew that, but even I occasionally live in denial. So sue me.

Anyway, above is the first design—emphasis is on 'design'!—for the cover of Aslam. As with the other covers it's a representation or a scene from the book. In the event, the scene gained shape in my head even as I started on the cover design.

A note on tools. The images are done using a 3-d design program called DAZ Studio, which you can get free from DAZ3D. I've given up on Poser, which I've used in the past, because after years of development, DAZ Studio, despite a bunch of configuration issues and being a PITA to set up on the Mac, has overtaken Poser as a 'usable' 3D modeling and rendering environment. The props, figures, clothing and hair used to create the 3D-part of the scene(s) can be obtained from DAZ3D at very sensible cost. Also, my old Poser libraries can be accessed from DAZ Studio, which means that the software transition doesn't mean I lose existing content. (I know this is geek-speak to a lot of people, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.)

I've learned not to set up the whole scene in one render, but in bits and pieces, that can be put together, and combined with photographs and tarted up with some TLC and my trusty graphic tablet, in Photoshop. What you see in the image above are the mostly un-Photoshopped compotite images. They'll still need a lot of work. It's always the last pase of the work that takes up most of one's time.

The title of the book, by the way, is the name of the largest of Tethys's continents. Aslam and what we'll find in its center derives from several sources. One is drawing of a 'land' that I wanted to use for another novel, but now decided to take as a setting for Aslam instead.

Never leave a perfectly good map unused.

The other motivation is that Fontaine and Tethys already created an initial social backdrop for the people of the giant oasis in Aslam's center. When Naela disguised herself as an 'Aslatrix' in order to leave the Valley a whole new story-thread was started, that culminated, of course, in the apperance of a 'real' Aslatrix in the character of 'Teris'. (And, yes, if you haven't read either of these books: tough cookies!)

Thus do story-tellers get themselves into trouble. The question about where Teris comes from, combined with the imminent appearance of the 'Controller', Gaston Huil, on Tethys, and just exactly what his plans are and how this all comes out...

Of course that's just 'plot'. 'Theme' is something else altogether, and what that is, is for me to know and the reader to find out—when I'm done. The privileges of the one who knows, over those who don't.

The central characters of Aslam are: Teris; Falcon; Mac; Naela; a friend of Mac's called 'Daveed', whom we first met in Tethys; a Sareen called 'Sendee', who appeared briefly in Fontaine; the Controller, Gaston Huil. Plus there's a supporting cast of the usual suspects, with a few new ones, some of them scary.

And that's all for this time. Aslam is definitely coming.

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