In late 2016, I created a piece that I named ‘Midnight Rider’. After publishing it, I started to consider expanding on the character’s world and her story. I just felt like one piece wasn’t enough to describe the atmosphere that was there.
During this period of thought, I was also riding what is known as the New Retro Wave-- a genre of music that reminisces the days of Don Johnson and pearlescent Lamborghinis. This musical movement helped formulate themes of this young woman’s world, and what qualities (and problems) a futuristic setting might have. It should also be noted that I had not seen Blade Runner up to this point. The exposure to this genre was an experience unlike any other.
After doing a bit of research, I found a potential setting that would be a perfect setting for a science fiction narrative. Twenty lightyears from Earth, among the Libra constellation, is an 11 billion-year-old red dwarf star, Gliese 581. Due to Gliese 581‘s smaller size in comparison to our own sun, planets that orbit it are much closer to its surface. Therefor, a complete orbit might take only a couple months or even weeks.
In 2010, a planet was discovered by European scientists orbiting this star. It is thought to have elements needed to sustain life as it is on Earth. Since this planet resides so close to the parent star, it is tidally locked. Just like our own moon, this tidal locking means that one side of the planet is always facing the body that it orbits. In other words, the two hemispheres of the planet offer vastly different climates. The very subsolar point that is closest to the star would be a hellish desert. I imagine a blazing red sun held in eternal high-noon. The supersolar point, however, would theoretically be a frigid and silent blackness that has never seen the face of its own star.
Now, although these two extremes exist on this planet, there could also exist a third environment. Along a circumventing meridian, sandwiched between the two hemispheres, would be a temperate zone. A zone kept in stasis by sometimes turbulent winds. With two vastly different pressure systems, there would be violent storms which could perhaps nurture a habitable zone. With advances in terraforming technology, we can conclude that by the year the story begins, humans have developed permanent settlements (enough to write a story about, anyways).
With these ingredients, I believe I have something to cook up. I want to bring the fullest life I can to this fabricated world and its inhabitants. They and I both thank you for reading.
In the year 2487, mankind has established its first interstellar civilization. Twenty light-years from Earth, in the Libra constellation, exists a planetary system known as Gliese-581. In this system, Zarmina, the sixth planet, rotates in a tidally-locked orbit around Gliese. It is a red dwarf star twice as old as our own Sun, and destined to burn twice as long. For over one hundred years, Earth has been sending colony ships of volunteers to terraform and inhabit Zarmina. The voyage between Earth and Zarmina takes more than twenty years at light speed. A shipbuilding company has constructed a new type of colony ship, the Duskrider, that supports a fully-functioning society for this lengthy journey.
A new social phenomenon is revolutionizing human life on Zarmina. People now have the opportunity to transfer their consciousness to a new body: a synthetic host. The synthetic host doesn’t age. It doesn’t need food, get sick or develop cancer. Transferring essentially means immortality. The process, however, is irreversible. Recently, a colony ship from Earth has docked in Zarmina’s interstellar port city of Vogt. The colony transport, the Duskrider, has brought 300,000 immigrants from Earth in hopes for economic growth. Among this group is Lena. On her life aboard the Duskrider, Lena was a well-known magnacycle racer. Zarminian magnacycle riders have begun insuring their legacies by transferring their consciousness to synthetic hosts. Lena is facing pressure from her team and their investors to protect hers as well. Are humans meant to achieve such powers with life? Does living as a synthetic feel the same? She now finds herself at a diverging path of her convictions, or continuing her passion.
At the initial goal, I can write and illustrate pages along the way. This way will be the most time-consuming path, but it will be done how I want it. In order to hit the deadline, I would need funds to pay for the time I would be utilizing writing and painting. External freelance work would be put on hold while I focus on the novel.
With an illustrated novel of this scope, I'd like to hire an editor to help with the story. I already know how it will end and main events along the way, but I want someone with much more experience in storytelling to help me make this the best it can be. If a $20,000 goal is met, I'm allocating $6,000-$8,000 for this work to be done.
If a $30,000 goal is met, the digital version will have animated images. I would also need to hire someone to do animation as I finish the pages. It's something I can do myself, but will go much faster if I have someone animating effects as I finish an illustration. If I can set aside at least another $6,000 for this, I think I will be golden.
At this amount, however, the whole project will have time added to the deadline. With more construction, I will want to take the time to fine-comb any details. Another 8 or 9 months will be added to the project at this point. Any difference in funds with this goal or the previous will be used for the added printing costs.
Here's an example of the basic effects that can be added to a stationery image:
With the time it will take to draw and navigate the art direction of the story, I want to set aside 1/4 of the funding goal to pay for my own illustration time. I will also send out a monthly newsletter to the backers of the project to update on the progress and show imagery of the work happening.
Risks and challenges
The part about the project that I am most excited to do is the individual scenes. As opposed to a graphic novel with many small panels, this project will have large page, sometimes two-page, digital paintings. The ultimate challenge will be creating the online version of these panels to animate. The way that I have envisioned the final product is that the scenes will be cinemagraphs (like a .gif, but perfectly looped). I do not consider myself an author. At heart, I am an illustrator. I wanted a reason to create all of these scenes from a different world and to take my art to the next level.
If my goal is met for this project, I want to create a full-length story surrounding our main character, Lena's, adventure on Zarmina. I would love to see the choices that she is faced to make in the advent of AI advancements. The people she meets will influence her decisions and alter their own lives. The literary goal is drawing questions to readers' minds of how technology can not only be terrifying, but how it can be helpful as well. The physical goal is to create a 400-600 page illustrated novel that not only captivates readers by the storytelling, but by the visuals as well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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