Opinions needed!

This is a simple one, I think.

I am writing a vast space opera of 6 planned books (five of them substantially written and in review right now). The premis is simple: thousands of years after an alternate universe Earth went dark, the people of one of her colonies, Albion, struggle for survival in the war against the Maess. The hero, Shield Captain Bennet, fights to prevent the destruction of humanity at the hands of an implacable alien enemy.  Bennet’s relationships with lovers (of both sexes) and family are set against this background. When the series opens, Bennet is at odds with his long term partner, Joss, who wants him out of the military and back in an academic, archaeological career. He’s estranged from his father, Caeden, who is a Fleet commander. Events of the first book, in which he is sent to his father’s ship to carry out an infiltration mission behind Maess lines, improve his relationship with Caeden, but bring with them the catalyst that will destroy the one with Joss: one Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, who, over the course of the series, develops into Bennet’s main love interest. Bennet and Flynn meet and part more than once before finally, at the end of book six, they have the chance to be together permanently.

So, now that’s clear, you’ll appreciate that with a story of this size, I have a timeline. I have a detailed timeline worked out using a perpetual calendar based on Albion’s year of 414 days (ten months of 41 or 42 days each), with each week being of 9 days. That means I know what day anything happens. Now, I can hug this bit of information to myself and make the reader work it out, damn it! Or I can share.

Here’s an example. The opening paragraph of the first Shield story, Gyrfalcon:

Something that might be a bird broke out of the bushes, wings blurring as it beat up into the sky. Its tooth-ringed mouth gaped wide on a hoarse shriek. The Maess drone appeared so suddenly behind it, pushing through the thick forest undergrowth, that Shield Captain Bennet just had time to hurl himself sideways to get out of the line of fire. The photon pistol built into the cyborg drone’s right arm spat out a plasma bolt that smacked through the air so close to his side he felt the kick to his ribs. The air smelled of burnt ozone.

Or:

Septimus 21st, 7489 : uninhabited planet designated A2T-486G
Something that might be a bird broke out of the bushes, wings blurring as it beat up into the sky. Its tooth-ringed mouth gaped wide on a hoarse shriek. The Maess drone appeared so suddenly behind it, pushing through the thick forest undergrowth, that Shield Captain Bennet just had time to hurl himself sideways to get out of the line of fire. The photon pistol built into the cyborg drone’s right arm spat out a plasma bolt that smacked through the air so close to his side he felt the kick to his ribs. The air smelled of burnt ozone.

Which do you prefer, my pretties? Is the second version a cop out for proper world building and story telling, do you think? Or acceptable?

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4 thoughts on “Opinions needed!

  1. Tough call. Many sci-fi stories (both written and in television/movie format) have what’s known as an establishing shot. Like the guards pacing in front of the gate at Cheyenne Mountain–it let the viewer know the action had moved to Earth and the SGC again. I could go either way on this one–but given the breadth of the story (and the span of time), I’m inclined to use the headers. But why don’t you post this question over on the GaySci-Fi list on Goodreads? That might be a great place to get a broad-spectrum opinion. 🙂

  2. I prefer the headers. Gives it a Captain’s Log aside sort if a feel, and it provides info that helps keep reader in-universe without having to stop, pull their head out, and reason things out.

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