Reintroduction: The Shine Cycle

I’ve recently realized that other than my “Hello World” first post in the last days of 2008, I’ve never properly introduced myself or my work on this blog. So, to correct this omission, over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a series of posts reintroducing myself and my major projects—other than my poetry, which for the most part needs no introduction. Today I’ll begin with my fiction.

The Shine Cycle is “my fantasy series-in-preparation,” and the nominal subject of this blog (given the URL and the name in the largest type above). More precisely, it is my planned series of mythopoeic fantasy novels, primarily consisting of the history of two continents in an invented world from their creation to at least two centuries afterward. Running through much of it, occasionally surfacing in the story I feel called to tell, are the threads of the individual stories of dozens of characters from our world who abruptly find themselves there, and make their mark on the their new world.

The thought that originally sparked what became this immense task was a what-if (or, rather, what-next) speculation about the end of The Last Battle, when I was in elementary school. But it soon spun away from that to a world and story of its own … and then quickly spiraled out of control. I brought it into some semblance of order in middle school by creating an outline of the main plot, which I’m still (in much-modified form) following as my guide for the series as a whole. But thereafter, more and more plot threads and character ideas attached themselves all over.

Because of the scope of the project, for now I’ve been trying to put more effort into the structure and background of the series than into writing any one part of it. I really don’t want to have a character in two places at once (according to the accounts in two different books) or an event to be described by two books as happening entirely differently, and so I’m trying to work my way through the entire series in outline first, and get to the details of each story later. (Though I am working on actually writing, and revising, a few of the individual stories.) And I’m trying to develop a general outline of each major character’s history, so that I never end up needing a character to be where she wouldn’t be. I want everything to make sense, preferably the first time I write it.

In this space (Mondays) on this blog, I write (mostly) essays about the background of the Shine Cycle, which are collected in the Shine Cycle Archive page and the pages below it. For a while, this was largely “character profiles” of characters I intend to make important at some point or another in the series, but as I’ve run out of prepared material for those that category is on indefinite hiatus. I’ve written descriptions of some of the countries and worlds in which parts of the series are to be set, several posts on the system of “applied metaphysics” that places the series firmly in the category of “fantasy” as opposed to “science fiction”, and an annotated series outline. One of my current projects in this area is developing a projected history of our own world’s future for the purposes of the Shine Cycle.

If any of this looks interesting, welcome! Feel free to dive into the archives. I’d love to hear what you think, and welcome critique and new ideas.

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4 thoughts on “Reintroduction: The Shine Cycle

  1. Jonathan,

    A few comments.

    First, I appreciate fantasy worlds that have a portal through which characters in our world can pass. (My little world doesn’t.) The fact that you’ve worked on this since you were a child reminds me of Lewis’s carrying over of talking beasts to Narnia. Also, your intensive work on your world reminds me of Tolkien’s histories and geneaologies, etc. No wonder you call The Shine Cycle your magnus opus (is my Latin okay?)! It must be a labor of love, something important enough to invest so much in.

    I’ve signed up to get posts, and will also look at more about the world you’re building.

    Best wishes and prayers!

    Maria

    • Hi Maria; thank you for your comment.

      In the Shine Cycle, there are “portals”, as you put it, by which worlds are connected. (In fact, that’s how that world was settled in the first place.) And through “applied metaphysics”—and eventually wormholes, once they get into space—travel to other universes “on demand” is possible but expensive. But the “dozens of characters who abruptly find themselves there” are an anomaly, a singularity (if we discard any of the modern trans-humanist etc. connotations that word has accumulated over the last few decades) … I posted a moderately lengthy post mostly about that as my first post in the then-new schedule that I’ve been following for the year and a half or so since.

      I often say that while I was first sparked to write by reading Lewis, I have the worst besetting literary sins of both of the other two central Inklings: I fear I am as perfectionist and ambitious (if along different lines) as Tolkien, and on my worst days as obscure and impenetrable as Charles Williams.

      I call the Shine Cycle my “magnum opus”—or at least “one of my magna opera“—and then typically hasten to add, “emphasis on ‘magnum’.” “Magnum opus” just means “great work” or “big work”; I call it that because of the sheer scope. Whether it’s a “labor of love” … To me, it is (as I may have discussed elsewhere on this blog; I’m not sure) more of a calling, a feeling that the story has to be told and the chronicle written, and if I don’t, no one will.

      Again, thank you for stopping by and commenting!

  2. That’s the story to write, the one we feel we must. Trying to write what others want is a problem in many ways, working against who we are–because the Lord made us a certain way–and adding nothing to the world He has sent us to.
    Calling, yes.
    I’ll read the post you referenced, so I understand more about the Shine Cycle.

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