Shine Cycle Précis: “High Powers” sub-series

In the middle of the events of The Longest War, the planned eleventh book in the “main line” of the Shine Cycle, there are several engagements that can be treated only briefly there. To give them the attention they deserve, I plan two sub-series, which form the third and fourth digressions from that “main line.” Today is a brief introduction to the second set, treated as a whole—what I’ve been calling the “High Powers sub-series.”

I should begin by saying that, more than anything else I can remember covering so far, all this is subject to “the author’s prerogative to have A Better Idea”; I have notes, and one atrocious draft of one story, but this is essentially the least-developed part of the entire Shine Cycle.

The “battles of High Powers” are something of an interlude in the Second Interstellar War; amid the vast scope of the war, probably involving millions if not billions of soldiers on both sides on fronts in at least three universes, the focus narrows, to one world at a time (I have a name for the setting of the first battle, but I don’t know whether subsequent ones take place there or other nearby worlds …) and a Champion and companions for each side, much like the chivalric romances.

The setting of the first story, at least, is the planet Guinevere—from which I gather that it’s not all that far from Earth, and probably part of a group of worlds taking names from the Arthurian legends. But it’s also possible it’s in the skies above the world of the Shine Cycle, since that world was settled from ours. I suspect Guinevere is centrally located, making it a “controlling position” for the area. But in any case, Guinevere is an earth-like world, with several mountain ranges readily adapted to defensive construction and extensive fertile plains and long, wide river valleys. Its native population, if any, is far smaller than the world can support, so that the addition of two mid-size groups of cavalry (champions and companions) and support troops does not tax the food supply significantly.

In the first story, at least in that old draft, the principal characters are Renee, Argentmentes, and leading the enemy forces Gondolor. As I develop some “supporting characters” for the series, I expect to include more of them in each story than of the characters I’ve profiled so far, since the premise for this entails much less of an “ensemble cast” than most of my stories have ended up with. And I think we might also involve some of our friends from Earth from the “Game of Life” sub-series, to further complicate matters.

Even at the time of that (in retrospect, embarrassingly dreadful) draft, when so much of my work was entirely derivative of the literature I was then reading, including what seemed at the time a great deal of Norse, Welsh, Arthurian, and otherwise chivalric myth, I intended this sequence of stories to echo the chivalric romance far more strongly than anything else in the Shine Cycle—for the general idea of the plot to be that a very small group of champions, members of the King’s court as the protagonists of the myths were the knights of Arthur and of Charlemagne, land on a world and “take the adventure that comes to them.” And … as a premise, that still works; by the time I get to this sub-series at the next level of detail, with more time allotted to considering the problems, I’ll come up with a plot for each of the (ten, according to the current plan) stories.

Any thoughts at this point?

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