As in the previous volumes of the subseries, the scene is our world—or, by this point, rather, our Solar System—in the future. This time it is the late twenty-fifth century, somewhere between four and six decades after the events of the previous volume. The main and point-of-view character is, I think, still Alice Hansen, also known as Alatumbra, an SCA enthusiast, linguist, by now retired and an experienced mage, politician and diplomat.
The tentative logline for The Invention is:
When Gondolor returns to Earth for revenge just as an inventor is demonstrating a revolutionary military gadget, journeyman mage Alice Hansen aka Alatumbra must capture him before he can make off with the technology and turn the tide in the wider war.
In the decades since the events of the previous book, science and technology have significantly advanced, at first slowly but then rapidly: fusion power becomes common, and two theories that would allow something like hyperdrive are tested and discarded before a third is borne out. The first ships using technology based on the new theory have just been built and put into service before the book begins. (See my earlier post about approaches to the problems relativity poses.) Conversely, in the political landscape much has happened, but only a little has changed: the Belt colonies fight for independence, and some of them win, but Mars loses a fight for independence, and ships from the Belt damage some of Earth’s orbital infrastructure after being blockaded to prevent interference in the Martian conflict.
And either this hyperdrive technology, or perhaps some recently developed weapon, is a qualitiative improvement over anything comparable that either of the interuniversal alliances has at its disposal—not quantitatively superior yet, but clearly going to become so with enough refinement. So Gondolor, escaped from imprisonment and leading forces in a campaign a universe away, hears of this, covets it, and is reminded of his desire for revenge on Earth.
There are by now standing plans, fairly well practiced, for defending against a full assault by Gondolor’s forces. But this time he catches them off guard by slipping in alone and by stealth. Automated alarms on government, and major private, databases warn of intrusions that Alice Hansen’s team deduces to be Gondolor’s work, so she leads a team of agents to find and confront him.
After a somewhat lengthy chase, she manages to track Gondolor down shortly before he reaches the home district (perhaps back out in the Belt?) of the inventor of the technology he seeks. When he sees her, he attacks her, beginning a mages’ duel, in which she barely holds her own and forces him to submit with the help of her team. An allied ship more capable of holding him arrives soon after to return him to prison.
Do you have any thoughts about my plans for The Invention?