Shine Cycle Précis: Revelation

Revelation is the tentative working title of the final planned novel in a brief sub-series of the Shine Cycle set near the end of our world’s future. Today’s post is a brief introduction to this planned work.

The setting is our world’s far future, several years but not more than a decade or two after what I’m still calling Title Unknown, in the late thirtieth century.

The tentative logline for this story is:

After Earth was evacuated and seemingly destroyed, when a team of mages finds it was all a hoax and discovers isolated communities that didn’t evacuate, they must clean up the aftermath and prepare the survivors for integration into the wider society as the Millennium nears.

In the intervening years since Title Unknown, as the background to a story that I’m not sure I’m going to tell and thus am skipping over in this series of précis, the tectonic, geological, and climactic anomalies identified in Title Unknown bore disastrous fruit, and the planet essentially convulsed and became uninhabitable, with somewhere around a quarter of the (already declining) population escaping in a mass evacuation before the worst came to pass.

Or so it was thought.

A team of mages, returning to the immediate vicinity of Earth for the first time since the evacuation, intending to study the remains of the planet to learn what they can just in case something similar happens to some other world, finds their tests, their eyes, and their memories giving three or more inconsistent accounts of what happened. Eventually the most experienced members of the team realize that this is a nearly textbook example of an only-partially-successful “unauthorized patch” that attempted to “rewrite history” and force future events to go a way they weren’t supposed to.

The size and scale of this incident worked against its original perpetrators, leaving unmistakable traces and the necessary openings for it to be undone, but also work against the team who discovered it. They do their best to correct the planet’s self-destruction, but can only go back to just after the evacuation, and even with that beginning some of the subsequent damage burns through despite their corrections. But once they set their work in motion, most of the destruction is visibly undone, the surface is clearly inhabitable again, and the rest of the damage begins to heal.

However, with the upheaval of the last days of the evacuation and the limited precision of their repair work, the shape of the lands of Earth is much changed, to the point of being essentially unrecognizable. The mages of the team thus see their next task, after sending their report to the leaders of the diaspora, to be mapping what they can of the new face of the Earth to prepare the way for future study and work.

After creating the highest-level maps, getting the shape of the continents, the paths of rivers, and the curvature of hills and vales and little else, the team divides, with small groups of two or three mages each descending to the surface to explore in more detail. Each group eventually, but unexpectedly, comes across a group of living survivors.

Each of these enclaves had lived for centuries before the disaster in deliberate isolation, filtering what little contact and exposure they had to the rest of the world and wider society, and preserving what they saw as correct or superior culture while everyone else had moved on. One or two had deliberately chosen to ignore the evacuation orders and wait for the end; the rest had simply not heard them. But with their location now known, and the evacuees planning to return, this kind of utter seclusion will no longer be tenable, so both they and society—by now very nearly Christendom again—will have to prepare for that eventual contact.

To ease that transition, the mage-researchers spend as much time as they can before their deadline to return discussing the matter with these survivors, both to learn what they have preserved from centuries before that may have been lost yet is still valuable (amid all that the rest of the earth had finally justly forgotten) and to make initial explanations to soften the blow of culture shock when the evacuees return in no more than a few years.

But at the end, the team gathers once more to return to their superiors, already bearing drafts of what will become their full report.

Do you have any thoughts about my plans so far?


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