The Amortals: A New Novella – In Which Dr. Smith Reveals A Fetish For Jawas

Billy Crustal typing in Throw Mama from the Train
Orion Pictures

At the start of the year, I promised myself I would write three novellas (then a fourth) and two novels. The first novel, the follow up to the crime novel Holland Bay, is being done in “episodes.” The second, Storming Amargosa, was written in first draft as a screenplay. So after some more work on the Holland Bay sequel and converting Storming to prose, I’ll need to crank out two (actually three) novellas. But before all that, I have to write the first one.

And my first one, The Amortals, deals with the Compact Universe’s trend of humans rejuvenating every so many years. Actually, in another form, it was already written. Called Quantonesia, after the Compact’s artificial island capital in Hong Kong Harbor, it dealt with Marcus Leitman, the mysterious JunoCorp rep whose presence usually came before the Gelt took over a planet. Who is he?

But I didn’t like how the story turned out, so I decided to rewrite it, still with Douglas Best (from The Marilynists) as the central character. But his focus now would be on JunoCorp. And somehow that ties into a mysterious core world only seen once in the series. This world seems to be a mecca for long-lived humans. It also looks at three very different ways of becoming amortal (as opposed to immortal. You can’t kill an immortal. Amortal means you live indefinitely, but an accident or violence can still take you out.)

So what is the dilemma?

As I went to restart the story, I reread the original. If I could keep some of the original scenes, like those on the Orag homeworld, where Neanderthals still live, I could get this done faster and not have to reinvent the wheel. The problem is I liked Quantonesia upon reread. So I sent it to two betas.

Except I don’t want to reveal too much about Leitman. Should the series continue after Storming Amargosa, he would play a significant role in two subsequent trilogies. Revealing him now would take some of the wind out of those sails. So I’m pressing on. I have used sections of Quantonesia to build The Amortals. How much will remain I can’t say yet.

But that’s what I get for my early writing spurt with this series. Quantonesia was actually intended to be the third novella, when Gimme Shelter was still part of the original draft of The Children of Amargosa.