Sunday, June 17, 2012

More Notes on "Labors" - Hercules' Life; and the Use of Footnotes

       I've intended to write a post on the life of Hercules so that people will have some insight into  the basis of the plot in "Labors."  Many people will have heard of the Twelve Labors of Hercules.  I made use some of those in these tales, although certain ones seem off the point (like cleaning the Stables of Augeias, which Hercules accomplished by diverting two rivers through the cattle yard; I could have Ki'shto'ba clean a dung pit in that way, but why?)  What I'm actually doing is using the Twelve Labors as a frame for building the plots.  Ki'shto'ba will have to perform Twelve Wonders; some of them will be adapted versions of the classical Labors and some will be Ki'shto'ba's own. 
       The reason Ki'shto'ba sets out to perform these Wonders is also a little different.  In the classical version, Hercules has been driven mad by Hera and has slain his own children, and so he must perform the Twelve Labors as a penance.  In my version the rationale is quite different.  However, Bai'go'tha the tyrant of To'wak, who sends Ki'shto'ba out on its Labors, is a similar character to Eurystheus (the names both mean "Forces Far Back").  Through the manipulations of the gods, Eurystheus was born before Hercules and thus become the High King of the House of Perseus.  In my version it's the manipulations of a jealous King that causes Bai'go'tha's egg to hatch before Ki'shto'ba's, and it's Bai'go'tha's fear of being supplanted by Ki'shto'ba that causes the Tyrant to send its rival forth.  (But you will find out much later in the series that Ki'shto'ba doesn't escape its own version of the Madness of Hercules.)
       And that's as much as I'm going to tell you.  I've decided that the reader doesn't need to know the myths to appreciate my retellings.  If you are familiar with them, it won't hinder the enjoyment of my version, but if you aren't, you might enjoy it even more, because you won't have a clue as to what's coming next!
       Now a couple of points about my methodology.  I've put these tales into a scholarly framework.  Prf. Kaitrin Oliva from "The Termite Queen" is translating them from Shshi into Inj (English to the 21st-century Earther) and she has supplied with footnotes explaining knotty Shshi usages, cultural points, etc.  A lot of this has already been explained in "The Termite Queen," but undoubtedly many people who haven't read "TQ" will read "Labors" (the author remarks with staunch optimism!)  Therefore, many concepts need re-explaining and facts need restating, like the terms for the seasons, the way Shshi names are formed, the Shshi numbering system, the planet's day-length, etc.  This is accomplished in the footnotes and that means that the early chapters are particularly heavy on footnotes (the load lightens considerably as the work progresses).  Footnotes are not a problem in a printed book, although they do require some careful formatting.  Readers can easily utilize the notes, which will be at the bottom of the page, or ignore them if they choose. 
       It's going to be a real problem in Kindle, since e-text is amorphous and has no paging.  I haven't even looked yet at the options for handling footnotes in Kindle.  I only know that grouping them together at the end of the book would be their death knell, and putting them at the ends of the chapters would be almost as bad.  I don't know if it's possible to insert the notes into the text, but I don't really like that option in any case.  It interrupts the flow of the reading.  So probably I'll put them at the ends of chapters and do some kind of internal link arrangement.  If the reader wants to see the note, he can click on the superscript number, and then reverse the process to come back. 
       That's really going to be time-consuming to format.  Consequently, I've about decided to stop publishing on Smashwords.  It's just going to take too long to format all this twice.  If I don't publish on Smashwords, I may (at least, I'm going to think about it) try putting "War of the Stolen Mother" on the KDP Select program, at least for awhile.  I just checked and you're allowed to publish in print form at the same time.  Of course, that's my preferred option, anyway.

I'm also thinking about what sample chapters ought to be posted on this blog.  Stay tuned about that!

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