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A Sunset Saga Review
7/15/2022: A Young Writer Discusses Early Crackpot Fiction
© 2022 James LaFond
JAN/12/23
[Crackpot comments in brackets.]
Hi James
It has been a while since I last wrote.  In that time I've made progress on the Sunset Saga, reading one volume a month to space it out a bit and because I have other things to read.  Haft's also on the queue.
[Thank you so much, sir. Knowing that even one person reads it, makes writing fiction easier. I never thought I’d have three Sunset Saga readers.]
Last time, I had not yet finished Beyond the Ember Star, now I have finished Den of the Ender.  As it stands I think SS is a masterwork and it's a shame it did not sell, though it may be because you wrote it mostly when you were much less known.
[My current fiction still sells under 5 copies a title.] 
My apologies for confusing you last time by the way:  David Lynch is a filmmaker, not a novelist.  But the surreal flair of his works is there in SS, and not just in the futurist sections.
[It might be that my fiction has a surreal flavor because I write in a trance, which I did not know until after I had written Den of the Ender.]
Now that I've got most of the way through it I have to say my favorite characters are probably both of the Bracken Bros (Randy and Jay/YA7), Bruco and Three Rivers.  All very different characters by the way.  I wondered if you modeled them after specific people ( I recall that Jay/YA7 was based on some guy your kids knew from Baltimore) and how you came to develop their characters.
[Jay is modeled after Dante Justine, who is in many of my nonfiction articles. Randy is based on Charles Wallace 40%, Guru Rick 40% and my darkest inner mind 20%. He looks exactly like Sifu Charlie, who is a Hari Krishna Kung Fu master! Bruco is based on a historical chief of Gomera. He is the action hero in God’s Picture Maker. Three-Rivers is based on a little Asian nerd I body-guarded, my whimpy inner child from childhood, a nerd named Charlie I beat up in 6th grade and recruited me as a friend and Jonathan Legate, a nerd who died under a school bus who I clumsily befriended. Three-Rivers and Charlie Robinson are based on some of the same key real characters. He is of course, Deginawida, the Iroquois prophet.]
It's also nice to see Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton and Aristotle as viewpoint characters in the later works.  They add considerably to the speculative parts on present and future settings.
[These were very difficult to write and took more time then the rest of the cast in each novel.]
The chapters on Ancient Greece from Behind the Sunset Veil were very good and convincing.  I've long felt that Amerindians like Three Rivers would feel a kind of kinship with Hellenes, so the Three Rivers/Pythia thing made sense.
[This is where research into The Broken Dance ancient boxing project and Plantation America paid off.]
The Black Geisha gens are a pretty nightmarish group of Kali-like devouring goddess villains.  I like the military gens as adversaries in general, they give a sense of hopelessness in directly opposing the will of the corporate states of the future.
[These killer bitches and homos were developed in the novella Organa, which is essentially a Sunset Saga side story as is the novelette This Design is Called Paisley.]  
I also like that for much of the saga, you have kept the villains remote and more hinted at than openly spoken of, at least until the later volumes, when MotherCorp and such become clearer as adversaries.  It adds to the feeling of menace.
[I like writing from a lower level perspective than from a more elevated view, which makes my work inherently unpopular.]
Hyman Maxim however seems to be a kind of classic scifi villain in some ways, the one triumphant mad scientist who endured and was singularly committed to his vision after the corporate states have all fallen.  Was there any particular influence for this character?
[I used very little creative energy on this shitbag. He is a cross between Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and David Bowie, who has the ability to create his own lovers which just drives his thirst for authentic humans from the past to debouch. This whole saga is essentially Bill Clinton with Gate’s brains and Bowie’s looks sending goons back into the past to find innocent rape victims.]
James, if there's one criticism I have of the series so far it's that the Life Science Ministries thing got pushed to the background.  
It looked like Dr. Robinson and LSM would be major parts of the storyline but they in fact became more of a sideshow, as did Dr. London, Shuei etc.  
[That was a necessity as some of the characters are actually shared perspectives. It will ruin it for many readers to find out that the most introspective characters are in fact the projected facets of one dreaming mind.]
Of course, the characters 3R and Jay were interesting enough that I can see why they would take on a life of their own.  Pulp writers from the early 20th century would describe how characters would do this and the story would go in its own direction as if by direct inspiration from the gods or ... whatever.
[I was not intending to reuse Randy Bracken after Ghosts of The Sunset World, but an early reader, Professor David Carl named Randy as the most interesting character, so he supplanted the Doctor, who was placed in the back ground. The Doctor, and Sensie Steve, were direct patterned characters based on my land lord, Steve Jansen and my head coach and Doctor, David Lumsden. I don’t kill patterned characters unless they request it. So, the terminal arc and doom of most of the cast, begged me to let these characters fade into a support role.]
Looking at the contents, it appears that there was originally supposed to be another trilogy, Tears of Earth, after Cities of Dust, but it appears to have been deep-sixed.  What was the reason for that?
[I was supposed to do 21 novels as 7 books, from 2 volume, trilogy, 4 volume and single volumes. A million words in, with no one reading it, I decided to scrap most of the time travel adventures into antiquity and wrap the last ten volumes up in Seven Moons Deep and White Sky Canoe. For instance, the Jericho Bone, Yusef of the Dusk, Drink Deep of Night and Ire and Ice, are all stories that were originally supposed to be time travel Sunset Saga tales, but were redone as blood memory and alien contact stories. If there are any dangling threads that you really want settled in the final volume, WhiteSkyCanoe, which will feature almost exclusively Three-Rivers, the Bracken Brothers and Burton, then send me a list of characters that you’re curious about their fate—because Jay is stupid and going insane, Randy does not give a shit about the retro-tards, Burton is too egotistical to care about lesser lights illuminating his passage through mere Time, and Three-Rivers is transcending much of human concern. Pozer Sensky from out of Time will return as a perspective character, as will the perspective characters from Seven Moons Deep.]
Last note, I just ordered Fend and some other works as well.  Still have plenty of pulp to read for 2022.
[Thank you! I’m so glad to have you as a reader.]
There's more to discuss but I'll leave it for another time as this note is plenty long enough.
Best,
Jens/Benetnash
Jens, thanks so much for reading!
I am about to head across Baltimore on the same bus that Jay Bracken caught on Northern Parkway in Ghosts of the Sunset World. 
I will write the article over at Megan's and when i return next week and can use this computer here, i'll email it to you since it will not post until late December. 
Thanks so much.
Since you now seem to be the authority on this series, i am sending you the next to the last volume, Seven Moons Deep, written over a decade, in hopes you will write a review and blurb for it. It should publish in January 2023.
The last volume will be White Sky Canoe hopefully written this year, but probably not until next year.
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