Dun Ringill: First Draft Complete

The first draft of Dun Ringill is complete.  Next begins the process of editing, and finding a source for cover art.  Until the book is ready to be published on Amazon, I’m making the first half available to a wider audience.  If you would like an advance copy of the whole thing, please let me know, and thank you to all who provided feedback so far.  Below is a table of contents for the first half.

Prologue and Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

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Inspiration and the Creative Process

My fifth novel, Dun Ringill, is nearly complete.  All that remains are one or two more chapters, and an epilogue.  Though I’ve been working on it in earnest for over a year, I only recently stumbled upon a bit of information that I wanted to share.

Some of you already know that Dun Ringill is a real place, an approximately 2,000 year old fort on the Island of Skye off of Scotland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dun_Ringill

I was inspired to name my book after it because of its reference in a song by Jethro Tull, the progressive rock group introduced to me by my mother at a young age.  Most of Tull’s lyrics were written by its frontman, Ian Anderson, who lived near Dun Ringill during some of his youth.  Anderson’s recurring themes are rife with references to the ancient peoples of England, their culture, and rituals.  They are all explored in depth on the outstanding fan website Cup of Wonder,

http://www.cupofwonder.com/index2.html

Including, of course, Dun Ringill itself, from the album Stormwatch.

http://www.cupofwonder.com/stormwat.html#DunRingill

Though often inscrutable, Anderson’s lyrics are not always difficult to decipher, and Dun Ringill’s meaning is fairly easy to discern if you know the history behind the ancient structure.  Though in reality the fort probably has no special meaning other than a defensive position that long ago became obsolete, it inspired me to research other ancient English structures that almost certainly did, including the most famous, Stonehenge.  In fact, many ancient structures in England feature astronomical alignments at significant times of the year (solstices and equinoxes, most notably).  Whether built merely for utility or for a ritualistic purpose, people who visit these places often remark on there being a peculiar feel to them, probably the same sense of mystery that Anderson himself experienced at Dun Ringill.

It was while researching these places that I learned about cursus lines, man-made ditches, barrows, or earthenworks put in place thousands of years ago for unknown purposes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursus

I thought these were interesting enough to apply them in a practical way to the science fiction of my novel.  However, I also decided to use them because I suspected that one of Anderson’s lines from Dun Ringill, lines joint in faint dischord, referred to cursus lines and their possible importance in ancient rituals.  As courses constructed by people who may have believed that some kind of mystical power flowed through them, they are related to the pseudoscience of ley lines:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ley_line

But are things like this what Anderson was really referring to in the song Dun Ringill?  I wasn’t sure until I started studying the lyrics of Jethro Tull songs that weren’t my favorites, either growing up or today.  So, it was just last week that I came across an explicit reference to ley lines in the song Cup of Wonder itself.

http://www.cupofwonder.com/songs.html#CupOfWonder

For the May Day is the great day, sung along the Old Straight Track.  And those who ancient lines did lay will heed the song that calls them back.

If you looked at the Wikipedia article I linked above, you may have noticed that The Old Straight Track was the first published book on ley lines.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Straight_Track

D’oh!

Still, despite that I could have answered my own question a long time ago by being more familiar with Jethro Tull’s discography, I was elated to learn of this relationship.  Maybe this makes me a verifiable Turbo Nerd but this revelation sent chills down my spine.

In all of my writing, I’ve been inspired by astronomy, ancient legends, and music.  Whether any of this translates into good science fiction is certainly up to the reader, but the fact that it keeps me going back to the page is good enough for me.  However, now that my characters are about to finally solve the mystery of Dun Ringill, it seems that I have, too.

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Dun Ringill, Chapter 17

When Carthage and Siobhan emerged onto the street, the fight at the north gate was still raging. The gate was too far down Main Street for them to see clearly, but smoke was rising from one of the guard towers. About a hundred meters ahead, a squad of Perthian soldiers was sprinting toward the action.

“I think we’re running out of time,” began Carthage. “We should run for it, that squad up there should keep the Knights busy while we get to the hangar.”

Siobhan nodded, and they began to jog north. “I wonder why the Tucano doesn’t engage them.”

“They’re probably low on aircraft munitions, same as us. Keep an eye out for Tay Street to the west.”

With the exception of the combatants, Perth had become a ghost town. The road up to the north gate was a mix of residential and commercial buildings, with plenty of both trees and open space between lots. After several blocks, they arrived at a small bridge labeled Tay Brook. A shallow stream ran underneath, perpendicular to the road.

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Dun Ringill, Chapter 16

Lord Eoghain was not normally the type of leader to directly address a mere pilot, but he was compelled to think that the impact of his message would benefit from a personal visit.  Aberdeen’s spaceport was at the mouth of the Don River, far outside of town, so Eoghain had asked for a car and driver to take him there.  He was pensive about the orders he was about to give, allowing the whirring of the electric vehicle’s motor to sooth his mood.  As usual, his driver didn’t attempt to engage him in conversation, though if Eoghain had initiated one, he was sure to do so.  Though he preferred to keep to himself, he was not anti-social.

Eoghain had asked his secretary to call ahead to ensure that the pilot would still be there, as it was nearly the end of first shift at the port.  The sun was low in the sky as they drove to the west, and most of the workers there would be headed home soon.  Eoghain himself had called his wife to let her know he’d be late for dinner, though his missive wouldn’t delay him by much.

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Dun Ringill, Chapter 15

“Daddy’s got your medicine, baby.”

Inside the bay of the M302, Carthage, Siobhan, and Rebecca were dressed in CBRN suits, and were gathered around the access panel to the port engine. Carthage had just injected the reserve flow restrictor intake with a healthy dose of Neptunium; the suits had been donned as a prophylactic measure in case any of the radioactive material was accidentally released. Once he had resealed the cylinder taken from the cursus, he scanned the area with his PDA. Satisfied, he removed his gloves, hood, and respirator mask. The others did the same.

“That’s it,” he said, smiling. “Let’s see if it works.”

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Dun Ringill, Chapter 14

Though Siobhan’s dreams had always been vivid, those that were frightening or frustrating were mercifully rare. This time, she dreamed she was having a heated argument with someone in her shop about modifications she had done to his pistol. Slowly, she came to realize the raised voices were coming from the waking world, and she opened her eyes to see the commotion. Some of the Perthian soldiers were upset about something, and Corporal Vaus was dressing down two of his privates for their incompetence. She could see the pre-dawn light through the office suite’s dirty windows, and she noticed that all of the soldiers had already packed up their gear and vacated the area. She unzipped her sleeping bag and approached the men.

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Dun Ringill, Chapter Thirteen

Chapter 13

 

The Plaza of Robert the Bruce was the crown jewel of Aberdeen, centrally located and above the city on a plateau. Once the de facto cultural center of town, it was lined with cafes and small shops, though most of those had closed since the Wave. The shops, both those abandoned and those still clinging to life, were nestled underneath a rectangular formation of colonnades. At the center of the plaza was a fountain, and naturally, a statue of its namesake. Never meant to be a place for a governing body, it was nonetheless serving the role quite well for the Knights of Aberdeen, the former historical society building at the head of the plaza having been appropriated for their headquarters.

As such, it was common for Knight leadership and supernumeraries to take breakfast in the plaza. The man who emerged from HQ was trying to find his boss, not an easy task at this time of day. Knight senior staff typically wore civilian clothes for all but the most formal occasions, identified only by the golden badge on their chest which indicated their rank and station. The man’s boss was wearing khaki pants and a dark blue button-up shirt, making him indistinguishable at a distance from the other fifty or so people in the plaza. The man barely glanced at the gray skies overhead as he headed toward the fountain. As it turned out, he had guessed correctly.

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