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[SPOILERS] I was getting a Starflyer feeling

David's and Jacob Holo's newest alternate, cross history series.
[SPOILERS] I was getting a Starflyer feeling
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Tue Oct 11, 2022 2:48 pm

ThinksMarkedly
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[And technically spoilers for Peter F Hamilton's first two Commonwealth Saga books, but those are 16 years old now]

In the Commonwealth Saga, Peter F. Hamilton spends a lot of time describing the universe in great detail. Early in the book, I believe while introducing Detective Paula Myo, he introduces a very outlandish, fringe conspiracy theory that an entity known as the Starflyer was capable of controlling minds and was infiltrating human society. When reading that, I thought it be just background. Turns out I was wrong and the conspiracy was actually true.

So when in The Janus File we hear about the Apple Cypher, I kept imagining that it would be relevant to the plot. I kept looking for ways in which the Apple Cypher could have been part of the crimes -- for example, if the virus could have been delivered to the carriers or to the transceivers via contaminated apples.

I was wrong.

Of course, David Weber is one of the authors and he likes to dangle shiny things in front of us readers to distract from the real threat :)

I did NOT see the culprit coming, nor how he committed the crime.
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Re: [SPOILERS] I was getting a Starflyer feeling
Post by Jacob Holo   » Wed Oct 19, 2022 1:47 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:So when in The Janus File we hear about the Apple Cypher, I kept imagining that it would be relevant to the plot. I kept looking for ways in which the Apple Cypher could have been part of the crimes -- for example, if the virus could have been delivered to the carriers or to the transceivers via contaminated apples.

I was wrong.

Of course, David Weber is one of the authors and he likes to dangle shiny things in front of us readers to distract from the real threat :)


Actually, you can blame this one on me. :)

I came up with the Apple Cypher as a humorous B plot that would track alongside the main murder mystery A plot. I hadn't considered it might serve as a red herring for the reader. Mostly it's there to provide world building, showing another case SysPol is working on in the area, to name one example, and to provide some lighter moments, like Chief Inspector Raviv having nightmares about apples.
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Re: [SPOILERS] I was getting a Starflyer feeling
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Thu Oct 20, 2022 6:29 pm

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Jacob Holo wrote:Actually, you can blame this one on me. :)

I came up with the Apple Cypher as a humorous B plot that would track alongside the main murder mystery A plot. I hadn't considered it might serve as a red herring for the reader. Mostly it's there to provide world building, showing another case SysPol is working on in the area, to name one example, and to provide some lighter moments, like Chief Inspector Raviv having nightmares about apples.


And it did work for that. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of how SysPol works, how dedicated they are, and even the underworld portions that they can't deal with for a reason or another.

But it did have this side effect, whether you intended or not. It just makes me wonder if the detective story in the B plot of A Call to Insurrection is similarly a red herring. Unlike the Apple Cypher, that one consumed a lot of pages.

BTW I did not see the killer coming. I knew it had to do with time travel somehow, but couldn't come up with a good theory until shortly before the bread/foam crumbs led us to it. And even when they did, I hadn't guessed the means by which he cloned himself -- I was guessing temporal replication or some other time loop, but couldn't come up with a good technique that would fit. My best guess was a temporal predestination / causality loop paradox, like in The Gordian Protocol, where the problem was caused by the fix to the problem. Thank you for expanding the Gordian universe even further.
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Re: [SPOILERS] I was getting a Starflyer feeling
Post by Jacob Holo   » Fri Oct 21, 2022 9:34 am

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:BTW I did not see the killer coming. I knew it had to do with time travel somehow, but couldn't come up with a good theory until shortly before the bread/foam crumbs led us to it. And even when they did, I hadn't guessed the means by which he cloned himself -- I was guessing temporal replication or some other time loop, but couldn't come up with a good technique that would fit. My best guess was a temporal predestination / causality loop paradox, like in The Gordian Protocol, where the problem was caused by the fix to the problem. Thank you for expanding the Gordian universe even further.


I’ve been curious to see what readers think of the main mystery. I guess you could say our objective going into the novel was to be tough but fair with the reader, providing a challenging mystery while also providing all the key pieces of evidence (even if some are buried alongside diversions). At no point in the novel do the protagonists collect key evidence “off screen,” so to speak. Everything gets presented to the reader at the same time the detectives learn it or, in a few cases, before they do, such as with a certain murder scene late in the novel. It’s a difficult balancing act to maintain, but I think we pulled it off.

Personally, I doubt I'd be able to figure this one out if I were somehow able to go into the book blind, but it’s also hard to detach myself from the novel’s design and look at it objectively, so… <shrug> Who knows? Regardless, I don’t have a very good track record with figuring out murder mysteries in general, and this one has the added challenge of the sci-fi elements.

One recommendation I came across while researching this book was to introduce the villain as early as possible. I’m… quite pleased with how we managed to pull that off, hiding the reveal in plain sight. ;)

Also, I love the Commonwealth novels, and just about anything else Peter F. Hamilton writes. :D
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Re: [SPOILERS] I was getting a Starflyer feeling
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Fri Oct 21, 2022 12:10 pm

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Jacob Holo wrote:I’ve been curious to see what readers think of the main mystery. I guess you could say our objective going into the novel was to be tough but fair with the reader, providing a challenging mystery while also providing all the key pieces of evidence (even if some are buried alongside diversions). At no point in the novel do the protagonists collect key evidence “off screen,” so to speak. Everything gets presented to the reader at the same time the detectives learn it or, in a few cases, before they do, such as with a certain murder scene late in the novel. It’s a difficult balancing act to maintain, but I think we pulled it off.


I think it was fair. We did get all the information when they did, which meant that we had the same suspicions they did but couldn't prove (Trinh Syndicate). I also liked that there was breadth of explorations, as it should be: the solution doesn't revolve only around the 3 suspect/victim characters introduced right at the beginning. If you watch one of the TV crime dramas, you can usually tell who the culprit is by recognising the actor: the lesser actors get less screen time and fewer lines, so the more known ones, who will get more lines, must be the culprit. And they only have 42 minutes to solve everything.

Also, I love the Commonwealth novels, and just about anything else Peter F. Hamilton writes. :D


Just in case you haven't read yet, there's a good detective story with Detective Paula Myo in the short story, "Manhattan in Reverse."
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