Over the weekend I went on a business trip to the nearby mountain community of Banff. The trip was nothing much special, though I did get an opportunity to spend some time with a few of my newer coworkers and hopefully build on the still-forming relationships (after all, I spend the majority of my time with these people, so might as well try to be friends).

The drawback of going on this trip is that I was away from home for the weekend and had most of my time taken up by meetings and work-related activities…which naturally meant the muse decided to pay me a visit and was pretty annoyed when I had to regrettably tell her, “Not now.”

This morning the trip was officially over so I got home as quickly as I could, and at the urging of a friend, sat down at my computer to see what my muse had to say. Thoughts about Heart of the Empire have been in my head of late, so I took the time to read through notes, organize a few things, and generally refresh my memory about why I was stalled on the project.

It turned into a fairly productive session. The story is what I can only call “galactic fantasy”, so certain aspects of it I actually care to have some (loose?) scientific backing for, even if large parts of the rest might be fantastically improbable.

One of the niggling questions has been how a particular life form could conceivably spring up on two worlds located many light-years apart. This led me to consider parallel evolution, but that didn’t seem like the right fit. Then I looked at rogue planets which also wasn’t quite right but gave me a hint to look up something else: the giant impact hypothesis, which I decided I liked much better. In turn I then I had to look up things like explosion debris velocity and solar system escape velocity, and then do a bunch of math and supposition about the nature of this particular life form and how it would survive such a journey.

In the end I answered the question to my satisfaction, and have made a bunch of notes. These notes push my world building efforts for HOTE back another few million years (but what’s another few million?). There was another tidbit of “discovery” as well: determining how long the life form took to get from point A to point B gave me a rough idea of how big the empire would be at its height.

In the meantime, Google also proved to be not my friend in the sense that it made me realize that two of the names I have been using in the story are actual things and places, and that bothers me to the point that I ended up spending several hours with random word generators and the search engine to find alternatives that don’t really come up with any associated real-world meaning. That took hours and in the end I only settled on a new name for one of the two that I need. The muse was getting tired at that point, I guess, so maybe something will come to mind later.

But all in all? I have some new points to go in and start cleaning up the story with. It’s the first bit of real progress in ages, and that’s really good. :)