Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Special Guest Post - Dan Wells (author of #YA #dystopia Partials)

Trying to restrain my desire to go full on fangirl here but please welcome author Dan Wells to my blog, with a guest post about his Partials trilogy. The final book is releasing on the 11th March this year, and I can't wait!

I did a weird experiment with the Partials Sequence, and now I want to ask you guys two questions:

1)    How much time passes over the course of the first two books, PARTIALS and FRAGMENTS?

The answer is fairly easy to track, since each book follows, more or less, the course of a single pregnancy: first Madison, then Isolde. It's not a full eighteen months, because there's some overlap there, but it's close. Let's say sixteen months? Well over a year, at any rate.

Now, the tricky question:

2) How much does the weather change?

Huh. If you're like most readers, this probably never crossed your mind, but there's that timeline thing I mentioned. Well over a year has passed, in New York, so we should have seen a bit of all four seasons, right? The weather in the beginning of Partials is kind of rainy and chilly, and at some point we should also see a hot summer, and snowy winter, and falling leaves in autumn, and all that business. Why don't we? Is Dan just a horrible writer who doesn't know how seasons work? Or is something else going on here?

To date, only one reader has ever brought this question up to me, and she was the editor assigned to translate the books into French. She emailed me a quick note to ask why, if so much time had passed, it hadn't ever snowed or even gotten cold, and could she maybe add a sentence that mentioned it, just for her own sanity? No, I told her. This is all part of the plan. Big things are afoot, and it will all make sense in book three.

When you write science fiction or fantasy, there are two ways of describing an unfamiliar world: there's the info dump, where you just come right out and tell people what's going on, and there's what fantasy author Jo Walton calls "incluing," which is where you just leave clues and breadcrumbs and rely on the readers to pick it up for themselves. As an experiment, in Partials I tried a third method, which I'll call "just not talking about it either way." I don't know if that was the best way to do it, but it's been fascinating to watch people read the books and not mention it. Weather isn't something we tend to think about in books: the weather is either described right there on the page, or it doesn't exist. We default to an average day in the back of our imaginations: not a lot of wind, but maybe a breeze; sunny without being too hot; partly cloudy, with a chance of darkness toward evening. So what happens when the entire world exists in that state of average weather? You never have to mention it, and then you never do, and then readers never think about it...and then you look up and realize it hasn't changed for almost a year and a half.

The world Kira and Samm and Marcus live in has no winter--no snow, no cold, no nothing--and it hasn't had one for decades. They haven't had snow in so long, in fact, that people Kira's age have never even seen snow in person. It's not a part of their lives in any way, so they never notice the lack of it, and since they never notice it they never mention it to the reader. It's not really "climate change" as we use the term today; in RUINS, when it finally becomes an issue, somebody points out that they haven't had a real winter since certain weapons were used in an old war almost forty years ago. Those weapons, whatever their (still secret) nature, changed the ecosystem in ways that nobody was ready for.

And why am I mentioning all of this? Why do people start talking about it in RUINS? What did I tell my French translator to wait for? Let's just say that a world without winter is a Problem, and this is a world where people try to Solve Problems. The last time they tried this they ended the world--who could possibly try to solve this one, and what's going to happen when they do?

Bio (taken from Amazon):

Dan Wells is the author of several novels for adults, including I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, MR. MONSTER, and I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU. PARTIALS is his first book for young adults. He lives in Utah with his wife and children. You can visit him online at www.fearfulsymmetry.net

You can find all of his books on Amazon US or Amazon UK.
 RUINS, the final book of the Partials Sequence, releases on the 11th March and can be pre-ordered now.

Kira, Samm, and Marcus fight to prevent a final war between Partials and humans in the gripping final installment in the Partials Sequence, a series that combines the thrilling action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Blade Runner and The Stand.
There is no avoiding it—the war to decide the fate of both humans and Partials is at hand. Both sides hold in their possession a weapon that could destroy the other, and Kira Walker has precious little time to prevent that from happening. She has one chance to save both species and the world with them, but it will only come at great personal cost.

There's also a bonus story - Isolation - available as part of the Partials Sequence.

Two decades before the events of Partials, the world was locked in a different battle for survival: a global war for the last remaining oil reserves on the planet. It was for the Isolation War that the American government contracted the ParaGen Corporation to manufacture the Partials—our last hope in reclaiming energy independence from China. And it was on these fields of battle that the seeds of humanity's eventual destruction were sown.
Isolation takes us back to the front lines of this war, a time when mankind's ambition far outstripped its foresight. Heron, a newly trained Partial soldier who specializes in infiltration, is sent on a mission deep behind enemy lines. What she discovers there has far-reaching implications—not only for the Isolation War, but for Partials and humans alike long after this war is over.
A powerful take of our world on the brink, Isolation gives readers a glimpse into the history from which Partials was born—as well as clues to where the Partials Sequence is heading next.

And you can read my review of book one here.

Please leave some comment love for Dan Wells! :)


  1. Fascinating post...I'm really taken by this "just not talking about it either way" approach. Can't wait to see how it all plays out. The books sound fascinating.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Veronica. :)

  3. Great post. The interesting thing is - we probably use your third method all the time for aspects of the world that don't matter - but you're using it for one that does - I think I must go read the books now and see how it works out.

  4. Laurel, I think you'd enjoy them. Nina, I love how one element is being used to show an issue that no one has so far mentioned in the books.

  5. That's completely fascinating to me. I love that approach!

  6. Fun post! I try to seed in the tweaks so readers can see them coming, but am interested by your approach, Dan. Anything goes in sci fi.

  7. Cool. I wonder what percentage of readers noticed? Good job, Pippa and nice to 'meet' you Dan :-)

  8. Sorry if this shows up 2X, browser crash. I'm wondering what percentage of readers noticed this. Very cool. Well done, Pippa and nice to 'meet' you, Dan!

  9. I think 'details unexplained' are hardest for authors writing in the future. Some readers search for issues rather than enjoying the ride. Your solution to not talk about the weather instead of making a point that it hasn't changed is valid. If it never changes, why would any character talk about it? We rarely discuss the smell of our air, unless something, like a gas leak alters it.
    That you haven't received a complaint except from an editor, who is trained to question such oddities, then you are doing a great job capturing the attention of your reader. So not only are you right, but you are clearly an excellent writer. I will have to check you out.

  10. Wow sounds intriguing! Great reminder about the breadcrumbs! Thanks Dan and Pippa!


I always love to hear your thoughts.