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Valice II – Retrospective

 

This is a Valice – Reconstruction retrospective written by the author. It’s full of story spoilers, so you’ll probably want to finish reading the book first!

 
In the first Valice, for the majority of the story, we’re with a Resistance group or in Valice, away from the world, only able to look at through a snapshot of events taken from afar. Conditions and global moments are hinted at, but our heroes are never allowed a life of normalcy except for a brief time at the beginning of Part 10. I had created a fantastical world in our own, where our history and memories had been changed, where anything was possible. For Valice II, I wanted to expand into this created realm. Write about life in the future apart from our real life time. How might people be different than us? Or the same? How does human nature and want change with a different world? Valice II takes place a hundred years after the end of the first. People are complacent and happy. There is no longer a shadowy empire hovering over them.
More than anything, I really wanted this story to be about the felile and their new place in public life. Now they pay taxes, raise families, just like everyone else. Of course that wasn’t all without challenges, nor were the rest of Earth’s citizens spared from an easy ride after the Day of Darkness. I wanted to build a new world again, one that had been fought for. A world that is just now finally finishing its period of recovery following a devastating war. The Terra-Force Empire was mighty and cruel, but they held back the chaos that unleashed itself after their fall. The destruction of the Empire wasn’t the end. There was far too much fear left in the atmosphere. The world of Valice II was one that followed a Civil War that killed millions, a reformation of the GUA into a more democratic society, and changes that helped humanity stabilize itself.  
  Old and New

I wanted to anchor Valice II more into reality, make the characters feel more real, but not without turning them into callous drones. It’s absurd to think that someone could actually save the world, and yet Vince probably became the first person in history to do it. What kind of pressure would that put on someone? And what if they were expected to do it again? Writing Valice II made me realize how many events from his past life he came close to revisiting; a rebel group, an escape on bikes, another mass entity trying to use the universal forces. But whereas trails were blazed in Valice I and Vince just fought his way into the unknown, in this world, his (Andrea’s) family, the GUA, and Valice all know at least something about him and what he did a century ago. Finding new friends comes easily enough, but now they all expect something from him.

Valice II, unlike its sequel and the final in the trilogy, which will be set in an extremely distant future, is about legacies. We never really got to see a normal, healthy world in the first book, so this story gave me a chance to truly build a working future society of Earth. I also feel a sense of nostalgia for Valice I’s characters, having been with them for so long, and I knew I wanted to finish each of their stories as much as I could. Everyone in Vince’s Resistance Group contributed to the shape of current world, as did Vince himself. He gets a unique fresh perspective on how he molded current society, beyond the fact that if it weren’t for him, it wouldn’t exist at all. Being an idealist, imagine how his heart warmed when he saw, for the first time, felile accepted and loved in the global village. He helped make that happen. Its his story. And yet…  
  The Felile, Again

If there were ever one sci-fi or fantasy element that has almost never been explored, its that of aliens or another race trying to make a life for themselves among human beings. Now, yes, aliens and humans getting involved with each other is nothing new in storytelling, but what hasn’t been done so much is depictions of their integration into our culture, even on mundane levels. Truly, how fascinating would it be just to see a felile walking around in a shopping center with their family and a few human friends? We’ve all seen humans and aliens bond as friends before and fight other, badder aliens in starships, but what about those everyday struggles? It isn’t a central theme in the story, but I do give hints of their standing, both the ups and downs, and the racism that still exists.
 

Then we have the halfil, ala Andrea and Peter Varks. There will be more in Valice III. It’s a subject and a relationship that would be inevitable in this series, as long as it were possible. Humans and felile can breed, and the resulting child is, by all means, human. Except their senses are greater. Perhaps this was what the Terra-Forces were aiming for, so long ago. Just a soldier better than any others. They didn’t have to be super, just improved. And these halfil remain human until they are discovered, and are then labeled as freaks in this society. That can be a crutch, or just make individuals stronger and more independent, like Andrea. They look no different, but they are the result of love looked down on by both human and felile. And thus they are different, they are to be feared, they are the other. It’s only a small part of the book, but it’s there to be a blemish on society. We aren’t perfect, no matter the time period.  
If you read the retrospective for the first book, this discussion will seem familiar. But because felile will be part of society in Valice III to such a degree that not one single person would give them a second glance, their standing in Valice II’s world deserves a final mention. With family barely a factory in the first book, I wanted it to be important in the second. Hence the orphanage at the beginning, where Kit was raised, where he gets to mention how felile adopt human children, and the other way around. And then we have the Misaki twins’ and Andrea’s family, while the other characters usually give their own a mention. Wick’s love for his stepsister Sami, the only person he ever cared for, propels him to save her, Kit, and everyone else. Kit’s parents, though never having been there, free him from the Darkness. This is back to legacies that I mentioned earlier. I’ve always wanted to write about the influence of one’s family, for better or worse.
The Entropy of Desire

Another theme I wanted to explore was our reliance on longing. We dream of an objective long before we reach it. Often our grandchildren won’t even yet reach that dream. Technological advances, a better world, the days of no more war. It doesn’t matter, as long as we have something to reach for. This endless striving may one day hurt us. We’ll either feel that we’ve reached the peak with nowhere else to go, or we’ll try to go beyond what we should accomplish and touch dangerous territory, like NovaQ’s efforts into using the forces, to become gods. This is now a world where Valice is little more than a floating majestic city, a tourist trap that sails across the world. We always have spectacles – something everyone should see before they die. But when we lose respect, when we stop putting things into perspective, when we take things for granted, we die inside. We get tired of living.

 
   Setting up a Future

Is Earth on its way out? Sea levels rise, land becomes sparse, the resources are depleting. Technology is created that leads Valice II’s people to another world, Centreon, but its distance and its colonization reliant on the company of NovaQ, have put it peril. Who decides how a new world will be governed, or how to build it up? The exodus of Earth will free it of many people, slow its degradation, but should they all be so eager to leave their home, our floating, lonely sphere, where all of our history had transpired up until this point? Leaving Earth behind to form a new empire in the cosmos will be a central theme in Valice III, making the next world Vince enters far stranger and alien. We can see the roots of a vast galactic neighborhood, fleets of starships, perhaps all an inevitability in our own reality. Simpler times always fade away.

The Name

Valice II’s subtitle, Reconstruction, was not easy to come up with. I knew that if I went down the one-word title route again, I’d have to do the same with Valice III. Echoes, Shadows, and all manner of poetic couplings of words came to mind. In the end, I settled on Reconstruction. The word is a good allegory for rebuilding after the first story, especially after the Civil War, our society, and humanity’s place in the universe. It has a very mechanical, steely feel, as if that’s what we’re becoming ourselves, and can refer to our machines that we become more and more reliant on. And lastly, there is the reconstruction of the forces, resulting in that ‘pinnacle echo’ that the mysterious Reywynia mentioned. Ah, yes, the one who promises to clue Vince in on his destiny. What might that be? You’ll have to wait and find out in the grand finale.