This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead! You can start from the beginning here.
I started tracking the resolutions to the mysteries I’ve set up, which helped me to think about how I’m going to structure all the info-dumping toward the end of the book. I added two more chapter summaries: 33 and 34.
Christopher awakes, still himself, but feeling different. He realizes he cares less about returning home. His former life feels far away, like things that happened to someone else. He assumed the transition would be like flipping a switch, but he realizes that he may not even notice when he has stopped being Christopher.
He studies the voices of the artifacts that he can hear whispering. He finds a vast array of memories, strange and divorced from their context in many cases. Some are of other worlds, other beings. Some are human memories from the people who were subsumed by God-Speaker. He sees the moment when the artifacts crashed into the mountain. They are alien consciousnesses.
Cain arrives with breakfast. He explains that he has scheduled meetings with other secretaries of the cabinet. Christopher can ask questions and answer them. He explains that many are eager to have God-Speaker back, but a few are content with the stagnant state of things, and a few are just less trusting.
First, Christopher meets with the Secretary of Communications, who is clearly distrustful of him and brings a list of questions that only God-Speaker should be able to answer. Many relate to the propaganda and lies used to keep the populace of Razor Mountain under control. Christopher answers some, but doesn’t remember others. X is not entirely convinced.
Next, Christopher meets with the new Secretary of Justice, who acts completely certain that Christopher is God-Speaker. He clearly wants to curry favor. Christopher is irritated, but isn’t sure if it’s his own feeling, or God-Speaker’s. He realizes that God-Speaker was treading a fine line: trying to cultivate competent subordinates with absolutely no desire to gain more power, so he wouldn’t have to deal with attempted coups. He asks about the Exiles. They’ve been recaptured (except for Amaranth). Christopher demands that they be treated well.
Cain takes Christopher on a tour of the facilities, explaining the many ways that things have degraded while God-Speaker was absent. They eat lunch. Christopher takes some time to quiz Cain, but it seems that Cain is the perfect subordinate. He loves keeping everything going like clockwork. He wants to innovate and improve. But he does not want to lead. He doesn’t want more power. He just wants to make things, and make things better.
They visit the former Secretary of Justice, who is imprisoned, and has been since the coup. Cain has talked with her often, and believes she may be innocent. If not, she was not the only perpetrator. They talk, and she reasserts that she is innocent. She seems to have been broken, and shows little interest in anything.
Finally, Christopher meets with Reed. Reed is taciturn and polite. He says that he neither believes nor disbelieves that Christopher is God-Speaker. He will wait and see. He outlines what he is in charge of, and pushes back against Cain’s characterization that everything has gotten worse in God-Speaker’s absence. After the interview, Christopher has a nagging feeling about him. He tells Cain that he got the impression that Reed is one of those who would like more power. Cain agrees – he has been trying to block Reed’s careful little power-grabs for years.
Over dinner, Cain informs Christopher that an attempt was made on his life. Cain ordered breakfast for Christopher, and had an assistant taste it first. The assistant had a severe reaction and had to be rushed to a doctor.
Christopher is shocked that Cain would use another person like that, but Cain is clear that he essentially thinks of God-Speaker as his king. They discuss the likelihood that the killer will strike again, and1 soon. They know that God-Speaker’s memories are returning. The question is if the killer will try to make it look like an accident, or if their desperation will make them sloppy. Cain suggests that they could pretend they already know who is responsible, in an effort to flush them out. Christopher thinks it’s safer to play defense and wait for the memories to return. Cain defers to his judgement.
- Resolve 2.1 – Is the stone god actually supernatural, or is God-Speaker’s interpretation entirely in his head?
- It’s somewhere between imagination and hallucination. God-Speaker’s mind is uniquely open to external thoughts intruding, which is what allows him limited communication with the artifacts.
- Resolve 7.1 – What is happening at the mountain? Meteor? Volcano?
- This was where the alien ship containing the artifacts crashed.
- Resolve 10.1 – What are the spirits that God-Speaker thinks he hears? Or does he just have a head injury?
- They are the voices from the artifacts – alien minds reaching out.
- Resolve 11.1 – What was the ruined building? How and why was it destroyed?
- There was a small rebellion led by a group of soldiers who realized that the populace of Razor Mountain was being lied to. That bunker was where they made their last stand.
- Resolve 16.2 – What are the voices/artifacts?
- Alien minds.
- Resolve 16.3 – What is being done to him?
- The alien minds in the artifacts attempt and fail to move into his mind, but they cannot. He gains access to their knowledge and memories.
- Christopher is overwhelmed by everything he is learning, and is becoming more and more God-Speaker-like. He feels God-Speaker determined to snatch victory out of decades of near-defeat.
- This is going to be a huge amount of dialogue. May need to be split into multiple chapters.
- Need names for the new Secretary of Justice and Secretary of Communications
Christopher researches the history of Razor Mountain through the records and computer systems in his office, trying to align what he reads with his own memories. He looks up information on the exiles and on his own interrogation.
He tries to remember who killed him. He discusses the problem with Cain, who suggests that God-Speaker could always read people exceptionally well, and perhaps he should rely on that. Christopher counters that it apparently didn’t work the first time, but he decides to rely on his God-Speaker abilities.
He goes to the chamber of the artifacts, alone. He tries reaching out to nearby minds, looking for possible replacement bodies. He still has trouble using the artifacts, but he’s becoming more and more God-Speaker. He realizes that the God-Speaker part of him is already back in the rut of spending all his time fending off death. As Christopher, he accepts that he may die. He is already resigned to a sort of death of himself, as God-Speaker takes over.
- Resolve 17.1 – Why do the exiles seem to have strange ideas about the outside world?
- They’ve been fed false information through systems engineered by God-Speaker and his Secretaries of Communications.
- Resolve 18.1 – What is Razor Mountain? Why do the exiles seem afraid of it?
- It’s a closed-off city with strict restrictions on coming and going, enforced by a small standing army.
- Resolve 20.1 – Who is up on the mountain? What is the 550th?
- An entire city of people. The 550th Infantry is the fake army regiment housed there.
- Resolve 20.2 – What is the situation between the Razor Mountain people and Garrett and Harold’s people?
- They attempted to escape without permission.
- Resolve 21.1 – What was the conflict between Razor Mountain and exiles? What lies are they feeding their population?
- They are told that they cannot leave the city. It is supposedly a US Army group that operates almost completely independently, under special laws. The exiles only know enough to believe they have been deceived.
- Resolve 23.1 – Who has captured him? What do they want?
- The 550th has a policy of capturing anyone found within the perimeter they patrol around Razor Mountain. They believe foreign spies are constantly trying to find the place and gain information.
- Resolve 24.1 – Who are his captors and what are they planning to do with him?
- The intelligence officers of the 550th. They suspect he is a spy and are trying to get information out of him.
- Resolve 25.1 – What exactly is he building under the mountain?
- A self-sufficient city.
- Resolve 27.1 – What information is Meadows actually trying to get out of him? Who do they think he is?
- They suspect he is a spy and are trying to determine who he works for and what information he knows about Razor Mountain.
- Resolve 29.1 – What is this city and who’s in charge here?
- The 550th Infantry is in charge at a lower level, but they are directed by the city secretaries. The citizens and soldiers believe these positions are assigned by the US Army leadership and the president. They are actually assigned by God-Speaker.
- The God-Speaker part of Christopher is becoming more and more obsessed over the threat of death. The part of him that’s still himself is less and less concerned about it, however. As he learns more and more about Razor Mountain, he decides that it’s a terrible place, full of people whose motives and entire lives are warped around God-Speaker’s goals.
- The most expositiony chapter in the book?
I worked through two more chapter summaries, 35 and 36. Most of the mysteries are now resolved, and we’re approaching the climax.