I've decided to give you all a bit more insight into what I'm attempting to do with "Ghosts of the Old Road" and the surrounding world. The reason for this is because the project is a massive one, and I think having a general context might help the immersion of my readers.
So, let's start with some of the details I already have available.
"Naked Mind" is a prologue piece to the story setting overall. It introduces us to three characters who will shape a bit of the "Ghosts of the Old Road" setting. If you have not yet read this story, and would like to avoid spoilers, skip the next paragraph.
Simon and Brandon both represent explorers in the two worlds that comprise the setting; the futuristic version of our real world, and the artificial reality of the CLSM, which is a shared dream space connecting anyone who is part of a neural network who is given access to the space. This is also the realm which Vice inhabits, who is a being of as of yet unknown origin. He seems to act as a curator of sorts of the realm, and has abilities and powers there which seem greater than those of others who inhabit the space.
We will be continuing to revisit Simon and Brandon and following more of their story, but a lot of what I'm intending to do will actually be following others inhabiting the two separate realms. What I'm trying to build is a world, rather than simply a series which only follows one set of characters. The intention of this is to create a lot of standalone stories which can be enjoyed in their own right, without a reader feeling that following every single story is a necessity in order to enjoy the experience. But, by connecting the stories and setting them in the same world, I intend to build a of connective things that will reward a reader who decides that they want to explore the different stories. There will be secrets and Easter eggs hidden in the text, and there will be a grand overarching scheme that will be revealed in time.
There are several ways that the "Choose the Path" story beginning with "The First Lantern" can end, the longest being finishing all one hundred lanterns. This will take a considerable amount of time, and I do not imagine it is the most likely scenario. I believe we will reach one of the alternate endings before then, but all of them are secret and dependent upon the choices people make in the polls. I have rules in place for how this will work that I am keeping strictly to, and I hope the process is enjoyable.
On top of setting stories in that world, as I stated above, I will be setting stories in the futuristic version of our world as well. Many of these will be general, Solarpunk* style science fiction, with a slight possibility of some Lunarpunk** and occasional semi-dystopian themes.
I will also begin an InspiroBot collection of flash fiction, which will be set in this world as well. These are just for fun, and I know some of you are familiar with my previous InspiroBot stories I wrote on Medium. In this case, they'll all be connected by sharing a world, though I don't know how often they'll pertain to the other stories. Most of these will be short, one to two page stories, and will hopefully be done regularly.
For those of you who do not know what InspiroBot is, it is a random, inspirational/motivational poster generator online, which you can find at this link. If you find some you like and would enjoy me writing a flash fiction based on one, feel free to post it on the community page and I'll do it if I get inspired.
As there will be quite a few of these, I'll be differentiating them by a collection title to tell you whether it takes place in the future world or in the fantasy world of the CLSM.
Category 0: takes place in the future world
Category 1: has to do with the developmental history of the CLSM
Category 2: has to do with the developmental history of Vice and Vision
Category 3: takes place within the "Ghosts of the Old Road" world of Kuld.
Category 4: takes place within the augmented reality realm of the conscious neural link
Category 5: Well… maybe someday
I will also be writing stories which do not take place in this setting (I have two ideas spinning around in my head; a sequel to "Last Dance of the Winter Wind" and a gay romance born of social distancing), but this is my new main project. I'm hoping you'll all enjoy it.
Please feel free to ask questions in the comments or privately. If it's something I feel would be good to add to this post, I will do so.
Thank you all for your time and patience!
*Solarpunk means A speculative fiction style/genre defined by an optimistic near-future which sees renewable energy powering the global energy infrastructure aided by a vigilant nature/technology balance that always leans in favor of nature first—all existing under the notion that all people are equal and thus treated equal, and all who cannot perform as an equal are accommodated until they can. There is, somewhere, a need to cause a stir and an uprising because, although the place is quite utopian and sustainable, there is still a problem somewhere, and usually an oppressive one—to either a group of humans, the natural world, or something similar. This is where the -punk comes in, and because Solarpunk is painted as such a Utopia critics often complain that you can’t possibly make good stories out of an ideal world. Their flaw here is that they don’t realize that humans always have a problem no matter where they are or how good things might be because they are a self-destructive species that must always be kept in check to keep from destroying all that is good.
**Lunarpunk means A speculative fiction style/genre defined by an obscured, shrouded, and/or dark near-future where the business of its inhabitants is done in secretive, cryptic or mysterious ways, accentuated by a visual style hearkening to lunar, occult, Pagan, Wiccan, Satanic, Anarchaic, Chaotic, practices, and comprised of world-building details which are more ideal for introverted, quiet, isolated or self-reliant people. Doesn’t mean an extroverted Christian isn’t part of Lunarpunk, or that someone who practices anything mentioned above isn’t part of Solarpunk. But in terms of what defines Lunarpunk as a genre, you would be more likely to see small sects of persons worshiping (or devoting to) The Self rather than The Other
The above term definitions are sourced here: https://solarisrebellio.tumblr.com/post/169965831701/whats-solarpunk-and-lunarpunk-it-is-something