2. Writing Work nuts & bolts world building

Making up Holidays is no party

Thursday. My self-assigned “post about world-building” day.  It’s also Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday devoted to overeating, family strife, and promoting national mythology at the expense of historical fact. In recent years, consumer hysteria and socio-economic inequality have bubbled up into that poisonous mix.

Not that I have any personal issues with Thanksgiving or holidays in general. Oh, no.

I might as well keep to my schedule. After all, I have made up my own celebration of nationalism for the Restored United States. Before I made up Restoration Week I did a lot of historical and anthropological research on holidays, and I did a lot of deep pondering. There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to what we choose to celebrate, why and how.

Below is the excerpt on Restoration Week’s origins. It is included in Flight Plan, either as intro material or extras, depending on whether you have the current ebook or the print edition.

A short excerpt from Enduring Legacies: Twenty-first Century Institutions Old & New

The creation of Restoration Week and related civic holidays may prove to be the most enduring legacy of the New United Senate’s first session. Other laws proposed in that historic meeting are endlessly critiqued and questioned, but the national festivals were adopted with enthusiasm and gain in popularity every year.

The meanings assigned to each day of Restoration have drifted from the original definitions over the years, but taken as a whole, the event provides a regular infusion of nationalism. All the national holidays are periodic reminders to this splintered confederation that—despite all our many differences—we are all citizens of the same union, and we do hold crucial beliefs in common.

The importance of this shared experience cannot be overstated. In many ways, Restoration Week’s evolution and acceptance emphasizes how much deep, cultural change Restoration itself accomplished.

The visionaries who built the Restored United States government were idealists, but they were also practical. Their new nation was a splintered mess of polities as small as ten acres and as large as three fused “old states.” All agreed that continued infighting would lead only to eventual barbarism, but few were willing to give an inch on matters of local doctrine. Rather than leave the idea of the greater good to grow or die at the whim of regional opinion, the New Constitution’s writers etched pomp and circumstance into the new document along with stringent requirements for civic education. They deliberately promoted nationalism with the passionate fervor of true believers.

Reading the historical correspondence and memoranda reveals a delicious bit of irony: they never thought it would work. Never in their wildest hopes did they believe their cynical measures would become defining cultural touchstones. The record clearly shows that the nation’s commemorative legislation has far outperformed the expectations of its framers.

They had good reason to doubt their ideas would ever gain traction. Traditions glorifying the State seldom outlast the founding generation—even when they are required by governments that wield far more local power than the Restored Republic does. No previous regime in history had successfully established its own rituals of blatant aggrandizement and self-interest.

No one could have predicted that this time, a weary populace traumatized by decades of conflict would embrace any excuse for a party, nor that those adults would agree to their children being indoctrinated in ideologies that might someday lead them to question their own upbringing. And yet, observation of Restoration Week has grown from its original minimal, meditative focus to become an annual economic juggernaut with global impact.

The right ideas came along at the just right time, they were delivered with polish and skill, and all the stars aligned. Restoration Week reigns supreme in these United States, and its social influence shows no signs of fading.

Because it’s fun to talk about these things, I’ll do another post on the Days of Restoration Week and how I thought decades of observance might skew the original principles.


2. Writing Work nuts & bolts world building

Rough Passages: A Guest Post by K.M. Herkes

Ever wanted to know more about the first time superpowers appeared in my Rough Passages world? Now’s your chance. Read on…

Why is it a reblog? Because  Em Ray invited me to take over her blog one day this week. How could I refuse? I love the fascinating and action-packed Rothganar stories (and adore the lovely background tidbits that get posted on  So I jumped at the chance to write a guest post. And when I finished writing this one, I thought, “Wow, this world-building stuff was was fun! And useful too!” So I’ve continued doing more posts like it here on, and I carried this first inspiration home today. Enjoy!

2. Writing Work nuts & bolts world building

Cleaning Out The Closet

Today in building The Stories of the Restoration, I offer a bit of faux academic writing about law enforcement in the Restored United States. The fictional writer responsible for it vehemently disagrees with socio-political concepts accepted by most of my other characters. Who’s right? Good question.

An excerpt from ” National Insecurity: The Hidden Power of the Civilian Security Bureau”

It’s useful to consider the Civilian Security Bureau as a tree – an organic, living organization of local roots and branches with a federal trunk supporting and feeding all of them. It evolved organically in response to conflicting needs, and over time those pressures have left it irreparably twisted.

At its inception, the CSB saw no hope of effectively absorbing the myriad public and private police operations which had evolved during Revision. It chose instead to establish control by dangling the big carrot of access to weaponry, federal identification rolls and data from financial and personal-activity monitoring systems in front of organizations long starved by a lack of enforcement technologies.

Departments were invited to join the Bureau as independent chapters with their own procedures and policies intact. The CSB provided technical support and dispatched trained analysts and investigators to member jurisdictions on request. In return, the local chapters agreed to abide by certain additional policies, deliver data to the Bureau’s centralized administrative hub, participate in training programs and encourage transfers into and promotion from the centralized services.

This quietly brilliant strategy resulted in a nationally-directed policing force with maximized local clout. The CSB Central Administration has slowly grown to be a dominant feature on the national landscape. Centralized efficiency paired with a distributed power structure has created a bureaucratic monster.

Our ancestors were willing to barter away privacy and personal freedoms in the name of security, but the world we live in would horrify them. They faced hard choices, and we live with the consequences. We think nothing of carrying multiple forms of identification, we accept drug and genetic testing — even brainwashing – as reasonable terms of employment and citizenship. Roadblocks and wellness checks are accepted without question as ‘normal’ where once they would have raised outrage.

The CSB’s power stretches over every aspect of our lives, and corruption is rife at the local level. Worse, we can only guess at the rot at the core. Promotion to administration roles is dependent on acceptance of psychiatric conditioning, and the centralized power structure is notoriously opaque to public scrutiny. What really happens behind closed doors? What abuses are inflicted on agents who sign away their rights in return for legal authority? What we don’t know can hurt us.

Convictions based on drug-assisted interrogations have rocketed in the last decade. Every citizen has the right to refuse pharmaceutical invasion of our most private minds, but exercising that right leads to conviction on suspicion. There was no public outcry when the legally-sanctioned lobotomy known as ‘rehabilitation’ was adopted for many major federal offenses. Hundreds of local jurisdictions have begun to practice it indiscriminately for even the most minor crimes, but the innocent are too docile to protest a horror visited only on the guilty. For now.

That’s today’s installment. If you’re wondering, yes I DO want to know what you think of these little niblets. I crave affirmation like a fish wants water.

2. Writing Work nuts & bolts world building

Superpowers = super tricky

Continuing my explanation of the letter-number-letter system that defines superpowers in my Rough Passages fantasy world. Part 1 discussed the primary powers. Onward to the rest of the dirty picture.

II: Power ratings

  • A rating is only meaningful within a power series. There’s no attempt to compare the “power” of, say, a B1 rollover who can see through foot-thick lead walls to the power of an R1 rollover who can measurably move a continent, or a W1 who can create a point-to-point teleportation gate big enough for a truck to drive through.
  • The number is assigned through a comprehensive set of objective tests. Results are compared to collected historical measurements, providing a consistent and impartial result.
  •  1 indicates the strongest manifestation if the designated ability series, a rating of 0 means practically no sign of the ability indicated by the primary series letter can be detected.
  • The change in power between rating tiers is even, but the rollover population distributes unevenly into the space. This, like primary series designations

III: Variant designation

Every power series has an alphabet’s worth of variations, far too many combinations to detail in a simple work like this. Before databases, the catalogues required multiple bindings, like an old encyclopedia set or the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature. The early inclusion of additional letters to define powers was a white flag of cataloging surrender by the system’s creators. Here are some of the complexities:

  • Multiple abilities are more the norm than the exception, and some power series show more variation than others.
  • The variants are all series dependent — the same letter means different things connected to different primaries. J stands for “jump” attached to a W teleporter, meaning altitude control, but it means a medium weight restriction when applied to a W telekinetic, and something entirely different when attached to each of the assorted B sensory powers.
  • Each primary variant series has its own letter/number set of deviances, and some of those have variances.
  • Series and variant assignment still relies on subjective observation and human judgment as much as hard data.


All in all this a lousy cataloging system, but its limitations stem from its origins. The people who designed it never expected it to be permanent. Picture the poor doctors, police, doctors, firemen and air raid wardens tasked with organizing the thousands–even tens of thousands–of hysterical, confused rollovers on that first, dreadful night in the summer of 1943. Those first responders were working in total ignorance and facing a bewildering array of symptoms. An inspired few created quick-and-dirty rules of thumb to triage their charges as quickly as possible. Accuracy and precision were not priorities.

It worked well enough to be imitated and implemented on a international scale before anyone with more sense could protest. The military and the scientific community adapted the flawed template to suit their needs and stamped it with their own flourishes, and the newborn Department of Public Safety chiseled it into the stone of bureaucracy.

It’s unwieldy, and no one likes it, but unlike the Metric system (adopted by the US in 1969 and finalized in 1976 in this world) no one has come up with anything better yet. Or to be precise hundreds of excellent proposals have been offered up, but none have been effective enough to justify the upheaval and expense of changing now.

People being people, amateur cataloguers keep their eyes peeled for rare rollover types as diligently as any birdwatcher works on an Audubon life list. Trainspotters have nothing on monster buffs.

More on slang like that later. Another time. Remember, if you enjoy it, put a like on it.