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2014 FALL FEATURE: Caelum Lex


Caelum Lex is a self-published open access space opera that is reminiscent of “Firefly.” The story is the product of collaboration between two dedicated individuals, a technical writer and a visual artist, and a new chapter is released each Friday. Like “Firefly,” Caelum Lex focuses on a group of ordinary people just trying to get by and does a good job of presenting likeable characters that viewers/readers can get attached to. However, unlike “Firefly,” the universe of Caelum Lex is built to last beyond a mere handful of episodes and the experience does not include analogs of annoying characters such as River and Shepherd Derrial Book. Chapters are available on dA fav.me/d5gro6q but Caelum Lex also has an excellent website www.caelum-lex.com/ complete with an interactive table of contents www.caelum-lex.com/category/pa… a wiki-style encyclopedia lexicon.caelum-lex.com/doku.ph… and illustrations. There is also a fan group here on dA caelumlexfans.deviantart.com/

Breathless Breathless by khronosabre fav.me/d6kb59k
Year One Year One by khronosabre fav.me/d6n9lyw
Spoilers? Spoilers? by khronosabre fav.me/d6xs1an

The first thing that impresses me about Caelum Lex is the shear “going for it” passion of the creators. Chapters keep coming through each week, and the art complements it in a way that is quite effective. Basically it’s a great example of an indie sci-fi project that actually works. Both creators have successful full time careers but they make the most of the time they have in order to produce the best reading experience possible. But as Geordi La Forge—I mean—LeVar Burton—used to say on “Reading Rainbow,” you don’t have to take my word for it: fav.me/d5noop1 www.universeeventual.com/2013/…

Below is an interview that I conducted with khronosabre and jennerally:


1. In your Literary Compass interview you said that your goal was to write the most epic space story ever. Before you two began writing Caelum Lex, what what were some things that you felt were lacking in TV and book-based science fiction stories?

Hayley: I wouldn’t necessarily say there was anything missing in the grand scheme of science fiction. Sci-fi, in fact, has always been a genre well-suited to hit so many story elements, it’s difficult to point to something and say ‘yeah we don’t have enough of that’. Caelum Lex, rather, was meant to just be everything that we personally wanted out of a sci-fi, a lot of which was drawn from pre-existing media we liked. The spaceship action of Battlestar, the character development of Firefly, the core fantasy epic of Star Wars, the romantic chemistry of the X-Files, the list goes on. Caelum Lex isn’t looking to fill any void in sci-fi, it’s just looking to be an ultimate hybrid of love.

Jenn: A writing teacher told me once that you should "write things that you personally would want to read." I'm always looking for sci fi stories with a wide cast of diverse, interesting characters with a complex smart female protagonist in the heart of it. So that's what we went for! We drew inspiration from all of our favorite classics, like Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica ...

2. When you plan out chapters do you go in with the intention to make something that would work well as a one-to-one text-to-motion picture conversion, or do you prefer to exploit advantages inherent to text-only formats?

H: I for one am a primarily visual person. When I write, I definitely see everything in full cinema which I think comes across most in our scene changes and POV shifts. In my head it’s less a literary page break and more a hard film cut. But there are definitely text-only advantages that we utilize as well. It’s a lot harder to get details about someone’s feelings or pasts or what have you from an image than a paragraph.

J: In the beginning, I wrote like I was writing a book. And my writing suffered for it. It was overwritten and crappy. Now that we are 100 chapters into Caelum Lex, I have a better understanding of writing concise description & dialogue, and capturing images in my head. So I write it more like a webcomic / movie now, I think.

3. dA versus Tumblr: Which one has been the most useful as far as bringing in new fans?

J: Definitely DA. Moreso than Tumblr, DA's format lends itself to understanding what Caelum Lex is: a story with words and drawings. It's not a webcomic and it's not a story, it's something in between. Explaining that on Tumblr is hard.

H: Probably dA simply because our Tumblr isn’t exactly...maintained. Both, however, are a little problematic in terms of really drawing in audience though as dA and Tumblr (especially Tumblr) are catered to a very fast consumption of information. People on either aren’t necessarily looking to read hundreds of thousands of words of text as they are browsing around for cool imagery. Frankly, we get most of our audience through webfictionguide.com If you like reading free online serials, check it out, there’s a ton of great work there.

4. As with Firefly and Battle Star Galactica, I did not come across any aliens or strange ecology. As a general rule, do you feel that artifacts, lost civilizations, and talking squids just get in the way when it comes to writing compelling character-based fiction?

H: Eh no, not really. Not as a general rule. I love aliens and strange worlds and uncovering mysteries about both (I grew up on Stargate, it’s kind of my jam haha), but that’s just not what Caelum Lex is about. I’m definitely not opposed to one day doing a sci-fi that does include that sort of theme (there was some discussion about a possible “sequel” to Caelum Lex that sort of did, but shh), but it’s just not this one.

J: I don't think aliens get in the way necessarily - I just think creating races of aliens and civilizations is a HUGE undertaking and I wasn't ready to consider it for our first sci-fi story. We wanted to create characters that felt distinctly human who just happened to be far in the future.

5. Unlike Firefly, I did not come across any River analogs as I was reading. What are your thoughts about the use of telepathy and its limitations within the context of a fictional universe?

J: Who says none of our characters can read minds?!

H: Hah yeah that’s true. Perhaps they can. But they don’t because actually no, I really dislike telepathy and that was among my least favorite parts of Firefly. I’ve never been big on the whole ‘gifted’ or ‘powers’ thing. I enjoy a good superhero movie as much as the next person, but telepathy? The human experience is already complex and interesting, why throw in the ability to circumvent the best part: communication. Not my thing.

6. Unlike BSG, in my reading mentions of robots and AI were virtually nonexistent. From the standpoint of World Building, do you feel that technological plateaus are useful, and if so what are some specific restrictions that you deliberately implement?

J: Technological plateaus are essential. Imagine if everyone in our story could teleport - they'd do a lot less running and fighting!

Generally, our goal in writing future tech has been to ask ourselves, "is this a device that is easy to describe, that the reader can understand? Is it feasible to see this device in the future?" Nothing too outlandish, I don't think. Which is unfortunate - some of the tech we give the Society runs parallel to current events.

H: There’s actually an in-world reason for why CL’s technology isn’t mind-blowingly futuristic. When the First Colonists traveled from the Origin to the Span they now inhabit, they were forced to dismantle most of their tech in order to make the trip and start the colonies and after the First Division War, much of that technology was simply lost for good. As for why we chose to do that. I like space-y future-y gadgets, but Jenn’s right, it needs to be easy to understand and simple. Also, we’re working with struggling space pirates. Some of the bigger planets have some cool tech we haven’t really delved into, but for the Dionysian? Gadgets would just make things easier for them. And we don’t want that.

7. From what I read people in the universe of Caelum Lex have similar lifespans to what you and I could expect. Do you feel that widespread immortality has a numbing effect on the intensity of science fiction narratives?

J: Who said none of our characters are immortal?!

Just kidding (maybe). They do have similar lifespans, but we can bend the rules a bit. For example, Leta's only 24 when the story starts, and she's already a doctor. Technology advanced medicine as such that she didn't have to be in school studying medicine forever.

H: I think this goes back to the answer above. These people are supposed to be struggling to survive and (later on in the story) make something out of their lives. If those lives were unending, why worry about it? It also ties back to the telepathy thing. I don’t have any desire to make things easy for them. They’ve got some hundred years to figure their shit out and that clock is and should be ticking and loudly.


QUESTIONS FOR THE READER:

1) What are your thoughts about technological plateaus in science fiction?

2) What are your thoughts about including or excluding robots and AI in science fiction?

3) What did you like about Firefly?

4) What did you dislike about Firefly?
Upcoming Group Highlight
8 deviations
Nickname: Bolt

Real Name: currently unavailable (suggestions welcome)

Height: 5'2'' (genetically he is 6' and phenotype is due to nutrition factors)

Hair color: n/a

Eye color: Yellow

Tattoos: none

Piercings: none

Age: 26 at 10,000 AD; 28 at 10,002 AD

Profession: Police Officer 9,992-9,996 AD, Elite Security Officer (SWAT Team equivalent) 9,997-9,998 AD,  Aerospace Mechanic 9,999-10,002 AD

Homeworld: unavailable; migrated with his family during middle childhood to a heavily populated space station in order to escape a politically engineered famine. He served on the space station's security force until its protectorship was transferred from the Trigalactic Federation to the Drall Hegemony in 9,999 AD as part of some kind of longstanding political arrangement.

Education: Level 3
Primary>Secondary>Trade School; at Level 3 training there is an option between Apprenticeship, Trade School, and PreCollege; apprenticeship is highly specialized with minimal academic content and trade school is like a middle ground between apprenticeship and PreCollege. From an academic standpoint PreCollege is similar to a USA-based honors high school curriculum whereas Trade School is more like a standard high school curriculum combined with vocational training.  

MBTI: ENFP (i.e. Garrus Vakarian, Don Quixote, Anakin Skywalker, Mark Twain)
-colorful storyteller
-charming, independent, energetic and compassionate
-N: read between the lines
-crave creativity and freedom more than stability and security
-knows how to relax
-poor practical skills (for a Drall)
-difficult to focus (for a Drall)
-overthinks things
-gets stressed easily
-highly emotional
-independent to a fault
-not a fan of hierarchy and micromanagement (good thing his boss is an ISTP)
-quirky and verbally fluid people person
-ENFP strongly linked to the Histrionic Personality; somewhat linked to narcissistic, Hypomaniac and Borderline Personalities; repress introverted sensing function, which means that they can be flighty and neglect to reflect on their past.
OC Profile: Bolt
Character Network fav.me/d7klth5

Scientific American: genetics versus nutrition in determining height www.scientificamerican.com/art…
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Name: Daisy Forestyr

Ethnicity: Afro-Asian

Height: 5'4''

Hair color: Black

Eye color: Brown

Tattoos: Pegasus (back), Dragon (right arm)

Piercings: pierced ears; only wears jewelry on special occasions

Age: 20 at 10,000 AD; 22 at 10,002 AD

Profession: Research Technician 10,000-10,002AD

Homeworld: currently unavailable; grew up on Kanangar Prime

Education: Level 4
Primary>Secondary>PreCollege>Microbiology

MBTI: ISTP (i.e. Tara Thornton, Arya Stark, Kathrine Hephburn, Scarlett Johansson)

Mother: Level 4 Botanist (Kanangar Prime)

Father: Level 3 Mechanic; divorced (Starbase Equador)
A few islands near the Sargasso Peninsula by space-commander
A few islands near the Sargasso Peninsula
"When it comes to honeymoons sometimes you're better off sticking with somewhere in your own back yard."
-Jack Ostrowsky, June 13, 10,002 AD

Map of Kanangar Prime fav.me/d6c16oj

...

Another humble attempt at speed painting
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2014 FALL FEATURE: Caelum Lex


Caelum Lex is a self-published open access space opera that is reminiscent of “Firefly.” The story is the product of collaboration between two dedicated individuals, a technical writer and a visual artist, and a new chapter is released each Friday. Like “Firefly,” Caelum Lex focuses on a group of ordinary people just trying to get by and does a good job of presenting likeable characters that viewers/readers can get attached to. However, unlike “Firefly,” the universe of Caelum Lex is built to last beyond a mere handful of episodes and the experience does not include analogs of annoying characters such as River and Shepherd Derrial Book. Chapters are available on dA fav.me/d5gro6q but Caelum Lex also has an excellent website www.caelum-lex.com/ complete with an interactive table of contents www.caelum-lex.com/category/pa… a wiki-style encyclopedia lexicon.caelum-lex.com/doku.ph… and illustrations. There is also a fan group here on dA caelumlexfans.deviantart.com/

Breathless Breathless by khronosabre fav.me/d6kb59k
Year One Year One by khronosabre fav.me/d6n9lyw
Spoilers? Spoilers? by khronosabre fav.me/d6xs1an

The first thing that impresses me about Caelum Lex is the shear “going for it” passion of the creators. Chapters keep coming through each week, and the art complements it in a way that is quite effective. Basically it’s a great example of an indie sci-fi project that actually works. Both creators have successful full time careers but they make the most of the time they have in order to produce the best reading experience possible. But as Geordi La Forge—I mean—LeVar Burton—used to say on “Reading Rainbow,” you don’t have to take my word for it: fav.me/d5noop1 www.universeeventual.com/2013/…

Below is an interview that I conducted with khronosabre and jennerally:


1. In your Literary Compass interview you said that your goal was to write the most epic space story ever. Before you two began writing Caelum Lex, what what were some things that you felt were lacking in TV and book-based science fiction stories?

Hayley: I wouldn’t necessarily say there was anything missing in the grand scheme of science fiction. Sci-fi, in fact, has always been a genre well-suited to hit so many story elements, it’s difficult to point to something and say ‘yeah we don’t have enough of that’. Caelum Lex, rather, was meant to just be everything that we personally wanted out of a sci-fi, a lot of which was drawn from pre-existing media we liked. The spaceship action of Battlestar, the character development of Firefly, the core fantasy epic of Star Wars, the romantic chemistry of the X-Files, the list goes on. Caelum Lex isn’t looking to fill any void in sci-fi, it’s just looking to be an ultimate hybrid of love.

Jenn: A writing teacher told me once that you should "write things that you personally would want to read." I'm always looking for sci fi stories with a wide cast of diverse, interesting characters with a complex smart female protagonist in the heart of it. So that's what we went for! We drew inspiration from all of our favorite classics, like Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica ...

2. When you plan out chapters do you go in with the intention to make something that would work well as a one-to-one text-to-motion picture conversion, or do you prefer to exploit advantages inherent to text-only formats?

H: I for one am a primarily visual person. When I write, I definitely see everything in full cinema which I think comes across most in our scene changes and POV shifts. In my head it’s less a literary page break and more a hard film cut. But there are definitely text-only advantages that we utilize as well. It’s a lot harder to get details about someone’s feelings or pasts or what have you from an image than a paragraph.

J: In the beginning, I wrote like I was writing a book. And my writing suffered for it. It was overwritten and crappy. Now that we are 100 chapters into Caelum Lex, I have a better understanding of writing concise description & dialogue, and capturing images in my head. So I write it more like a webcomic / movie now, I think.

3. dA versus Tumblr: Which one has been the most useful as far as bringing in new fans?

J: Definitely DA. Moreso than Tumblr, DA's format lends itself to understanding what Caelum Lex is: a story with words and drawings. It's not a webcomic and it's not a story, it's something in between. Explaining that on Tumblr is hard.

H: Probably dA simply because our Tumblr isn’t exactly...maintained. Both, however, are a little problematic in terms of really drawing in audience though as dA and Tumblr (especially Tumblr) are catered to a very fast consumption of information. People on either aren’t necessarily looking to read hundreds of thousands of words of text as they are browsing around for cool imagery. Frankly, we get most of our audience through webfictionguide.com If you like reading free online serials, check it out, there’s a ton of great work there.

4. As with Firefly and Battle Star Galactica, I did not come across any aliens or strange ecology. As a general rule, do you feel that artifacts, lost civilizations, and talking squids just get in the way when it comes to writing compelling character-based fiction?

H: Eh no, not really. Not as a general rule. I love aliens and strange worlds and uncovering mysteries about both (I grew up on Stargate, it’s kind of my jam haha), but that’s just not what Caelum Lex is about. I’m definitely not opposed to one day doing a sci-fi that does include that sort of theme (there was some discussion about a possible “sequel” to Caelum Lex that sort of did, but shh), but it’s just not this one.

J: I don't think aliens get in the way necessarily - I just think creating races of aliens and civilizations is a HUGE undertaking and I wasn't ready to consider it for our first sci-fi story. We wanted to create characters that felt distinctly human who just happened to be far in the future.

5. Unlike Firefly, I did not come across any River analogs as I was reading. What are your thoughts about the use of telepathy and its limitations within the context of a fictional universe?

J: Who says none of our characters can read minds?!

H: Hah yeah that’s true. Perhaps they can. But they don’t because actually no, I really dislike telepathy and that was among my least favorite parts of Firefly. I’ve never been big on the whole ‘gifted’ or ‘powers’ thing. I enjoy a good superhero movie as much as the next person, but telepathy? The human experience is already complex and interesting, why throw in the ability to circumvent the best part: communication. Not my thing.

6. Unlike BSG, in my reading mentions of robots and AI were virtually nonexistent. From the standpoint of World Building, do you feel that technological plateaus are useful, and if so what are some specific restrictions that you deliberately implement?

J: Technological plateaus are essential. Imagine if everyone in our story could teleport - they'd do a lot less running and fighting!

Generally, our goal in writing future tech has been to ask ourselves, "is this a device that is easy to describe, that the reader can understand? Is it feasible to see this device in the future?" Nothing too outlandish, I don't think. Which is unfortunate - some of the tech we give the Society runs parallel to current events.

H: There’s actually an in-world reason for why CL’s technology isn’t mind-blowingly futuristic. When the First Colonists traveled from the Origin to the Span they now inhabit, they were forced to dismantle most of their tech in order to make the trip and start the colonies and after the First Division War, much of that technology was simply lost for good. As for why we chose to do that. I like space-y future-y gadgets, but Jenn’s right, it needs to be easy to understand and simple. Also, we’re working with struggling space pirates. Some of the bigger planets have some cool tech we haven’t really delved into, but for the Dionysian? Gadgets would just make things easier for them. And we don’t want that.

7. From what I read people in the universe of Caelum Lex have similar lifespans to what you and I could expect. Do you feel that widespread immortality has a numbing effect on the intensity of science fiction narratives?

J: Who said none of our characters are immortal?!

Just kidding (maybe). They do have similar lifespans, but we can bend the rules a bit. For example, Leta's only 24 when the story starts, and she's already a doctor. Technology advanced medicine as such that she didn't have to be in school studying medicine forever.

H: I think this goes back to the answer above. These people are supposed to be struggling to survive and (later on in the story) make something out of their lives. If those lives were unending, why worry about it? It also ties back to the telepathy thing. I don’t have any desire to make things easy for them. They’ve got some hundred years to figure their shit out and that clock is and should be ticking and loudly.


QUESTIONS FOR THE READER:

1) What are your thoughts about technological plateaus in science fiction?

2) What are your thoughts about including or excluding robots and AI in science fiction?

3) What did you like about Firefly?

4) What did you dislike about Firefly?

deviantID

space-commander

Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
I'm in my late twenties and like many aspiring writers, I have opted for anonymity. When I was younger I was a huge fan of the Sim and Sid Meir games, but as I got older I gradually grew tired of them and started looking for a more creative outlet. One day I noticed dA-Muro, started doodling, and the rest is history.

My main activity on dA revolves around a massive group world building project called One-Planet-at-a-Time one-planet-at-a-time.deviantar…. It's basically a science fiction universe that is designed to remain as open-ended as possible instead of collapsing in on itself like a lot of the mainstream universes seem to be doing. Submissions to this group are officially accepted on Sundays. I do not thank people for faves but I do reply to most comments and notes within a reasonable amount of time.

If anyone would like a critique for a short story (preferably sci-fi) just send me a note and I'll put it on my to-do list. My policy is one critique per writer unless the writing is for the OPaaT Project in which case I am willing to write multiple critiques. Even if you are not a Premium member I am still happy to provide detailed feedback.

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:iconypplejax:
YppleJax Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the favorite, and given the collection name, in advance for the feature! :D
Reply
:iconspace-commander:
space-commander Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You are very welcome :) If you'd like an 200+ word critique comment me again after Comical1 has posted the reviews.
Reply
:iconypplejax:
YppleJax Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Moar feedback!  MOAR!

You know, if you want.  :D
Reply
:iconypplejax:
YppleJax Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ok, thanks!
Reply
:iconbeltminer:
beltminer Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2014
Thanks for fave my friend, I was hoping to put across the kind of industrial liberty port that both of us 
love so well.  Although this one is not quite as grand as equador, it is a kind of pre-interstellar version
g
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