Did you think I was done talking about Lexin? Nope! There’s more.
Some mild spoilers for Totality: The Militiaman follow.
Early into this first book, it should become obvious that a lot of noir tropes are involved. The original iteration of this story was actually much less noirish–it was more akin to a police procedural, tonally. But as I revisited the story and fleshed out Lexin, a darker and grimier world took shape, and the futility of William’s fight against the mining conglomerates that dominated his world (and paid his salary) got put into stark contrast.
So it came to an exotic dancer called Rainbow (itself an aspirational name on a planet that very rarely exhibits rainbows) who was killed by a mining executive. She never appears directly, since she is already dead by the time she comes to William’s attention. A dead sex worker as a plot device is a pretty blatant cliche–I knew that going in, as part of establishing what kind of planet Lexin is, and what William is up against. It is, of course, not that different from our contemporary reality, except it’s unusual for police to care at all about a dead sex worker (not to mention the times they are personally responsible for such deaths).
Alluded to but usually unspoken is the source of William’s fervor in these matters: every dead girl or young woman just reminds him of his sister, Josie. Even if he isn’t directly aware of this, it informs his attitudes and his actions. The problem is, it makes him not think straight–all he can think about is making things right, bringing the wrongdoers to justice, and saving other young women in the process. This is Problematic with a capital P, to put it mildly, and William tends to cause more harm than he mitigates.
An element often discussed in early parts of The Militiaman is the prevalence of gangs. The factions have names, like the Dogs of Salt Coast, but we don’t get to see any of them individually. Since the story is from William’s perspective, the gangs remain ephemeral and distant. He knows they exist, he has interacted with individual members, but what they really mean, as a concept, is lost on him. He cannot see them as anything but deadly, dangerous hooligans, especially since his sister died while running with such a gang. But with the evident and severe inequality in Erzan especially–the untouchable, rich mining executives put up against the poor masses–it should be no mystery why informal organizations like gangs take shape. What is a gang, after all, but an informal government? It has leadership, rules and norms, and territory in which it enforces them. It can also offer a sense of belonging, which is what drew Josie to one–something William could not understand, even though he joined the Militiamen for very similar reasons.
At some point, I might write a short story from Josie’s perspective to explore this part of Lexin’s culture, since I think it is pretty interesting but not particularly developed in The Militiaman as we have to move on to other things. I have a series of “.5” stories planned to bridge the gap between the main novels. I don’t know if this is a candidate for one of those, since it doesn’t really bridge any particular story (it is just a potential story on its own), but there’s also the option to do a short story compilation at some point, too.
Now, for a completely different topic! Ages and bits and pieces of calendar information are sprinkled about The Militiaman, but I never spell out exactly how time is reckoned. Well, now you get to know.
Lexinian years last for 541 days. Like Earth, the planet is on a tilted axis which produces seasonal weather. It has no moons, which makes the very concept of a “month” suspect, but since humans like our years broken down into chunks, Lexin has a monthly calendar anyway:
- Deepwinter (60 days)
- Last Frost (60)
- Icebreak (60)
- First Sprout (60)
- High Sun (60)
- First Harvest (60)
- Endsummer (60)
- Last Harvest (60)
- Iceborn (60)
Lexinian days are 28 Earth hours long. (For comparison, days on Trepsis are 21 hours.) This makes a Lexinian year about 1.73 times the length of an Earth year. So, an 18-year-old on Earth would be about 10 on Lexin. William is about 23 Lexinian years when the story begins, meaning he is pushing 40 Earth years.
All this doesn’t come up a whole heck of a lot in the text itself because let’s face it, it’s confusing! I spent way too much time developing a calendar and date system, as well. But it seemed like a necessary thing to do at the time, since it’s obvious that any other planet, no matter how Earthlike, would not have perfect 365.24 day years and 24 hour days.