This is somewhat of a hard post for me, because these are stories that are dear to me and terribly clever (or have seemed that way to me, at various times), and mostly that I spent a lot of effort on but that never coalesced into books. I’ll go chronologically.
My book The Fifth Tunnel existed in a universe with many other books, called Wisdom University. The premise of the universe was that every story took place in and around a huge, mysterious building called (at varying times) Wisdom Safehouse, Wisdom School, Wisdom University, etc.; and which had been there for “as long as anyone knew”:
“No one knew quite why Wisdom was so big, or even how big it was, but when used as a safe house, it could hold literally thousands of people in relative comfort. Days’ travel from the closest town (a journey that could only be made by foot), Wisdom was impenetrable, constant, and so isolated that the outside world often forgot about it entirely until it was needed once more. . . .
“To the east of Wisdom lay craggy, perilous red mountains known as the East Hills (for from this side, they appeared no more than hills). Once one crossed their ridge, however, the ‘hills’ plummeted down several thousand feet. Many travelers had perished trying to traverse the East Hills, and the only known safe passage was built into Wisdom itself.
“For those who did manage to make it across, it was seldom worth the trouble: red dirt stretched in every direction for as far as the eye could see, but not flat. Wisdom Plain was not precisely a plain at all, any more than the East Hills were gently sloping rises. Wisdom Plain was harsh, dangerous, and utterly lacking in known resources. (It did, in fact, have more unknown resources of incredible value than any could have guessed . . . but no one would find them for many centuries, and even then, the most incredible of these would be passed by.)” (From Protector by the Green Light)
Basically, there are impassable mountains curving around two sides: one close to Wisdom, one with a dangerous forest in between; there is a lake to the south (which connects under Wisdom to the Waste Pit and thus has unusual properties of its own), and a terrible desert to the east. The Waste Pit in The Fifth Tunnel would be on the north side, near the safe path out between the mountains.
Here is my timeline:
Protector by the Green Light (partially written and briefly referenced in The Fifth Tunnel)
Daniel is a boy of 8 to 12 who lives in Wisdom Safehouse with his mother, an archeologist. One day, he follows his mother and her friends into the desert, which is full of the white bones of ancient, eldritch creatures. In the middle of the desert, they come to a strange and evil acid-green sludge, and Daniel’s mom’s friends betray her to it, killing her. Then they themselves are taken over by the sludge. Meanwhile, Daniel flees back to Wisdom. He tries to hide, but no matter where he goes, Wisdom keeps presenting him with a green light (kind of like a flat nightlight in an outlet). By doing this, it is choosing him as its “protector,” which gives him certain rights within the building—but also means he must be the one to defeat the terrible evil.
The Fifth Tunnel takes place several hundred years later. In it, there is the following paragraph:
“At least, some part of my mind whispered, she didn’t contact law enforcement and convince them, too. Not that any Protectors had been seen for decades, but one never knew.”
Memory Collectors was about a young man named Lasin Logic who got a job going into people’s minds and collecting their memories to resell. It eventually turned into Logic’s Emporium of Stolen Memories and is 99% unrecognizable from the original. I did actually write about the first half of this book when I was 15, but it wasn’t working. It would have had a sequel called Adventures in My Head, following the little girl Susan, who after having a lot of her memories removed has many gaps into which “people” crawl, giving her essentially multiple personalities—except that they are actually different people.
The Art of Subliminal Messaging was meant to be a novella in the spirit of Orwell:
“At a time when the government took over Wisdom for its own purposes and training, the University lost what was once its primary area of learning and replaced it with a very different one: politics.
“No, I do not speak here of the petty, pathetic thing that politics are on our world, with average people running for president, or men with nothing special about them aside from a name inheriting the throne, although that also existed, of course. Some things can never be stopped.
“Here, at Wisdom, it was not that kind of student who was trained. It wasn’t the future figurehead of a country, elected by a fair and just ballot, every so many years. It was the kind who is not elected but appointed for life, often by people who wonder afterwards why they did it, for surely they had never really liked their appointee before that day. And besides, they were of an odd sort. And from that University, too!
“Some people called that strange way of getting exactly what they wanted charm, others charisma. Realistically, it was nothing more than expert manipulation of the kind Wisdom University turned out.
“Wisdom taught the power behind the throne; the grand viziers and chief advisors. Wisdom taught the people who eventually would rule the countries of the world without anyone actually knowing their names. The people who told the rulers (without their being aware of it) what to think and do. In other words, it taught the people who really made everything work—made the cogs spin and the economies thrive.
“As one might expect, this made the classes of Wisdom very . . . unique. And difficult to get into, unless you had a certain mindset and were naturally cunning and ruthless. Who else could excel at Propaganda 101, 33 Important Languages, Manipulation, Advertising, Economics (macro and micro), Handwriting and Forgery, Charisma, Public Speaking, and Facial Expressions or Lack Thereof? It took a certain type of person who wanted to take psychology . . . not to help people recover, but to change them.
“Josep was one of those people. He was strikingly handsome, for one thing (something very important in these circumstances, if one couldn’t be utterly unmemorable) and took voice lessons from the University music director to help his speaking. He eagerly attended extra classes in Etiquette and took Manipulation up to the 300 level—he was planning to major in it, in fact.
“That is, until one day in his Propaganda class.”
In this class, Josep learns about “subliminal messaging,” which the teacher dismisses as fairly ineffective. In private, however, Josep finds a way to make it work. Disgusted by the way the university is training its students to use and manipulate others, Josep begins to utilize subliminal messaging to turn the university into what he thinks it ought to be—only to, in the process, himself become exactly what he was fighting against.
Mirror Mirror is a story about a time traveler who uses mirrors to go to different stages of Wisdom’s history—sort of a frame narrative for the above stories.
In any case, there were other stories also, many of them; most never written at all.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
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