One of the difficult things about writing science fiction is sneaking in your world building without info-dumping or committing the heinous atrocity that is known in the trade as “author intrusion”. This challenge is compounded if, as in “We Bleed the Same” you are writing the entire book from a single character’s point of view.
When I was writing it and needed to get on without getting bogged down I would put in a gap with the information I wanted to convey and would return later to figure out how to get it in. However, on one occasion – almost as a joke – I got Danny (the hero) to attend a lecture on Modern Athréak History. Then to my surprise my cold readers let it pass without comment, so I left it in when I sent it off to the publisher. People kept letting it through; I assumed it must just be a fantastically written lecture scene…
It was the third editor who finally unmasked it for the info-dump it was. So, for those who want to know a bit more about how and why the Empire, Athréa, the FFAIO and the Simplaerosian Kingdom are all fighting over one muddy patch of land – here is the deleted lecture. (The start of it remained included in Chapter 37.)
“One of the lectures focused on how the current military situation arose. The lecturer was an elderly man with white hair and a twitch below his left eye, which got more pronounced when he became animated on certain points. He wore an old fashioned Alliance uniform and a cravat from where his Adam’s apple would bob up as he spoke in a supercilious tone of voice, peppering his speech with convoluted sub clauses.
Due to the prevailing political situation, the Angel City, Engalise to the modern amongst you, was a natural choice for the Federation in setting up its headquarters. When we became a significant threat to the Empire a few decades ago, the Emperor at the time, old Pastan Victorious it was, an oxymoronic moniker if ever I heard one, ordered an expeditionary force to invade and destroy the city. He reasoned that, as it was completely independent, it was not a part of Simplaerosia and, therefore, it would not breach the Alliance to attack it. The Simplaerosians concurred with that assessment but pointed out, bless their hearts forever, that there was no way to get to Engalise without crossing Simplaerosian territory and so, with all the ferocity that their advanced technology afforded them, launched attacks on all the Imperial forces breaching their borders.’
‘So, how did we get hooked up with Simplaero?’ asked a woman on the front row.
‘Ah yes. Well, the Federation was defending Engalise, which had encased itself in a huge sink field, and the two co-operated militarily to expel the Empire. The strange, and most would say expeditious, thing was both the Empire and Simplaerosia regarded Athréa as a localised matter and continued with their Alliance in every other corner of the Galaxy. So, we have the peculiar phenomenon of Simplaerosia fighting with us on Athréa and against us in other theatres, although, in reality, both sides try to avoid that as much as possible. It is entirely in Simplaero’s interest to have the Empire bogged down in fighting us.’
‘Bogged down?’ asked the man next to Danny with a snort of derision. The lecturer looked genuinely surprised at the sentiment expressed.
‘Why yes. The naval casualties we necessarily suffer are a classic guerrilla campaign. The resources the Empire must expend in keeping us down are out of proportion to the threat we currently pose. More significantly, Athréa has become a mincing machine. For decades Emperors who could not afford to lose face or allow the Federation to operate unmolested, poured troops on to the planet, only for them to be pulverised. An army unit that lands on Athréa never leaves.’
A murmur of satisfaction rippled around the room but the lecturer looked irritated.
‘Please, everyone stay focused on what is important. Remember the sacrifices of the Athréak people, the descendants of the ancients, who still called themselves Anjelican despite massive interbreeding with the human occupiers. They have to go about their lives with war all around them…'”