Quick Note: I’ll be on hiatus for February because I just had a child and because we’re moving house at the end of the month, so it’s going to be nuts. However, I thought I’d drop this for you guys to check out before I vanish. Have a good month!
For several months now, I’ve been talking about a book called Dodecon, which I’m still writing, but it dawns on me that I’ve never given any real details on it, and the title doesn’t exactly say much, considering I made that word up. So what is it?
That Funky Title and the Even Funkier World
“Dodecon” comes from the prefix “dodec” or “dodeca” for twelve. A twelve-sided object is a “dodecagon.” Dodecon, the book, is about twelve people.
It’s a fantasy world in which the twelve signs of the Western Zodiac are all distinct races. Each has their own culture, their own special days, their own strengths and weaknesses. They’re all relatively friendly towards each other, with notable hiccups dotting history in blood.
However, this fantasy is not an epic about good versus evil. There’s no dark power, no evil race trying to conquer the others. Dodecon is about something more fantastic and yet more realistic. A Dodecon, in the story world, is a journey.
For this journey, one member of each race must volunteer, for a total of twelve people, each unique from the rest. As a group, they travel to the home lands of each and spend one month there. The calendar is based on the Zodiac calendar, not our modern calendar. The year begins on the first day of Spring, with the Aries sign, so the Dodecon would spend the first month of the year with the Aries, specifically in the home land of the Aries volunteer. So on and so forth with every sign for twelve months.
Imagine spending one year travelling with strangers of different cultures, some of whom you’ve never seen before, if any. That’s the conflict of this story: how the characters rub on each other and their worlds, and how the foreign ways rub off on them.
Speaking of Characters…
The entire story revolves around these twelve characters and their pieces of the world. So who are they, and what are they?
1. Kar’Sur, the Aries–The Aries are fiery creatures, demonic in appearance, but not in nature. They hide in the rain and eat only food that keeps their fires going, like coal. They are the smiths and metalworkers of the world.
Kar’Sur is starting her own business making knives, but a piece of her heart broke long ago. Her parents are different races and couldn’t make their relationship work. So rather than revel in her new business success, she wants to help The Twelve knit themselves together a little better so future interracial children don’t have to pick between their parents.
2. Themba Achebe, the Taurus–Minotaur-like, these mighty earth signs till the land, cutting their niche in the world with farming. Stubborn or stalwart, depending on your viewpoint.
Themba is a self-made man after his father failed to provide for his family. He’s rich and famous, and now only wants the woman he loves. But the woman’s father sees pride and bitterness in Themba, and challenges Themba to go on a Dodecon to see the goodness in others and the true value of his own people before he can marry. Grumbling, Themba agrees.
3. Johnny-Jenna, the Gemini–The Gemini have the magical ability to switch between two bodies in a flash, one male and one female. Two sexes with one mind. They’re the most modern (though in this story, modern is about 1900), the scientists and artists, though some think the’re too loose in morals.
Johnny-Jenna makes no secret his/her vulgar nature. He’s a prostitute and proud of it. He wants to go on the Dodecon to learn the lurid ways of all races and dip his pen in every race’s ink. If the others don’t like it, screw ’em. His own people don’t like it, and he doesn’t care what they think, so why should the opinions of strangers bother him, especially if they’re just going to judge him?
4. Baldric, the Cancer–Cancer eyes allow them to see in the dark, but also makes them sensitive to light, especially sudden flares. So they live at night, keeping mostly to themselves, their ink-black skin making them almost invisible. While shy, they’re friendly to foreigners.
Baldric is a Pit Cancer, one who’s lived in the darkest caves all his life. But his son is fascinated by the light. Hoping to gain esteem in his son’s eyes, Baldric faces his fear of the upper world by joining the Dodecon.
5. Solana de la Garra, the Leo–Physical gods and goddesses with Hispanic features, the Leo are a wild, powerful, and gorgeous race. In their wild lands, might rules. Every teenager must prove his worth by fighting and killing a lion, wearing its head as a trophy.
Solana is the mightiest woman alive, and proves it with her harem of three great men. Though they hate each other, Solana joins the Dodecon just to prove that her men will play nice even while she’s gone for a full year. But inside, she fears her increasing age, and worries that her empire is about to collapse.
6. Isha the Virgo–Short, thin, and fairy-like, the Virgo are easy to conquer. So they use their minds, not their bodies. Their magical touch grows trees faster than normal, so they became lumber and paper barons, plying their hands as scribes and writers.
Isha was one such Virgo until he lost his good arm. Now 50 years old, he sees no way for himself to be valuable to a utilitarian society. Thus, he joins the Dodecon to find a new world and a new life.
7. Chastity Aquilla, the Libra–This angelic race soars in the sky on white wings. With their power over air, they lifted entire cities into the sky, but this isn’t easy. They must import almost everything, so they became the public servants of the world–librarians, mediators, postal workers, anything that keeps the world together rides on Libra wings.
Chastity so wants to be an interracial mediator, even though she’s young. So she joins a Dodecon for real experience. How hard can it be, right? But some of them walk around naked! Others bow only to the law of power! Some of them get drunk! What has she gotten herself into?
8. Sting, the Scorpio–Half man, half scorpion, this eerie race wanders the world with no real home. Hard shells cover their soft bodies, and hard emotions protect their hearts. Alchemists and sorcerers, Scorpio travel the world collecting what others call junk and magicking them into something new.
Codename Sting is the most vicious of Scorpio, though he’s not about to tell anyone why. He joined this Dodecon after making a deal with a friend. If all went well, Sting’s wounds would heal and he’d open up again. If not…well, that’s his business, not yours.
9. Thunder Peal, the Sagittarius–This centaur race is wild and free, boisterous and irreverent, comedic to a fault. They live off the land, famous for their ability as ranchers. Based in Native American lore, Sagittarius are deeply spiritual and value their freedom above all else.
Thunder Peal was named for being conceived in a storm, and lives as loudly. He says he joined the Dodecon just to have an adventure to tell about later, but what’s his real motive? What does the laughter hide, and what awaits the Dodecon when he brings them home?
10. Takahashi Miyuki, the Capricorn–Based on Japanese samurai, the Capricorn emphasize serenity and perfection. They practice the sword to teach discipline and skill, but they’re more than mere warriors. Whatever they put their mind to, they do so with uncanny care while enjoying the quieter things in life.
Takahashi is nearing the end of her life. A physician now unable to heal herself, she decides to have one last journey to strengthen her spirit for the next life. But accepting the end is harder than even she assumed.
11. Evelina, the Aquarius–The most curious and elusive race, these tall, blue-skinned people hide away in the icy mountains where no other creature can stand the cold, and they do it while naked. They eat bark, drink water, take walks, and talk to people. What more do they need? They don’t bother with the modern world and the modern world doesn’t bother with them.
Evelina is curious, however. She wonders why the other races live in constant want of things while their people want nothing. And if their race is so much better off, why do they need each other instead of being individuals? She goes on the Dodecon hoping to understand her people and others.
12. Finn Three Mardu Coral, the Pisces–This aquatic race turns into merfolk when wet, and human when dry. Fortunately, their vocal magic, the Chord, controls water. While few fully understand their underwater ways, they’re dualistic by nature, born in even numbers so they all have a sibling to balance them out, and constantly seeking their complement, an opposite-sex lover who is their missing half.
Finn is a heavy romantic because he is an Uneven, an odd-numbered child his people can’t comprehend. So Finn travels on the Dodecon to find his lover, so that he may be balanced in his people’s eyes. Too bad that lover doesn’t love him back.
The fun part about being an author is taking twelve molds of clay, smashing them together, and laughing at the debris. Rub twelve characters together and you get some drama.
Conservative Chastity is appalled by the nudity or near-nudity of “barbaric” races. Sting can’t speak a word of the common language. The Sagittarius and Taurus are historical enemies, so how do they get along now? How does Finn remain friends with Kar’Sur when he’s madly in love with her?
And as you might imagine, this story is massive. Twelve months of culture clashes and character growth, not to mention the beforehand and the aftermath, totaling 14 sections to write about. As of this writing, I’ve finished nine of them, and we’re at 280,000 words. That’s 480 pages on MS Word, a lot more in print. And it’s not done by a long shot. So the choice becomes: do I break up the story somewhat unnaturally into a four-volume set? Or do I make this my Count of Monte Cristo?
What do you think?
So that’s the long and short of Dodecon, a funny little idea that turned into a massive character epic without my realizing it. What are your thoughts on the project? Anything you are curious about? Anything you hope to see?
Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d be happy to hear them.