Book three is now on sale at Amazon, and it had been a journey with writing it.
For those new to this series, I would classify the Mandinka saga as Star Trek-meets-Sliders-meets-Space Battleship Yamato, with more than a dash of Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, although it might properly be called Professor Lashley and Her Flying Robot, however non-humanoid hers is.
A special thanks to a few whose off line discussions helped shaped aspects of the setting and in one case, some of the characters. So thank you Sirin and Dee (not to be confused with Dee Block whose artwork inspired a lot of things in the setting). My health has been slowly improving and I'll get to that more in just a bit, I'll just say now instead of the expected recovery by now, it looks like sometime next year.
In an alternate timeline the African diaspora leads to a space based nation in the orbit of Jupiter.
They create advance AIs called Artilects, who in turn create technological wonders for their creators.
One artilect selects a group of women to form a matriarchy and travel with it to explore the multiverse.
The Mandinka Saga continues, Girl power will change the multiverse.
Professor Rayna Lashley, AI psychologist Yumiko Fujimoto, their AI Mansa and the women of the Mandinka expedition travel the multiverse where they meet new new life and new civilizations, encountering twist in timelines where history had unfolded. Together they explore the very variations of existence itself.
Rayna, Yumiko, Mansa and the Mandinka expedition continue their exploration of the multiverse, meeting new friends who need a helping hand, while others start to see how their help is interfering with their own agendas. However the exedition is resolute to help regardless of the scale of this assistance, whether such help is extended to an individual or entire civilizations.
I usually share a bit behind the scenes with the journal entries, and this time I'll borrow from TV tropes to show a few tropes that seem to apply even if I might find them embarrassing to admit.
The first and thankfully primary would be "Gunship Rescue", where the heroes (in this case heroines) are the cavalry for someone else. A reoccurring theme is our heroines coming to someone else's rescue, instead of needing to be rescued is one I particularly like.
The very background they work with has the obvious trope named The Multiverse, and our heroines as Dimensional Travelers. Dimensional Travelers can move between universes and explore the multiverse. Where the settings refer to not just one other dimension, but to a whole set of other dimensions and universes. A system of distinct worlds exists, often interconnected in a way that allows characters to travel to and from them. It might be as a tourist who just goes to look and tries not to change anything, or as a participant who goes in and interacts with the people in the other universe.
Supporting the primary trope or perhaps equal to it, is the trope named Planar Champion, where the description reads as Imagine a Time Master but for alternate realities and multiverses. You get someone with the ultimate sense of Walking the Earth, But Now I Must Go, and even The Homeward Journey where the person's wanderlust or adventurous nature doesn't just take them across the world but beyond and between worlds. There is an increased impressiveness when a hero's traits are adapted for not just one grand frontier, but billions of them. And that sums up what I hope the series formula might be like.
The next trope would be "Showy Invincible Hero", as the show doesn't play up the suspense. With this trope, whether the heroes win or lose is not the point. It's them looking awesome when they do it. It's all about the spectacle with these shows. I ended up with this because I wanted the struggle to be social and often I just plain want to see the heroes kick tail with the usual back and forth struggle that seems the standard for too many series.
That and a desire to explore some wonder tech to display an amazing quality of life our heroines enjoy, I have to admit to ending up with the trope of "Do-Anything Robot". While the robot is non-humanoid and over 8 kilometers long, it still is the robot of the series serving our gals. As the trope states, no matter what the situation, no matter who the foe, not only did the robot's creators think of it, but the robot has the counter already built in.
Whenever the robot runs into trouble, it has exactly the gadget it needs to get it out. No matter how strange or unlikely the situation, the robot simply has to retract an arm or open a panel, and out comes a gadget that seems to have been added for exactly that purpose. It also probably carries an Everything Sensor, to spot the problem in the first place ("Danger, danger, Will Robinson!") as well as being able to slice, dice and julienne vegetables. And I'll add the little known fact it also eliminates calories, eat all you wish, it makes sure you never gain the weight from it.
I also admit to going overboard with the weaponry, ending up with the following tropes, first, "Disproportionate Retribution", as this trope goes in some situations, it makes sense to let the opponent know that if they so much as sneeze on someone you protect, it will cost them a limb. If you have tried an eye for an eye and it really didn't do anything except help sell eyepatches, the only way to stay alive is to be drastic. Pay back any offense tenfold, hundredfold if necessary, until the survivors learn to stay away.
This lead to "There Is No Kill Like Overkill", There are some opponents you want to defeat. There are some opponents you want to kill. Then there are the opponents whom you're not satisfied with until you've stabbed them, shot them, blown them up, unleashed the hounds on them, electrocuted them, irradiated them, jumped up and down on them, and then shot the remains into space on a rocket full of time bombs. Characters who don't have enough overkill at their disposal just might resort to crossing the Godzilla Threshold instead.
Which is the last one mentioned here, "Godzilla Threshold," There is wisdom in facing a threat with a proportionate response. Sure, There Is No Kill Like Overkill, but it'll likely cause a lot of avoidable collateral damage, and it'll guarantee that tomorrow the next threat is stronger. But every so often, the time comes when the threat is so great, the situation has gone so horribly wrong, that there is no proportionate response. When circumstances are so dire as to justify the use of any and every thing that might solve it, no matter how reckless, nonsensical, or horrific, regardless of cost. When even the summoning of Godzilla, king of the monsters and patron saint of collateral damage, could not possibly make the crisis any worse. Every so often, the situation crosses the Godzilla Threshold.
Once the Threshold is crossed, any plan, with even the smallest possibility of success, no matter how ludicrous, dangerous or abhorrent, suddenly becomes a valid option. This serves both narrative and authorial purposes.
I'll wrap up with the health report, it is slower than expected recovery, but unlike a few of my friends, it looks like there will be a recovery. It still looks like a when and not if. I'm grateful either way. I still look forward to getting back to surfing DA as so many great artist here, and I include writers and a few photographers I have come across with the label of artist. I want to say more, but I'm running out of steam again. I look forward to the future as I hope all of you will, hang on for tomorrow, you never know how bright it might be until you get there.
Thank you everyone who wrote, it was great to see when I could make it online. Best to you all!