Ah, another week, another update for the worldbuilding for the novel I plan to write. If I spared myself all these blog posts and just wrote it I might have a full-length novel by now. Oh well. 🙃 I’ve never been a pantser anyway.
I had a bit of a problem with the setup for the story, in as much as I wanted Aoife, the girl getting her makeover in Malibu, to adopt a skimpy dress code much like what her aunt Fia did (well, more attempted to do) when she was a youth at Anacapa Island, only I wanted her niece to fully go through with it instead of moderating it by wearing sheer dresses over it and the like.
I also wanted a scene of her going to a funeral, and another one of her losing her virginity on top of her recently deceased grandfather Dobrynya’s grave…both of which take place in cold snowy environments (it’s Kamchatka in the middle of winter). Aside from showing so much skin during a funeral not being the vibe I want to go for (much too informal), it just isn’t very practical given the climate. How to square these two desires?
As of yesterday I’ve found a solution, and it’s one that enables me to tie in so much worldbuilding I had on the shelf, not to mention a few other ideas I’ve wanted to play with in a story.
What if Dobrynya hates funerals and never wanted to have one? Sure, not having a funeral service is a bit weird by our standards, but the man is a self-made mega-millionaire in a rather divergent timeline; some level of weirdness would be unsurprising, even expected.
In real life there is such a thing as a “direct burial”, but that seems a bit brusque. Instead, I have in mind that his body will be embalmed and displayed for viewing in his casket by family and friends at his beloved vacation house on the coast of Kamchatka, where said relatives keep a day-and-night vigil over the body, perhaps in the style of one relative at a time getting their chance to be with the deceased for hours on end. This may be how Aoife meets her cousin Aoifan after her makeover; their “shifts” are adjacent to each other, and he’s stunned by her new look, seeing her in a whole new (and much more erotic) way, making his approach to her as a lover right in the same room as the deceased (for bonus gothic points), hitting it off very well.
The skimpy dress code at a viewing where she’s about the only one there doesn’t seem as incongruous with the vibe I wanted as her taking the style to a funeral service, so I think it works. It also helps that presumably the house’s interior is heated, so she won’t be too cold.
Architecture for the Dead
They’ll meet again after the actual burial (perhaps only witnessed by the deceased’s widow), where they will once again pay their respects, this time in Dobrynya’s mausoleum. And here’s where it really takes off: on the Pacific coast of Kamchatka, it’ll be an open-air structure made of stone, with stone columns arranged in circular fashion and connected by a circular stone piece (think the original design of Stonehenge, but smaller). The centerpiece will be a tree in a planter, right on top of where the body is buried below so its decomposition may nurture the tree, which is circular and bounded by stone, with the headstone protruding upward in stone from the circular base of the planter, forming a pedestal for a life-size stone statue of Dobrynya as he appeared when he discovered his diamond mine (roughly age 35), holding diamonds in one hand (and they are real diamonds embedded in the sculpture the stone replica of him is holding), and with the other hand outstretched, as if embracing the coast he’s looking toward, the Kamchatkan coast he so loved in life.
The stone circular top of the structure has an inner circle of stonework which is much thinner but a considerably smaller radius, so as to allow diamond chandeliers to dangle all around the circle. These chandeliers reflect the natural sunlight and moonlight, creating a dreamy atmosphere. All these diamonds are from his own diamond mine in Siberia.
This will serve as great atmosphere for Aoife’s loss of virginity to her own close cousin…while she’s wearing a diamond collar, made from diamonds from her own family’s mine…and while said cousin is saying her lovely hand would look much better with a diamond ring on it (which no doubt will also come from said mine…). Maybe it makes Aoife’s desire to belong to her family way too obvious, but it’s in keeping with her character and it does bring across the gothic vibe.
The diamond angle makes me inclined to include an homage to a James Bond movie, “Die Another Day”, which heavily featured diamonds; specifically, an homage to “Icarus”, which its creator (and diamond baron) Gustav Graves called “a diamond in the sky”, a spacecraft inspired by the 1930s-vintage German proposal for a “sun gun”, a mirror that could concentrate enough sunlight from space to turn a patch of ground on the Earth from night into day. In my story, I don’t take it quite that far. Rather, I have in mind a beam narrow enough to only illuminate the mausoleum site itself, that (from orbital view) microscopic patch of ground, and not quite as bright as day, but easily enough light to see by.
It wouldn’t operate constantly, but like our latter-day Iridium flares it would be periodic; a solar sail could be used to ensure the satellite is always in the proper position, for brief flares every so often, like a lighthouse beacon shining down from heaven, perhaps once every new moon.
That will be quite a spectacular sight for the girl, making her first time a uniquely rapturous experience. The setup is open-air, but the stonework makes the task of Aoife being comfortable in cold snowy environment with barely any clothes on a lot easier, because stone can be heated from the inside! Radiant heat could make the surface and the air immediately around it comfortable, despite the cold ambient temperatures. The power source could even be a small nuclear fission breeder reactor which is buried underground, like the bulb of a plant, serving as an independent power source that will never wear out.
Prince Charles Vibes…
Why would Dobrynya want to be buried in such an arrangement? With the tree aspect and all? Well, I figure it’s because he was a committed conservationist/environmentalist type in life. In another homage to Gustav Graves in “Die Another Day”, he wishes to repay the planet for all that it has given him (i.e. the diamonds). Interestingly, this would also make him like another Bond villain, namely Dominic Greene in “Quantum of Solace”, who was in charge of “Greene Planet”. Well, in both cases the environmentalism was a front for terrorist organizations, but we can only hope our Dobrynya is less villainous behind the scenes. 😉
Anyway, Dobrynya during his life heavily funded and fiercely advocated for environmental measures, such as the creation of a network of eco-parks to preserve and expand habitat for flora and fauna, especially those that are endangered.
As part of these efforts, he advocates, for example, for habitat to be dedicated to protecting the small numbers of thylacines that remain in the wild in Tasmania and elsewhere in Australia, after their reintroduction to the mainland by conservationists. Yes, in 2045 there are live Tasmanian Tigers in this timeline; in real life there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting since the 1930s, but it’s probable that the true extinction date was in fact decades later. One recent study even reaches the startling conclusion that there’s a significant chance that the thylacine still lives today, in tiny numbers deep within the wildernesses of southern and western Tasmania.
Humans are generally much more active in these remote areas in this timeline, and there’s a lot more funding for efforts to track down these sorts of creatures, so it’s entirely possible that in this timeline the thylacine resurfaces in confirmed fashion some decades after the 1930s, and efforts are made to recover and preserve the species. I’m taking that and running with it.
It will be a favorite story of Dobrynya’s, how the thylacine was long thought to be extinct in the mid 20th century before it was rediscovered in significant numbers, its existence assured but its long-term viability under threat even now in the mid 21st century.
He’s also a patron of an effort to resurrect the woolly mammoth through technological means and dedicate Wrangel Island (in this timeline known as Umqiḷir) for its habitat, which will eventually reach fruition and become known as the Umqiḷir Project. He’s also interested in resurrecting other glacial-age megafauna, which he says is the only way to truly remediate the environmental damage wrought by man in prehistory.
He not only was a player in conserving wildlife; he had a particular interest in measures to control man-made climate change, such as mass plantings of new forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as the removal of greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere by technological means. In this timeline the latter is advanced enough and the world wealthy enough that it’s not beyond the ken of a few philanthropists to accomplish.
In this universe Dobrynya had a role, albeit a relatively small one, in effecting the remarkably fast remediation of accumulated greenhouse gases, bringing carbon dioxide (among other gases) back to pre-industrial levels…which, if you believe Sasha, is what’s causing the bout of extreme weather in the first place, including the Great Christmas Blizzard that ends up being the death of him in the Shenandoah. In effect, Dobrynya is killed by his own creation…maybe.
Amazing how just changing one piece, Dobrynya’s attitude toward funerals, lets so much fit together, and not just fit together, but fit together like a watch. Such is the joy of worldbuilding and storytelling, and I’m going to relish it as much as I can…