Earth Cell cover artI wrote the original version of Earth Cell back in 1991, during the first Gulf War. This version carried the working title A Man of Many Talents. It started out as a hash of various ideas floating in my head at the time. By the story’s middle I realized I had something pretty cool going on, but I had no idea how to bring it to resolution. Then, I had a character named Laria say something to the character named Miles, and within that the kernel of an ending came to be. It all worked out pretty well.

The character named Miles is now Maels Raptori. Laria is now Larrika. Dell is still Dell, Saawth remained as Saawth, and Col Prij kept his original moniker. I added, deleted, and changed other characters as well as I adjusted the surrounding milieu. It’s only in this latest version that the overweb, with its over-, mid-, and underworlds came into being.

The story’s title, as mentioned, was A Man of Many Talents. I changed that to Earth Cell: Miles the Immortal, Book I when I started the second draft, this one typed into my computer when I finally got home from the Gulf (what a mess that was). As the new title suggests, I made Miles an immortal—a being of the ux that became bonded with Miles when he was destroyed in his previous life. In this incarnation, the Kerrid attack opens his mind to his immortality. When I sat down for the most-recent re-write, I decided to junk that aspect of the trilogy and simply go with a long-lived being who could fly. I did keep him being the sole survivor of his species, as that did play a role throughout the trilogy. Removing the immortal aspect left him vulnerable, and I did in fact ‘kill’ Maels in the final book of the trilogy, when he faced off against another Kerrid.

An interesting nugget about Earth Cell is that it was published in audiobook format back in the early 1990s by a company called Books In Motion. The end product was a pair of cassettes with my story narrated by Jack Labbe. Books In Motion sold audiobooks at truck stops, much like VHS tapes and DVDs were rented or sold at video stores. I don’t know how many units were sold, but I did get a couple of checks from the company. My first profits from writing! Books In Motion is still around, but they no longer carry my little story. I have a copy of that audiobook somewhere, but I do not have a cassette player. An artifact from a by-gone era!

The current incarnation of Earth Cell keeps the general plot, where an invader to Earth Cell bring Maels to the brink of death, but in surviving Maels exposes something strange at the core of his own mind. Subsequent events—Larrika’s kidnapping, the Qrill invasion, Maels’s capture, and his torments on the Qrill home world—follow as well, but have been altered and improved, as has the surrounding milieu involving the overweb. I find it interesting how a story can remain essentially the same but be so different at the same time. Witchblood, the book that follows, keeps some core concepts but it too has been restructured to the point of becoming an entirely different tale. Witch Warden, the final book of the trilogy, is a completely new entity, with virtually no connection to the original third book of the trilogy, The Edge of All. (The novella A Child of Byne, which chronologically fits between Witchblood and Witch Warden is an entirely new construct as well.) The few readers who have read the original Earth Cell and its subsequent revision will no doubt recognize that earlier storyline, but should find themselves immersed in an entirely new reimagining of it. I’m hopeful they’ll find this latest version a much more enjoyable read.

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