Well, less a "Prequel" (because I've never released the actual story yet) but more of a "Volume 1" (having not realized where I started was somewhere in the middle of the story and not the beginning.)
Before I go any further, there is a lot of random blog entries, and it may be kind of hard to understand what exactly I am working on. Or was working on. Or will be working on. And how that would be in any way different to the side project I am about to describe.
For the past 2 years I've been trying to build a setting around why a few thousand people are stuck on board a starship 20 years from Earth with another 20 years to go on their journey. I tentatively call this "Iliad-07". The idea being that the ship they are on (since named the Arthur Charles Clarke) is part of some massive space program called "Iliad" and this is the 7th mission.
The tone is part absurdist commentary on modern society, part stick in the eye of where many franchises just get the basic science wrong, part explanation of just how long duration space flight would have to be done.
I hate tinfoil thin plotlines, so I have been doing far more research and setting design than I can rightfully justify for a novel or a game. (And I still haven't figured out how this story is going to be delivered.)
As an experiment, I decided to just sit down and write a story or series of stories set in this same Universe a century before this ship left. These stories are set on a predecessor of Project Iliad: Project Gilgamesh. I'm about 25,000 words into a novel set on a giant mining vessel called the Paul Cézanne.
This effort has been really rewarding, actually. It's allowed be to explore a lot of the cultures that the people in Project Iliad would have left. I'm also realizing that there is a lot more than one culture on board.
One of the other nice things is that while I can tie a few characters and events into my later books, there is nothing particularly canon about the events in this story. It's a random ship with a random crew who have some random adventures that take them to random corners of the pre-intersteller Solar System.
The other nice thing is that it has me starting to think about a Volume 3. Strangely enough when I pull up a list of epic poems in Wikipedia Gilgamesh is listed as the Grandaddy of them all, starting an era of stories in Mesopotamia. Iliad represents the first of an era of Greek dominated work. I can go a couple of different ways with next one, though.
Each has it's appeal. Heracleia and Annales are both works lost to history. Mahābhārata is the longest poem ever written, and it lacks a lot of internal consistency owing to the way in which accreted over time. The Odyssey makes sense only if I had a 2 volume work that started with the Iliad, so let's just take that one off of our list.
Reading further into the wikipedia entry on the Mahābhārata, however, there is some theories that poem was influenced by the Iliad, or perhaps started as a Sanskrit translation of the Iliad. The fact it eventually evolves into something that bears no relation to the original kind of plays into a theme I want to spin about the nature of human progress.
Very well then, Project Mahābhārata it is. Perhaps it's not a terrible time to knock out a few short stories set in this Universe. No idea what will happen then. Though... my introduction to my first book may set the scene...
The pitch for Volume 1 is that it's being written as some History Nerd's treatment for the future entertainment industry. The book mixes novel and screenplay, and contains a lot of side notes about the history and customs that a future generation would need a refresher on. It also includes sketches and graphics as an aid to producers and directors so they can get the details right.
The problem being, in the future, that any idiot operating a computer can pull a fact out. What they can't do is put it in context. And this series of works are intended as their culture's equivilent to Shakespear's works. History, but tailored to be entertaining. The author him/her self (left ambiguous - they write under the Pen name of Dale Sweeney) describes him/her self as a screenwriter dabblign in history. Because an awful movie shapes consciousness a lot more than a brilliant history book.
I am getting a sense that I can actually steal a lot of structure from the poems I am alluding do. Well, actually, no. They are all pretty messy accretions of writing that are impossible to read without a lot of guidance. How about I settle for major events of the stories we all half-remember from literature.