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Verge of History


Our Time in Eden
( 105,713 | 11/26/18 | 4/18/19 )
Republic of Xanadu
( 18,260 | 3/9/20 | 4/2/20 )

What is VoH?

Verge of History (a.k.a., "VoH") is primarily a science fiction story series. Read any of the main stories for free right here or in various other publication channels.

VoH began as a series of short stories written by Jim Carnicelli and shared among friends starting in 2012. After a few years of dabbling in the series, Jim decided to start over with a fresh reimagining, self-publishing Rebirth, his first novel. (Recently self-de-published.) Jim was 54k words into his second novel in the series in 2016 with a couple short stores also drafted when a turn in his career convinced him to halt work for a while.

In late 2018, Jim decided to reboot VoH yet again. This time Jim has committed to jettisoning the traditional model of trying to make money by publishing novels in favor of a free-to-read model supported by donations. This is as big a gamble as Jim has ever taken in his career.

About the author

Jim Carnicelli, author of the Verge of History series, is a software engineer by trade who has a lifelong fascination with science, technology, history, and philosophy. As of late 2018 he is attempting to make writing a full-time career for the first time.


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VoH news

3/16/2020 - O’Neill cylinder

I've done a bunch more work exploring constructing and rendering a large O'Neill cylinder filled with a forest. It's got tens of thousands of separate trees. Since the lakes are set against a curved surface they create very interesting reflections of the central spokes. Overall I'm very happy with the results. And I'm learning how to craft larger scenes practically.

3/9/2020 - Republic of Xanadu published!

It’s finally done and online for you to read. Dive in. If you like it then please do share with your friends. And join our Discord server to share your thoughts with the author and other fans.

3/1/2020 - First draft of Republic of Xanadu complete

After several months of work I’ve completed the first draft. I don’t expect it to change much after a brief editing process. I do still need to produce a few more illustrations. Including the cover illustration. And then I should be ready to publish the final work.

If you’re curious the story clocks in at just shy of 18 thousand words. Which puts it squarely in the category of a novella. I had intended for it to be just a short story. But it grew as stories do for me. I’m excited to get it out there for you to read.

2/19/2020 - Test render

Although it’s been slow I’ve been making good progress in my writing work on Xanadu. I’ve also crafted more 3D rendered illustrations for it. I’m hoping to finish the first draft this week or next.

Looking ahead I am exploring ways to model and render large space settings for stories like Our Time in Eden. Below is a test render I did last night of the interior of a classic O’Neil cylinder:

This one is heavily forested. I didn’t add water bodies, buildings, people, or anything else. I mainly wanted to see how well my computer would handle a scene with tens of thousands of high-res 3D models of foliage over a large space. Using a trick I made those thousands of trees and ground cover models stand in for the millions you see rendered here.

The surprising thing for me is that the ray tracing of this high-poly scene is fairly fast. But my computer chokes on the large number of models in it. I’ll need to work on improving my optimization techniques.

I also was keenly interested in seeing how it would look with a single linear light source along the axis of the cylinder. And with a “fog” volume applied to chromatically alter the light coming from more distant parts. If you look closely they are tinged bluer than the nearby foliage. It doesn’t look quite like I expected but it is a bit haunting. Imagine exploring a habitat like this on foot for years.

Anyway. It’s a fun experiment. I look forward to doing more sophisticated versions soon for upcoming stories.

12/29/2019 - Back in the saddle

I’m finally back to my writing. I’m sorry it took so long. I took a hiatus to search for a new job. Writing and illustrating wasn’t earning me a dime and was costing me quite a bit. But I’ve been at my new software engineering job for about four months now. I’m enjoying it and it pays the bills. I’ve been voluntarily working many hours overtime at it. But I’m starting to draw back to something closer to full time again. That frees me up to pursue hobbies.

So now I’m finally starting to draft the new Xanadu short story I was teasing last year. I’ve still got a lot of the digital assets I built and acquired for the illustrations. And I’m maybe a few solid writing days away from finishing a first draft. If I don’t get too distracted then I should have this out before the end of January.

Happy New Year early. Cheers.

5/19/2019 - Conference table

One scene of the short story I'm writing will feature a meeting at a conference table. Since it's a zero G environment I needed to put a lot of thought into how that would work. On the International Space Station (ISS) there are grab bars and sometimes straps on the floor for computer users to anchor their feet to so they don't float away while typing. I suspect that gets a bit tiring. In my story I envision a steel tabletop that laptops and other things could be magnetically affixed to. And a series of padded bars one could hook one's legs into. This seems like a good way to be able to comfortably work for a long time or talk to others with a space-friendly take on familiar idiom.

Here's a test render of such a design. You can see it's held in place via cables attaching it to the outer capsule. I didn't bother crafting the story characters' avatars yet. These here are all clones of a basic av.

5/15/2019 - New story’s main model

Progress on my space station design continues. I'm fairly happy with how this is looking. But I'll admit I'm getting eager to generate the renders for my short story and move on to finishing the story's draft.

5/4/2019 - Working on a short story

Sorry I've so been quiet lately. I got sick for a while. But I also started work on a short story. As part of that I also decided to take some time to focus on improving my 3D modeling skills in order to build some assets I can't really buy. You all know realism matters a lot to me. I try to write realistic worlds and create realistic illustrations.

Here's a sample rendering of a space station I'm designing for my upcoming short story. This shows off a bay window I designed from scratch. It's inspired by the one seen on the current ISS. I've got a lot more to construct before the scene is done.

4/18/2019 - View all the art of VoH

You can now view the artwork of Our Time in Eden and other stories as they emerge collected in one page.