The Tomb Raider fanfic is still going. One of these days I'll take what (I hope!) I've learned and try and write a marketable book again.
And I've given up on trying to make a lean narrative. I've decided it is a travelogue. (I thought there was another term for this: a term for a book that is nothing but a bunch of set-pieces interesting in themselves that don't actually go anywhere. I thought the term might be a "Picaresque" but reviewing the definition it seems to require a sort of aimless -- if not amoral -- rascal that doesn't seem to describe any of my protagonists.)
I have Lara Croft in New Mexico, hiding from the NID, and looking for Natla. Jaqueline Natla, one-time Atlantean Queen, who was freed from her ten-thousand year prison by "an atom bomb test in 1945" as the game put it. Well, there was only one atom bomb tested in New Mexico in 1945.
So I just scribbled 800 words of what will be about a 1200 word scene on the Trinity test. With excursions into Admiral "Amazing Grace" Hopper, the peculiar humor of George Gamow and the eccentricities of Fermi and Feynman, Luiz Alvarez and the iridium clue that has bloated into the "asteroid killed the dinosaurs" meme, and I'm not even sure what else besides.
There is an overwhelming wealth here. I've got her started in Roswell because I simply could not resist the giant coffee cup over a diner there. Or as much other Roadside America I can work in, from Mystery Spots to Cadillac Ranches. And that's Roswell, with little green men, in a universe where the little grey Asgard are real and are a thing. And a 50's diner, and she'll be going road trip in a sort-of replica of the Landmaster from the pre-Mad Max post-atomic war epic Damnation Alley. So we're full-on Atomic Cafe. Plus aliens.
(Carter already got into the act last chapter, explaining about raycats.)
New Mexico just by itself is fascinating enough, with a mix of cultures and very much still there questions of cultural identity, appropriation, and institutionalized racism. Historically fascinating of course. And wealthy in pre-history as well, right back to Clovis and the questions surrounding the first human migrations through the New World. (And it leans on, although the connections are light, the even more spectacular early history of Central and South America).
So I started her where she can dig for some clues in the neolithic for Natla's previous identity, and simultaneously mine for what the heck Natla was doing in 1945. And the dig she's checking out is being run by someone who puts a face to the whole Ancient Aliens hyperdiffusionism epic (which still seems to filter down to the same place it started with back in the 1800's; "anyone but the native Americans.") This person is strong on the giants/nephelium part of a very messy Venn Diagram, meaning there's tentacles here leading out towards fundamentalist evangelicals, creationists -- sorry, "cdesign proponentists" -- white supremacists, even David Ickes royal lizard family fearers.
And I just realized through a happy accident (listening to a random program from Dan Carlin, and one of the bloggers I follow googled the wrong mountain by mistake) and I've realized I can send her next to Victorio Peak and talk about the Apache and the lost gold treasure and a few other things in that particular mix. And if she gets a longing for a proper tomb crawl, there's some ridiculous caves around the state as well.
Honestly, this is all going so James Burke (aka, his great show Connections). The guy in the ladder story (crazy stunts copying Akkadian inscriptions from a cliff face) was also involved in the deadly retreat from Kabul. George Smith (who shares with Howard Carter a working-class background unlike many of the big names -- Carter's financial backer, Lord Carnevon, whose death gave new life to the existing "mummy's curse" meme* -- oddly enough, his house is the one used for Downton Abbey) anyhow, he was the one who found the Flood story in among the epic of Gilgamesh. He'd been brought in by Budge, who was moving on from Egyptian into harder puzzles like Akkadian (no Rosetta Stone there) and Budge is the one who tells the story of George getting super-excited about the work he is translating and, in the middle of the library of the British Museum, begins to disrobe...