Here's some more variations I was thinking about.
What alternative story lines are there?
The station is almost finished. The security chief is ex-military, cyborged to the eyeballs. He’s a veteran of the recent wars. He becomes aware of approaches from people he fought with, who have become second-class citizens, partly because of the changes made to them. Many, now uncyborged, are finding it too difficult to adjust to life without their add-ons; unable to cope with being merely human again. Despite legal restrictions on what they and everybody else can and can’t do, they are intending to leave Earth, either for orbit or somewhere else (moon, mars or something), so they can become more of what they are, and consequentially less human. The security chief finds himself torn as a result, between his human self and his job, and the emotional attachments he has, and the ‘call of the silicon’, I guess you’d call it. He’s supposed to protect the station at all costs, but his ex-compatriots need the station as a stopping-off point on their way off Earth. His main contact with his old war buddies is the voice for the posthuman ethos. He tries to convince security officer that taking humanity offworld in a space colony won’t work as long as they are human, ie capable of repeating the same old mistakes.
At the same time, security officer guy has other worries. The reality of human nature is constantly intruding on the station’s final construction. Different people have different ideas of what the station symbolises. For the architect, it symbolises hope and the future of mankind. For others, it represents a symbol of a prosperous few escaping the ruined earth and leaving the poor behind to drown in the ashes.
Here’s some questions. Do the security officer’s old buddies want to steal the orbital for themselves? Or would they necessarily have any use for it? Are they temporarily hiding out on it?
So there you go. That's what I came up with last night, anyway.
Yes, it is possible to go from coming up with this kind of noodly, all over the place nonsense to something resembling a structured narrative.
I got around last night to reading some of a book I got about fifteen years ago and never read, called 'Reality Studio', something like that, cyberpunk-related stories and articles. I'm now in a much better position to appreciate what William Gibson says in an interview in the book, about how he wrote his first three books. I especially like the bit where he talks about his first novel (remember, it won awards all over the place) as being this sort of barely-held together construction of string and sealing wax. And I thought, as I think when I read these things, God, so that's a common experience? I'm not alone?
Except I rather suspect that if Angel Stations does come out, I really don't think it's going to win the Nebula and Hugo combined ....
But I do like the idea of some unspecified war in the recent past which is never directly referred to in terms of causes or even major participants. Gibson talks about how much Neuromancer was influenced by Escape From New York (!) in terms of random, throwaway lines that refer to some past conflict. And because it's merely hinted at - and also because you get this specificity of description - brand names, etc in Gibson's writing - it gives you much more of a sense of the then and now than you do in trad sf which, as Gibson points out (and I was aware of, but never got as far as specifically identifying it) tends to just say 'he got in the spaceship' or 'he looked out the window at the atmosphere plant'/