At the time of writing, the most recent chapter of Fine Structure is "The Story So Far", which ties together three major plotlines in the story: Ching's story thread, Mitch's thread and the teleportation saga begun in "Taphophobia". The latest development is that my seemingly unrelated story "Unbelievable Scenes", which I wrote in 2006, is part of the Fine Structure. In fact, it always has been.
Fine Structure has been developing for a long time. "Unbelievable Scenes" (May 2006) was the first chapter of the story which I wrote. It was always intended to be the start of a very much larger story, although it can also stand alone. After this I wrote several more standalone stories set in the same universe: "On Digital Extremities" (July 2006), "Power Of Two" (December 2006), "Crushed Underground" (May 2007), and "The Astronomer's Loss" (June 2007). All of these stories make sense if read in isolation.
However, before all of this, I had written "Forgotten things in space", which features a man named Calrus. On a whim I decided to reuse that name for "Crushed Underground", thus retroactively incorporating "Forgotten things in space" into Fine Structure. "Forgotten things in space" was written in December 2005 and is the only actual retcon.
I started another apparently unrelated story with "Taphophobia" (June 2007) and yet another in "Indistinguishable from magic" (September 2007), though the eagle-eyed will have spotted the reappearance of the "Calrus" name. They will have also spotted the name "Ching" appearing in both "On Digital Extremities" and "Power Of Two".
Up until this point, all the stories were listed under my Fiction directory and the connections between them were not explicit. In fact, some long-time readers of my website will know that I have previously reused names between unrelated stories so they would be forgiven for assuming that I had done the same here.
In September 2007 I created a dedicated Fine Structure subdirectory and moved over all of the Fine Structure stories except "Unbelievable Scenes", "Forgotten things in space", "Crushed Underground" and "The Astronomer's Loss". This is probably where most of you came in. This is also the point where I stopped writing other fiction and began focusing exclusively on Fine Structure. A noisy and interested audience puts the pressure on.
In February 2008 I retroactively incorporated "Forgotten things in space", "Crushed Underground" and "The Astronomer's Loss" into Fine Structure, moving them over to the FS directory and including them at the appropriate spots in the listing (which is sorted in ascending order of creation date, in case it's not obvious). This threw a whole lot of people for a curve and, in the absence of any commenting system on qntm.org at this time, an informal discussion started up here.
At this point I promised that one additional story of mine was part of Fine Structure and some speculation began as to which one this might be. "Unbelievable Scenes" was correctly guessed by a few people, though I can't drop any hints as to the accuracy of their reasoning... after all, the reason why "Unbelievable Scenes" is relevant has yet to be revealed...
Another popular choice was "I don't know, Timmy, being God is a big responsibility", which would have been an enormous cop-out.
Some suggested that the Ed Stories could connect in. Here's why they don't: the Ed Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. They are finished. I have learned a lot from writing them and now I am writing something else. Sometimes there is the temptation to write more in the same universe, but it is not strong and it does not come often.
In May 2008 "The Story So Far" was written and "Unbelievable Scenes" was officially "retconned" in.
I should state again here that "Forgotten things in space" is the only true retcon here. Everything else is more like revelation for dramatic effect. There are several other stories of mine, which are not incompatible with Fine Structure as it currently stands, nor with any future plot developments I have sketched out. These go back as far as "Some particles just shouldn't be accelerated" (February 2004!). However, I dislike altering past history for the sake of altering past history; it kind of subtracts from my original intentions at the time of writing of the retconned story, and it implies a lack of planning on my part. Which would never do. Besides which, "Forgotten things in space" has proven troublesome (more on that later).
Once the next chapter of the story is uploaded, "Unbelievable Scenes" will be inserted into the Fine Structure listing at the appropriate position (second). I noticed some people still discussing which story will be incorporated next, so I'll say this loud: There are no more surprises planned. All my cards are on the table now.
Fine Structure is to be continued.
"Forgotten things in space", by virtue of being written before I started work on Fine Structure, has proven troublesome to incorporate into the story/timeline. It also fails quite spectacularly as an opening chapter to grab the reader's attention. "Unbelievable Scenes" is better for this. Also, the events described in "Forgotten things in space" are not especially important to the story I currently have planned. And, of course, it is a retcon, which I dislike for the reasons outlined above. Therefore, I am reserving the right to strike "Forgotten things in space" from the record at some point in the future if it really becomes necessary.
If you think Fine Structure is the greatest science fiction you have ever read, then I suggest you go and read some good science fiction, since you have obviously never read any. For example Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross and Iain M. Banks. It should be plainly obvious by now that I also take a great deal of inspiration from comic books and comic book storytelling techniques, so in that vein I recommend Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis. As for non-books, check out my excellent peer The Custodian on Everything2 (scroll down until you reach the "fiction" heading and go from there).
If you have some specific questions (which you think I might answer) then ask them in the discussion thread below. If I decide to answer I'll move your post up here and answer it.
Oh, and one thing I forgot to say initially: if you have enjoyed the story so far, why not share it with your friends? Bonus points for anybody who dupes David Brin into reading "Crushed Underground" onwards.