It’s cold and grey and the sun sets too soon. But the days are getting longer here in the Northern Hemisphere. Looking forward to the hellebores and the first peeks of crocuses pushing up through the snow. I know it will be a while, probably sometime in late March, but still. Something to look forward to.
Yup, work on Echoes continues. I greatly expanded the number and length of encounters with the idomeni, especially the Haárin. I was so wrapped up in the action details on the immediate plot that I forgot about the amount of background I could draw on. Besides, it makes sense for an idomeni-human hybrid to interact with a number of idomeni as well as a number of humans over the course of a novel. But it had to fit into the story organically, which meant tweaking a plot I thought was set in stone.
Snippets are risky at this point because of the chance of spoilers. But background and scene setting should be okay, she said, fingers crossed. So here’s a little of both.
Humans who wished to ship goods on Haárin craft worked with official liaison offices overseen by multiple ministries tasked with ensuring that no militarily or commercially sensitive materials or information were involved. Those offices made the actual shipping arrangements eliminating the need for direct human-idomeni contact between shippers and ships’ crews.
However, at Commonwealth stations like Padishah and Elyas, where the Haárin docks were located in separate wings easily reachable on foot, simple curiosity drove humans and Haárin to venture into one another’s territories. Most interactions consisted of mispronounced greetings and halting attempts at conversation, translators at the ready, which often ended in confusion on both sides. But, every so often, an acquaintanceship would bloom. Gifts of food, clothing, or artwork would be exchanged, and with every such connection the interface blurred just a little more.
I did have some new stuff come out in 2021 in the form of a couple of short stories. “Symbiote,” which appears in the ZNB anthology Derelict, is about a salvage team that needs a win really, really badly. Here’s the opening:
“I’m not even sure this is worth opening the hatch for.” Shelly Conn checked fasteners on her spacesuit and pulled on her gloves. “The Morecombe was reported missing twelve years ago. It’s probably been stripped of everything that’s worth a damn.”
“Hull could be worth something.” Danny Raice, her second, adjusted fittings and checked the gauges of his own suit, which squeaked in polymer complaint as he worked.
“We’d have to tow it. Towing can get complicated.” Shelly lowered her voice. “Last pilot we had took out part of a dock the last time we tried it, remember? Which is why our insurance premium blew up, which is why we don’t have insurance anymore.” Also why they couldn’t risk another tow job, even though they had a new pilot for this trip. The Stabler, their poor old tub, had been put on probation at every station in the quadrant. The damage deposit alone would take every spare credit they had.
Danny nodded. “So we need a score.”
“We need an easy score. In and out. Simple stuff. Cargo. Instrumentation.”
I also had a story in Issue #16 of Boundary Shock Quarterly, an SF magazine published four times a year by Knotted Road Press. The theme of the issue is “Wandering Monsters: Kaiju and blobs and science gone wrong. Monsters from deep space come to destroy us all or the ones quietly hiding below as colonists and Terraformers arrive.” The title of my story is “Nest.”
Be careful when exploring new places:
Lila unloaded the last of the equipment, the medical and fire safety gear, from the shuttle that had transported them to the site. After setting the craft on standby, they walked along the line of crates, patting each as they passed. “According to the bible, we have seven hour-equivalents to assemble the domicile before sunshade.”
“That’s like dusk, right?” Sonna had dug out measurement equipment and begun marking the outline of the building that would serve as their laboratory and living quarters. “The suns never really set here, so we’d still be able to see, with or without lighting.”
“And the critters will be able to see us.” Tomas opened the first crate and slid out pre-made wall panels followed by the free-standing fabricator. “The bat-like things and the cat-like things and that bag of blob that ingests food through its skin.”
That’s all for now. Stay warm or cool, depending on location. Until next time….