The science fiction writer must avoid excessive explanation of the new world.In this zone of proximal development, the reader not only accepts but relishes being plunked in a new world, as long they are given just enough to figure it out.
Och engaged the signal and listened with the rest to the bitter message from Earth. “This is not open to negotiation. You are ordered to return.”
“We are leaving,” he replied simply.
“We condemn your actions. Your assets are to be seized, everything you own on Earth.”
“We give everything we have left behind freely. It is all for you. Use it for the good of all.”
“Your families will pay a dear price for your betrayal.”
“We would like you to accept our departure, commander. What else is there for you to do?”
“Set your course for return or you will be condemned.” The radio went down.
“They hung up on us?” Dee asked.
Och nodded. “It’s like a bad break-up.”
I did a reading last evening, which was this: There weren’t any hours. They didn’t exist. Dee thought about that too much, every day she had been on this ship, every day if days had existed. But they didn’t. Those things, those ticks, didn’t exist, not anymore. And she didn’t understand what the point was of pretending they did. There were no months, no years, no millennia, no seconds. There was none of that. They didn’t have a sun, no weather, no storm coming, no frost, nothing like that, nothing that was real, nothing. They were relative to nothing. Absolutely nothing. She hated thinking about that, thinking it again and again. In spite of all of their schedules and notifications, their habits, despite what everyone said, none of that existed. They just didn’t have time anymore. There was no planet, no star, no system. They were relative to nothing. It was that simple. They no longer rotated. They no longer revolved around anything, and nothing revolved around them. There was no longer a gravitational field, nothing to hold them, to give them weight. They had removed themselves, purposely dropped themselves into the abyss. They had left. They were relative to nothing. And nothing was relative to them. They were separate, moving, independent, away, further, closer, something else, deeper, whatever the word would be, whatever they would concoct in the days, the not-days, the not-months, the not-years to come, that word that defined their current state, their collective morass, their disappearing, connected to nothingness, broken free, going too fast – .91 light speed? Really that speed? Really that?
Focus is everything. Despite a tepid reaction to my first assignment – and being told that my character (me?) is an unlikable jerk, perhaps racist – I found myself getting on track. The details are the thing. And today’s work at Kenyon College on a variety of ways to implement dialogue is a good way to move things forward:
Dee reached in for the last of the pups, already half out of the incubator, not wanting to be alone. “I was six months old. You don’t remember anything at that age.”
“You can remember some things,” Calli replied. “I can remember lots of smells, like that blue blanket. I turn back into a baby when I remember it.”
Ashe laughed. “No way.”
“I think about your aunt as a little girl – she was barely three – trying to get our mother to wake up and not understanding why she wouldn’t.” The images coursed through Dee, almost like Calli had described, the smells of the kitchen, the sun across the floor and then the dark, her own stink rising with her mother’s. “I was crying too. Don’t forget that. She had to feed me cereal and bread, handfuls and handfuls of it. And still I wouldn’t stop.”
Ashe had her face pressed close to the pup’s. “How long were you there with her?”
“Three days,” Calli answered. “She’s told us like a million times.”
The Ark: A speculative fiction trilogy, chronicling a transgenerational journey to a galaxy lights years from Earth. Stark and startling, the story conveys an essentially tragic aspect of humanity, impossibly aspiring to escape its barbarous nature. Part One: Anori The opening of the trilogy follows Dee Sinclair, an animal psychologist, as she learns of Anori (Greenlandic for ‘wind’), a highly advanced space venture, privately funded by a technological empire. After visiting the expedition base in Greenland, she joins a scientific team to collect animal specimens from across the world. Dee eventually returns to New York where she learns of the program’s experiments in cloning and meets the very replica of herself. As world powers attempt to gain control of the Anori, Dee escapes back to Greenland, where she is soon joined by her clone, Em, on the final liftoff to leave Earth. Part Two: Aqaara The Aqaara (meaning both ‘close’ and ‘far’ in Greenlandic) waits in lunar orbit as they attempt to placate the authorities on Earth and finally depart on their interstellar migration. Mourning the loss of families and friends, Dee and the 3,000 other Aqaarians adapt to life on the vessel, constructing a society dependent on technology, including The Bearing, an information and gaming implant, and create new social norms, such as The Hive, a zone for hedonistic behaviors. Murder and betrayal challenge the community’s standards, and an essential law is introduced to maintain order – F1 is the law. There is no force other than the ship. A previously undiscovered planet appears as an opportunity for colonization, resulting in a near mutiny. The Aqaara stays its course and, at last, enters Mina’s orbit, a planet that truly is much like Earth. Part Three: Mina Mina (meaning ‘taking home’) appears much like Earth, offering a wide range of climates, vegetation and species, as well as an oxygen-rich atmosphere. A Greater Sun dominates the planet, with a Lesser Sun in a parallel orbit, meaning the planet is rarely in darkness. The initial exploratory mission encounters many species – both predatory and intelligent – while they cope with their internal struggles, having spent 30 years on board The Aqaara. Other missions arrive and the community begins. Many people remain aboard the ship, mining nearby moons, as well as considering continuing the mission. The two groups become polarized, verging at times on violent conflict when further explorations of Mina yield an astonishing result – they are being observed.
It’s time to go.