Monday, March 25, 2013

Stairway to Heaven and Doorway to Winter

I just wrote the first third of "Sanctuary", book 3 of Jezebel's Ladder. I tried to follow a piece of advice I read from Steven Brust. "Don't explain why the magic works; tell me how to use it." Science on this level feels like magic. The main character finds thousands of meter-high dominoes that are levitating, frozen in place by an effect called "quantum locking." This part is true; you can watch the TED demonstration. What I provide is a button the main character can push to "unlock" the domino. Whenever it's switched back on, it freezes wherever it was placed--the ultimate engineering Legos. Mercy eventually uses this effect to build a staircase down from the main saucer into the fog "above".  She transforms from an insecure engineer to a techno wizard with her own niche. With the push of a button in the control room, she can reset them all to the original memory location. The landing zone is dubbed "Zeppelin Point." In this way, the astronauts who follow can explore the interior of the 2km sphere they name Sanctuary that has its own biosphere--rivers, caves, trees, fish, bugs, and pheasants. Fifty people could live indefinitely in this Eden.

I tried to keep the tone of the Heinlein teen space books like "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Tunnel in the Sky." The universe is filled with equal parts danger and wonder. After a space battle and chase, we establish the rules for travel below Einstein's rubber sheet. I just sent that act out for edit. Now I'm writing the fall.

In subspace, the sunlight goes out, and in the artificial winter night, one of the astronauts yields to their darker nature. (Sound track is music from a celebration they throw--Smooth Criminal performed by Alien Ant Farm.) A crime is committed, and Mercy has to determine what happened and who is responsible before the aliens will let them continue their journey. This section explores the landscape of the ship as well as the team. Everyone has something to hide, and several team members are disabled by disasters.

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