So Many Stars, and So Quiet (beta/WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Grey skies gave way to blue, relieving Anna’s anxiety when she could once again sight the thin line of the elevator descending from orbit to the horizon ahead, confirming they remained on track. Navigation by assuming the seas rolled in their direction did not fill her with confidence, and in those hours and days she most keenly felt the lack of the inertial compass, lost to the depths with their makeshift raft weeks earlier. Ca-Tren appeared sure of their direction, but her comments to the Orta notwithstanding, she remained an adolescent, and not in Anna’s mind a proven ocean navigator.

The visual reference of the elevator, however, made all such worries moot. On a clear day it made a better navigation aid than any other tool, as all they need do was point their boat toward it, or slightly upwind of it to account for drift, and sail on.

The clear nights revealed no further lights upon the horizon, no sign of pursuit, giving Anna yet another reason to breathe easier. Far from land, from the lights of any community, and with none aboard their tiny boat, the stars shone brighter than ever, with the ever-present arc of the ring station bisecting the sky. Each passing night brought it that much closer to directly overhead, competing with the arc of the galactic core for brightest object in the sky whenever the moons were below the horizon.

Read more at

So Many Stars, and So Quiet

(1,149 words; 4 min 35 sec reading time)

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Ok, before you read any further here, stop right now, click that link, and read the scene, because I don’t want there to be any spoilers! Then come back here when you’ve done that.

Done? Right, then.

So, some of you may have noticed that, at long last, I am returning to one of the central themes of this story. One might even say it is the central theme, given the title. What is that theme?

Why, the Fermi paradox, of course. I refer to the famous luncheon at which Enrico Fermi exclaimed, somewhat out of the blue, “But where is everybody?” And, of course, everyone else at the table knew precisely what he meant by that.

I won’t go into details here. It’s easy enough to google it, but I do want to discuss Fermi and the Drake equation which sparked his outburst at that luncheon in the first place. However, I think the topic is fully deserving of its own dedicated blog post, so I’ll come to that later, assuming there’s interest.

Hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy, so where is everybody?

On another topic, I have a practical question to ask all of you. No doubt you’re aware that I have a menu at the top of this page, and every scene in the story is accessible through this menu. They’re listed in order, grouped by chapter, of which there are currently eight. Most chapters have six scenes in them. But, I have a problem now with this menu structure, and I need your opinion.

When I first start posting scenes, they were not broken out into chapters, but it didn’t take long before the menu became far too long a list to practically navigate on the page. It was cumbersome and awkward. So that was my main motivation in creating chapters, as a way of adding hierarchy levels to the menu so this would be easier.

But now the list of chapters is long enough that, on my laptop with its 13″ screen, when I select Chapter 8, I can’t see all the scenes in the chapter (and so far there are only five) unless I do some awkward scrolling of the menu. It seems to me that this really detracts from the experience. Does it seem that way to you?

Perhaps you don’t even use the menu structure, and you just use the hyperlinks at the end of each scene to find your way to the next. Or perhaps you follow the link from the post in Twitter, FaceBook, or the WordPress Reader, or from the email notification that some of you receive when I make a new blog post. But if you are coming here for the first time, or after an absence, and are looking for the latest scenes, or wherever you last left off, I think that menu is helpful. So I’d really like it to be user-friendly.

So I might need to add another layer to the structure, grouping chapters together into parts, or even acts (though then I might be giving too much away for those familiar with the standard three- or four-act structure, plus that might not lend itself well to solving this particular problem). So, you would click on the title, and then see a sequence of parts, and in each part a number of chapters, and then in each chapter a number of scenes.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea?


header image credit: Evgeni Tcherkasski / pixabay.com via Pixabay License

Chapter 8 and Escape (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Silently they slipped between the rocky headlands forming the lagoon, seeing them as no more than dark patches blotting the multitudinous stars from the sky above and their reflection from the still waters below. With but a whisper of wind to pull the lateen sail, the small trimaran all but ghosted beyond reach of the solid shore and into the vast deep of the ocean beyond.

A subtle glow emanated from beyond one shoulder of the island, limning the cliff edges along the lower slopes. That way lay the main lagoon and the docks on the beach, Anna knew. That way lay the Orta craft, and the glow no doubt was its landing lights. Anna took comfort that the high-tech craft remained in the lagoon and not out searching the waters for she and her companions, even as she realized it bode poorly for the Kwakitl of the island.

She turned away from the island, allowing her eyes to adjust to the night sky and the sea. Though moonless, the stars lit the nighttime waters to the far horizon, and there, just west of due north, though she needed no compass to tell her the direction, fell the straight, thin line of the space elevator, its impossibly high reaches still lit by the long-set sun, until it descended into darkness. For many weeks this beacon had called out to her, and finally she could point her tiny ship, her craft of avian manufacture, straight toward it. No more detours, all her crew were aboard, and as they pulled away from the lee of the island in their wake, the southeast trades steadily grew and pushed them toward their goal.

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Escape

(1,874 words; 7 min 29 sec reading time)

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Thus begins Chapter 8 of our continuing story, and also a new phase of Anna’s, Laxmi’s, and Jaci’s adventure. Our intrepid heroes have slipped the bonds of Ar-Danel, the island of the Kwakitl, with the aid of none other than Ca-Seti, or Gamma as Anna first knew the grizzled old fisherman-soldier. Those they thought their captors have become their accomplices, and those they think friends… well, none can say at this point who is friend, and who is foe. Escaping the Orta invasion, Anna and her friends hope to sail the small Kwakitl boat to the base of the space elevator, a shining goal always visible, and so far always just out of reach. They don’t know what they will find when they get there; they don’t know if it will help them return to orbit or, like so much else on this poor planet, it will be yet another piece of ancient technology long fallen into disrepair.

They don’t even know if they will get that far, as the newly-arrived Orta with their high-tech machines are clearly looking for them.

What will happen next? Read on, and stay tuned!

Have a thought about the story so far, or a question, or a suggestion? Drop me a line in the comments below!


header image credit: user:enriquelopezgarre / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Confrontation (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Avian voices filled the air, a cacophony of alarm. Anna needed no translator to understand the fear in those cries rising up from the beach below. Kwakitl bodies pressed back toward the cliff in their collective alarm to get away from the eight-limbed space-suited visitor, standing on its hovercraft vessel.

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Confrontation

(2,040 words; 8 min 9 sec reading time)

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It has been a busy time over here at Silence Central (heh, see what I did there?), so even though this scene has been ready for two weeks, it has taken me until now to find a moment to post it.

Why so long? Well, for one, we had a major water leak into our condo from the unit upstairs, and so the past week has been spent (once again) living in the wind tunnel of blowers, driers, and dehumidifiers to get all the moisture out of the ceiling and walls. Thankfully, that’s now done. It was nearly impossible to think straight with the constant loud noise and the temperature in the unit rising close to 100° F in the tented off area being worked on, and 85° to 95° in other rooms. Outside of that? It has also been quite the time at work, what with start-of-school and all schooling in my city now being remote. Part of my day job involves helping with that effort, on top of my regular duties.

And, it still takes me from one to two full, solid hours just to paste the scene into a new page in WordPress, format the page to my liking, find and add some artwork, then create all the various links (from the previous scene, from the chapter overview, from the novel overview, from the site menu, plus hints on the homepage that something has been updated), and finally to write this, a blog post about it. Whoever thought it would be so much work just to share?

Nevertheless, I do still enjoy sharing as I go, and I hope you enjoy reading it, too. I’m sure a few of you have been eagerly waiting to find out what will happen next, now that the dreaded Orta have arrived on the scene! Will they be friendly, or hostile? Will they help or hinder Anna’s cause of rescuing herself and her friends from being marooned on this alien planet? What will the suspicious Kwakitl do?

Read on to find out! And as always, drop me a line to let me know what you think, and even what you think should happen next. The conclusion of this story is not yet written, so anything could happen….


header image credit: Udo Reitter / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Visitors (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…)

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The remainder of the day passed without incident. The guards remained at their post, silent and resolute, completely ignoring any attempt to speak with them. Occasionally others would pass by through the corridor outside, and Anna would catch curious glances into their chamber, but none approached the entrance nor engaged with the guards.

After several hours, with her stomach rumbling, Anna began to wonder if they would simply be left to starve, but just as she determined to speak up, a Kwakitl arrived with a tray of hot food. A quick squawk with the guards, and the Kwakitl was allowed in with the tray. He set the tray down in the center of the chamber without a word and without looking at any of them, and then left.

After eating, they were allowed, one at a time and accompanied by one of the guards, to visit the washroom. For that Anna was thankful.

She did not sleep well that night, turning fitfully on her pallet of cushions while her mind roamed across all that had happened, and all that might be happening at that moment. Who were the new arrivals? Why did the Kwakitl assume culpability or ill intent on the part of the humans? She had no answers for these questions. She rolled over to find Jaci watching her.

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Visitors

(1,388 words; 5 min 33 sec reading time)

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As promised, this scene is ready for you to read less than a week after the previous scene! That might be almost unprecedented for me, eh? Furthermore, I’m already halfway through writing the next scene, so you won’t have very long to wait for that one. And, given that I’m confined to the condo due to my city being totally smoke-filled at the moment, to point of the air being labeled as very hazardous to breathe, I’d say the chances of me completing that scene this weekend, and perhaps even posting it, are pretty good.

On a side note, yeah, things are pretty smoky in Seattle just now. We’re in no actual fire danger, but it’s definitely not good to be outside. The sky looks almost alien, a dirty yellow obscuring smoke and fog — smog — that makes me think we’re on the surface of Venus. Minus the crushing pressure and melting temperature, of course.

On another side note, this is now my second posting using the new WordPress Block Editor. While I can understand why folks who enjoy getting technical with custom CSS code might like it, overall, I feel this has been a reduction in functionality, and it definitely slows down my productive (and increases my frustration!). Many things I used to do quite easily, including inserting images and hyperlinks, are now much more difficult. Unfortunately, switching back to the Classic Editor is no longer an option. I can insert “Classic Blocks” which will emulate that editor’s look and feel for a particular set of paragraphs, but it’s not just the blocks (horrible name, by the way) — the entire editor’s functionality, toolbars, etc, have changed in a way that feels like a regression to me.

Dang it, who moved my cheese!

Ok, whinging and whining over.

So, tell me what you think about the scene! How about the interactions between the characters (there’s definitely some change going on)?


header image credit: user:kalhh / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Prisoners (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued…)

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The trip back to the main levels of the community, and from there to Jaci’s chamber, proved in Anna’s mind that some emotions transcended species. She certainly had experienced moments that felt more immediately dangerous, but traveling among and thru the angry Kwakitl, especially along the narrow cliffside path with its sheer drop to the lagoon, ranked as one of the more uncomfortable in recent memory. None of the waist-height avians nudged or in any way touched any of the humans, but their lidded gaze and their silence spoke volumes.

Read more at

Prisoners

(1,394 words; 5 min 34 sec reading time)

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When we left our heroes (a month ago!), they had joined in with a community celebration for the Kwakitl who had taken them in, but things ended badly, and they were now held in some suspicion. Read on to find out what the avians do next with our hapless human visitors!

Also, this scene (and the next!) were written while out sailing. Turns out I’m rather productive when at sea! So, the next scene is already written, and it won’t be so long before it’s posted.


header image credit: Pixabay under Pexels License