Waterborne

If you’ve been following my blog over the past few years, then you know that besides writing science fiction, I also love sailing.

Or cruising. Or just hanging out at anchor in beautiful places.

Swinging peacefully on the hook is a great place for writing! So, my wife and I spent this past week cruising around a few old favorite spots close to home, chilling out in mostly fantastic weather and just enjoying an overall relaxing time.

And I finished writing two more scenes for The Silence of Ancient Light, so look for the first of those to post soon!

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p.s. All photos on this post ©Matt Fraser, 2020 (from this past week’s trip!)

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p.p.s This is my first post using WordPress’s new “block editor,” and… I’m struggling a bit! I’m not sure that I like it yet, but I’ll give it a try before giving up and returning to the “classic” editor (which seemed to have more options and more control over formatting, but probably that’s just me being resistant to change).

Red Sky at Morning (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

Gentlemen never sail to weather, or so went an old saying, its origins lost to Anna now, but women never fear to do so, she added to it. At best, she was able to keep the wind just forward of the beam, but no better, and even so she could determine from the inertial compass that they made considerable leeway. Without the compass, however, there would have been no means by which to tell just how much their craft slipped sideways for every kilometer gained forward.

A sleek racing machine the converted life raft was not.

Read more at

Red Sky at Morning


Laxmi and Anna have left the relative safety of their island atoll upon which they were marooned, setting sail across the alien ocean of Kepler 62f on a makeshift trimaran converted from their orbital shuttle’s inflatable life raft. If this seems foolhardy, it probably is, but they are on a mission.

Kepler 62f is inhabited after all, and the locals have kidnapped their crew mate, Jaci. Now Anna and Laxmi must give chase in hopes of rescuing their friend.

Of course it’s not going to go well.


header image credit: pxhere.com under CC0 Public Domain

Reef Passage (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

First light saw the makeshift trimaran glide smoothly across the calm lagoon. The orange and white checkered sail easily caught the morning breeze blowing across the low-lying atolls sheltering the inner waters, and the boat picked up speed as Anna steered toward the southern tip of the island.

She took one final look back toward the ruined shuttle and the beach camp which had been their home for the past few weeks. The shuttle seemed sad and forlorn, battered and canted at an unnatural angle in the shallow water. Hull panels Anna had opened in her attempts to repair the scramjet engines were missing, ripped away in the fierce storm, while others displayed obvious damage where wind-tossed tree limbs had smashed into the side of the craft. What sections were not dented and ripped were sandblasted to a dull grey and uneven finish.

Read more at

Reef Passage


When storms toss you broken tree limbs, you build boats with them. What else? And when aliens kidnap a crew member, you sail after them, even if it’s a big, bad ocean out there.

And if you’re a scientist, you never stop sciencing (I know that’s not a word, but it should be), even when the subject of your study is trying to kill you.

Laxmi and Anna have made the best of a bad situation, salvaging what they can and using storm wreckage to modify and upgrade their life raft into a sailing trimaran. The locals on Kepler 62f have taken Jaci with them, and now Laxmi and Anna must pursue them across an alien ocean.

But as they set off on the start of this perilous journey, Laxmi makes an observation about their environment. It seems a small thing.

Here’s a hint: it isn’t.


header image credit: user:dr.scott.mills / flickr.com under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Outfitting (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

The beach lay strewn with fallen trees, a bounty of choice from which to find three relatively straight and sturdy spars. Anna took her inspiration from the Keplerians’ own design, as she knew it was a good one. Lateen rigs had served ancient humanity well, from early days moving goods through Egyptian waters, to latter days on small boats for training young sailors. An easily handled rig, it would give them some modest upwind capacity using the materials at hand.

With plenty of climbing rope available, Anna and Laxmi soon had the mast stepped into the bottom of the raft and stayed forward and to either side. To avoid the need of a backstay, Anna rigged the port and starboard shrouds to pontoon handholds a meter aft of the mast step.

The shuttle’s emergency gear included five parachutes, just one of which provided more than enough material for a sail.

Read more at

Outfitting


Have you ever wondered how to turn an emergency life raft into a sailing trimaran? Well, if you ever find yourself marooned on a small island in the middle of a big ocean on an alien planet thousands of light-years from Earth, who knows? It might be just the skill to have.

Especially if the native inhabitants of that planet have made off with one of your crew members and left you with almost nothing with which to survive.

I will confess that way back when I first started writing The Silence of Ancient Light, I imagined a prologue scene with Anna, our protagonist, on Earth before the expedition begins. The scene involved Anna participating in a single-handed ocean race, navigating her sailboat alone across the Pacific, and yes, I meant it to serve as foreshadowing, as well as to provide some initial clues into Anna’s essentially introverted character. I dropped the scene before I ever wrote it, thinking it superfluous, but now I’m considering that it might serve a purpose after all, if nothing else than to explain just how it is that Anna knows how to build a crude sailboat and then operate it.

What do you think? Too much?


Header image credit: user:janrye / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Writing Retreats, Poll Results, and the WIP

First off, the next scene from Chapter 3 is ready for your enjoyment (and your feedback — you’re an alpha reader, remember?). Anna, Laxmi, and Jaci are making the most of their enforced encampment upon an alien tropical beach. Jaci, hindered by a broken leg and thus unable to help with much else, becomes camp cook, and quickly nominates himself “greatest chef on the planet,” based upon a competition involving “every human within a thousand light-years.” Of course, there are only three humans within a thousand light-years…

So, if you’re ready to jump right in:

 

Chef

 

Meanwhile, in other news, the poll for best scene for an audience reading is still open (see the blog post immediately preceding this one), but results are starting to narrow down to a single choice, with one runner-up. I suppose I should not be surprised that, while one scene is more action-oriented than the other, both involve significant and colorful description of the world around our intrepid explorers, and that seems to be what people are gravitating towards. But, if you haven’t yet, go vote! And then check out the results.

Meanwhile, note to self: use more (or continue using) significant and colorful description of the world around our intrepid explorers!

Abeona in Port Madison
photo by Matt Fraser

Speaking of colorful, I spent the weekend on another mini “retreat,” once again anchored in the middle of Port Madison Bay by myself, for the purpose of some focused writing time. While I didn’t achieve as many total words as I might have hoped, I did produce this latest scene (why haven’t you read it yet?), and had a little fun with dialogue. Do let me know what you think of it, what works and what doesn’t.

Port Madison Morning
photo by Matt Fraser

I’ll be doing more of these!


header image credit: user:ChadoNihi / pixabay.com under CC0 1.0