Correspond (II)

It was only supposed to be a day. Two days at the most, then back to the safe, sweet oblivion of coldsleep while the years and the light years slipped away. Two days, and she wouldn’t be the only conscious soul in all this great and awful void, with nothing but the creak and hum of the ship for company. That was what the new nanite interface was supposed to guarantee. Yet here she was, four days in.

Still awake.

Still alone.

Still no closer to a solution, any solution, than the moment she first woke up.

She felt so stupid. Since when had new tech ever worked as well in the field as it did in the lab? There was always another variable, always something no one predicted, always some way for everything to come apart at the seams. She’d just assumed it would still function well enough. Usually, she could find some way to get it that far. Usually, she had help. Usually.

She still didn’t know exactly what had happened. Her first assumption, that the trouble was just a nasty fluke of untested hardware and confined to the nanite systems, hadn’t survived even her first, cursory survey of the ship’s systems. The damage was too widespread.

And it was damage. That was the terrifying part. A software glitch would have been bad enough, with all its attendant troubles and impossibilities. But software could be reset. Worked around. Coaxed and tricked and prodded.

Fried and melted circuits, not so much. If she could get the sensors and the logs back online it might have recorded what had happened. A violent flare from some alien star, perhaps. A band of dark energy. Or just a fault built into the system itself. At the moment, it didn’t matter.

They had backups, of course, and redundancies. You wouldn’t try something like this without them. Not if you hoped to survive the attempt. The trick was just that all the important bits assumed there would be more than one set of hands available to make the replacement.



There were. Or there could be.

She could invoke Emergency Protocol C and bypass the safeties and the new nanotech interface the Twins had gotten, same as her. She could send a Full Wake Signal through their systems. It would just take a few keystrokes. A few command codes entered directly into the coldpods themselves. It should still work. She had checked.

But a Full Wake meant it would be years before they could go back into coldsleep. It wouldn’t be so isolating with more than one of them awake. Not as bad as this. But they only had so much food, so much water. So much air the ship could purify for the fragile humans inside. So, no. She wouldn’t use a Full Wake. Not unless she had to.

(The thought, the fear crossed her mind that the computer had been forced to resort to using the Full Wake to pull her out of coldsleep. But, she reminded herself, that would have showed on the medscan. It had to.)

Not that it was going to be functionally all that different if she couldn’t get her own damn interface to work the way it was supposed to. And if it was a choice between going slowly mad on her own and dragging one or two more souls into this hellish limbo just to make sure the mission didn’t fail right here, right now…

It hadn’t come to that yet.

She still had things to try.

If she could just get their nanite systems to start working the way they were supposed to, both hers and the Twins’, it would be alright. It would all be alright.

That was her first thought. Her first plan. But when the first day and half of the second passed without any kind of progress, she had to abandon it and find another. A tactical retreat. Not defeat. That’s what the Twins would have said.

It wasn’t defeat.


[Blog] Smells of Seasons

Sometimes it’s a smell that makes it truly feel like the seasons have finally changed. The sights help too– new leaves on the trees, turning them green with a surprising swiftness; splashes of red and yellow, blue and purple as the first flowers bloom; the scattering of raindrops that cling to all the surfaces that were so recently covered by frost and snow. Yet for all that, it’s not until the first morning I walk outside and smell the sweet tang of damp earth that it really feels like winter is over.

Never mind the fact that there’s a non-zero chance another drop in the weather accompanied by another storm might blanket the world in snow once more before the week is out.


[Blog] Catharsis

Sometimes in the chaos of day to day life, it’s easy to let a thousand other things take priority over writing. This is especially true when coaxing stories out of your head and into a readable form doesn’t also translate to something that helps pay the bills; if you don’t write, the only visible consequence is that your document remains blank and your novel unwritten, whereas if you don’t go to work, make dinner, do laundry… you get the picture.


To leave it at that is to sell the entire thing short. Because sure, on the one hand my writing is “just” a hobby. And yeah, if I want to change that I’m going to have to pour in a whole lot more effort and give it a significantly higher priority than I’m doing now. And I’d by lying if I said that wasn’t the goal (one of many, hence my trouble).

Yet on the other hand, thinking like that forgets that we humans are wired to tell stories: to entertain ourselves and each other, to make sense of this crazy world we live in, to talk to each other about God and life and death and everything. And I think that’s why, for me at least, there’s a distinct benefit when I do take the time to write every day. It has a leveling effect, as if it provides an outlet for all the spinning thoughts that would otherwise remain trapped in my skull. It’s not perfect; nothing is. But it’s a heck of a lot better than what happens when I don’t write.


[Blog] A Book of a Different Cover

Generally speaking, my first impulse when choosing what book to read next is to go to the piles/lists of recommended fantasy or science fiction I have yet to read. Goodness knows there’s enough there to keep me busy for a long, long while, including several that I know I’m going to enjoy once I get to them. Yet for all the many, many offerings in the realm of speculative fiction, there are so many other books that are worth the time it takes to read them. Most of the time, they’re books I never would have thought to pick up if someone hadn’t told me about them in the first place.

Which, I think, is where libraries come in.

Because while I’m in just as much (or more?) prone to the dangers of browsing Thriftbooks as anyone else, the books I end up buying are usually more sci-fi and fantasy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I enjoy them. I love that half my personal bookshelves are filled with them. I have absolutely no intention of changing the ratio any time soon.

But when I can just put in a hold at the library for whatever book someone recommends to me, I don’t feel like I have to stick to “safe” choices. The worst that happens is that I return it early, unfinished. And the best is that I read and love a book I would never have touched otherwise.


[Blog] Update – April ’23

Welcome to April, everyone! Out here in Colorado things have been slowly starting to look more spring-ish, though not so spring-ish that it didn’t dump several inches of snow on us last night. And, sure it’s mostly melted now, but still. Even so, it’s been nice seeing things turn green and feel things getting warmer; I’m definitely looking forward to it being easier to get outside.

Not much else going on. Writing is continuing at a trickle, which is less than ideal but significantly better than not writing at all. It’s always been easier to go from writing a little to writing more than it is to start again from a dead stop.

Reading has also been a little slow, but that’s fine too. I finished The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie which I’d seen recommended all over the place for a while, and I found it… okay. It had some fun parts but ultimately was not my cup of tea. Apparently I’m just not a fan of straight grimdark. In retrospect, my need for likeable characters in my fiction should have told me that in advance. Oh well.

I also read Circe by Madeline Miller, and that was a fantastic read. It’s a beautiful retelling of the Greek myths surrounding Circe, and Miller’s prose and storytelling are both wonderful. I found the ending to be thoroughly satisfying (I was in the throes of a full on book hangover for at least half an hour after finishing) and I enjoyed how much a lot of her descriptions purposely evoked The Iliad and The Odyssey.