The Ball is Rolling

I haven’t had as much time over the past several months to write, or pay attention to my writing. But finally, things are opening up, and I’ll have more time not only to write, but to do that marketing stuff I haven’t done well at all in the past. Here’s what’s up next:

  • I’ll be releasing my novel “Friends with Wings” sometime in the next few months. I’ll be doing a real book launch process with it, so I don’t have a date quite yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
  • I’m working on the sequel to “Humans Untied,” the third book of the Casitian Universe Series. It takes place 65 years after the end of that book. I’m having a lot of fun learning about these characters, and seeing how these worlds developed while I was gone.
  • I’ll be releasing new editions of the Casitian Universe Series, with new covers and such (ebook only) sometime late this year or early next year. With that, I’ll be also (finally) working on an audiobook version of that trilogy.
  • I’m starting a new podcast/internet radio project, which will meld science, science fiction, and spirituality. I don’t know what I’m calling it yet, but I’ll be writing about it here.

So please keep in touch (I’ll be sending out updates occasionally on my mailing list, so sign up below this post.

For your reading pleasure, here’s a short excerpt of the sequel, whose working title is “The Human Family.”

Hilcyon — Sdert 10, 1201

Mrin crawled backwards through the narrow conduit, while dust fell off of the roof as his back scraped it. He tried to avoid getting any of it in his face. It had clearly been many years since anyone had been through here. It would be a very long time before anyone else bothered. It was the tenth conduit he had been exploring in as many weeks. These were old conduits, long bereft of water. It was clear that the water pumping system in this conduit was not salvageable: the fusion reactor was dead, and the components were completely fried.

The last conduit he had explored had been a successful fix, after several complete failures. He’d gotten the melt-pump system back up and running, and there was now a little bit more water going down into the North-central viaduct as there had been before. It was, in the big scheme of things, a minor victory, and his chief was taking full advantage of it.

He got out of the conduit, dusted himself off as much as he could, shouldered his equipment pack, and started his hike back to the maintenance building. His chief would not be happy today. None of the other water engineers had had luck, either. He was always the most successful—if there was something that could be fixed, he could fix it. He went to the locker room and put on a clean uniform. He walked to his chief’s office, and knocked quietly.

“Come in.” His chief had lost weight lately, as they all had. For some reason he looked particularly haggard, today. He had stubble on his head—that was a bad sign.

“Chief Jlen, bad news today.”

“More bad news?”

“Conduit 34j has a completely unfixable melt-pump system. All of the units are redlined, and the fusion reactor is dead. Most of them need a new silicon triple liquid processor. The rest need some other parts. None of which we have any more of.”

“There was no way to…”

“Not with this one. With Conduit 31p, there were only 3 bad units and the reactor was still doing well. I could use parts to make two of them work again, putting the whole system in that conduit back online. But here…”

“Alright. Thank you. How many more conduits are in your survey?”

“Just six more sir.”

“Six. And we got only one to work so far?”

“That’s correct. I hope that others have had…”

“No. None of the others have had any success. In fact, I need you to go check out Conduit 21a when you are done. I suspect you might be able to resurrect it. Hrol could not.”

“Sir…?”

“Yes.”

“What is going to happen now? If we can’t get more water to the North-central growing region…”

“People will starve.”

“There must be another way, sir. What about contacting…”

“Supreme Chief Klef will never contact the Breft. Ever. He would rather us all starve.”

“Sir…”

“Nevermind. Take a day off tomorrow, you deserve it.”

“Um, thank you, sir.”

He left the maintenance building, and got on the tram back to his hamlet. As he looked absently on the reddish-brown terrain, he was glad he wasn’t in his chief’s position—but somehow, something had to change. They were in deep trouble, and he didn’t want it to get worse than it already was. But it would, inevitably get worse, as more and more of the advanced units that had been provided by the Breft broke. Although he was only responsible for one part of the conduits in one part of the planet, he knew that they all were sharing the same fate.

He arrived home, the home he still shared with his parents and sister. He had not chosen a wife yet, and his sister had so far refused to marry. It was a good thing she spent all of her time helping women give birth. She was the most sought-after midwife in the region. It was also a good thing that their parents were secret reformers. They didn’t really care if either of them did what was expected. It did cause them strife with his grandparents, who were all outraged at his and his sister’s delay in creating families.

He could smell the breadmufs baking in the oven. His father was sitting on a bench, reading.

“Hi, Da.”

“Well, hello son. How was your day? Any success?”

“Nope, not today. It’s bad out there, Da.”

“Hundreds have starved this year.”

“More will starve next year. Just our section has had five unfixable conduit failures. I might manage to scrounge the parts to fix one of them, but…”

His father sighed. “Our movement is too fragile for us to step in. I have heard that in some towns, they are starting to require loyalty oaths in order to get food. People are too scared.”

“I know Da. I’m doing what I can.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“Dinner is ready,” his mother called from the kitchen.

“Where’s Dlen?”

His mother said, “She’s off delivering a baby. All the way over in Brun. She won’t be back for a few days. I think she must have timed this perfectly, to miss my parents visit tomorrow.”

Mrin groaned. He’d forgotten all about it. His grandparents, particularly on his mother’s side, were conservative and took every chance to berate his parents about the lack of marriage of both of their children. Mrin knew that Dlen just simply didn’t want to be tied down. She liked her autonomy. Mrin didn’t really have a good reason—he just hadn’t found the right woman, he guessed.

“Well, I do have the day off tomorrow. I can help get things ready. I know it’s always a big deal for you, Ma.”

“Mrin, such a sweetheart!”

They sat down to eat. Mrin couldn’t help but notice how meager the meal was.

“Are we getting our proper ration?”

His father sighed. “Let’s not discuss this now, please?”

“Da! What’s going on?”

“When I went to get our ration today, the board had only two rations for our family. When I asked why, they explained we were being punished for having an unmarried male in the house. When you marry, and bring your wife into the house, they will raise the ration to five. But not before. Apparently, this is the new policy.”

Mrin didn’t realize that his personal reticence to marry would have such a negative impact on the family. He didn’t quite know what to say. But he did realize that he now had no choice in the matter. He certainly was not going to let his parents and sister starve.

 

 

 

 

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