The U.S. went from Alan Shepherd 's up and down Mercury mission in 1961 to landing on the Moon in 1969. All without the aid of steampunk sensibilities! So how can these folks go from airships to interstellar multi-generation residential spacecraft in 36 years in order to evacuate the planet before the comet arrives? (And how will they get laborers to build the craft who will not get a seat aboard them?)
Excerpt from THE DREAM LAND Book III Act IV
Gina is presenting her committee's findings at an international conference....
“It is possible to do this,” she spoke clearly, barely able to contain her excitement. “We have time and we have resources. We have scientists, engineers, and technicians. And we have a workforce. We can do it—”
“Who will be in charge of this project?” cried out a man who stood up in the back of the hall. He wore a large brown hat made of fur. To Gina he seemed like a big, furry bison. “We have everything you said but the workforce! How can we press people into service when there will be no room for them aboard the very vessels they are building? How can we make that choice?”
He lumbered down the aisle and stood before the stage, arms raised and the wide black sleeves drooping almost to his knees.
“You speak of plans to leave the world of our birth and find a new home. We are one billion people on this world and you speak of vessels that will each carry five hundred of us. How many vessels can be built? How many people can be saved? Who will make these decisions? You? Your council?”
“Yes, we need to address that problem—”
“Already,” yelled the ‘bison man’ delegate from Nouvê, “we have riots in the streets of Erit. We fight to keep back the lost legions from our vessel construction zone. They have given up, destroying all they can before the comet can do it. They live all the pleasures they can find and pray for the end to come quickly. And they will not put in any work effort.”
Gina leaned over the lectern. “It’s a difficult point we are at—”
“She will be saved!” shouted another woman in the robes of a F’eng follower. “She has the Miracle Child to buy her ticket.”
“No, I will not be going!” Gina shouted back.
The crowd became boisterous, tossing questions at her so thickly she could not understand any of them.
At that moment, she wanted to reach out her hand and poke the air, then pry open a gap and step through it to any other place in the universe. If it could lead her home, to that forgotten place where her body was born, that could be a nice vacation. The last time she set foot on Earth, she had found a shopping center newly built where before had been a forest, pasture, and stone ramparts. She had browsed the Barnes & Noble store there, leafed through some science magazines and bought a latté. She read about the Space Shuttle program and the International Space Station. With some regret at the end of the Moon program, she was pleased that facilities were constructed as the start to what she expected would be a permanent station on the Moon and then an expedition to Mars. Let someone else make the decisions and she would happily sit back and watch it all on TV. She realized then how much she missed television; not the shows themselves which were poor excuses for time-killing, but simply having the leisure to sit back and watch a device which showed moving images, a machine that sucked out the gloom and eased a fractured mind into some sort of solace—
“Enough questions!” she cried out, swinging her hands over her head. The chairperson was turning the lights off and on until the murmuring dropped. “I want to make this plan a success. I love this world, no matter the things that have happened to me here.” She took a breath, almost saying too much. “I love Ghoupallesz and if I cannot save a planet I will save as many of its living things as possible. In the time which remains I will do everything I can, use all the knowledge and skills I have, all for the hope that you, some of you, and your families, and the animals and plants of this world will be able to survive and reestablish a civilization on some distant world we can only dream of tonight.”
She stared down the angry F’eng woman.
“I will do all I can,” said Gina in a loud, clear voice, “but I will not take a seat aboard any vessel. I will give my seat, my ticket to my daughter. I will trust her to carry my genes to a new world.”
The crowd gasped, then broke into several pockets of discussion. The tenor of the language turned toward duty and sacrifice for the greater good. Heads began to nod. A few delegates hugged each other while others patted shoulders or ran fingers through each other’s hair. Gina saw fingers wiping away tears. She stepped back from the lectern and went to the front edge of the stage, scanning the audience.
“We have thirty-one years,” she spoke over the crowd, wondering if anyone heard her.
I cannot say how enjoyable it may be to write about the end of a world, but I feel strongly that Gina (a.k.a. Jinetta, Queen of Fenula) will find a way to have it all. The weird thing is that I'm working on Act IV now with Acts II and III unstarted yet planned and Act I not quite finished. I have even dabbled on the final scene, which will be the ultimate twist in the entire trilogy! (No, it was not all just a dream....)
Stay tuned! And get a start on the series with THE DREAM LAND Book I, available now.
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