Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Humans --> Mars

It’s not every morning you wake up and hear some news that thrills you down to the bone level. Dennis Tito did that for me today with his simply phrased announcement that he plans to send two people on a fly-by 500 day mission to Mars.

I don’t know about you, but the 21st Century future I dreamt of growing up in 60s Glasgow hasn’t really paid off. Robot missions to space and other planets are amazing, but it’s not the same as people travelling far away from the safety of Earth on that ultimate adventure. That’s what I — and, I think — a lot of people have really been missing. As I said, the statement was simple, but it had the same effect on me as when I heard possibly the most stirring speech about being out in space that I’ve ever heard, from (of course) Start Trek TOS:

KIRK: They used to say if man could fly, he’d have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn’t reached the moon, or that we hadn’t gone on to Mars and then to the nearest star? That’s like saying you wish that you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut like your great-great-great-great-grandfather used to.
I’m in command. I could order this. But I’m not, because Doctor McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence as fantastically advanced as this. But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great.
Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what the starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.
Star Trek: Return to Tomorrow
Good luck, Mr Tito. And if you need a few bucks, I’ll be happy to pitch in.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lobster alien rising

For those who came in late, I have upwards of 470 A4 pages of manuscript, which is getting up to 2 books' worth, about everyone's favourite (okay, my favourite) lobster alien Jeldon. I have a bit more to write, mainly the END, which I haven't done yet because I want to make sure everything that's gone before ties together, as well as a secondary protagonist string which needs to be incorporated.

Now that the summer holidays are well and truly over, I'm working through what is essentially a polished draft and interrogating the text. What I mean by that is reading through what I've got, checking for internal consistency for my plot and motivational and psychological veracity for my characters as well as looking for opportunities to add situational texture and interest. It's a crucial stage in what has taken years so far to get to this stage and I'm (thankfully) finding that what I've written is working for the most part and for the bits that aren't quite there, the distance I have from the ms - which I put aside last year - is letting me really hone the motivational aspects that were kind of niggling me when I was writing them, but which I didn't worry too much about at the time because I just had to get this stuff down and keep the plot moving.

So I'm enjoying myself and I reckon by the end of next year I may actually be finished. Though having started this whole odyssey in 1998, I don't want to commit to an end point with that kind of finality!