Friday, September 11, 2009

A Space Story

Editor’s Note: This week, rather than give you a behind the scenes look at my books, I thought I’d give you a look at a little of my thought process as I write by telling you a story. Before I write page one and before I draw an outline, I often begin with a story concept that looks something like the one below. This particular story is unlike any of my books, but it is one I’ve enjoyed contemplating.

Deep in the blackness of space, a cargo ship is underway toward a planet on the other side of the galaxy. On this trip, the ship is also a passenger ship of sorts. Few cargo ships make a such a long journey without taking on a few paying passengers along the way, but this ship is loaded with stasis pods—hundreds of them. Most are medical patients who have picked up a deadly decease on one planet or another. They have paid a great sum of money for the hope of a cure on a distant planet. A few are travelers who prefer traveling in stasis to spending months in space. Some of the pods bear the king’s seal. Most of these hold men and women on their way to stand trial, but two hold the king’s daughter and her personal assistant.

The ship is behind schedule and is taxing its engines, though no more than usual. The ship is making an arc around a region of space that the law requires all ships to plot a course around. He could trim three days off his journey and arrive on time by cutting through the region, but f the stories are true, there is a planet near the center of this region that is the home world for all humans. The early space pioneers were able to look into the future of their planet and learn of technology that would allow them to travel between worlds. Scientists fear that if the future of that planet is altered in any way, even if the light from a passing ship were to reach that planet before the time when the technology will be observed, it could destroy billions of lives. The penalty for violating that law is death. With the royal guard onboard to watch over the pods with the king’s seal, the captain doesn’t dare risk it. After a couple more runs, he hopes to retire and let his son take over the ship.

An explosion rocks the ship and it drops out of hyperspace. Alarms blare throughout the ship. There is a large hole in the side of one of the cargo bays. The royal guard rushes to check on their pods, while the crew rushes to seal the breach and discover the reason for the explosion. While they are investigating, there is another explosion that damages some of the pods and sucks the crewmembers and royal guardsmen in the area out into space. The remaining crew are the captain (who has been injured), his son, the doctor, the pilot, a Lieutenant in the royal guard and the cook.

The lights on one of the damaged pods in the cargo bay in begin to flash, an emergency measure that will give one of the prisoners on his way to trial a chance to survive before the pod shuts down for good.