|Image Credit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=pia02653
I see that the stars must be aligned for voyages to Mars, since three of them have been launched in the last week or so. Which makes this blog entry all the more timely.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many Martian stories? Mars, it seems, holds a special fascination for writers of speculative fiction. One reason for this fascination, at least a century or more ago, was that it seemed possible, even likely, that Mars was an earth-like world, with life, and possibly intelligent life. However, that dream was crushed 55 years ago, when Mariner 4 flew past Mars and showed it to be a cratered planet, much like the moon. Still, many of the speculative writers of that time had grown up reading those earlier Martian stories, and had likely written their own Martian story as well. And probably the same thing can be said for every generation of reader and writer since then – they read Martian stories growing up, and just have to keep reading and writing Mars stories of their own as they grow old.
There is, however, another reason for the abundance of Martian stories. You see, there is a certain, club or lodge, for writers of speculative fiction, known as the Fraternal Order of the Aether. While I say “known as,” it is not well known. Hardly known at all, in fact. The Order is not fond of publicity. It doesn’t award prizes, run contest, or actively seek members. Writers of speculative fiction must seek it out. And that takes some doing. Plus, one must meet certain requirements even to be nominated and elected to membership into the Fraternal Order of the Aether. One of those requirements is, believe it or not,that one must have written a Marian story. Why this is, is a rather murky question. It likely dates back to the Order’s funding, over hundred and twenty years ago, when its early members, writers like Percy Greg, Camille Flammarion, Gustave W Pope, and Edwin Lester Arnold, were all writing stories set on Mars. Be that as it may, this requirement for membership persists to this day. And so, if a speculative writer desires to become a member of the Fraternal Order of the Aether, he or she must write and summit his or her Martian story to the committee in order to have even a chance of being elected to membership. No exceptions. So, you see, dear reader, it likely that many of those Martian stories you have read, and will read, owe their existence the Fraternal Order of the Aether, and its membership requirements.
Now, I’m not the most social fellow you’ll ever run across. I don’t believe that I belong to any organization at moment. Indeed, I believe that my last one may well have been the Cub Scouts. But still, I can't help but think that it might be rather cool to be a fraternal member of the Fraternal Order of the Aether, even if I don’t ever see myself ever looking into the Order’s lodge, since it is located in… Well, I don’t think they want that publicized so I’ll not rustle any feathers by mentioning it. But I can still imagine myself pushing through the august, but unmarked doors of the Aether Club, to be greeted by the hall porter, who would politely direct me to the library, the lounge, or the dining room, as I wont. But alas, one needs a Martian story even to dream of this.
So I have written my Martian story – Keiree. Or, more precisely, I’ve completed the first draft of it.
Keiree’s first draft is a story of some 30,700 words. A novella. I tend to add more words in the subsequent drafts since I find writing the first draft to be hard. And because it is, I’ll settle for some rather sketchy writing just to get to the end of it. However, I like to tinker with words, so that once I have some sort of version down to tinker with, I enjoy fleshing out the story in subsequent drafts. However, in this case, the story is not all that complicated, and probably would be better with less words than more. But, as I tell myself, “Good luck with that!”
At this point Keiree is a standalone story, though it could easily be the opening episode of a longer, episodic novel. But I’m happy to have just a story, and have no plans, or even ideas, about what sort of novel length story might follow. I will have more to say about the story itself in the coming weeks, but suffice to say that it is set on Mars. A Mars that is in the same “universe” as The Lost Star Stories, the Tales of the Tropic Sea, and even Beneath the Lanterns. But I think the time frame is a bit earlier, by at least 10,000 years, than any of the those stories. (Though they vary among themselves by more than that.) And since it is set on Mars, it touches on the expeditions sent out by the Terran solar system civilization to distant stars like the Tropic Sea’s Dara lll and the Nine Star Nebula.
My target release date is mid to late September 2020.
But enough for now. Stay tuned.