November is Scifi month hosted by Rinn Reads
November 24, 2013
Please leave me a comment for your inclusion into my draw to use your name as one of Marnie’s Earth friends in Book Three of the Moustache on the Moon series.
I promised a short story this week. Here’s the first chapter from an ongoing story I’m still writing. I call it
What Can I Say
“Jared! Jared! Get up right now! The lawn isn’t going to dethatch itself!”
It’s Saturday morning, almost ten o’clock. And you guessed it, that’s my mom screaming at me. This is our spring, summer and fall ritual for like years now. She screams, I moan, groan and stumble out of bed. Hey, I’m a growing teenager, what can I say? I need my sleep.
So I scrambled out of bed, dragged my grubbiest pants and t-shirt on before stumbling down the stairs. If I don’t get moving, she’ll be saying the same thing, but in my room.
Breakfast, of course, is waiting. Pancakes or waffles on Saturday morning for as long as I can remember. She calls it brunch. But I know I’m going to be eating in another couple of hours. I call it breakfast.
As I ate I half-listened to her barrage of words about spring dethatching, doing the front lawn first, where she’d put the garden bags, where she wanted the filled bags to go. I’m sure you know the drill.
“And this year, we’re composting all that thatch,” she goes. “So I want you to understand the layering method. Do you hear me Jared?”
I raised bleary eyes to her face.
“Don’t you look at me that way, young man,” she snapped.
Cripes, I haven’t even spoken to her this morning. She, of course thinks I’m objecting. Have I said anything to her? Even one word? Let alone not doing what she demands?
Though I probably should thank her for the homemade pancakes. Maybe later.
I groaned at her, propped my head up against my fist and continued eating. She’ll run outta words soon. Then she’ll start her Saturday morning routine. By that time I’ll be finished eating and outta her hair, probably doing the dethatching.
But because she complained before I’d even stirred up any trouble, I’ll start with the backyard.
I let the backdoor slam after me. She’s not in the kitchen, after all. I have to let her know I’d left the house. Once I got outta of the house, I loped over to the garage.
Whoa! The garage door stood open and only an empty spot showed where the lawnmower and attachment usually sat all winter. I checked the backyard. Nope, nowhere to be seen.
I figured I’d better look out front before I complained about them being missing. Probably Dad moved them this morning. He’s like that. If he moved them, the machine would be oiled, checked over for winter damage, fixed, tested and in the area he’d decided I’d better be doing first. And he’d have done it before he went to work, just to make me realize what a hard working pops I had.
Sure enough, the whole enchilada waited out front for me. Right beside this really cool, big yellow quartz rock.
I know I got in late-ish last night; squeaked in exactly at my curfew. But I really, really don’t remember seeing it there.
I stood beside the rock for a moment, just staring at it. The sun glinted off rough edges. I noticed a line of some other material running through it. Quartz, maybe. Right around the middle of the above ground part. Like a line of windows on a plane.
I let my imagination loose for a moment. I imagined the rock really being an alien spaceship. See, it had pock marks, like something hit it. Scorch marks at ground level, streaking up. Glinting, almost metally looking bumps, clustered together in several places on top. And a really large piece of quartz stuck in what I assumed the front.
Not bad, if I did say so myself.
Though it was going to play havoc with my regular mowing route around the yard. And I’d probably be expected to use the weed-eater on the grass around it without getting grass stains on it.
I shrugged. Who am I to say what can or can’t go in the parents’ front yard? The rock made the lawn a couple of square metres less to maintain – my job. Can’t complain about that.
I leaned down to pull the starter on the mower when this high pitched voice screamed at me.
I swung around, trying to locate the person. Nobody in sight. I bent again. The voice yelled again.
This time I was eye level to a small hole in the rock. The voice seemed to be coming from there.
“Pardon?” I asked.
“Step away from the rock,” the voice warned. “Just step away and nobody needs to get hurt.”
I knelt down, peering into the hole.
“I mean it, kid. I need you to back away real slow. Just watch where you put your knees. I don’t need you crushing it.”
“Stepping on what?” I asked as I backed up – not as easy as you think when you’re kneeling.
“The snowsnake. It got loose when we crash-landed. Could be anywhere.”
I musta still be half asleep. That crash-landed comment didn’t phase me in the slightest.
“Look maybe I can help you look for it?” I offered. “What does it look like?”
“Really?” The voice shrilled in disbelief. “You’re not just saying that?”
“Really. If I knew what I was looking for, I’d be glad to help.”
“I told you. A snowsnake. Looks like, lemme see, here on Earth, what would it resemble that you might have seen before? Hmmm. Like white rebar, ’bout one metre long. Yeah. Sounds about right,” the voice paused many times during its explanation.
“White rebar?” I asked, kind of astounded. “A steel rod, about as thick as my finger with a raised coil running up it?” I’d learned about rebar in physics last semester. First time anyone had used the word around me since I finished the course. And here I’d thought that knowledge totally useless.
“Perfect description. Do you see it?”
“Jared,” Mom nagged out an upstairs window. “I can’t hear the mower. What are you doing down there?”
“Looking for something, Mom,” I hollered back. “I’m helping the rock find a snake.” I looked around the rock for anything white.
Sometimes I think Mom levitates, she’s so fast. Within moments Mom let the screen door slam as she ran out. “Jared, I am not having you goof off this year. You are old enough to get your chores done on time. I do not have time to do your jobs and my own before your dad gets home. He’s expecting this finished. He’s bringing fertilizer home tonight. He’s tired of having the barest yard on the street. So am I.” Her voice rose as she came across the yard to me.
“Mom, the rock said it lost a snowsnake. I’m just helping it find the thing.”
“Where did this rock come from Jared? Did you and your friends plant it here last night? Well you can just move it again. Find another yard to plant it in. Now! I do not appreciate your high jinx, young man!”
“Hey kid,” the voice in the rock screamed to get my attention. “Keep her away too. Snowsnakes are an endangered species. This one is the only male we’ve been able to track for years. We need to get it back to the zoo to mate with the females we’ve found. If we get lucky, we’ll be able to start a breed and release program in a few years. On its home planet. So keep that female back. She’s heavy enough to kill it if she steps on it.”
“I thought you put the rock here, Mom. It looks real good,” I told her. I spoke a little louder at the rock, “My mom’s not that fat,” I defended.
Not only did Mom not hear the voice yacking, she took offense at my defense of her. “Jared,” she glared at me, “I am not fat. Get cracking on the dethatching before I ground you.” She turned away to hide tears, returning into the house.
Must be my karma. Here, as I’m defending her, I’ve hurt her feelings and she’s upset with me. Again.
“I don’t see your snake,” I informed the voice. “I gotta get to work. I’ll leave this patch till the end, so you can keep hunting.”
I grabbed the mower handle, pushing it away from the rock, using it as a lever to get off the ground. I yanked the starter. The machine purred to life. I pushed it all around the yard, including the backyard, emptying catch-all bags into the new composter in the back corner of the yard, in the bright sunlight. Twice. I didn’t find the job as tedious as normal. Course I had this whole rock-spaceship-crafty thing to ponder. I kept idling the mower so I could go peek over at the rock, just to assure myself I wasn’t dreaming.
Finally I set the mower at an idle near the rock. “I gotta do this part now,” I informed the hole. “I’m finished the rest of the yard.”
“Can you give me about another five minutes?” the voice pleaded. “I think I have a fix on it. Shouldn’t take me long to grab it. I think the rest of the guys will have the repairs handled by then. We’ll be outta your hair real soon. Please?”
How could I say no? “Sure,” I responded. “I’ll just grab a drink and snack from the kitchen. Be back in a few.”
I didn’t let the door slam as I reentered the kitchen. If Mom heard it slam, she’d think I’d finished and come out to check. If I have a choice, I’d prefer not to catch a lecture.
I ran the tap cold, drank three glasses of water before grabbing an apple. I forgot to catch the door on my way out. It slammed. I was busy shining the apple on my shirt. Apples always taste better if they’re shiny – don’t ya think?
I dropped to my knees when I neared the rock, peering closely at the hole. I couldn’t see anyone in there. Not that I had before, either. “Hey,” I whispered loudly. Now that I was fully awake, I had to watch out for my reputation. I’d never live down being caught talking to a rock. “Hey you finished yet?”
I got a faceful of dirt for my answer. I looked down. Something was digging a wide pit, right next to the rock.
“You can’t do that,” I objected. “My dad and mom will have a fit. They’re trying to make the yard look better.” I started brushing dirt back into the hole, trying to refill it before I got blamed for that too.
I think I remember a really bright beam of light from the hole in the rock hitting me square in the chest.
I woke up under the pine in our neighbour’s yard. I was flat on my back, head resting at a funny angle against the tree trunk. Mom had a damp facecloth and her cell in her hands. She was standing, crying behind the EMS.
“Just lay still, son,” the masked, gloved stranger advised. He was fitting a really strange collar around my neck.
A police officer squatted beside him. “What happened, son? What or who hit you?”
I blinked rapidly, my vision blurring and sharpening as I tried to focus on something, anything. I thought over the question, thankfully saved from answering by a nasty bout of the dizzies.
I don’t remember the ambulance ride at all.
I spent the night in the hospital, just for observation.
Before I left for home, the officer visited me again.
“I need to finish my report, maybe start looking for the scumbags who did this to you. Can you remember anything yet, kid?” he questioned.
I looked straight into his eyes, over his shoulders, then down to the floor.
Would he believe me if I told him the truth? Do I even believe me?
Building My Alien Culture in Moustache on the Moon
November 17, 2013
Please leave me a comment for your inclusion into my draw to use your name as one of Marnie’s Earth friends in Book Three of the Moustache on the Moon series.
In my book, Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon, part one, I take a try at developing aliens. Kin Ship is my very first attempt ever at developing my very own alien culture.
The first time I consciously noticed being exposed to another culture came from reading science fiction. Dune, by Frank Herbert comes to mind. maybe another book got my attention first. But Dune, with its Fremen water culture really hit home. Imagine a whole people living every aspect of their lives based on how it would affect water. I loved the whole encompassing cultural theme. And, of course, the story.
Dune opened my mind to possibilities I’d never considered before. Ever since that eye opening experience, I’ve looked at Science Fiction and Fantasy stories to see if they’ve created another culture, reading avidly to see how those authors have managed portray the dance between interactions of the Earth people themselves and any alien species. I’m fascinated by the interplay.
When I wrote Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon, part one, I believed my aliens needed to be very different than Earthlings, even though I decided to portray them as our long lost ancestors. I wanted a people we could identify with, and love for their very differences.
It is scary. I hold a responsibility to my Euskadaz to make them feel believable. So I needed to develop a social blueprint in line with the aspects of an ecological premise I decided my Euskadaz embraced millennia ago.
In Kinship, where Marnie meets the Euskadaz, she is exposed to an alien race who make use of biologicals rather than machinery. I won’t spoil the story, but I believe you will enjoy the Euskadaz living arrangements I made up for the Earthlings to stay in while they wait for Euri – an Euskadaz festival of life, so to speak – along with other imagined ‘alien’ scenes. I sure loved writing what I saw in my mind’s eye.
My North American pioneers, Marnie, her family and the other settlers, live in my cultural references. They must believably interact with the Euskadaz on a daily basis. Kin Ship explores the wonder of Marnie’s introduction to the Euskadaz constructs. Book Two of Moustache on the Moo, working title New Beginnings, explores the Euskadaz interaction with select individuals from our world and Marnie’s interpretations of that interaction.
In New Beginnings: Moustache on the Moon, part two, I think it will be called New Beginnings, Marnie and her new friend Topher explore their surroundings, learn about the Euskadaz history as it pertains to their alien being space craft. They and other teen friends have discussions about how to set up a new world. And…conflict has to happen.
Book Three of Moustache on the Moon explores a head on clash between the two cultures. Along with many other actions.
I have had to look at how my culture sees the world and twist the concepts I have always believed in. Still making them believable in the world I am creating.
I can’t say anything more. You’ll just have to read my stories and see if I do a good job inventing a culture that developed on a totally different world, long ago and far away.
Using an Alien Language in Moustache on the Moon
November 10, 2013
Leave me a comment for your inclusion into my draw to use your name as one of Marnie’s Earth friends in Book Three of the Moustache on the Moon series.
In writing Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon, part one and the rest of this series, my underlying premise is that we humans came from another planet. Our inclusion on Earth is a cosmic accident resulting from a space battle. The Homeworld has finally decided to return and offer a select few Earthlings, those who still carry the ‘pioneer’ gene, a trip off Earth.
Now I couldn’t very well have my aliens – Euskadaz I’ve called them – speak English as their native tongue. Of course, they needed to learn it to speak with the Earthlings of my story. And as I’ve hinted that they’ve also set up compounds in other parts of the Earth, so I’ve no doubt they’ve learned whatever language they need to communicate wherever they are.
Now I needed a alien language. One that had roots in our languages preferably. After all, once we’d, landed thousands of years ago, we would still speak our native language, slowly changing it as we experienced life on this planet. This planet had its own humanoid population before we touched down. I’ll bet we incorporated some of their words into our evolving language too.
I considered making up my own language. I’d’ve had to study language roots of ancient languages – a lifetime study if I ever saw one. Unfortunately, I only speak one language fluently which hampers my creative process greatly. I mean, how can I even understand another language’s kinetic dance? It’s harmony between culture, thought and deed? I threw that idea away.
That meant – whew – I could research through all the languages ever used and discovered here on Earth and decide which one might be spoken by our ancient ancestors.
I thought about using Latin as my base language. Why not? I studied it for years in highschool. I had the rudiments down pat. But my husband, when I bounced the idea off him, told me to find another as Latin has been done far too often. And Latin isn’t old enough anyway. That put all the romance languages out of the running.
Back to the computer. I found out about Isolate languages. Languages our linguistic experts couldn’t track back to a previous iteration, didn’t have antecedents. I found three. Maybe there are more.
Basque happened to be one of them. I listened to the spoken language on one of the sites and loved the flow, the musicality of the speech. Several sites said Basque words can be traced forward. Spanish and French incorporate some of their words. I even found a few Latin words that have Basque as their root.
Basque is a very different language, full of complex declensions and structures. Maybe it did come from another planet, a world civilized long before any Earthlings can say we became civilized.
So my Euskadaz speak Basque. Not quite the Basque of today. I searched for the oldest form of any word I used. I’m sure I didn’t find them all, but I did try.
Marnie, her friends and family do learn phrases in Basque. My book Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon, part one has many Basque words and phrases sprinkled throughout, with English translations. And I included a glossary full of words used at the back of the book.
I hope you will enjoy learning these words and phrases too!
Next Sunday I’ll talk about building my ‘alien’ culture in my series.
Introduction – November 3, 2013
I am thrilled to be invited to take part.
I’m a scifi fan from years back – way too long to mention. I think my first adventure into the scifi world came through Judgement On Janus, by Andre Norton. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land hooked me on the fantasy side of scifi. Marion Zimmer Bradley, with her Darkover series and Anne McCaffrey with Pern set the hook forever. Who wouldn’t want to live on Darkover? Or become a dragonrider on Pern? Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip solidified my interest in perhaps trying my hand at writing my vision of what could be on another world.
My list of favourite scifi / fantasy authors could go on and on. I read hard science fiction, like Arthur C Clarke and William Gibson. And I wander over to such wonders as Lies of Locke Lamora series by Scott Lynch, Modesitt Jr’s Imager series and all of Anne Bishop’s works, including her new book Written in Red. I can’t get enough of this stuff.
So, I decided to try my hand at seeing if my tales could be published – I’ve been writing for what seems like forever. Now, I have two short scifi stories published and a book series on the go.
My first novel, Kin Ship: Moustache on the Moon, part one, published by Sirens Call Publications, is aimed at a young to young-at-heart audience. I’ve twinned a scientific space theory about wormholes (I’ve never seen one, but who am I to argue with a scientist) and a biological process here on Earth, two alien species and introduced them to Marnie Enoch, a teenage girl – oh and her family and other Earthlings – for an adventure of a lifetime.
Next Sunday, November 9th, I plan to divulge the reasons why I didn’t make up my own ‘alien’ language.
November 16th I thought a look how I’m building an alien culture for my book, might be fun.
November 23rd I’ll post a short scifi / fantasy story, never seen before.
And I’ll pop in on November 30th.
To make all this even more fun, the first person to quote 5 different participants, one from each week, may have their name used as one of Marnie’s Earth friends in my Moustache on the Moon, part three. Part two is with the publisher. (Post in my comments, please.)
Get hopping. Check out all the sites. Have a great SciFi Month everybody. Cheers dk snape