Friday, September 28, 2007


I had told myself I don't have time to be starting on a new novel. I have ideas for several more, and when ideas come, I simply open up a file containing my plot outlines and ideas, and add them in. I even had opening chapters for three of them. One of them had been getting so full that I started writing a second chapter, then a third, and now, of course, I'm hopelessly in the middle of a Space Opera type SF narrative.

The setting is actually in the past, about first century, but it takes place in space. The premis is that an ancient civiliation predating the Egyptian rise to being a world power, discovered technologies that enabled space travel, and even relocating their nation, topsoil and vegitation to a new planet.

The narrative shifts constantly between two viewpoints: Eetoo, always written in present tense first person, and that of Heptosh (later in the novel, by a different charracter), who gives a third person viewpoint with the understanding of the technologies and other factors involved (which Eetoo can't do as he's the member of a primative tribe.

Anyway, I'll past in the opening two scenes below:

Eetoo’s story: This is the third time I've seen a light moving about in the sky.
The first time, I told Uncle Oo Paw about it. He said it was only a shooting
star. I thought it was too slow for that, but I figured maybe he was right and
my mind was playing tricks on me. The second time was a week ago. I knew it was
definitely too slow to be a shooting star. I didn't tell anyone though. They
wouldn't believe me.
Now I know it isn't a shooting star. Shooting stars don't stop and go back the way they came. But they'd probably say I was lying. They already say that knowing how to read the ancient writing makes my head too cloudy.
They just don't take me very seriously -- even though I've had my manhood ceremony. I'm supposed to be a man. I'm what they call 'thirteen years old'. A 'year' is the amount of time it takes for the earth to go around the sun, plus three tenths of that. Our ancestors once lived in a place where the earth went around the sun in exactly one year. It got cold during part of the year, and hot during another, so it was easy to tell when a year went by. Also, they had a big round light in the sky that would change into something real thin, and round only on one side, and then back again. It did that twelve times in a year. That must have been weird to look at! Even though we don't live there any more, we still count time like that. It's the way of the Fathers, they say.
That really bright star there is part of something called the 'Zodiac'. Where our ancestors lived, they could see the whole thing. That star was the faintest. Here, it's one of the clearest, but it's the only star from the Zodiac that we can see. I know all that from reading the Writings. I just don't get it. If our ancestors came from the stars, how did we get here? Venerable Too Da says, 'In ships.'
Couldn't that light I've been seeing be a ship?
Venerable Too Da is different from the others. He take me seriously,
probably because he can read, and knows it isn't bad for you. He taught me to
read. He wanted to make me the next Keeper of the Writings. Noo Paw and Noo Maw wouldn't have it though. They wanted their son, Noo, to be, even though I'm a
better student than him. I can read all the tablets now, and I can understand
them too. Noo doesn't even know the whole Nepteshi alphabet yet. He fools around
too much. He only knows some of the pictographs, and even then, he says them in
Fa-ti-shi that we speak every day. That upsets Venerable Too Da no end.
Ha ha! I remember when Ni and I spelled out some Fa-ti-shi words using the
Nephteshi phonetic letters. We thought t was the funniest thing, but Venerable
Too Da got real upset. 'It's a sacred language,' he said. He would have given us
a beating, but he said we were young and didn't know what we were doing. He let
us off with a warning.
Then I asked Uncle Oo Paw why we don't make up some new letters to use for Fa-ti-shi. He just got real uptight, and said that reading and writing things in our own language would make people think more than what's good for them. Then he started scolding me for being too cloudy headed from too much reading of Nephteshi. He's glad they picked Noo to be the next Keeper of the Writings and not me.
Venerable Too Da's afraid he won't live long enough to teach Noo properly. He says maybe I could teach him more if only Noo weren't such a proud little brat. He couldn't understand why the village elders picked Noo and not me.
I think it's because Noo Paw and Noo Maw have such a big flock of sheep and a big house, and I'm only an orphan.
Ni could have been it as well, but he got sucked down the whirlpool. We never even found his body again.
Ni and I did everything together; we fished together, did
traditional wrestling together with Mo Paw, studied the ancient text with
Venerable Too Da.
Venerable Too Da has always been good to me though. He took
care of my Paw and Maw's flock of sheep after they died, and then gave them to
me at my man-hood ceremony. That way, I can at least maintain our family name as a sheep owning family. I could be a village elder one day!
The sheep look like they're doing okay. I think they're all asleep now. I should get some sleep too. It'll be a long trip back to the village tomorrow.
There's that light again...

Heptosh scanned the surface once more, this time at an altitude from which he could make out individual features. It was night on this side of the planet so his activity shouldn't raise any undue alarm from the inhabitants. They'd mistake him for a shooting star.
At least those on this side of the mountain divide. They were mostly primitive tribesmen. Here and there, he could pick out shepherds minding their sheep, or a caravan camped out for the night. These were harmless, but it wouldn't be good to interrupt their peaceful existence by suddenly appearing to them out of the sky.
It was those on the other side he was worried about. They were a more advanced
civilisation. At least they used to be.
If they were as they used to be, they'd present no problem either. The Klodi were a friendly nation, and there had been many happy interactions between them and the Toki human population. Then, there was some sort of struggle. The Klodi had sent out a warning not to enter their solar system until they had got their problem sorted out. They didn't say exactly what the trouble was, so the sector council issued a restriction, and waited. Then they went silent. That was many years ago.
Now, the restriction had expired. There was still silence.
Heptosh was here on a scouting mission.
So far, he had determined, the Famtishi half of the planet was safe. Civilisation was carrying on as it always had. Heptosh had spend the last several weeks making observations of life on the ground -- nothing to worry about here.
The worrisome bit was, what was on the other side of the divide?
Heptosh would fly at a low level across Famtishi territory towards the mountain range and sort of creep over in stealth mode below the range of their scanners.
He viewed the countryside below through his night viewing screen. He'd make his approach over an uninhabited bit of landscape.
What would he find on the other side?
He hoped very much it wouldn't be the Bionics.
They hadn't been detected in this sector of the galaxy as yet, but there were those little signs that made them wonder.

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