Prologue to the Future

With a new novella in the Science Fiction Romance anthology Pets in Space 5, a question was posed to all of the authors – what sparked your story?

Here’s my answer and then some.

I wanted to write a PISA story with a trauma service animal.  But some elements of the story have existed in my imagination for a long time. My heroine Mercury’s psychic gift to change the laws of probability around her and so change her luck, and that of her friends and enemies—her psychalchemy—was in my idea notes from twenty years ago.  Even then, she was one of a team of xenarchaeologists studying alien ruins. Her love interest was supposed to be somebody else. He’ll be a good hero when his time comes but he’ll have to find another heroine.  Mercury is taken!

My hero Haze is original to Pastfinders. He had to have a reason to be at the ancient archaeological site, so it became an official visit in his capacity as a biologist with the planetary government. He also had to have PTSD that crashes down on him.  Haze evolved from there. And Rusty, the alien trauma service creature, evolved to be what Haze needed.

What put everyone together was the title. “Pastfinders” is what the xenarchaeologists call themselves after their starship, Pastfinder.  On the barren planet Tellus, under ancient alien ruins, there is a buried, eroded past to be discovered. Haze has his own buried past—the trauma that left him with PTSD and in dire need of a sympathetic service animal. The planet itself has a lost geological history that the colonists want to recreate, by making a long-dry river flow anew. In writing the story I made these lost and found pasts intersect.

Speaking of intersections. . . .

The project next up for me is the final revision of the second book in my Starways series.  In the first book, Witherspin, the Pastfinders’ leader Svetlana Tai surprised me by horning in to demand some stage time.  Witherspin’s heroine is actually mentioned by Tai in Pastfinders:

“The Crate is sanctioned by an elaborate legal agreement engineered by an interstellar lawyer at Avend University in Wendis. She’s old Azurean, just as you’re old Tellan.”

“From one of the early astronaut families on Azure.” Haze nodded.

“And you’ll never meet a more precious, sanctimonious rule-head than Nia Az-Courant.”

Evidently Tai disliked the lawyer in question.

In the second book, Starmaze, Tai and her merry crew of archaeologist-adventurers turn out to play a major role. They are not just harmless scientists. And some significant action in which they involve themselves takes place where my PISA3 story Starway was set – the Starway interstellar hotel.

Further ahead in the Starways series, Haze and Rusty joining the team is going to change the Pastfinders’ future. And that starship of theirs will turn out to have a secret past of its own. It was salvaged after a fierce little interstellar war by a group which stayed out of the war but salvaged some of the war’s wrack and ruin. So the starship Pastfinder was in its past life a storied warship named Gallant.  It still has its original identification plate. Aircraft restorations are famous for this:  almost all that’s left of a rare old aircraft may be the original manufacturer’s data plate, but with great enthusiasm and expense, the aircraft is remade around it.

In the case of Gallant/Pastfinder, more than the nameplate was salvaged.  Its engine was intact.  It so happened that its role in battle was a fast—very, very fast—attack cruiser. In the possession of the Pastfinders, this souped-up starship may turn the tide on future battles too.

Time will tell!

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