A story within a story

Aloha – As many of you are aware, book 3 of the Demeter series, Defending Demeter was published as an Amazon Kindle book in December.  Books 4 and 5 (Haumeah and The Orion Spur) are in editing now and will be out this year.  In the original draft the story arc of the series has a story within a story that is the introduction and epilog of each book.  Within this story we have an aunt telling the story to seven and then eight children.  As each book proceeds the linkage of the story to the children becomes more and more clear.  It was recommended that I remove this story within the story as it was a bit confusing for the reader.  I complied with the recommendations from the original editing, but the more I think about it the more I want to put it back into the series.  As a result, I started reading and proofing these short segments and realized that it was confusing and to be honest, poorly written.  I am now going through and revising and re-editing these segments and will share them as I proceed.  In some ways they are spoilers by the time you get to books 3-5.  I’ll take that risk and advise my readers that they may wish to avoid these short readings.  Meanwhile enjoy.  This is the missing Introduction and Epilog for the first book, Demeter.  If you have any thoughts or feedback please share.  Best wishes, Doc

Introduction

Three young boys and a girl were laughing as they chased each other across the green tussocks of grass in a large open meadow playing a game of tag.  The boys were all dressed in blue slacks and white dress shirts open at the collar.  The girl was in a blue jumper that covered a white blouse.  Shoes and stockings were piled chaotically under the magnolia tree that ruled over the meadow like a lonely king.

The game seemed lopsided.  Sophie and Johnny, who were twins, had barely turned eight years old.  Johnny had the added misfortune of giggling so hard when he caught up with someone that he would fall on the ground laughing and soon be it again.

All four of the young people had the same shade of dark brown hair, brown eyes, and thick eyebrows and eyelashes.  The oldest, Skyler was taller than the rest.  At thirteen years of age he was quicker, but something about his deep set eyes showed that he was mature beyond his years.

“Ethan!  Come back down here if you’re going to play,” Skyler challenged his younger brother.

Eleven year old Ethan was easily the most athletic of the four.  With Sophie chasing after him, he had launched to the lowest hanging branch of the magnolia tree and quickly shimmied out of reach of his younger sister.  “Nothing in the rules says I can’t climb a tree,” he countered in a heckling taunt; and then scampered to a higher branch as Sophie jumped futilely trying to reach his foot.

Skyler exhaled slowly, then responded in a level voice, “New rule; no climbing trees.  This is ground tag.”

“Who says,” Ethan yelled over his shoulder as he reached out and swung on a limb half way up the tree.

“That’s the rule for ground tag,” Skyler’s voice rose to reach his younger brother.  Then he grinned, “Of course you can play tree tag if you want, but you’ll have to tag yourself as the rest of us are playing ground tag.”

Ethan said nothing as he swung on the branch for a few more seconds then disappeared into foliage that blocked him from view.

Skyler winked at the twins, and drew them further away from the tree.  They continued to play and laugh for two, then three minutes.  Finally, Ethan dropped to the ground and brushed himself off.  “Fine,” he groused.  And the ground tag game resumed with all four participants.

The open meadow was about fifty yards square.  To the east lay a large manor.  The other three sides of the meadow were bordered with trees and thickets of ferns and thorn nettle.  To the south was a clearly marked path of fine white gravel that wove in and out of sight.  The grounds of the manor seemed to go on forever.

A high pitched voice called out to them from somewhere along the path.  Skyler could see a thin older woman with light colored hair approaching along the white gravel lane.  “Auntie,” he yelled, and started racing across the meadow toward the woman.

Ethan caught up to Skyler and passed him by as Skyler slowed looking back for his youngest siblings.  Still, all four had their aunt surrounded in hugs within a few seconds.

“Oh, you’ve all grown so big,” Auntie exclaimed.  “What has happened since I last saw you?”

Four voices merged in pandemonium, each trying to talk over the others, telling of their injuries and adventures.  Ethan concluded with a sigh, “This place is boring.”  Johnny and Sophie nodded their agreement with exaggerated head bobbing.

Skyler tried to soften the complaints, “It really hasn’t been so bad.”

“Ethan cut his older brother off, “Bad?  No!  It’s been horrible!  Receptions and old people everywhere!”  He paused and looked at their aunt apologetically, “Not you Auntie, but everybody else is old and boring.  And we had to spend most of today sitting in those long meetings.

Their aunt’s eyes sparkled, “I agree with you completely.  I just arrived and I can feel lethargy.”

“Lethergee?” Sophie asked, “What’s that?”

“Boring,” their aunt grinned.  “Want to get out of here?”

“Can we?” Johnny and Ethan chimed in together.”

“Certainly,” their aunt responded with a laugh.  Then she bent down conspiratorially, “I know a place.”

Holding Sophie’s hand, she led the way along the white gravel path away from the manor.  They passed through tended gardens, and lily covered ponds.  Geese and ducks ignored their trek.  Ethan skipped a rock across a seemingly empty lagoon that disturbed a giant heron that took flight from the water with its wings brushing the water causing small ripples as it rose into the air.

They crossed a well-tended bridge that was painted white, with criss-cross beams of wood creating a rail fence that spanned a slow flowing creek.   They continued to walk into parts of the gardens they had never visited.  Now and then weeds sprouted in their trail.  The trees crowded in and the air grew damp and sultry.

Eventually they reached a white gazebo in a cleared area of the woods.  A large, round picnic table was the centerpiece of the gazebo.   Sitting at the table were three other children.

“Daniel,” Skyler called out.  A thin, blond haired boy rose and walked forward.  Another boy and girl were focused on readers and didn’t even look up.

“Hello Skyler.  Did you know that there are 47 varieties of birds and eight varieties of snakes in these gardens?” Daniel greeted the older boy.

Ethan moved in front of his brother, “How do you know that?  I haven’t seen a single snake in the garden yet.  I thought I found a red racer, but whatever it was slipped into the undergrowth too fast for me to catch it.”

“Red Racer?  I don’t think so.  It might have been a Scarlet snake or Cemophora coccinea copei.” Daniel replied thoughtfully.  We’re on the wrong side of the country for Red Racers.

“It’s funny when you talk like that,” Ethan chided.

“Talk like what?  Daniel asked blankly.

Their aunt interrupted, “Ah good, lunch has arrived.  Dig in, and I’ll tell you a story.”  She took a slice of Haumeahan bread and lathered it with dewsnip jelly then slid into a rocking chair that seemed out of place.

Twelve year old Daniel marched to his younger brother, Ryan and his sister Karen encouraging them to put down their readers and get something to eat.

Noise and jostling ensued as the five boys and two girls gathered sandwiches and treats from the two proffered picnic baskets.  But they quieted when their aunt called for their attention.  They quickly sat in a semi-circle around the woman.

“I want to begin a story today.  It is an exciting tale filled with adventure.  A story of heroic exploits, catastrophes, sacrifices, and decisions.”

“Do people die?” Ethan’s eyes opened wide.

“Yes,” their aunt responded, “people die.”

“Do people fall in love?” Sophie asked hopefully.

“Oh yes, people do fall in love,” their aunt replied with a tone of whimsy.

“Yuck!” Daniel and Ethan responded in unison.

“Remember, if people didn’t fall in love, you wouldn’t be here,” their aunt chided the boys.  “But let me get started.  This story begins with a young man, not much older than you Skyler.  He has a younger sister, Debbie; a beautiful friend, Cynthia, and…”

Epilogue

Crickets were chirping, and Auntie felt the chill of the evening in her bones.  Goosebumps were forming on her arms and she was feeling spent.  “All right, that’s the end of our story for this evening, she spoke with enthusiasm she was not feeling.   She rose from the chair, and could feel bones cracking as they realigned to her new standing position.

“But what happened?”  Skyler complained.  “Did Ryder go back to Demeter?”

“Ethan and Daniel chimed in, “Hey, you said people died.”

“Do Cynthia and Ryder fall in love?” Sophie asked expectantly.

“What happened to Aster Freeport and his goons?” Ethan interrupted.  “Did they get hung?”

“Hanged,” their aunt corrected.  Let’s see, Aster and his conspirators are not killed, although I’m not really sure what happened to his thugs.  I do know what happened to Aster.  I’m rather glad he was not executed.  People do die.  We just haven’t gotten that far in the story yet, Ethan.  And love?  Sophie, you’ll have to decide for yourself.”

Stretching and looking toward a rising full moon, their aunt yawned.  Turning again to her audience she whispered in a stealthy voice, “Would you like to know more?”

Seven heads should affirmatively.

“Well in that case, you can meet me back here tomorrow afternoon after the meetings in the great house.  I know, I know, the meetings and rituals are boring, but we still have several days of them to sit through,” their aunt’s eyes betrayed her own resignation to sitting in long meetings.  “What we can endure will make us stronger, and you all need to be stronger.”  She smiled, “So, tomorrow afternoon, after the final meeting of the day we shall meet here again.  I’ll have Xavier bring another picnic dinner if you like.”

Again seven heads shook in affirmation, “and dewsnip jelly,” Ethan challenged.

“And dewsnip jelly,” their aunt agreed.

Turning back to the pathway, their aunt started walking slowly with her cane, but Sophie and Karen quickly took either hand, so their aunt handed her cane to Sophie, who swooshed it back and forth like a sword.

“You have a good stroke there.  Reminds me a lot of Hondo,” Auntie reflected.

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Titan and Saturn

Aloha – After a couple of days of mocking the FAA regarding their initiatives to encourage development on the moon (I wonder who gets to tax Moon businesses) its time to get back to the spectacle of our galaxy and more especially in this photo, our Solar System.  The above photo is of Titan, a moon of Saturn.

Titan is the second largest moon in the Solar System, behind Ganymede which orbits Jupiter.  It has a thick atmosphere, water (although frozen) a nitrogen atmosphere, and a pretty darn good picture (very photogenic in this picture, although it is generally covered in smog that makes LA seem like a atmospheric delight.

The story tied to this actually includes some time lapse photos of Saturn and its rings that are detailed enough to think that they are artist’s renderings, but are the real thing.  If you’d like to visit the site it is at

http://www.popsugar.com/tech/NASA-Cassini-Titan-Moon-Photo-36050325

Really? The Moon is for sale? The U.S. FAA says, “yes”

Aloha – As I’ve mentioned repeatedly I’m a big Robert Heinlein fan.  I would like to think that the Demeter series would stack up well against his juvenile science fiction without embarrassment.  Heinlein was a futurist, and many of his ideas have become a reality.  Some of his 40’s and 50’s novels have key ideas you’ll find in very popular science fiction movies.  Ironically, his books converted to movies has usually misfired.

One of his books was entitled “The Man who Sold the Moon,”  It’s central character is Delos D. Harriman, who is a ‘robber baron’ and out to take total ownership, or at least control of the Moon and all its resources.  The original story was written in 1949.  With all the treaties about development in Antarctica imagine my surprise today to learn that the FAA is looking favorably at selling, or licensing ground on the Moon to potential robber barons.  The capitalist side of my body says, “why not”.  But who gave the FAA the rights to sell or lease ground on the Moon.  I’m not sure who Liechtenstein feels about this.  How about Monaco or Tuvalu?  What’s stopping them from selling the same parcel, perhaps at a deep discount?  Grenada has had a relatively tough time of it since Argentina and the UK went to war over the territory.  Maybe they should have rights of first refusal on any of the relative space available.  Personally, if the price is right, I might consider taking a 2 or 3 million acre lot to put up a Duncan Donuts store and a Diet Coke bottling plant.  (I wonder how the fizz words at 1/6 Earth gravity.)

Lest you think I am jesting, feel free to see the following link :o)

http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/3/7969859/faa-licensing-moon-for-commercial-business

Thoughts on global warming – Start with a really, really big stick

Aloha – I have had a story bouncing around inside my head for several years now that has been trying to escape.  It is not typical of the story I want to write as I prefer looking at an optimistic future and like the young adult or middle school science fiction genre as my forum.  Global warming fact or fiction?  I was an early skeptic on the whole global warming fad.  After all, the best known spokesperson, Al Gore, is a major energy waster in my opinion.  So credibility sunk before he even spoke.

A couple of years ago I was on a trip with my sweetheart to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.  If you have never visited, it remains one of my favorite destinations.  Every direction, every place you stop could be a stand alone postcard of nature and beauty.  Another benefit is that I’m not too worried about Ebola or Malaria or …  One day we chose to drift into Jasper National Park which is just north of Banff.  We drove up to the ice fields on the tri-continental divide.  This is an very interesting place for a very short visit for us novices (and helped set the stage for the ice fields of Demeter in Return to Demeter).  The ice fields were surrounded by glaciers.  To get onto the ice fields you had to travel by an enclosed tractor RV.  The fields were well marked and you had to stay inside the boundaries as there were places you could fall through the ice and fall up to a thousand feet.

My wife observed that the ice fields had been 1200 feet thick when she was a girl, but now they are only 1,000 feet thick and shrinking.  The ranger started his spiel and I was ready to hear another story about how we humans were causing global warming.  Imagine my surprise when he started by telling us that in fact the Earth is going through a normal 35,000 year cycle of global warming.  This is caused by the Earth’s odd long-term orbits around the Sun.  He added that we were approaching the cycle where or orbits were nearest the Sun, and therefore we were approaching the apex of global warming, which would gradually turn to global cooling and another ice age (large or small to be determined).

It was at this point that I realized that global warming is the responsibility of mankind.  We have thumbs. We are inventive.  And by now we should have been smart enough to create a really, really long stick so we could push ourselves a little further away from the Sun.  (Ignore the fact that our stick would burn up if we were to use the Sun itself as our lever.  After all we could use a passing asteroid, or perhaps Venus.

I do not disagree that mankind has the capability of influencing the climate (especially regarding pollution) to some degree.  But, I am not arrogant enough to think that not building oil refineries will eliminate the volcanic ash of the next major volcano eruption.  One of those caused a minor ice age in Europe a few centuries ago.

Anyway, it would make an interesting story to address the two sides of this to an extreme.  Think I’ll start on that later this year.

Gas planet becoming habitable

Aloha – Okay that didn’t take long.  Fascinating quick read this evening about the potential of gas giants being able to turn into life supporting planets of an Earth-nature under the right conditions.  I prefer the Demeter variation wherein gas giants have their own lifeforms.  The critical issues with this life form is that it’s lifespan is of such a nature that it finds the happenings of other species of little interest.  So Sagittarians study this life form, but have little success in communicating with this life form.  The question of whether or not such lifeforms could be critical to a plotline is beyond the scope of the five book Demeter series.  I have been toying with a post-Demeter story line in the same galactic setting in which the Gas Giants may have a more serious role.  I suspect that only Ryder or Debbie would have the talent to draw the gas giant creatures into the story line.  Meanwhile, if you’re interested in the article you can find it at

http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/01/gas-planets-may-become-habitable/

Pellucidar meets Ceres meets Demeter

Aloha – More news from Ceres brings back a flood of memories.  I’ve mentioned At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs before.  It came back to mind yet again with theories popping up about ice volcanoes and sub-surface water on the asteroid, Ceres.  Burroughs pulp fiction novel (originally a magazine serial) was published in 1914.  As was the case with all of Burroughs many novels, it is a slick adventure story told in episodes (fit for magazine segments).  I was fascinated by the concept of a juggernaut type vehicle that drilled into the Earth.  In fact, I used the concept to entertain another high school student through a very boring class for weeks on end.

Burroughs’ iron mole goes out of control and takes the crew 500 miles below the surface of the planet to a world within a world, Pellucidar.  Much like the John Carter of Mars series, this one is all action and honor.  I would hardly categorize it as great literature, more of a fun ride especially for a young teenager.

Now the worlds of Ceres, Demeter, and Pellucidar can almost be merged into the latest exploration and upcoming arrival of Dawn near Ceres in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, do I recommend the Pellucidar series to you for reading.  If you want a politically incorrect, sexist, adventure story, it’s okay.  I have first editions at home.  I actually think you’ll enjoy the Demeter series better, but then again I wrote that one.  I don’t recommend the Doug McClure movie rendition.

Best wishes,

Doc

Is that the asteroid that just swept past the Earth?

NASA Just Released The Best Images Of A Dwarf Planet We've Ever Seen

Aloha – Afraid not.  NASA is releasing more images of Ceres, the asteroid in the Asteroid Belt not the one passing by Earth last night.  This rendition is cool as it gives a perspective on size.  Ceres is approximately 1,000 miles in diameter (a bit smaller).  There is speculation that it is the second largest source of water in the Solar System.  We’ll know more about that in the coming months.

Meanwhile back to Demeter, a planetoid the size of Ceres about a hundred light years from Earth (science fiction, not fact).  Along with the size comparison, it is a water world on the interior.  The exterior is as devoid of life forms as the Moon or Demeter (speculation).  However, the interior is full of life.  I’ll continue to keep you posted on Ceres as NASA keeps that info coming.  If you’d like to review the article this was taken from it is available,

http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-just-released-best-images-194400789.html

Best wishes,

Doc