Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Day One: Birth of a Novel. Or Conception. Whichever.

Today was kind of a grey one. Cold, overcast, foggy. There was thunder on the edge of hearing all day, and the threat of rain. Perfect writing weather. Classical writing weather. So I went out to Poe’s Tavern for lunch, not a mile from where Edgar Allen Poe served a few months in the military at Fort Moultrie. Good writing spot. Quiet in the off season, and it feels right. I work well there.

Day One - Poe's 2

Well, it did what it needed to. I’ve got a core idea. But I’ll get to that…

Space—and it’s outer space that I’m on about here—and space travel are both about firsts in a lot of ways. First orbit. First dog. First man. First to the moon. Furthest, fastest, smartest, safest. Big, cool, epic things that reek of human exceptionalism. Almost everything is a milestone, which is exciting. It’s a world of perpetual wonder so long as we keep moving forward in it.

The fact of this is why I love space stories. Why people love space stories. I’ve always wanted to write one, but I’ve never had a milestone to cover that seemed right. I’ve grown up in an age of heightened safety consciousness and accountability, and that has long since stretched in to NASA. It’s a very safe organization (which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong) which has been pretty well dedicated to drone launches and ferrying men and women out to a string of space stations for the whole span of my life. That’s exciting, in its own way. I mean, the idea that we’re so good at space travel that it’s almost routine is pretty cool, and the Curiosity rover landing and following coverage had me giddy, but a gutted budget, a dead shuttle program, and a couple of robots aren’t exactly Neil Armstrong, you know? A really good safety record doesn’t inspire quite so well as The Right Stuff and the notion that the reward of progress is greater than the risk.

So, I think that what my space story needs is a touch of danger. Some darkness to go with the boundless optimism of staking out the future. It needs a milestone, but the Challenger disaster in ‘86 taught us once and for all that not all space milestones have to be—or even can be—sunny. And with that in mind, here’s the logline for the novel:

Day One - Logline

And if you can’t read my handwriting, here it is again:

“A UN Security Investigator is shuttled up to the lunar surface to determine if a recent death is the first murder in space.”

Which I think is kind of a cool idea. It lets me finally do my space narrative, and the ‘first’ lets me have the detective story that I always seem to work into things. Plus, locking it in as the first possible murder—humans being human, after all—lets the setting slot itself quite nicely into the very near future. Not something I’ve ever worked with for any long amount of time.

Good, no? So, this is where it looks like we’re going for the next few months. To the moon! Exciting!




That’s Day One, folks. Please come back tomorrow evening, and I’ll have some more content for you as I continue to develop this idea and do a little bit of research. Also, I mentioned last month that I was going to be posting a video introduction, and—while that might still appear somewhere down the line—it was ditched for the time being because of serious sound issues on the recording. Thanks for reading!

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