Return from Thalassa: More Thoughts

I know just my last post was “A Beloved from the Stars”, covering my brainstorming for my next story, which I’ve decided I might title “Heart of Proxima”, but I’ve been doing some more work on it, enough to want to share it with all of you.

The leading girl, Spadille, will be traveling in a small laser-sail-powered ship, the Black Sun, at a breakneck acceleration usually only done for cargo rather than people, to rendezvous with the Medusa (and Imogen of Thalassa) before it reaches the inner Oort cloud and deploys its magnetic sail to brake for entry into Helios, the term in 2100 for Earth’s solar system.

Spadille’s Group

Contained in the Black Sun will be Spadille’s mentor in the mathematical sciences and research, an old Inuit man, plus his wife (who is also a scientist/researcher type with students of her own), and an array of other mentors and students they know. Twelve total, for six students and six mentors. The other characters we meet will be a very white crowd, so to underline the international nature of the Black Sun group I’m thinking it’ll be very racially diverse. The mentors consist of two Inuits, a native Siberian, a Chinese man, an Indian man, and an aboriginal Australian.

The students consist of three boys (a Quecha, a Tuareg, and an Iranian) and two other girls besides Spadille, who are the closest thing she has to friends: a Malay girl and a girl of central African extraction. They serve as more tomboyish foils to Spadille as she falls in love with her boyfriend (Koit, named after the Estonian god of the dawn; Imogen’s great-grandson) and gets her makeover to be the girlish sweetheart of her dreams; in this universe even tomboys still have waist-length hair and wear skirts, but their different disposition is nevertheless obvious.

Sad Spadille?

Spadille herself has a different disposition. Like many a genius she’s very alienated and lonely, having never really had any friends like other people can, always feeling like she’s on the outside looking in, never being able to truly connect with anybody or feel listened to or understood, never having felt like anybody really loved her or truly cared about her, not even her own family, despite everyone’s protestations otherwise. She feels like despite being accomplished, intelligent, and not at all bad-looking that there’s a big club out there and she’s not in it.

She possesses a deathly fear of betrayal and disappointment, like she can never really have anything, always hyper-vigilant for something to be taken away from her, telling people half-jokingly who inquire that she must have had everything stolen from her in a past life.

Plushies and the One

All those feelings melt away and vanish completely in the presence of her boyfriend, replaced with blissful happiness and a sense of security, a true connection where she really feels like she’s loved for the first time in her life. That’s how she knows within days, if not hours, that he’s the one for her.

In the meantime, her only real solace in life are her plushies, simple stuffed animals, who she loves to snuggle in with and talk to as if they’re her friends. She’s closest to a huge stuffed anthropomorphic mushroom bigger than she is, and she even sleeps in a big plushie bed, mounted in a big cradle that rocks her back and forth to sleep as sound as a little baby.

A bit of the Author is in Spadille

If a lot of this (bar the plushies perhaps) sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because I base Spadille’s experience in life on my own. Biggest difference is Spadille is in her teens, just the right age for her existential sadness to be replaced with the bliss of a romance as torrid as it is wholesome, and to come into her own as the young woman she really wants to be.

In this Spadille is much luckier than I was; the longer I live the more I think having a torrid whirlwind romance with the One when I was like 16, followed by us building our adult lives together, would have been really good for me, much more so even than it would be for most people. Alas, I feel like at 28 I’m very much slipping out of the season of life where I’m young enough to truly enjoy such a thing like a person should. Oh well; it’s not like any soul mate for me was remotely close to available in my teens anyway, and, unlike Spadille, it’s not like I’ve ever had any opportunities that were worth a damn.

Maybe if, like Spadille, I was able to be somewhere elite and prestigious (think Cambridge or something) from an early age (like 8) with intellectual peers I would have had a chance, but surveying my life history I almost come to the conclusion I was doomed from the start by my circumstances. Sure, I could probably crawl up to where 1%ers were in their teens by the time I’m in my forties, but by then I’ll be too old to really enjoy it like I deserved to. Life is a luxury good.

Koit too draws on my own experience, albeit his story is less sad. Always intensely curious about Earth and attached to his great-grandmother Imogen, he accompanies her on the journey home, in the meantime spending his time growing (he’s 13 when he leaves Thalassa) into a handsome young man, his passion in life being dancing and choreography. 20 years later at arrival on Helios he’s 33, but not spoken for yet; like Spadille he has a hard time truly connecting with anyone, aside from his great-grandmother in his case, and falls in love with Spadille at first sight. Her vibe attracts him so much it’s like his soul is struck by lightning; he knows almost instantly that she’s the One for him.

Romance done Right!

Their romance goes blissfully well, and within a week they’ve had sex together for the first time, have a baby on the way (she lost her virginity on one of her fertile days, and she knew it!), and Spadille has accepted Koit’s marriage proposal.

On Twitter I’ve been abused almost beyond belief for daring to say men should get their women valuable engagement rings and nice little gifts. Well, in light of the degeneracy infesting our society I’m going to include a pleasant counterpoint in my next story: Koit will present Spadille with an engagement ring consisting of a big clear circular diamond flanked by two perfect star rubies, symbolizing the interstellar journey he took to find his soul mate, with the ring itself consisting of two platinum bands wrapping around each other in a double helix pattern, symbolizing their joining, the bands being lined with red diamonds.

Even better: her engagement jewelry extends beyond the ring. She’s also presented with red diamond engagement stud earrings. And, most spectacularly of all, she’s presented the famous Heart of Proxima diamond, a big heart-shaped red diamond much like the Heart of the Ocean diamond from “Titanic” but even bigger (and redder…hehe), set in a platinum necklace. Even in the present-day the value of all this jewelry would run into the billions, and in the world of 2100, where there’s the equivalent of quadrillionaires, such jewelry, especially considering its rarity (having come across interstellar distances), could easily be bid up orders of magnitude higher. Like his great-grandmother Koit is independently wealthy by contemporary standards, so he can afford it.

She’s so thrilled by the jewelry that she keeps the Heart of Proxima, the stud earrings, and the engagement ring on her person at all times from then on out, both out of concern at losing them and her finding it all so pretty on her (her husband also thinks the valuables look good on her).

Giving “Calling Aeolis 14 Umbra” a whole new Meaning

The next big aspect I’ve brainstormed recently is the casino habitat. There have been so many generic space habitats in my stories I wanted to make this one special, and yesterday I hit upon a great idea. First off, I mulled over names, and then I remembered my “Lost in Space”: Dr. Smith’s contact was “Aeolis 14 Umbra”, and this would make an awesome name for a habitat that always sat in the umbra of planets, aside from being a great homage to “Lost in Space”.

I’m also thinking Aeolis 14 Umbra will be a Bernal sphere, with one side consisting mostly of a window so as to enable denizens to view the permanent solar eclipse, and the other consisting of casino habitat. Said habitat will be ensconced in snow and ice; aside from being cool, I’m sure the solar corona light makes for sparkles off fresh snowpack with unique qualities, and would be spectacular. The central valley, i.e. the equator, will consist of a frozen body of water, will be occupied by a racetrack, with nuclear-fusion-powered jet vehicles regularly racing along it, customers hanging around special boxes floating in the middle of the habitat sphere (where gravity is zero) betting on the outcome. Think the podracing from Star Wars.

More regular casino facilities will be scattered in the habitable section of course, which I think will consist of ice-hotel-style buildings made of clear transparent ice. Think the ice palace from “Die Another Day”, only clear as glass (presumably ice-hotel construction techniques are more advanced by 2100).

They’ll arrive there and Spadille will make her big entrance as a glamorous casino girl with her husband on December 31, 2099, where, under the light of Venus eclipsing the Sun, they’ll celebrate the arrival of the new century with a concert performance by an ultra-feminine singers’ group, the same one that Spadille’s been a huge fan of and secretly envied. Courtesy of Imogen’s connections they arrange to meet with Spadille in person after the overnight festivities have ended, and they have a great time together at Aeolis 14 Umbra on New Year’s Day 2100.

A Centenarian tours the Midwest, and the Mother Planet

After that visit they’ll get themselves to Earth where Imogen will visit her native Midwest, including the city of Chicago and perhaps her birthplace, among other places in the region possibly. Highlighted might be how thick the woods have grown where there used to be cornfields, how buildings have risen even without any people to live in them, how cities are increasingly becoming museum pieces for tourists and sites for gatherings, more temple than residence.

Her Midwestern tour is more out of curiosity than enthusiasm, since I’m quite sure Imogen always hated the place. As she describes her very own Midwestern accent in “Dear Future Me”:

I really don’t like the old me’s accent. It’s harsh and abrasive, a rather thick Great Lakes accent. I never liked it that much, and she says with training I can get rid of it completely! A new accent for the new me sounded so wonderful. I knew just the kind of accent I wanted too. She suggested I might try to cultivate a West Shore accent, that blend of Chicagoan, Wisconsinite, German, Northern vowels, and the King’s English that’s unique to the upper class of the east coast of Illinois and Wisconsin, but I shot that down. I want a completely Transatlantic accent, midway between Newscaster American and the King’s English.

By 2100, the Northern vowel shift is even more pronounced, nearing completion, and has been joined by Canadian raising and increasingly Minnesotan accent features as well (both of which are currently spreading in real life, by the way). Global prestige and cultural vitality has shifted noticeably toward Russia and Siberia by 2100, so a little bit of Russian influence is starting to creep in, especially among the upper class. The net effect? Midwestern is a thicker and more inscrutable accent than ever before, challenging even Imogen, who grew up with it 80 years earlier!

She celebrates her birthday in a different location well outside the Midwest. I was thinking Sun Valley, but since they already did a lot of skiing on Aeolis 14 Umbra they might be more inclined to go to the ocean, specifically somewhere like Coos Bay or even Tofino, both of which have become some of the largest cities on the continent by 2100. Celebrating her 100th birthday on terra firma after having gone all the way to another solar system and back would be awesome!

Afterwards, of course, Imogen departs Earth and goes to meet the squidly brains of Enceladus, the whole family (Imogen, Koit, and Spadille) become fast friends with one of the Enceladans, Spadille pretty much taking on the alien as her new mentor. They might end up all living together in a rather aquarium-like space habitat, which might be really cool.


Well, that’s about all I’ve got. I haven’t written a word of the actual story yet, in large part because I’ve had a bit of a hard week and have been feeling kinda sad lately, but I’m enjoying brainstorming the tale! Likely more is to come.

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