I’ve been devoting some thought to my concept for a story set in the mid to late 2040s detailing that chapter of the Reinhardt family saga, how I might make it new, different, and interesting. Why not have the romance take place amid a visit to a large-sized rogue comet that passes very close to the sun, making a bigger splash than Hale-Bopp and the Daylight Comet put together? But first, let’s review what I wrote previously about the romance scenario:
Why not her cousins, the scions of the Gleichen family, who conveniently happen to be roughly the same age (2020s birth cohort)? Menteith disappeared in space never to be heard from again in the 2020s, but before his demise (maybe; I hold out the possibility be might yet show up again later…), he may have arranged his family’s affairs very carefully. He was close to Rapunzel, deeding her his “shadow party” political apparatus while keeping the other parts of his network in the hands of his brother’s descendants; he may well have been close to the other Rommel-Reinhardt scions.
Why not a maneuver like alternate-QEII might have pulled: raising the sides of the family mostly apart only to steer them together in red-blooded adulthood? Teith would have to do this from beyond the grave, but if Rapunzel and Amaranth are loyal to his wishes, which they undoubtedly would be, it might be arranged beautifully.
Amaranth may meet and fall in love with the heir of the Countship of Gleichen, and after seeing how good and hot the rest of her beloved’s family is will play matchmaker, hatching a little romantic scheme to get every western Reinhardt cousin hitched to every Gleichen cousin, effecting a complete merger of the family’s bloodlines. They have so much in common and are so compatible that under Amaranth’s invisible hand they all fall for each other like a ton of bricks, at the end of the story all having weddings around the same time. […]
In the 2020s cohort, they’d all be in their teens and twenties in the 2040s, prime age for some hot action. It helps considerably that due to the western Reinhardts’ habit of marrying the prettiest young women they could find all the girls look gorgeous, and all the boys are handsome for similar reasons, the family’s by this point long history as elites starting to inculcate a commanding gentlemanly presence they find attractive.
“Cousins?” you might ask, “Adamas Nemesis is going full Game of Thrones! Nooo!”. Well, the cousins share a great-great-great-grandfather, making them fourth cousins; very few cultures would consider that to be incest, and, more importantly, that’s not close enough for adverse effects from inbreeding to even show up at all. Indeed, that degree of relatedness is actually associated with better outcomes for offspring (biologically it’s thought that fourth cousin is in the optimal range of relatedness!). I will confess a temptation to go full Ptolemaic, but that’ll have to wait for a later generation of the family, if ever.
Anyway, considering Amaranth Reinhardt has been seeing gentlemen of the night on a near-daily basis since she was a teenager, and that her politically-influential mother Rapunzel Reinhardt, in between being enraptured by spiritual visions, literally runs a knightly order of women who carry out assassinations left and right, I think there’s enough Ptolemaic-dynasty-esque vibe here. Attitudes in this universe really do seem different; people accept as a normal part of everyday life things like prostitutes strutting with their pet tigers on spaceships that spit out nuclear warheads.
Amaranth summons the young Reinhardts to a rogue Comet?
As part of her scheme, Amaranth will no doubt want to arrange a social gathering of the family, get the couples she’s matched up together, and put them in the sort of heart-pumping situations that turn that initial spark of lust into passionate love. But how will she do that? I don’t like to be repetitive, and in the 20th and 21st century most of the solar system’s obvious destinations have been visited by some character or another in my story.
Sure, I could have them go to, say, Titan, a place that I haven’t done much with, but I don’t like the idea. I bandied about an underwater hotel, a coral reef, an airplane, a spaceplane, a beach, a hike, then it hit me: sure, in “The Hunt for Count Gleichen’s Treasure” the protagonists passed very close to Comet NEOWISE, but it would be even cooler to see a more prolonged visit to a comet, ideally a much more interesting comet, like a large-sized rogue comet that passes very close to the sun, making a bigger splash than Hale-Bopp and the Daylight Comet of 1910 put together.
As a bonus, actually going EVA on a comet’s surface would have a certain danger factor, and there is real beauty in these comets, including close-up. The 2040s are also when the Thalassa Expedition to Proxima Centauri has only recently launched, with Rapunzel having had a role in that, so it would be a great time for a spectacular rogue comet to pass through the inner solar system, especially considering how those of us who live in the northern hemisphere haven’t truly had a great comet since Hale-Bopp a quarter of a century ago; if this dry spell continues for much longer, we’ll be owed a really spectacular one in the near future!
Sure, the odds of a rogue comet as big as Hale-Bopp or even bigger (!) just happening to on its interstellar trajectory pass very close to the sun aren’t exactly high, but rogue comets are known to be real: Comet Borisov visited us just a couple years ago. I’m thinking my own monstrosity, the Great Comet of 2045 (or some such), might pass nearly perpendicular to the ecliptic, at a quite rapid speed, and very close to the Sun. This all should combine to make it an extremely bright comet in skies across the solar system, easily visible in daylight on Earth, but only for a relatively brief period before leaving the solar system.
I’m thinking that the comet excursions will be much like a leave-no-trace-style wilderness expedition, with a hopper-style vehicle providing ingress and egress, with the Reinhardts’ spaceship sticking close by, to give a good view of everything. The actual spaceship? I’m thinking it’ll be a party ship, a big airy space with the best views of the comet full of bright vivid lights and heart-pumping music where they all dance the night away in the company of the most hot and fun people they can bring on the trip with them, but also with plenty of quieter, more contemplative environs on board also with good views of the comet, for meditation or communing with the comet’s spirit or some such.
Party ships seem to be all over the place in the solar system of my alternate-historical 21st century. From “The Saga of Viggo and Xyla”:
At the lowest level there’s a dance floor, with the other floors wrapping around the outer parts of the cavity, so we can see clear to the ceiling, multiple levels up from the dance floor. Wrapped around the central cavity were the other floors, where people parties, socialized, and sometimes even danced! They were connected with each other by staircases and elevators on the outer walls. […]
Right in the middle of the cavity were multiple chains dangling down from the ceiling, each containing lights that illuminated each level. The chains themselves were lit up, bringing a soft, warm, ambient light to the place, but the real centerpiece were the light fixtures attached to them; one on each chain for every level, each light in the shape of a spaceship of some kind, some famous from history, others currently active, some that were just concepts for the future, and others even Viggo couldn’t identify.
It’s not specified in-text, but I was thinking a more modern Western style design for the interior, a bit Gothic or even Art Deco. I don’t want the Reinhardts’ party ship to be a copy of the one Viggo and Xyla were on, so I think I’ll roll with a trait previously established for Rapunzel Reinhardt: her predilection for Asian-inspired interiors. I could do a lot with that. Hmm.
Well, I think that’s about all I’ve got for now. I think I might have something good cooking here. We’ll see…