Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.
I was getting a bit stuck with Regency fiction, and decided to try hard SF. Swords and spaceships, no rayguns (yet), but plenty of action and as long as I’m logically consistent I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy (which is problematic as even the authorities disagree about what it was really like).
It seems to be working, the words are (so far) flying off my fingers (I crossed 40k last night) and into the book.
In any case, here’s the start – a new midshipman is having her first session of weapons training on her first ship. Her instructor is not exactly impressed. Last week’s snippet skips ahead a few paragraphs from the one before. It’s after she’s finished her training for the day. The discussion of Scotland from last week is replaced by the ceremonies for the first jump of the mission.
“Be upstanding!” The main hall echoed from the sounds of chairs scratching on the floor.
The captain, Mister Campbell despite her gender, experienced enough to have a lined face and gray short hair, strode to the front of the assembled crew.
“Serapis,” She shouted, “We’ve nearly cleared Sol’s mass.”
Terry remembered her navigation, engines full-blast for a week, vectored out of the ecliptic plane, away from the sun’s proper motion in the galaxy.
“And,” Mr Campbell continued, “It’s time for our first jump.”
Terry stiffened; then noticed the other middy’s and a few of the crew looking
“But first,” the captain raised her glass, “A toast.”
Everyone picked up their glass. “Over the water, Mr Mullins,” one of the crew reminded Terry, “Swing it over the water.”
Terry set her glass down, and picked it up as she suggested.
Still remembering the rightful King after all these years. How an interplanetary, for that matter interstellar, civilization would govern itself is something of a problem. One, fortunately, that I don’t have to solve for this story. Given the difficulties in communication – where a mail packet would be the fastest method to send instructions – some sort of Federal system, possibly with appointed governors would be the answer.
Of course, that would require an enlightened central government, which didn’t work out so well for Great Britain in the 1770’s (or did, depending on your viewpoint). Hints for a sequel?
Dealing with gender is also an issue. I decided that Fleet, taking naval traditions seriously, calls everyone Mister.
Most SF writers forget that we, our entire solar system, is flying through space with a proper galactic velocity. The Terrans, having relatively primitive spacecraft, launch down stream and land upstream as it were.
I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.
The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.
The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.
22 thoughts on “Swords in Space #sf #wewriwar”
Regarding your thoughts about sequels and galactic governance, while Britain lost the US colonies, they kept their empire together after that because they learned from their mistakes. (Also, I believe ‘taught’ should be ‘taut’.)
Thank you. And you’re right about taut vs taught.
Love this snippet. Hope I get to read more
Interesting snippet. I look forward to reading more. 🙂
I love it when stories include culture and tradition as well as hard facts. One thing puzzled me at the end, though. I can’t picture what was meant by “Swing it over the water”. I must be missing something here.
“Real” highlanders still consider the Stuarts the true kings of Scotland. It’s what the Jacobite rebellions were about. You swing the wine “over the water” to remind people silently that you’re toasting the “true king.”
I’m having trouble opening your site, Firefox gives me a security error.
I love this scene. The tension, the urgency interrupted by tradition. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
I agree about the “Swing it over the water” and the significance of putting the glass down and immediately pick it back up. But I would argue that the crew doesn’t look “taut” as that is a description for inanimate objects. You might instead use expressions: “Their faces grew white. Their lips tightened into a hard line. Their shoulders hunched.” These body descriptions show their unease rather than tell us about it. Good snippet. 🙂
Terry stiffened, her lips pulling tight across her face. The middy across the table from her, his face pale and sweat covered, steadied himself with a hand on the table. Terry jumped when another sailor, out of sight behind her, crashed to the deck.
The link that comes up with your comment seems to be broken (FYI).
I enjoyed this snippet – and I especially like your ‘revised’ version of the ‘taut’ section! That reads really well, to me, certainly shows their trepidation at the idea of the fortcoming ‘jump’! (although the following paragraph might need a bit of adjustment too 🙂 )
Your rewrite following “Terry stiffened” is excellent. Nice job showing the building tension and fear. 🙂
Love the mix of action and background in the snippet. Very interesting!
Thank you. (The link that comes with your signature doesn’t exist).
Shouldn’t they be celebrating the jump after it’s done? It seems pretty dangerous.
It’s sort of like the celebrations sailors have when they cross the international date line. The celebration’s more dangerous than the act.
Good snippet (and many good comments). I, too, was confused by “swing it over the water.” I’m sure you’ll figure out how to make it clearer. Looking forward to reading more.
I added some more information. Terry’s a bit miffed that they’re still celebrating the Stuarts a thousand years too late. thanks.
Great snippet. 🙂