Humanity has fled a barren earth to dozens of stations orbiting the planets of our solar system. Each station has developed its own culture, distinct in its own way. Mars Station 1 is governed by children, once a person reaches the age of 30, they ascend. One man found out ascension isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and humanity might just be doomed.
Does this description grab you? Does it make you think “WOW! I want to read that book!” or “That sounds cool, I’ll give it a shot.” What could be done to make it better? I’m requesting feedback on these descriptions so I can refine them.
This is an excerpt of the free writing I did on this story to get the idea going and get it out of my head. This is all I have written of this so far. My mind got sidetracked thinking about a new kind of dating system base off the movements of the entire solar system. Which taught me the lesson of not allowing myself to get distracted. When you have a story in your head, put it to paper, or bytes. You can polish it later, just get it out of your head while it’s in there, or you might miss the train.
Journal of Elizabeth Duke
I received my pass for the database today, the immensity is beyond description. There have been so many things I have wanted to look up over the years. Now I have access, and it’s hard to pick just one. I decided to start with the stations. But even then I had so much to read, so I did a search for their construction. Now I only have more questions.
“The ISECG began development of the earth stations in the year 2035, after reports from environmental watch groups determined global environmental upheaval was imminent. Predicting total destruction of all civilization by 2100.” was the first line. Which of course only brought more questions. Who was the ISECG? What is an environmental watch group. What is a year? When was 2035? How did we survive a total destruction of civilization? Or was the prediction wrong?
So many prior journal entries have included questions I wanted to search the database for. Now, with this one answer, I feel consumed by curiosity about these stations and all they represent.
Mars Station One
The room had seen its share of celebrations and meetings. A common room made for such occasions, to celebrate a child being born, and to say goodbye to the old who were about to ascend. Such was the meaning for the gathering of strangers Randall took in. Ascension was a local custom, his own people having their own, the ideals were alien to Randall. But he had chosen to transfer here, and long ago he had decided to do his best to incorporate this people’s ways as his own.
It didn’t work of course, he played the part, but he never believed. Some part of him could not accept it. But this was the way of MS1 and it worked for them. To their credit the people here did their best to bring him into their fold, not an assimilation, but an acceptance. In turn he tried to accept them, no matter how alien they were.
He had made friends over the years, most had ascended, a few remained, but for whatever reason they weren’t here. Could be an emergency work detail had arisen. Most of his current friends were maintenance or supply, one could never predict when something would break down. Not on something as old as this station.
Hundreds of years of self sustainability, each year being less viable than the last. Every Sol rotation ate away the station, inside and out. Inside from the beings carrying out daily tasks, and out from the constant radiation. Some generations ago walls started going. The outer walls only the ancients and Control know about. They could have holes in them for all anyone in the inlands knew.
That sort of not knowing was the only reason Randall was troubled. People were still alive in the midlands and outlands, the priests verified that. That fact, that supplies were still requested, materials were still sent to be recycled, was one of two things that gave Randall peace about ascension. The other was life. His ascension gave some young couple permission to have a child.
From his seat of honor Randall saw a young couple talking to their child and pointing at him. “You see him, someone had the same honor so you could be born” he imagined they were saying. This little one looked to be a quarter generation old, 10 earth years in his original home. They would already be out of neural induction, a few years into their OJT, a leader to some degree. The child stood with their hands clasped behind their back, and gave him a slight bow, which he returned.
Randall looked down at the raised platform, remembering the last time he was here, when his daughter was born. The metal of the platform was noticeably worn, years of speeches, fathers congratulated, Elders ascended. More eaten away, like his wife and daughter. Not even allowed to give back in the worm beds. Fear of contamination as it was told to him. Maybe with his ascension another family would have better luck.
“How’s the ascension coming old man?” the voice knocking Randall out of his thoughts, looking up he saw one of the few friends he had left. “Seth, thank Central you came, I’m about to lose my mind just sitting here.”
“I hear old people have problems with that, do I need to call the medic?” a smile fighting its way to the corners of Seth’s mouth. “Go to Venus you little fetus. I’m not that old. I wanted to talk with you anyway, before I go.” Seth took a spot next to Randall, reserved for family to say their goodbyes, Seth was as close to family as Randall had. Nodding, he looked at Randall, “What about?”
“I wanted to make sure you had all the generational knowledge down. Once I ascend, I’ll see if I can get more knowledge, send it through the priests, we need to try to get moving on the plans.” Randall leaning close to Seth now, glancing around the room from time to time, watching for prying eyes. “I know… Supply has gotten more insistent since I took command, they say they can’t hold any more back orders. It’s not just posturing either, they are saying we use it or they will.”
Randall nodded, rubbing his face. “We should have used it generations ago, we haven’t learned much from the small-scale tests done every few generations. I’m surprised they’ve held onto it this long, that someone in fifty generations hasn’t spilled to Control. What do you plan on working on first?” It was Seth’s turn to rub his face, running through calculations and mental schematics.
“Skin first I think. Full test, flow through. If it works full-scale, we’ll work on the containment unit. That should be much simpler, after that it’s the engine, which could have any number of complications. There’s nothing in any of the info banks about anything like this. Seems strange, someone at some point in history should have had this idea.”
“Where I grew up, our stories were different than the info banks. Take the movement, none of it is in the info banks. Only that fifty generations ago someone from MS2 transferred here. Nothing about them sharing their knowledge of oral history keeping, or of a movement being started based off that. Maybe generations ago, even before the stations, someone had this idea, and the idea just disappeared, like ours do now.”
Seth chewed on this for some time. His mind could build schematics off a description, could test each part individually, or as a whole, could see if it would work or not. But to think of a time before the stations, that was hard to process. Randall’s voice brought him out of his thoughts, “Your leadership will be tested more than anyone’s has in generations. It’s one thing to sneak a new type of pump by Control, there are no stories of anything on this scale. Are you sure you are ready for this?”
Concern was all to evident on Randall’s face, which only made Seth feel concerned. But he had run the numbers, the station wouldn’t last another fifty generations, they would be lucky if it lasted ten, they had to try. “It’s this or evacuation in a few generations. Every time I run the numbers through control they tell me ‘The variables exceed allowed parameters’ when I ask for clarification to isolate the variables they say exist, they just change the subject. We can replace everything except what is the most degraded, the structural bulkheads. I’ve gone over your plan with Shane, he doesn’t see any holes either, I think the time is right.”