Updated: Jul 15, 2019
I sometimes feel like I’m out of step with the world because the trend in books these days tends toward big sprawling stories, with potentially disastrous galactic consequences. Stories that span vast amounts of space and time. Stories packed with physical action, often violent action, on every page. War stories, stories of ordinary people caught up in huge events that they have no control over, but nevertheless must, against all odds, prevail against. I don’t usually write those kinds of stories and If Wishes Were Spaceships is no exception. I love reading those types of stories, but what I really love writing are stories about people very much like me and you, who have more or less normal lives filled with normal routines, but who find themselves in conflict with the people around them. Sometimes, you just have a very bad day. If your life revolves around spaceships and planetary or galactic travel, your “bad day” may be considerably worse than a typical “bad day” here on Earth in the early 21st century.
That’s where If Wishes Were Spaceships begins. Jazlyn is having a bad day. Her ship malfunctions and she has to ditch on a quarantine planet. Which is worrisome. It’s even more worrisome when she realizes that the bizarre “that’s not standard terraforming out there” plants are giant carnivorous plants created by a biotech lab at the request of the dynastic scion, Sterneworth, who is currently only one of two residents on the planet. The other is an anxious techie who, with the arrival of Jazlyn, is reassessing just what he’d be willing to do to get off the planet.
Three people, one small ship. Everyone is doing the math, but not everyone has the same ideas about that disabled ship. In fact, the three of them have very different ideas about all kinds of things. It’s the differences between people that interest me most; the friction of interaction, even between people who should be allies, not to mention the people who would naturally be enemies.
This is a small story of three people who are thrown together and none of them really know what to do with the others. Sterneworth doesn’t want Jazlyn there. Blaine doesn’t want to be there. Jazlyn doesn’t understand Blaine or Sterneworth. But she understands her ship. At first that’s all that matters to her, but she begins to realize that everything both large and small on a hostile planet, with no access to comms and no allies, can be vital to her freedom and well-being.
It’s a big planet, but it’s not big enough for the three of them…and the carnivorous plants complicate things, though not in the way that you’d expect…
Next week I’ll take a closer look at those interesting, hungry, plants: If Wishes Were Spaceships: The Carnivorous Plants and the week after that: The Tech Between the Lines