Daily Prompt: Standstill – A Deep Stillness

Stillness
Stillness

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE

I bought a dress from Land’s End. To get the free shipping, I had to spend an extra $10 which would save me $9 in shipping costs.  I bought a blouse. Navy blue cotton knit. Boatneck. Long sleeve. It looks exactly like all the other blouses in my closet.

I couldn’t remember where I’d put it and spent a full hour searching the bedroom. I thought I’d lost it, but it turns out, I had hung it up in the closet. One navy blouse amidst a sea of black, dark gray and navy is invisible. I could — I was — looking at it and didn’t realize it. I had my hand on it … and didn’t know it was what I was searching for.

Me, photographer

All of my clothing looks the same. I’ve been wearing the same clothing for 50 years. Fashions come, fashions go, but Marilyn wears the same clothing. Jeans. The same Clark’s sandals I was wearing in 1962. The materials from which they are made have altered, but otherwise? The same.

Having told Garry I had lost track of a new Land’s End blouse, I had to tell him I’d found it.

“Where was it?” he asked.

“I hung it up,” I said, expecting him to congratulate me on my neatness.

“Big mistake,” he said. “You can never find anything in that closet.” I absorbed that and had an epiphany.

“It makes shopping for me easy. Just buy me clothing that looks exactly the same as everything else I own. You could buy something different, but I probably wouldn’t wear it. If you feel like experimenting, buy a lighter shade of navy or medium rather than charcoal grey.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“Well, think of all the time and creativity you don’t have to waste trying to find something different. Just buy the same stuff. Hey, you are still wearing the same shoes you were wearing 20 years ago. I don’t mean shoes just like shoes you wore 20 years ago. I mean you’re still wearing the same shoes. So, Mr. Smarty-Pants, don’t raise your eyebrow at me!”

Time on a warm day in October with my guy ...

He smiled and went back to watching The Six Million Dollar Man, a show so awful it now qualifies as a comedy.

We are totally creatures of habit. I found My Style when I was 16. Round toed shoes. Flat, comfortable sandals. A-line skirts. Jeans. Turtle necks in the winter. Boat necks or slight scoops in the summer, preferably long, at least hip length. Dark, neutral colors with a touch of red for accent. Sometimes something in dusty rose or mauve. Or taupe.

That I have been wearing the same clothing for 50 years — what does this say about me? So does my husband. And best friend and her husband. We are all still wearing the same styles we wore when we were teenagers. Listening to the same music, pretty much. I’m married to the same guy I used to hang out with 50 years ago.

About the only things that have radically changed? What I eat is completely different and I don’t use recreational drugs. They’d probably kill me.

I’m the same person I was at 16. For all practical purposes, my life has been a gigantic circle back to where it began. I’m less agile, more arthritic. A lot less worried about what people think of me. More impatient with stupidity and bureaucracy. Still liberal, still a Democrat.

Still believe in helping other people, though more careful about who I let into my life and home. I’m still a sucker for animals. Horses, dogs, cats, Most anything furry and cute. I still read all the time, unless I’m writing or working on photographs.

I use new technology to do the same stuff I’ve always done. Technology has made doing what I enjoy easier, but it hasn’t changed what I like.

I still scream at spiders and watch birds. My sense of humor is the same. My hobbies haven’t changed: I write and take pictures. I don’t play the piano anymore. Arthritis finished that. I also am significantly less active, but not by choice.

So … how much have you changed from the person you were in your late teens? What, if anything, do you do completely differently? Do you like the person you’ve become? Are you trying to change? Do you fit in? If you met the young you, what would you tell yourself?

THE REST OF THE STORY – THE PLAGUE FORGE, Jason M. Hough

PlagueForge

The Plague Forge by Jason M. Hough

Book 3 of The Dire Earth Cycle

Random House Publishing Group

Del Rey Spectra – Del Rey

Publication Date: September 24, 2013

This story of a future dystopian earth continues where The Exodus Tower left off.

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains spoilers If you have not read the first two episodes of this series, stop now, go back and read them. 

On their first visit, the aliens  left an elevator that can lift space craft up high enough so that they need little fuel to launch out of Earth’s atmosphere. For a while, it gave the world a great economic boost … until they dropped by again and left the plague. It killed millions upon millions and left millions more as mindless, kill crazy sub-humans.

The setting for all the books is the late mid-24th (2385) century. The first “gift” from the aliens was the elevator in Darwin, Australia. The second was the plague that forced the remainder of earth’s population to gather in their remnants. The Elevator — its proximity — confers a kind of protection from plague.

Skyler Luiken is an immune. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon affecting a tiny percentage of the population, enabling them to walk freely in the atmosphere without special breathing apparatus. Originally, with a crew of fellow immunes Skyler flew scavenging missions to collect resources to keep Darwin alive. His ship is gone and half his crew dead. Those not killed were separated when a piece of Darwin’s population broke away to build a new settlement in Belém, Brazil where the aliens dropped a second space elevator.

Now, the aliens are back again. On schedule as predicted. Why? What do they want? They’ve left artifacts, keys for the humans to patch together … to what purpose?

Not only are they back, but they are heading for the exact spot where the plague started. Are they coming to finish off what they began and kill the rest of the human population? Or are they coming to save earth and end the plague? How about both?

In this third volume of the Dire Earth trilogy, the intrepid Skyler Luiken is back in touch with Samantha, who is living undercover in the Jacobite-dominated city of Darwin … and his original group captain has reappeared.

It’s time for a reckoning. Skyler and Tania — now the unwilling “head” of the Belém colony — have to figure out how to put the puzzle together. Their problem? They have little to go on except hints, speculation, and fear. The urgent question remains: what do the aliens want? The secondary question is … well … who is going to wind up with who when it’s all sorted out. Skyler and … Tania? Ana? That is if anyone survives.

This final volume is where you will get the answers you’ve been waiting for. It’s a fast, taut thriller-type trip into a badly broken future as the good guys have to figure out who the bad guys are, if the bad guys are the bad guys or maybe they are good guys, sort of. Then, there are the Jacobites and Grillo who have taken over Darwin … bad enough without the potential doom coming with the aliens. Ultimate destruction or salvation await — in the air and on the ground. Talk about caught between a rock and a hard place …

Of the new science fiction I’ve read in the past couple of years, this is one of the most interesting. It is classic sci fi, the kind of story that hooked me on the genre more than 40 years ago.A tight, taut thriller, it raises plenty of questions, an endless number of questions. The final book holds the answers and I can hardly wait!

The Plague Forge is a great read. If anything, it’s faster moving and more like a thriller than the first two books. It is exactly what you have been hoping for if you’ve been following the series. Now available!

Gift of doom? The aliens return with The Exodus Tower, by Jason M. Hough

The Exodus Tower by Jason M. Hough

Book 2 of The Dire Earth Cycle

Random House Publishing Group — Del Rey Spectra – Del Rey

Publication Date: August 27, 2013

This unique story of a future dystopian earth continues where The Darwin Tower left off.

Dystopian futures for our planet have become a genre. This story manages to combine elements of the Zombie apocalypse (not real Zombies, but  similar behavior), alien visitors with a strange, secret and maybe lethal agenda … and of course … the post plague survival.

On their first visit, the aliens  left an elevator that can lift space craft up high enough so that they need little fuel to launch out of Earth’s atmosphere. For a while, it gave the world a great economic boost … until they dropped by again and left the plague. It killed millions upon millions and left millions more as mindless, kill crazy sub-humans.

The setting for all the books is the late mid-24th (2385) century. The first “gift” from the aliens was the elevator in Darwin, Australia. The second was the plague that forced the remainder of earth’s population to gather in their remnants. The Elevator — its proximity — confers a kind of protection from plague.

Skyler Luiken is an immune. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon affecting a tiny percentage of the population, enabling them to walk freely in the atmosphere without special breathing apparatus. Originally, with a crew of fellow immunes Skyler flew scavenging missions to collect resources needed to keep Darwin’s population alive. His ship is gone and half his crew dead. Those not killed were separated when a piece of Darwin’s population broke away to build a new settlement in Belém, Brazil. Because the aliens have been back and that is where they have dropped a second space elevator.

Structural diagram of a space elevator. The ea...
Structural diagram of a space elevator. The earth is shown in a “top-down” perspective looking at the north pole, with the space elevator in equatorial orbit.  Space elevator structural diagram.

Confusion and fear deepen as the human population starts to tear itself apart. Skyler Luiken and scientist Dr. Tania Sharma have formed a colony around the new Elevator’s base, utilizing mobile towers to protect humans from the Builders’ plague. After fending off an attack from a roving band of plague-immune mercenaries bent on world domination (do humans ever learn?) a frightening suspicion is growing day by day.

The aliens are coming back. There’s a schedule. What will they do this time. But more important? What do they want? Why have the come, what’s the real purpose of the elevators and the towers? Deepening unease and ever wider rifts between colonists makes the future dark indeed..

In this second volume of the Dire Earth trilogy, the intrepid Skyler Luiken in Belém, and Samantha, his co-explorer from his first crew each begin to uncover and to some degree, unravel a lot of truth … disturbing and frightening truths with dark implications.

It’s a great read, as good as the first book. I’m just taking a short break before I dive into the final volume.

Of the new science fiction I’ve read in the past couple of years, this is one of the most interesting. It is classic sci fi, the kind of story that hooked me on the genre more than 40 years ago.A tight, taut thriller, it raises plenty of questions, an endless number of questions. The final book holds the answers and I can hardly wait!

I enjoyed these books from the first page of the first book. Taut and tense, full of thought-provoking concepts, there is nary a dull moment..

The Exodus Tower is scheduled for release on Kindle and paperback on August 27th.

The third and final volume of the trilogy — Plague Force — scheduled for release September 24th.

Keep watching the skies … and this site for the review of the final book in September.

Dystopia with a twist – The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough – Book 1 of The Dire Earth Cycle

Random House Publishing Group — Del Rey Spectra – Del Rey

Publication Date: July 30 2013

Books about the dystopian future of earth are an entire genre nowadays. Whether it’s the post Zombie apocalypse, earth after the aliens have worked us over, earth after the bombs have dropped, earth after we’ve destroyed our own environment, earth after a plague or any of myriad unpleasant futures our imaginative science fiction writing community envision for us, postapocalyptic dystopian science fiction has proliferated. We can’t get enough of it. Me neither. I just eat it up.

The Darwin Elevator fall into two dystopian categories — post alien and post plague. It’s also a fine, fun piece of science fiction writing. It has great heroes (male and female) and some seriously nasty, bad-ass villains. There’s plenty of action and nary a dull moment.

SpaceElevator

In brief? The aliens came. They built an elevator in Darwin, Australia that is functionally a ladder to the stars as well as a quick-launch (well, not so quick, but highly economical of energy) pad for space shots.

The setting is late mid-24th century — around 2385 in Darwin, Australia. It’s the last human city. Most of the world’s population died of the plague brought by the aforementioned aliens. No one is quite sure whether the plague was unleashed intentionally or not, but the results of it have been devastating. Any parts of the human population not huddled around the elevator (built by the aliens) in Darwin — an area that confers protection on people under its “umbrella” — are now mindless, savage subhumans. Not zombies. Just very nasty.

Skyler Luiken was born with a natural immunity to the plague. It’s rare, though not unheard of. He and a group of fellow immunes  fly missions to scavenge urgently needed resources to keep Darwin functional. When the Elevator starts to experience frequent — unprecedented — power outages, Skyler and his intrepid crew, as well as the young and beautiful scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma are tasked to solve the mystery and repair the elevator. If the elevator fails, that’s the end of humanity. Doom.

This is the first book of a trilogy. The second and third parts are due out in mid August and early September. This is good insofar as you don’t have a long wait for the rest of the story. Bad, insofar as you know the good guy — Skyler — is going to make it, no matter how dubious his situation looks because, well, he’s the hero and there are two more books scheduled for publication. I don’t have a problem with this since I read a lot of series, trilogies, duologies and frankly, I prefer knowing the hero is going to survive. I’m not good with high level literary stress.

Although this certainly falls into the dystopian postapocalyptic science fiction designation, it isn’t quite like anything else I’ve read. The elevator — the entire concept — is interesting and unique. There are hints that there’s a lot more to this technology than mere technology. It’s not just power and gears and engineering specs. There’s something more going on, but we aren’t going to find out what that is quite yet.

I enjoyed the book from the first page. Sometimes, when you start a book, you just know it’s going to be a good one. This is a good one. Real science fiction, well written, nice and tight and tense. And based on an interesting premise. As sci fi goes, that’s pretty much what you need. It’s available on Kindle and paperback.

I highly recommend it. I can promise a good, not boring read that will make you absolutely want to read the next installment — The Exodus Tower — scheduled for release August 27th.

Tomorrow, you can read my review of The Exodus Tower. You can pre-order it through Amazon and probably elsewhere, too.