For ten-year-old Walker Viatori space travel was just another childhood notion until his Uncle Nathan returned from a Grand Tour of the Palindrome Trading Ring. The tales of this 240-year-long voyage stirred young Walker’s imagination and set him on his own path to the stars—a path requiring the exploration of his terraformed world and learning the skills needed to survive a trip to the stars.
Targeted Age Group:: YA to Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
In the course of helping a friend write a book, I created a universe. Eventually it occurred to me that I could also write a book in that universe and so I did. There will eventually be at least three books with a collection of short stories to provide some background for the novels. Ideas briefly mentioned in the long form stories will be explored more deeply in the short stories.
How is writing SciFi different from other genres?
You write SciFi exactly the same as you write any other genre, you simply add scientific speculation. What happens to romance when you live to be five hundred years? How do you solve a locked room mystery when you have teleportation available? Writing about the future does mean that you have to imagine what will happen rather than interpret past events. Unlike fantasy writing where you can create your own set of rules, Science Fiction should be based on established theories.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My main character, Walker Viatori, is a classic SciFi protagonist. He is kind and thoughtful, but driven. He yearns to explore the worlds around him. In this case, the style of storytelling defined the character–I needed a narrator who would grow up and live in the universe I created. The other characters in the book tended to be created to help Walker: an uncle who returns from the stars, a love interest who helps him mature and understand family, a redhead from Galway who has hidden depths and tells stories of Old Earth.
A Visit from the Stars
It had been a long but rewarding day. The pods from the trading ship Traveler had finally cleared customs and Uncle Nathan had come home to Greener Pastures after his Grand Tour with two planetfalls! At 10 years of age, I could not imagine what a 240-year Grand Tour must be like; dozens of planets and cultures, years traveling the empty space between ports of call on the giant trading ships, working for the company that makes ansibles, and then at long last, returning home.
When Uncle Nathan arrived at our house that evening, my father was overjoyed. Despite the instant communication the ansible provides, meeting face to face is the best. I had friends only a couple hundred klicks away I had never met in person, but on the rare occasion when penpals meet, it is wonderful. Uncle Nathan was laughing and hugging Dad and Dad was smiling and crying at the same time, which was astounding, but not as attention-getting as the woman accompanying him.
A woman with bright red hair and two of the largest dogs I had ever seen was watching the brothers with gentle amusement. After a moment she seemed to realize introductions were not going to happen any time soon. Her gaze turned my way and with a gentle nudge she started one of the dogs toward me. I would like to think it was excitement keeping me rooted to the spot as the furry beast lumbered toward me, but fear may have played a role as well. However, after a quick sniff, he gently butted me with his head a couple of times.
“He wants you to scratch his ears,” the red-haired woman said. Cautiously I reached out to do so. The creature’s wiry fur was thick and my initial cautious petting was doing little. Gathering up my courage and strength I ruffed up behind his ears. The beast sighed and leaned into the petting nearly knocking me to the floor. Standing my ground I redoubled the scratching and the monster rolled his head to look into my eyes with pure contentment.
“As your father and my thoughtless partner will not be noticing the house burning down around them, I’ll have to introduce myself. My name is Roisin Finn Galway, and you would be young Walker, would you not?”
“Galway,” I said. “You are from Galway!”
I had been expecting Uncle Nathan to have pictures and stories and, hopefully, presents…but to have brought along an actual offworlder! As I tried to make sense of this, I stopped administering to the monster and he bumped me with his head. Taking up the ear scratching again I turned to Roisin and attempted to talk to her.
“Galway,” I repeated . “You are from Galway!” So much for clever conversation.
“That I am,” she replied with a smile, “and perhaps someday someone will be as impressed that you are from Greener Pastures.” As I continued to scratch the huge dog, she added, “Fionn is the rude beast demanding your attention at the moment and his more polite mate is named Fianna.”
“We do not have dogs like this on Greener Pastures. What are they?”
“These are Irish Wolfhounds and if you were so inclined, you could trace this pair back to old Ireland itself.”
Finally taking notice of the world around them, the brothers broke from their embrace and the reunion expanded to include all of us. Fionn and Fianna watched quietly as introductions were concluded and the stories began.
We started in the kitchen, of course, because this was my father’s house. The prep work had been completed and the arrabbiata sauce was on a low heat on the back burner. Nathan begin to talk of meeting Roisin and their decision to enter a social contract while Dad added the penne to the boiling water and put together another salad. An unexpected guest was never unwelcome at our house.
The ansible is a wonderful device with its ability to communicate instantaneously between planets, but it has its limitations. Person-to-person direct ansible communication is rare. More common is sending recorded messages through an ansible service. Sometimes gaps happen…like forgetting to mention Roisin. Dad gleefully teased his older brother about the lapse and Roisin joined in, feigning heartbreak until poor Nathan was properly abashed and mumbling about being busy with the paperwork for his return. Roisin rescued him with a quick peck on the cheek and Dad laughed and laid his hand on Nathan’s shoulder in a gesture of forgiveness.
The storytelling continued late into the night. I thought no one had noticed when I eventually slipped away, but Fionn padded after me. We walked over the crest of the small hill behind our house so I could see the stars better. After a quick glance at the sky, Fionn lay down at my feet and was unimpressed when I pointed out the star Galway circled. Fionn would have been born on the trading ship Traveler, sometime during the journey from Galway to Greener Pastures. The processes that had extended human life to more than five hundred years had not helped our four-footed friends quite as much. Still… it was possible that Fionn could live thirty-five years. Space travel had developed as well, but with certain limits. Einstein had been proved correct, and there was a speed limit for the universe. The trading ships travel at about 90% of the speed of light and most of the planets on the trading route are about nine light years apart, but, not being able to break the light-speed barrier is less an issue when ten years is only 1/50th of your life expectancy.
A rustle of feet announced company and soon Miss Finn and Fianna were standing with me. I again pointed out the star Galway orbited. Roisin was pleased, but Fianna paid no more attention than her mate had.
Roisin quietly described life on Galway, so alike and so different at the same time. My world had never been boring to me and was not boring now, but Greener Pastures was just one planet…and there were dozens out there. With Uncle Nathan’s stories fresh in my mind, the stars seemed to take on new meaning. Last night they were just cold, distant dots, but tonight they promised adventure, new sights, different peoples…and boredom. Nathan’s stories had plenty of adventure, but he did not leave out the years spent doing a mundane job as the ship traveled between stars.
Roisin asked if I’d be wanting to follow in the footsteps of my uncle. With a fervor that I did not know I possessed, I said, “Yes!”
“Well,” she replied, “there are a few things you’ll be needing to know.”
About the Author:
Gary Loffler was born in far upstate New York halfway through the last century. He resettled in Denver, Colorado in 1980 and has remained in the area since. Science Fiction and music have been the two constants in his life. He has flirted, with various degrees of success, with bicycle racing, photography, marriage and work.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Link to Buy A Few Things You’ll be Needing to Know Print Edition at Amazon
Link to Buy A Few Things You’ll be Needing to Know Print Edition at Barnes and Noble
Link to A Few Things You’ll be Needing to Know Print book for sale at CreateSpace
Link to A Few Things You’ll be Needing to Know Print book for sale via other sites
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy A Few Things You’ll be Needing to Know On Amazon