Shaper of Worlds Kickstarter – Update


We are three weeks into the Shapers of Worlds Kickstarter campaign. It’s 64 percent funded, at just over $8,700. There are currently more than 195 backers, and well over 200 followers.

Join us! A previously unpublished story of mine appears in this anthology — and my wife and creditors want you to buy it! Reading science fiction is the only way to use the time usefully while shops and businesses are closed.

Here is the announcement, for those who missed it:

Shapers of Worlds

Science fiction and fantasy by some of the bestselling authors featured on the Aurora Award-winning podcast The Worldshapers (including yours truly.)

See Shapers of Worlds on Kickstarter

And what is my short story? It takes place in my “Farships” background, during the Diaspora of Man, in a future where the speed of light cannot be exceeded, but one hopes the inhumanity of man to man can be:

Here is the opening, to whet your appetite:

It is called

The Farships fall to Nowhere

“Watching a farship fall is a bad, bad business; a nightmare, it is.”

I met an ancient man who sat upon the weir.  The river the natives called Shouting Ice flowed past us, from the glaciers in the Twilight cantons, down to the Summerdawn Sea. It was autumn on South Nowhere, and Rigel was as high as it would ever rise at this latitude, a dazzling pin-point of brightness, a hand-span above the horizon.

As near my guess could land, it was the year A.D. 5000.

I said, “I’ve seen shuttles bring down passengers from interplanetary skiffs. Surely the process is not much different.”

“You know nothing, young stranger. Buy me a taste of yon barkeep’s best, and I will tell the tale.”

I bought him a glass of fine aquavit with a coin of gold I was pleased to find was still good currency, even here, so far from my own home world and year. The old man threw back his head and tossed down the pale liquor with no sign of relish; yet he must have been pleased, for he spoke.

He said, “We call them the Fallen, because they fall from space.”

I said, “You do not care for visitors, then?”

“Nothing against them, personally, mind! But when the fallen ones come from their Farships, sorrow follows hard behind.”

He raised a crooked finger. “First, recall that within a farship hull, are many born who have never seen a sun. Confined in cubes since birth, their eyes have never seen an object further off than fathom; they have never walked a path of rocks, nor climbed, nor stepped on grass.

“Nor, say I, ever felt no wind blow by, unless it were a pressure leak telling them they’s all about to die.

“Pale, sickly monkeys, most of them, and no matter what they’ve read in old, old files, no matter what their elders ever taught, they are unfit for life on any Earths. They don’t know how far they can jump, for one; their eyes don’t tell them how high a cliff might be, you see?”

He gestured. To our left and right loomed canyon cliffs, ringing with echoes from the turbulent waters.  The little tavern where we stood was carved into the cliffside, one of several riverfront shops sculpted out of rock to either side of public stairs that switch-backed up the vertical slope. (The stairs were old, and cracked and slick with spray, and I am no mountain goat; it was to prop up my courage before attempting them, that I had stepped over to the tavern shelf.)

Many bridges of black, glassy material arched overhead. On the left bank was the fortress-city of Unwhere, where the Anonymous Man was said to rule. On the right bank rose the launching-spires and aerodromes of the Black Bassarks, the military clans of Nowhere.

“Second, recall how viruses and organisms, especially the mold they feast on, over generations will adapt to its environment.  The rule of life is this, young man: every living thing, natural or man-made, must serve its own purposes, not those of the designer or the crew. You follow me?”

“Darwin’s curse.”

“So the Earthmen call it. That is an old term for Maladaptation. Where might you be from?”

I bought him another tot of aquavit instead of answering, and a mug of brown beer for myself, and said, “How does this evolution affect the farship docking?”

“As I say: maladaptation makes the ship all full of molds and mushrooms, and the spores all change the livestock in the hold, or get into the greenhouses, soon or late. Folk will eat before they die, most of ‘em, no matter what they’d rather, and so they take to eating the stuff. Develop a taste for it; or, if not them, their babies. You follow me?”

“As the ship ecosystem changes, the crew adapts.”

“Man himself ain’t free of the rule of life, says I. Changes for the worst, most of them.”

“If you say so.”

“That I do. And the society, the culture, and the way men think, the rule of life applies to that as well, you see? Their outlook, their brains, the long trip changes that as well.”

He sipped his drink, and then continued: “That’s the problems in the flight. Then comes the problem at the destination. Who says it did not change too, eh? Think of all those long, long years agone, all those years gone by, and now the great farship comes to orbit near some new Earth what was promised them a hundred years ago. And what do they find?”

“A colony. More recent developments in engine design allowed a starship departing from a later era to overtake and pass them in flight, arriving sooner.”

“Right you are….