Thursday, October 20, 2011


I realize that there are a lot of story ideas on here and not much beyond the initial statement. This is actually a conscious decision. As a writer, I have a lot of things floating in my head at any given time. Some of it is more concrete than others. The commonality with all of it is that they are just ideas. Some of them have been floating around in there for years, while others are more recent. But, for one reason or another, I have never gotten them written down. This is one of the many reasons for this blog. If I write something down, it might gel faster or maybe inspire me to do more. As they bob to the surface, I'll write them down. "Sleepers" is just one of many ideas in there. It came to me when I was reading Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy.  He was talking about world building and developing the science of science fiction, specifically, regarding space travel.

One of the concepts he proposed involved colonization and how a space faring race would accomplish such a far reaching goal.  He mentioned that, unless a society had discovered some practical means of traveling faster than the speed of light (or even Hyperspace travel), it could take years to travel between star systems.  To do this, it would require a ship where the majority of the crew was in suspended animation with a skeleton crew to maintain everything.  It was at this moment, I had a "what if" moment.  What if something happened and the ship got off course?  What if the damage was so extensive that the skeleton crew couldn't fix it?  What if the majority of the sleeping colonists were killed by whatever went wrong?  As these thoughts started swimming through my head, the idea of "Sleepers" was born.

Simply put, "Sleepers" takes place on a colony ship that was knocked off course by something.  I hadn't really decided on what that something was.  It could have been sabotage to the more mundane mechanical malfunction.  Whatever happened, it was catastrophic.  Instead of maintaining course, the ship was sent adrift.  Instead of a few years, it floats for a couple centuries.  Now, there are some issues with this concept, but I think there are ways of getting around the whole need for supplies, air, power, etc.  The technology that allowed them to travel several years without supplies could theoretically be adapted to sustain the skeleton crew.  Another problem was that all but 11 stasis pods remain functional.  The others either failed or were destroyed.  Entire sections of the ship became uninhabitable.

Despite all this, the crew needed something to focus on so they continued to do their jobs.  In the face of uncertainty, humanity will strive for equilibrium.  One way of doing that is by returning to processes or actions that are familiar and comfortable. In this case, it would be returning to the maintenance of the surviving stasis pods and the remainder of the ship.  As the years turn to decades, combined with the uncertainty of their destination, it would not be a far stretch to imagine that people would consider propagating as a way to maintain the workforce.  The children would then be trained from very early on to continue in the parents footsteps.  It would also not be too farfetched to imagine that this training, over the span of several generations, would start to take on a religious bent.  The focus of this religion would be the 11 remaining colonists.  They would be viewed as heralds of salvation because when they emerge, it means that the journey is finished and they have reached "paradise" (a.k.a a habitable world).  Of course, with any story, that isn't how it happens.  The best laid plans, as they say, oft go astray.

Till next time.

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