Excerpt from Preparing The Ground

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Here's an excerpt from near the beginning of Preparing The Ground. It's the first book of Preparations For War, the story of how a young man ends up as a missionary of civilization on a primitive world belonging to the enemy during the run up to war between two empires.

The series thus far is Preparing The Ground, Building The People, Setting The Board, and will conclude with Moving The Pieces, which is one of the two novels I'm actively working on.

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Piloting a time-jammer was a lot like an old song from one of the rock stars my parents liked - Driving With Your Eyes Closed. I remember it being a fun little song, but the reality not so much. The piloting sensors used direct detection of mass akin to the operant discipline of farza, which allowed the computers to extrapolate mass from natural bodies from their effects on the metric of space - in other words, gravity. Imperial gear was crazy good. Anything shields or hull charge couldn't handle would get detected in time for a good pilot who was on the ball to avoid it, even at a couple hundred thousand times the speed of light. The problem was the potential for other ships. Gravity only propagated at light speed. It's all very well and good for natural bodies which are on the course God last set for them billions of years ago. Their gravity propagation was a thing of long standing. Not so much other ships travelling faster than light. As far as any such ships were concerned, we were driving with our eyes closed.

We didn't think there were any such ships around, but we didn't know. Difficult as it was to believe, we were actually going where no humans we knew of had ever been before. When the Imperial military had come to Earth, they'd done a fast survey looking for signs of advanced civilization, but signs of anything advanced enough to worry the Empire could be seen at interstellar distances. Nobody had actually visited Barnard's Star, our first destination, or any of the other nearby star systems we were planning to visit.

Back in the Empire, Tia Grace says time-jammers are essentially a hobby, and an uncommon hobby at that. Most interstellar ships use Vector Drive, or the brand-new Interstitial Vector. From point A to point B with effectively no in-between. But Vector Drive requires a pilot with auros and para, two of the disciplines of operant mindlords. Computers can simulate para just fine; even on Earth it's been done in hardware for decades. But computers can't quite get the fine ability auros gives a trained operant to anticipate with acceptable precision. The Empire had given up on computer-piloted Vectors thousands of years ago - the errors were too large and the accidents were too many. Except for my aunt, all of Earth's operants were currently somewhere back in the Empire undergoing initial training. So without operants, Earth had a stark choice for faster-than-light: time-jammers, or nothing.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on May 3, 2020 8:41 AM.

Character Interview: Graciela Juarez di Scimtar (The End of Childhood) was the previous entry in this blog.

Excerpt From The End of Childhood is the next entry in this blog.

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