The Butler/Banks Book Tour - Next Up: Carole McDonnell!4:20 PMDaVaun Sanders
The Butler/Banks Book Tour will feature guest posts from various
authors contributing exciting perspectives to the realm of Speculative
Fiction! Our Day 8 feature, fantasy author Carole McDonnell, changes things up with an audio excerpt of her novel, "The Constant Tower," and a science fiction short story. Enjoy!
About Carole McDonnell:
I've written for as long as I can remember. My Jamaican family was always telling stories and mother had memorized the opening chapters from several books, such as Ivanhoe, A Tale of Two Cities, etc. I was especially good at adapting. Somehow I felt the stories I had inherited from the European tradition (stuff we learned in school or watched on TV) always needed to be tweaked to include (subtly) matters that were important to a little Jamaican girl growing up in a Jewish-neighborhood in Brooklyn. I remember the day I decided I was a writer. It was the day a classmate grasped a poem I had written from my desk and brought it to the teacher who proclaimed the poem "great." I was hooked.
I studied Literature in college, not creative writing. Because I wanted to write great literature that would be ageless. I still hope my stories will be timeless. My reviews appear in print and at various online sites. My first novel, Wind Follower was published by Juno Books in September 2007.
You can purchase the Constant Tower on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Constant-Tower-Carole-McDonnell/dp/1434442063
This is How You Make a World
To the left was a small planet, gray, apparently lifeless, about one eighth the size of the destroyed, forsaken earth. To the right, about three million kilometers from Searcher 871, was a large planet, green, blue and gold, reminiscent of the old earth — but eight time its size— populated by humans with various stages of civilization development. The Searcher had stopped in between both planets, equidistant from both. Inside, its aging inhabitant debated the pros and cons of the terraforming the smaller planet or sending their children into the populated world.
Terraforming would take six months. Not long, considering the ship’s inhabitants had been in space for eight years, since the blighted earth had died.
But the artificially created air, food, light, was already taking its toll on the children. The damaged children, children born with limited mental and emotional and physical abilities because of the tainted foods, pharmas, and air of the old earth. Their parents too were fading, on their last legs — as the old earth maxim went.
But the other planet, the one that shone like a big aqua marble in the dark sky presented other problems. True, its inhabitants had their share of petty wars. But, as far as the aged navigators could tell, chances of atomic bombs and other damages wrought by science were not little. The planet was large, resources varied and many, and tribes — who were as varied as those in the craft— were scattered across the planet. The travelers of Searcher 871 could place their damaged children in a small wood — a natural Eden, if possible— and the children and their future descendants would not be found for hundreds of years to come. But there were fears and questions, especially among the darker-skinned inhabitants of the craft, about conquest and racial discrimination. The humanoid inhabitants of the planet had features the earthers did not have, and vice versa.
Both planets were the first they had encountered that could take on human life, their shared sun life-giving and rare for human life.
“I choose to terraform the asteroid,” Lily, the African-American woman navigator said.
“Why put our children in a world that will challenge them? We have the skill to make the asteroid suitable for them and their needs.”
“A whole year?” Denny, the Irish Captain replied. “Can they survive? Can any of us survive that long? And if we terra-form, won’t we be using up our resources even more? Our ability to recycle the air, the food, will be taxed.”
There were eighteen adults of all races, of pleasant enough dispositions. They knew how to accommodate themselves to others and to the world. Before the earth died, most parents — those who were actually fertile— had children who were “damaged” and labeled as mentally “limited” or “developmentally slow.” Yet, these children were viewed as a blessing because children themselves were so rare. The year the earth died, ten thousand ships had departed the earth, each with about five hundred crew members. Over the years, most of the crew of 871 had died, or gone stir crazy and suicidal (another American earth phrase.) It had been difficult to explain the deaths to the children — who were both young and “limited.” But the crew had managed, telling the children that the dead crew members had really gone to worlds along the way. The children — if they missed the dead at all— believed the crew’s protective lies. But now, as the remaining elders looked at each other’s wrinkled faces and at the faces of their children, they knew their limits. Death would come soon. Puberty would appear.
Lily often wondered if puberty would be natural. Would the children “know” what to do? Would “nature” take its course? Some of the children were astute enough to understand many things. They would share their knowledge no doubt. Others could barely feed themselves. But these are the last of Earth humanoids, Lily thought. Unless some others have survived, we are all that’s left. And even if others have survived, aren’t their children as wounded and “limited” as ours?
As the old travelers looked on their children, they could only come to the decision that terraforming might take a year, but their children would not survive in a world that was not specifically meant for them. Terraforming it had to be. The year went by. No longer did they see the stars passing past them (or vice versa.) No longer did they use the great craft’s power to move forward. All its energies were used to create a perfect land for their children. During that year, five of the eighteen parents died. But their children lived and were taken care of by the others. And each day, the planet took on its form.
A great dome was built around the planet — the laser technology creating a new atmosphere. The ice at the poles farthest from the sun were melted and pushed toward the equator where lakes —not deeper than a man’s foot, not wider than a mile—were built. The seeds of non-genetically-modified non-poisonous plants, the frozen larvae of insects and embryos of animals that would bow to humans were planted in green forests, cold artic poles, and deserts.
At last, the day came when the parents landed their craft on the new world. Some eighty children exited the craft. Lame, halt, mute, mentally limited — a joyous kind new breed of humans, incapable of hatred or pettiness. It was not known if the damage to their bodies and minds was mutagenic. Nor was Lily sure how long she and the old ones would live in that world. The children sat on the grass in front of her — their minds not really focused on the sex video she was showing them. But how could they focus? They had never seen a lake before, or little bunny rabbits, or sheep or bees before.
But Lily stood there and pointed to the dolls, then at the sex video. “This,” she said, hoping some would understand and would teach the others, “This is how you make a world.”