Today I have a treat for all you Sci-fi fans out there, or maybe you are curious and looking for a sci-fi novel to get you started. I’m honoured to be hosting a guest post today from David Ellis Overrtun who is giving us a taste of a chapter from his book, complete with commentary and background information. Such an insightful post – hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe. It is the last of a complement of twelve that is part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and spatial distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years.
Before ISV Intrepid can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. The ship is later salvaged but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma.
The probes collect their data with uneventful regularity.
Fast‑forward to 526,880. A sole‑surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around the probe begins to stretch and distend. Then, the probe disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it manages to transmit one final message.
CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is that something has invaded the universe and is moving a superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next thousand years. To the Celesti, this is one lifetime.
What can be done?
The one person who might be able to solve this problem is the copilot of ISV Intrepid. He has been lying in stasis suffering from mental trauma. He has been this way for the past century, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unchanging condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there.
This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed.
Is it possible to unlock his mind?
The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower level of the hierarchy of the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary do something extraordinary?
Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series.
Excerpt from Chapter 46 – Tsai and Citrus
Auberon is a newly minted ministerial aide in the Ministry of Science. He is on his way to meet another one of his fellow aides at a teahouse. Intimate relationships are strictly forbidden under the Uniform Code of Conduct. This was clearly a social setting, somewhat unusual but not scandalous. However, it could be the source of idle gossip.
Auberon’s appointment has been necessitated by circumstance. So, he is not steeped in the culture of his position like the person he will be meeting, Natasha, Senior Aide to the First Minister. As well, emotion in general among Celesti is a thing to be avoided. If this is true, what is his motivation? Perhaps, even he does not understand it.
My wife, Natasha, has created a visual representation of the chapter. Tsai is a blend of tea but what does an orchid have to do with citrus?
The harmony of silence
To find out, please read Universe: Awakening, Chapter 46 – “Tsai and Citrus”.
Excerpt – Chapter 46
Auberon departed the connect-café and quickly made his way to the far end of the food court. He anxiously scanned the sea of people sitting at the common-area tables. At length, he walked toward the patio area of a teahouse toward a dense corona that caught his eye.
“Good afternoon to you Ministerial Aide Natasha,” he said bowing his head.
“Good afternoon to you Ministerial Aide Auberon,” she replied bowing her head.
Auberon had just “happened” to bump into Natasha almost every morning after their first meeting outside the secure room. Each time, he had asked her out for tea. Each time, time did not permit—until today. Now, he was like a dog who had caught the vehicle he was chasing —at a loss for what to do. He was mesmerized by her blue-within-blue eyes set in a diamond face against a palette of light colors: white robes, fair complexion, delicate white-blond hair in a bob cut.
He stood dumbfounded in awkward silence.
“Will you sit?” she asked in a quiet voice.
“Sit? Of course! Thank you…thank you.”
Another silence ensued. Luckily, Auberon was saved by…
“Are you ready to order?”
“Yes,” Natasha replied. “I will have the tsai.”
“Make that two,” Auberon said, holding up his fingers.
“I will be back shortly,” the waiter said.
Auberon started feeling uncomfortable as the waiter walked away. At least with him there, he would not have to think of something to say. Another awkward silence followed. However, any discomfort was one-sided. Natasha did not appear to be perturbed in the slightest. She simply looked at him with an inscrutable visage.
“What is that?” she finally asked, seeming to sense his discomfort.
“This? Oh this?” he replied self-consciously. “It is something I picked up for you. I thought you might like it.”
He slid the box toward her.
“Thank you,” she said.
She grasped it by two of its sides with one hand and tapped the top three times with her index and middle fingers of the other. It gradually became transparent.
“A chameleon orchid,” she observed.
“Yes…I bumped into it in my travels.”
“In one of your recent interfaces with Supplicant Jo’el.”
“Why yes,” he replied. “How did you know?”
“All ministerial aides are required to be familiar with current high-profile projects. I have access to your interface reports.”
For some reason, her comment made him feel at ease.
“Its fragrance changes depending on your mood and the time of day. The first time I smelled citrus.”
“An indication of curiosity.”
“Really? How do you know that?”
“It was one of the findings of an extensive study done on this particular variety. The oil extracted from it is used in intelligence work.”
She drew close to smell the blossom.
“Interesting,” she said. “Citrus.”
Auberon and Natasha are Celesti, a race of people who give only cursory acknowledgement to feelings. However, looking down on emotions is not the same as not having them. We humans constantly dissect and wear our emotions on our sleeve. Notwithstanding, we all do things that we may not readily understand. What would it be like to be in a society where everything is internalized? All you could do is learn by your own trial and error.
This is a trial for Auberon and perhaps even an error. He is attracted to Natasha and is clearly trying to orchestrate things to bring him in contact with her. While he is unskilled and clumsy, there is a sincerity about him. Natasha, for her part, may not recognize his intent but gravitates toward his interest in her.
The inspiration for this chapter was drawn from my first date with my Natasha. I am very confident in all things, except matters of the heart. It took me 3 years to ask her out. As we sat down for what was to be the first of many dinners, I was just like Auberon. I had gotten the chance I had hoped for. Now what?
When we first met, Natasha had recently immigrated from Europe. English was her second language. Like most newcomers, language proficiency evolves over time. It starts with understanding the gist of a conversation and evolves to the nuances of expression and colloquialism derived from culture. At the time, she was somewhere in the middle. I would say something. She would reply. It was more like a Q&A than a conversation. There were many pregnant pauses or so it seemed to me. I tried to convey my sense of awkwardness and discomfort in Auberon.
In the chapter, Natasha is taciturn by disposition and training. To her, silence is not at all uncomfortable. Whether or not by design or happenstance, she rescues the situation by asking questions. I had no such respite. I would say something. There would be a short answer followed by silence. I parsed everything I could for guidance. Was she being brief? Reticent? Terse? Curt?! During those periods of quiet, I desperately scanned her face for nonverbal cues to evaluate how I was doing.
As the evening wore on, I thought, “This is a disaster!”
However, the acid test is always the goodnight kiss.
So, how did it turn out?
It lasted 3 Mississippi’s.
Author Bio – David Ellis Overttun
I grew up in a lower‑middle‑class neighborhood in a town in the Midwest. My mother was a bookkeeper for a small HVAC company and my father was a draftsman. For the most part, I had a very happy childhood. I was educated in the public‑school system. In university, I studied chemistry. However, when I graduated, I did not (or could not) pursue that vocation because I was terrible in the lab.
I have been a storyteller ever since I can remember. It started as a way to get out of trouble and evolved as a way to entertain those around me. My first recollection of writing prose was in elementary school when I had to write a short essay about a picture from a magazine. (Mine was a freshly baked loaf of bread.) In grade 7, I penned two short stories for a school writing competition. One was entitled “My Funny Cousin”, a descriptive piece about a relative (a little older than me) who stayed with us one summer. My mother very quickly killed that story. At the time, it didn’t make sense to me because she told me she thought it was very funny. It was only later that I figured out that I could have replaced “Funny” with “Flamboyant” in the title. So, it was back to the drawing board. My second attempt was a collection of anecdotes about the life of my maternal grandfather titled “The Hilarious Things My Grandfather Did”. That one went on to win.
My first complete novel was a story about a soldier of fortune in the age of horse and bow. At the time, I had contact with people in the entertainment business in California. The feedback I got was that I should take one of the chapters and expand it into a novel. That made no sense to me. What the heck did that mean? How could you expand something so small into something big? So, I never pursued it. However, the comment stuck with me. It was only much later that I figured out that it meant that I should never rush the telling of a story.
This brings us to the present and the Terra Nova Series. (Book 2 has just been published and Book 3 is in progress.) I write for an audience of one: my wife. She loves the stories.
Check out David’s other guest posts
Topic: Indie Spotlight – Terra Nova Series
Topic: Author Q&A
On: On The Shelf Reviews
Topic: Author Q&A – Cinematic and Visual Influences
On: The Book Hole
Topic: Author Q&A – Musical Influences
On: From Belgium With Book Love
Topic: Background to Universe: Awakening and Excerpt “Wanderer”
On: Zooloo’s Book Diary
Topic: Cover Makeover Genesis: Vision of the New World
On: On The Shelf Reviews
Excerpts and Commentary:
Topic: Universe: Awakening Excerpt Chapter 66 – The Second Way
On: The Tattooed Book Geek
Topic: Universe: Awakening Excerpt Chapter 85 – Heron of Edenoud
On: On The Shelf Reviews
For a deeper dive:
Genesis: Vision of the New World
Through My Wife, Natasha, on Twitter: