by: VJ Miller, Sr.
Back To The Business Of Writing:
The past few months have witnessed: hurricanes, floods, power interruptions, fires, water shortages, and the gamut of destruction. Trying to overcome any or all of the above has been a strain on so many of us. Along with having to deal with some of the previous I have personally endured: flu-like symptoms, a change in ISPs and a case of shingles that have curtailed my creative juices; actually bringing them to a crashing halt. I’ve also got a couple of book reviews that need doing soon. Having survived all that it’s time to finish my latest book, “Planet of Statues.”
The writing of the book was stalled at 40k words; twice what I had originally plotted out. But as happens sometimes a story grows and evolves of its own accord. Interesting “B” “C” and “D” side-stories which only enhance the finished product, demand to be heard. I’m not sure where it will top out but I am not going to hurry to a finish just to get it done. I originally stopped because I wanted to get clarification of some of the science aspects of the story. I wrote to a couple of scientists (who will remain nameless) in hopes of getting the info I asked for; alas, twas not to be. I never got any replies to my letters. I had every intention of listing their names in the Acknowledgments page. We all know how intelligent Science fiction readers are; you have to give them plausible reasons why things react the way you want when you know the mechanism can’t possibly exist… yet. So I delved into doing my own intense research and I believe I have a plausible solution.
The first chapter starts with a bang… literally.
“You have to get out of there,” Dane Rush, 2nd in Command shouted into the communicator. “Forget the damn readings; they’re not worth throwing your life away or the landing party.”
“We have to get the remote sensors in place,” stressed, Jemm Sackson, The Geologist on the mission. “We’ll never get the chance again to record anything of this magnitude.”
“It’s too damn risky. We didn’t come halfway across the galaxy for this.”
“I know, I know,” she said. “But we—“
Severe Tremors deep in the crust of the planet caused her and the two crewmen assisting her to be thrown off their feet; tremors that were increasing in intensity by the minute.
“Jemm… Jemm, are you alright?”
“I’m still here,” she said once she got back to her feet, “That was a big one.”
“You’re taking too much time. Leave now,”
“This is my life’s work and I’m not going to miss this chance.”
“That’s not our mission.”
“All right; just a few more minutes.”
“You don’t have that long. Get in the shuttle and get out now.”
Again the surface of the planet was rocked with an ever increasing set of tremors; the crust showed signs of cracking and rising.
Capt Cheevers, who had just returned with his party from the far side of the planet, strode quickly onto the bridge. “Why hasn’t she lifted off yet?”
“Your dedicated geologist wants to record as much of the incident as she can.”
Cheevers yanked the communicator from Rush. “Jemm. Get your ass out of there now.”
Tense seconds and dead air slid horribly by as smoke and tremors overtook the landing craft until—
“We’re finished here and we are leaving.”
That’s the last thing they heard. From the viewer they watched helpless as the middle third of the northern-most continent on the strange planet heaved and was thrown high into the stratosphere. Huge chunks of planetary crust rained down like small asteroids into the two oceans on either side of the continent. More fell onto the area north and south.
Smoke, rock, dust and steam thrust high into the ionosphere then shot round the planet at ballistic speed. Within a handful of minutes most of the planet became shrouded in dust and ice particles; totally obscured.
Oceans held back by now crumbling shorelines poured into the void. Icy water hitting hot magma had its explosive effect sending massive billows of super-heated steam, ash, and chunks of rocks higher and higher.
Aghast, the bridge crew was stunned into stony silence
Slamming his fist on the console Capt Cheevers could only mutter, “Damn.”
From there it goes into flashback to the beginning of the story.
Planet of Statues, tells of the quest of an interstellar spaceship called the Searcher. Its mission is to find a suitable planet(s) with which to exploit its mineral wealth and possible colonization. One such planet covered in nothing but vegetation and huge oceans showed promise since at first glance it appeared uninhabited, but was it? Deep radar and sonar scans revealed thousands of collapsed buildings under the thick vegetation. Finer adjustments revealed thousands of statures in humanoid form, but no one alive. There was reptilian, avian, and insect life all across the land masses and abundant aquatic life in the oceans but no mammalian life or any signs of intelligence. But there had to have been intelligent life on the planet at some point else who constructed all the infrastructure, and what became of the people? Whatever, it had to have been several millennia ago that the crisis happened. Only exploring the surface of the planet would give them the answers they sought.
That’s all the taste I can give you for now; my hope is that I can get the story to the printer in about two months.