February 24, 2015


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

Fantasy Trope: divination

Moke “Keo” Khanthavong  and Kyeh Sang-mi were just 16 when their parents left on an expedition to Mars along with fifty other families. Robotic builders have been at work and despite an unexpected scarcity of water, everything is ready.

Now newly turned adults, Moke and Sang-mi have been sent on a water search mission fifty kilometers up an unexplored canyon branching off of the massive Valles Marineris. They’ve trained for the mission for months – and nearly lost it when three other older adults balked at letting “teenagers determine the fate of the colony”...

Moke’s mother had argued, “What do you mean, you’re afraid they’re going to screw up?” she snapped at the tall, muscular physicist, Damon Eglesias. “They have more invested in a future here than you or I do!”

The colony was built at Capri Chasma, on the eastern end of the Valley. They’ve been assigned to explore a branch of Coprates Chasma...

“It’s foggy,” said Keo, squinting at the view screen. He fiddled with the controls, zooming in and out; in and out. Sang-mi made as if to slap his hand. He yanked his hands away, exclaiming, “I’m not a little kid!”

She sniffed, “Could’a fooled me.”

“Hey! We’re supposed to be working as a team here!”

“We are. You’re doing annoying things and I’m trying to teach you that someday, someone’s going to kill you when you do stuff like that.” Leaning back and crossing his arms over his chest, he sulked until she said, “Now you really are acting like a child – instead of just being annoyingly inquisitive.” He didn’t move. She sighed and added, “Which is both one of your most endearing and useful characteristics.”

Keo tried not to grin, but failed, leaning forward to start fiddling again. Sang-mi said, “I’ll still kill you if you don’t leave the focus alone!”

He stood up, comfortable in four-tenths Earth gravity and unlikely to bounce around like some of the adults did, and pulled something from a long pocket on his overalls.

“What’s that?”

“A dousing rod,” he said.

“A what?”

“Dousing rod,” he said as he tapped one end and gently pulled it in half until it reached the middle of the rod and stopped.

“To find water by divination?” Sang-mi said, rolling her eyes to the roof of the marsbug. “You have got to be kidding!”

He shook his head, “What can it hurt? The probes couldn’t find the water they were hoping for, neither had the other survey crews. It’s a simple concept.” He shrugged, concluding, “Besides, if it doesn’t work, who’s gonna know?”

“Me,” she said, dropping into a seat. “Rest assured I’ll let all of my friends know if this flops...” Both of them blinked in surprise as the dowsing rod bent to the left of the ‘bug. Sang-mi snapped, “Cut it out!”

“Cut out what?” Keo said, his voice cracking, “I’m not doing anything!”

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