The realm of Jacky Clothilde and her friends has the subtitle “a place for Paul’s fiction to test its wings.” Paul Gies is the author of the site which has several significant stories in place. I stumbled upon it by accident by reading Chapter 1 of Homeward by Night. I found the story well written but felt like I had stumbled into the middle. Paul took my comments well and directed me to “The Road to Bluehorse.”
“The Road to Bluehorse” chronicles humanity’s early reach for the stars. A convoy of ships is being created that will explore our nearest neighbor stars looking for a place to set up a colony. The story revolves around Clay Gilbert. The year is 2333 and the world has survived, barely, a number of self-inflicted calamities. Clay finds himself accepted as a pilot candidate on the “Human Horizon Expedition.” Because of Einstein’s laws of relativity, the trip will be one way. As the story progresses, conflicts in the leadership of the convoy (there are colony ships, freighters, and SCEP or Explorer Pods). Clay pilots a SCEP which fashion themselves as “fighter pilots” much to the consternation of the Colony ship hierarchy. As the actual journey begins, it is not as easy as promised and the convoy discovers there are things that go bump in the night. Relationships develop between the characters adding to the story.
What is good:
I enjoyed this story right from the start as someone who knows more than a little science. When the author talked about space travel resulting in time dilation, he had me hooked. The description of the “Goldilocks” zone of planets and what potential life on other planets might look like was spot on.
The characters are engaging and there are a variety of personalities. The dialog is good and there are humorous moments as well tense moments. He has added a lot of detail that helps keep the story interesting – the characters play squash, computer games, and listen to a variety of music including the classics: Rolling Stones.
What could be improved
Any story can be improved a bit. For all the regulation explained, how people got on teams seemed a bit arbitrary. The decision was made so there was hardly any tension over whether particular people would make it on a team. The conflict between Colony captains and the SCEP captains is probably necessary to create necessary literary tension, but it seems unlikely in such a high stakes, high risk venture. These are quibbles and the story still reads well. I have been enjoying reading the chapters during my lunch and the length each is just about the right size for a 40 minute read. Something I need to work on. So I highly recommend starting “The Road to Bluehorse.”