Saturday, April 28, 2018

"One Way"

Simon Morden trained as a planetary geologist, realized he was never going to get into space, and decided to write about it instead. His writing career includes an eclectic mix of short stories, novellas and novels which blend science fiction, fantasy and horror, a five-year stint as an editor for the British Science Fiction Association, a judge for the Arthur C Clarke Awards, and regular speaking engagements at the Greenbelt arts festival.

Morden applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, One Way, and reported the following:
Page 69? Let’s look at the UK edition. Our heroes – it’s not obvious just from page 69 that all these people are convicts – are being trained to build a Mars base. They’re working together. They have to be a team. This is only the second time they’ve all been together in one place, unsupervised. And they’re doing it.

But let’s not paint an unrealistic picture here. Four of the seven people here are killers. Frank shot a man. Alice euthanised her patients. Zeus was the perpetrator of a one-punch. Marcy disabled the auto-drive on her truck and killed over a score of people in a traffic jam.

Also, Zeus is an allegedly reformed neo-Nazi, and two of the crew are black.
Between them, Marcy and Frank got the cylinder off the trailer and onto the ground. She glanced around and pulled him close. ‘How are they doing?’

‘Getting on like a pressure cooker. Zeus is the least of my worries. Least of yours, too. Hell, we’ve all got some corners we can afford to have knocked off.’

The cylinder was closed by releasable bolts recessed into the outer shell and protected by pull up hatches. Frank pressed on the back of the first hatch so that it lifted proud of the surface, and wedged his fingertips under the leading edge. He pulled, and the spring-loaded mechanism snapped it into the upright position.

Zeus was there, doing the same thing on the next, and Zero beyond him.

The restraining bolts were screw-thread, big wings on the heads, released with a twist and pull. The cavity they extended into was just about large enough to get a hand in. Not Zeus’s hand, but he could help open the other hatches while someone smaller – Marcy, in this case – worked the bolt. A tool for this would be useful, but they didn’t appear to have one: Frank made a mental note to mention it later. To someone. Maybe even Brack.
Frank isn’t in charge of anything: Brack is their supervisor, their guard. But each con has their area of competency, and Frank had run a small construction company before getting locked up. So Frank has to take the lead here, to get people who wouldn’t normally give each other the time of day to work as one unit.

There’s a lot riding on this: at this stage they all know that they’re disposable. If they flunk training, they’ll be sent straight back to prison – and not just regular prison, but SuperMax. Solitary confinement. Forever. Damn straight they’d better get this right.
Visit Simon Morden's website.

--Marshal Zeringue