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“Misquoting the Star”
Novelette, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, December 2008
This story is a stand-alone sequel to “Misquoting the Moon” which appeared in the March 2007 issue of Analog. This issue marked the first in the new size format.
The world is destroyed, and refugees on the Moon are planning to return home to start a new civilization. An administrator is intent on avoiding past mistakes – and she has to power to do so. But it’s going to cost her dearly…
“Very good. Affecting.” – Sam Tomaino, SFRevu
“This is a story about leadership. Netty Washington is a well-realized character, complete with human flaws–which reflects the story’s theme that humanity would not be human without its flaws. Bartell makes a good case, a human case, for Netty’s decision; yet I must strongly disagree with it… Worthwhile stories are the ones that provoke these arguments, the ones that raise these questions.” – Lois Tilton, IRoSF
“Wonderful work.” – Juliette Wade, author
“Highly enjoyable.” – Analog reader
“Enough for a novel in itself… However, there’s another dimension… But there’s more… holy semolians, there’s more!” - Mark Watson, BestSF
The Story Behind the Story
I wrote “Misquoting the Moon” from a specific inspiration, with no thought of a sequel, even though there was clearly room for one. A kind reviewer indicated a desire to learn what happens next, and I thought, “well, yeah, I guess I would like to know too.”
“While the story comes to a satisfying conclusion, it also raises questions, not of ethics, but rather more practical considerations, which might be interesting for Bartell to explore in a sequel.” – Steven H. Silver, Tangent
The obvious answer would be to cure the disease mentioned in “Misquoting the Moon”. I wasn’t interested in the obvious. An interesting scenario came to me, and I liked the built-in drama of it. So, without planning to, I had to sit down and write what started as “The Elephant’s Wife”, continuing the idea of including an authentic folk story from general area of Namibia.
Since the first story was told from two distinct points of view, I thought to do the sequel the same way, and started it that way. It wasn’t a good idea, for a short story, so after dozens of drafts, I pulled it together into Netty’s POV. The story still has two distinct dilemmas though – Oscar’s just plays out in Netty’s POV.
From my biased perspective, the dramatic stakes in this story were as high, or higher than “Moon”. Readers did not seem to agree, though the story was well-liked. By the time I finished writing this, it was clear that Netty and Oscar had more things to do, and so I wrote or started several more stories, and outlined a novel. The story “Bloody Albatross” will appear in the Warrior Wisewoman 2 anthology this year. A very slightly altered Netty is the heroine there, and the stand-alone story could actually happen either before or after the two “Misquoting” stories. (There was, of course, no credible way to maintain the “Misquoting” motif.)
The novel is called “NAKED MOON”, and if you think the folks have trouble in the first few stories, just wait! Things get a lot worse.
Speaking of worse, one fleeting image in particular seemed to stick with readers of “Misquoting the Star” – the guy who “drove” his truck to the Moon. It could happen, as described. Unfortunately, my desire to depict an identifiable wreck was not scientifically realistic. The impact speed would be around 1000 mph (though I may be remembering the calculation wrong) so there wouldn’t be much left. One would also assume that reaching escape velocity from Earth would result in somewhat more damage than a fender bender as well.
Thanks to Pete Bullock for reading and commenting on the manuscript, and to Stan Schmidt, who held me to a reasonable scientific standard. Also to Mr. Silver for instigating this sequel.
The rules of WyrdNet are meant to be an organic, democratically suggested using Rulers Robs of Order. I expect input from Raja as well. In any case, as new images arrive from WyrdNet, and I make new cards out of them, a few guidelines are coming into focus.
Seals. On the front of the cards, at the upper left, is a seal. So far, I have seen four icons: horse, water, lamp, and zeppelin (or blimp). The meaning of these is unclear, but if there are only ever four of them, my guess is that they represent the four elements: earth, water, fire, and air, respectively. See the image.
Dimension. I’m using the term Raja used for this. So far, there are seven dimensions, starting with Warp, Woof, and Wisdom. Warp and woof probably refer to the two dimensions of old-fashioned looms. Wisdom would add a third W dimension, weaving something in 3D. The weaving idiom is supported by the Frigg dimension, since Frigg was some kind of goddess of weaving. The last three dimensions are all called Norn, and are numbered 1, 2, and 3. I hope to learn more of these soon.