The story is settled; the characters are mostly assembled; the plot is rough but present; and the setting is sufficiently existent to satisfy me. So what’s it to be?
The answer is science fiction! A colony world that has been settled for long enough the the colony is now looking to expand, to found secondary colonies at promising-looking sites. They have global maps from orbital surveys, and robotic scouts have examined the areas with any promise, but some have some anomalies about them and need human inspection.
The world is a planet with large and shallow oceans, a little on the warm side, with an atmosphere that’s nice if you’re up on the ridges and peaks and absolutely horrible in the lowlands. Noxious and unpleasant, the valleys are home to rather large creatures that are just as toxic to humans as humans are to them; terrestrial life is stuck along the higher elevations near the colony, with the line between the lowlands and highlands an uneasy warfront between the two trees of life.
The colonists cover a nice, wide range of humanity; those who came to this planet are dedicated specialists, their children are less specialized, and their grandchildren have the beginnings of freedom of choice in their careers. There are a few of each generation on the expedition to survey the sites, each with their own prejudices and opinions about how to handle what they’ll be finding.
I’ll be trying to hold relatively close to hard science, as best I can; no FTL, no psionics or magic, no nanotechnology or AI. There will be some assumptions about the advances of materials science, fabrication, and gene-editing technology, extrapolated from things like CRISPR.
The theme for the story – the Question at the heart of it – is simple but important: “Are we alone here?” Alone means both the colony itself being alone, without any other human settlements on the world somehow, and the question of humanity itself being alone – and why or why not. Given that we are, even today, discovering large-scale things about our world, a lone colony on an alien planet might be forgiven for not knowing their new home intimately as of yet.
The central characters will include Arella, a third-generation botanist determined to prove she’s as good or better than her elder sister; Mari, a second-generation geologist, with a strong desire to be part of the second settlement, away from her family; Kevin, an architect and machinist included to survey the site for less-obvious resources for construction, eager to get out and away from the colony for once; and Jake, a first-generation communication specialist with firm beliefs about humanity’s special place in the cosmos.
Tuesday, November 1st, will see the beginning of their tales as they look to answer that central question.