as engaged in one of my more relaxing hobbies, astronomy, the other night. While waiting for Orion to come up (so I could look under his belt – I’m a nasty man) I swung the barrel on the moon. Always a favorite place to see things, and I really wanted to try out my new eyepieces.
Okay, so I know there are astronomers with big trench-mortar tubes that can see that golf ball Alan Shepard whacked. Very good. But with my new eyepiece giving me a CLEAR view at 120x (a big improvement), I can see things pretty well lunar-wise. With serendipitous luck, I swung onto the moon and nailed my favorite place of all, the round Sea of Crisis.
A year or so back, I was looking at the moon and thinking of an old story I’d written and considered a rewrite. Imagine a younger moon (three billion years younger) with silvery plants and glass-smooth stony seas and steampunk pursuit all the way across its visible face, from its Southwest to the Northeast. And what better place to end than the Sea of Crisis, so remarkably named for this sort of thing.
So I was picturing a lonely sea, with hard-to-find access that would allow the hero and heroine to hide. But how to get in there? Yet as I sat on my stool examining the actual landscape, I could see the world as it would be in my story. It centers on the so-called Second Empire, the First having come apart in some sort of high-tech calamity that left this small world cratered. I’ve only hinted at this. So far, outside of a section of standing fuse-stone bridge (the likes of which are impossible for this new empire to understand), there is little about the calamity that crashed that first civilization. In the final section, I wanted to give some sort of proof, to confirm what I’d hinted at. And looking down my focal length, I had my answer.
I could clearly see the way they’d approach from (from the left). The Sea of Crisis is along the top of the picture, a nice ringed “sea” with zillions of hidyholes. And the approach?
You see that rough area that speckles the “sea” – perhaps it’s a reed field hundreds of miles across. And the crater at the sea-side tip – I can easily envision a ruined port city, melted and silent since the fall of the First Empire. Gliding through this on their little runner-boat, our heroes discover a crude channel of sorts that runs through the impenetrable growth. Pushing onwards, they reach the low ridge that rings Crisis. Could there be a passage through, some sort of old ramp-step system the ancients employed? I haven’t figured the full details yet, but just looking at it in the middle of the night, I got a sense of lost ruins, of the perfect place to slip a boat into, and the undiscovered sea beyond.
H.G. Wells noted that while writing War of the Worlds, he bicycled about south-eastern England, looking for “people and places suitable for destruction”. And that’s what I’ve found here – a lonely landscape of hissing reeds and slagged cities, a haunting places for my heroes to hide.
Until they are found.
And that’s another story.