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Science Fiction Magic
Some stories never get old. Some heroes are so deeply entrenched in our culture, they can be found in every genre and every medium. Take my new novel, Ladder to the Red Star, for example, which retells the tale of Jack and the beanstalk as a science fiction romance, set three hundred years in the future.
This story in one form or another has existed for millennia, and will most likely still be in circulation three hundred years from now. Jacques, the hero, is the ultimate everyman, his story a classic hero’s journey. He travels into another realm and then escapes from the guardian monster in order to bring a boon back for the mortal realm. Oh, and he charms the beautiful princess into helping him out. This basic tale can be found everywhere from ancient Greek myth and to modern comic movies, plus or minus a few magic beans.
However, those details, the beans and the giant and the goose that lays golden eggs, are what bring this particular version of the story to life. In Ladder to the Red Star these fairy tale items are translated into plausible technology. The beanstalk Jacques climbs is a space elevator cable running up from Earth to a space station high in orbit, and the golden egg is a datasphere containing the most valuable medical technology in the Solar system. The late great scifi author Arthur C. Clarke once said that when technology becomes advanced enough, it’s no different from magic. In three hundred years, the floating palace and golden eggs in my story just might be ordinary artifacts of technology, taken for granted like twitter and smartphones are today.
But though giant beanstalks and golden geese may be enchanting, the true magic of fairy tales is in the characters. In Ladder to the Red Star, the hero and heroine Jacques and Devi aren’t heroic because of all the cool scifi gadgets they use, but because of their courage in the struggle against ruthless power. Their determination, their cleverness, and of course their love is what earns them their happily ever after.
About Ladder to the Red Star
Once upon a ruined Earth 300 years in the future…
Jacques Tallinn, biotech smuggler and thief, is after the cure for a brain disorder he’s suffered since childhood–a disorder inflicted by a powerful tyrant. To get the cure, Jacques will need to climb the space elevator to the new Zenith space station hovering above Earth and go undercover in the lab where it’s produced.
Martian head tech Devi Chandra is immediately intrigued by her sexy new lab assistant. Though she insists on keeping things professional, she finds herself charmed by Jacques. Until he betrays her trust, kidnapping her and spiriting her off to Earth.
All Jacques needed to do was steal the biotech and get back home. But when things go wrong, he can’t bring himself to leave Devi behind. Now she’s injured and a simple caper has become an intergalactic cause, endangering his life and the lives of millions of others. But the hardest part? Winning back Devi’s trust.
Jacques leaned back against the wall across from Devi’s com booth, scanning the large, busy room. He didn’t like this. The com center was crowded with consoles and bustling with people wandering through on all sorts of business, some legitimate, most not. At any other time, the scene wouldn’t bother him, but with Devi near, his nerves were strung tight as wires.
Danger was drawing close. He could see no threat, but he could feel one, taste it in the air like the crackle of a lightning storm. He had to get Devi out of here, back to Santos where she would be safe.
But what if, after talking to her mother, after remembering the life he had stolen her from, she didn’t want to go with him?
A bead of sweat trickled down his neck. If she came out of that booth and asked him to take her to a spaceport, he was truly afraid of what he would do. That he would become ten times the ruthless, soulless bastard he had always believed himself to be. That he would keep her, whether or not she wanted to be kept, whether or not she hated him for it.
She was his life. How could he give up his life?
He closed his eyes, and for the first time since he was a child, he prayed to Heaven.
Please. I can’t let her go.
“You don’t have to. I’m staying with you, Jacques.”
His eyes shot open. She was standing across from him in the open com booth, a shine of happiness on her that made his breath stutter as he looked at her. Unknowingly, he had spoken aloud, and she had heard and answered his prayer.
A hot bright light burst inside him, joy so profound it was beyond words. He stepped toward her, entranced.
That was when the assassin struck.
A thin figure like a huge black spider leapt at Devi from behind a tall console, hands outstretched, a blade glinting in one fist.
About the Author
Jael Wye grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now lives in beautiful New England with her family and her enormous collection of houseplants. For more of Jael’s unique blend of futurism and fairy tale, don’t miss her ongoing series Once Upon A Red World.