New Idea: The Cronian Incident

terraform_MarsA friend and mentor once told me that you shouldn’t be too worried about people stealing your ideas. To paraphrase what he said, you’ll have thousands of ideas, and no one can steal your work unless you’re careless. Those words rung true to me, mainly because I have far too many ideas, and not nearly enough of them are developed. Case in point, I’ve got four projects in the works, and none of them are near to completion.

And yet, I find myself once again adding an idea to the mix. It came to me over the course of the last few months while working for Universe Today and trying to refine my ideas on science fiction. Basically, I have been thinking for some time that any piece written by me should focus on the paradoxical issues of Climate Change and technological change, and how these will play out to shape our near, not-too-distant, and distant future.

And then an idea started forming. I would have filed it in the “not now, maybe later” column, but I think it might be something that could really work. And given the way I’ve been bugging people constantly over the past few months with it, asking their opinions, soliciting thoughts on the first few chapters, I clearly have become emotionally invested in it. So I thought perhaps it was time to commit to it, as I always do, by sharing the idea, and thus ensuring that there’s a record of it somewhere so no one can steal it! 😉

The Cronian Incident:
It is the late 22nd century, and humanity has grown to colonize almost every corner of the Solar System. Earth is now recovering from the worst aspects of “The Anthropocene”. Temperatures are dropping, species extinctions have stopped and are being reversed, and the population is stable, with over 13 billion people living in its cities, arcologies, and orbital habs. Over 1 million people live on the Moon, in cities built in lava tubes beneath the surface.

Mars and Venus are also home to humanity. On Mars, the Martian people live in domes that crisscross the surface, a Space Elevator brings people to and from the planet, and a constant flow of shipping to and from the Asteroid Belt and Solar System keeps the place busy. On Venus, the Cythereans live in cities that float atop the planet’s extremely dense atmosphere, harnessing carbon from the clouds to create graphene and diamond-based materials.

On all these worlds, humanity exists as a series of factions that know no national boundaries, and are collectively referred to as “Extros” – short for Extoprian. Thanks to over a century of runaway technological progress, diseases and disabilities have been eliminated, implants and embedded machinery allow for constant connectivity to the Nexus (future version of the Internet), and all vestiges of life are assisted by sentient programs and algorithms of various complexity.

Meanwhile, the Outer Solar System hosts an entirely different mix of people. On the moons of Jupiter (the Jovians), Saturn (the Cronians), and Uranus (the Uranians), people enjoy a simpler existence. While they have access to plenty of advanced technology, many types of nanotech, biotech, and embeddadles are eschewed in favor of organic living, portable machines, and non-sentient computing.

Despite the fact that the Jovians, Cronians and Uranians are made up of countless peoples and factions, collectively, they are often referred to as “Retros” – a pejorative used to refer to their regressive lifestyle. But whether it is for religious reasons, personal reasons, or because they fear that Earth and the Inner Colonies have become consumed by runaway change and progress, the people who call these moons home prefer to maintain a balance.

Whereas these colonies were established in the latter half of the 21st century to ensure that humanity would have backup locations in case Earth died one day, by the 22nd century, they became dedicated to the preservation of something else. In this day in age, it is no longer about ensuring humanity’s physical survival, but rather preserving its spirit or a certain way of life.

Callisto_baseThe Plot:
Enter into this universe Jeremiah Ward, a disgraced former-detective who developed a drug problem as a result of his stressful work and the pace of life in the Inner Colonies. After an incident where two witnesses were murdered – which was attributed to negligence on his part – he is given a hefty prison sentence, which he decided to serve out in a penal colony on Mercury.

On this planet, where the day-side is hellish and unlivable, and the night-side is freezing and unlivable, mining crews live in the northern crater known as Prokofiev. Given the planet’s slow rotation (which takes 58 days to rotate once on its axis), mining crews go out to the night-side, spend days harvesting ore, and then transport it back to Prokofiev, where it then processed and fired off into space.

After a few years of this miserable existence, Ward is approached by a faction from Mars. Known as the Formists, this well-connected and powerful faction has a very strong standing on Mars. And they have a problem. One of their prospectors, who was traveling to the Outer Colonies to investigate their resource extraction operations, has gone missing. Worse yet, this prospector apparently had “sensitive materials” on his person that the Formists don’t want falling into the wrong hands.

These materials, they claim, detail a plan to convert Mars into a livable environment over the next few generations. Consistent with the Formists long term plan to terraform Mars into a new Earth, they are hoping to expand their contracts with the Outer Colonies for the vast amounts of resources they will need to do so. If these plans are made public, they worry that one of the rival factions – the Dysonists, the Habitationists, Settlers or Seedlings – will try to take advantage.

In exchange for finding their colleague and obtaining this information, Ward will have his sentence reduced to time served. He is told that his experience as an investigator makes him well-suited to the task, as well as the contacts he made in the Outer Colonies during his many years of service. But of course, he knows the real reason why he was selected: as a convict, he will be well-motivated to get the job done, and will be less likely to ask questions.

His journey takes him from Mars, to Jupiter’s moons of Ganymede and Callisto, and eventually to Titan – Saturn’s largest moon and the last stop of the prospector before he disappeared. When he finally comes to the end of his investigation, what he finds is far more than he bargained for. Rather than simply being a case of kidnapping or a hate-crime perpetrated by angry Retros, the prospector’s disappearance is part of a conspiracy that goes right to the heart of the Formist’s agenda.

More than that, it goes right to the heart of an ongoing struggle, one which humanity has been preoccupied with for over a century. For in the end, the issue of humanity’s long-term survival has not been settled. And the solution to this problem just might mean sacrificing the few to save the many. In the end, Ward will be faced with a terrible decision: expose the agenda and spend the rest of his life on the run, or complete his mission and let things fall where they may?

***Of course, I can’t say what the big “conspiracy” is, for that would be spoilers galore! But suffice it to say, I have that worked out and its where the story gets particularly detailed, and brings up a lot of the intricacies of terraforming and space colonization.***

So that’s the idea. How does it sound? I’m five chapters in and quite hopeful that it will turn out to be something “magnum opus-y”.

15 thoughts on “New Idea: The Cronian Incident

  1. Nice to hear from you 😀 Welcome back I know what you mean “with projects in the works, and none of them are near to completion.” Whenever I think I have all the ends tied new ideas and improvements arise XD Although you can register your work even a draft at Intellectual Property Registry however you will have to pay a fee (not much). The advantages of registration in the Registry are in addition to providing a qualified proof that the registered rights exist and belong to the owner, unless proven otherwise, to publicize the registered rights. See you around ;P

  2. Sounds fantastic! I’m hooked already… Sign me up for the twelve volume set when it releases! lol

    I’ll look forward to book one, and see where it goes from there. I do admire your ambition!! 😉

      1. You do realize that many have written their entire lives on only half the volume of idea you have developed for one might-be book, right? lol You’re a whirling dervish of amazing. If you don’t write this book, I’ll be very disappointed… probably devastated. 😉

      2. You should be… in the most humble way. Hmmmm…. have to mull over weather you can be impressed by yourself and humble at the same time… *giggling* Of course you can – it’s called confidence. 🙂

      3. Honestly – I’m not a fan of exposed pre-polished writing. Not that I don’t enjoy reading it, but as a publisher I see how it clearly dampens the want for the reader to purchase – they feel like they ‘know’ the piece already and are a bit blinded to it when the big moment to publish comes. Instead of a huge splash, you get a splat as if you stepped in a puddle.

        My advice (for what it’s worth) would be to post about what might be happening in the world of your book in small snippets without actually giving away the content. Let’s say you have an MC named Jorina – talk about the fact that in chapter seven, something pivotal to the plot takes place (a new love interest, a discovery, perhaps a betrayal), and it involves Jorina (more eloquently, of course). If you string your teasers out like a annex road that runs parallel to the drift of the story, I think you’ll drum up much more interest as far as ‘what could it be?’ goes; thereby wetting the whistle of those who want to read the piece. Keep them short; keep them developed as if you were crafting the story; and keep them open and flexible enough that only primary occurrences are hinted at. That way you still have the flexibility when editing to make detail changes without invalidating your teasers.

        I hope my babbling is useful! 😉

      4. Ha!!! Are you kidding? I love twist endings and details… but I hate spoilers; so put it all down on paper in a sealed envelope and mail it to me in three months! lol

  3. Very interesting and thought provoking. Have you read “Leviathan Wakes” by James S. A. Corey (actual Dan Abraham and Ty Frank)? I did a review of it for the NSS. Somewhat similar in terms of solar system development and habitation. A detective is one of the lead characters. It is becoming a new series on SyFy channel beginning in December. Preliminary reviews have been good, and I hope that I will agree. It is a good book, and I like novels and stories that deal with solar system development without having to run amok in far-flung star systems. Look forward to reading more!

    1. I actually have a copy of that and am planning to read it. I became aware of it because the trailers for “The Expanse” looked so very cool! And in point of fact, I was wondering if anyone would see a connection. While I haven’t read that story yet, I was reminded of the premise when I was thinking about inciting events, and who my characters would be. Somehow, a murder and a conspiracy always seems to be a good start! 🙂

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