Mar 20, 2015

Space Dance

Stardance: The Movie
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." -Friedrich Nietzche

Back in the previous millennium, I would occasionally take a break from studying, ride my bike to the local bookstore and see if any interesting science fiction novels had arrived. During most of the 1980s Stardance graced the shelves, but I've never read bought anything that was written by Spider Robinson.

cover art by Larry Kresek
The cover for Stardance by Larry Kresek was eye-catching, but I'd learned not to judge a book by its cover. I'd stand in bookstores and read novels until I decided that I had to buy them. So, there were some books that I would repeatedly scan through while trying to figure out if they contained a real science fiction plot or if they were just fluff with a hot babe spaceship on the cover.

I had a theory: you can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a book by its last few pages.

I love stories about First Contact and I like the idea of space aliens who have been visiting Earth for billions of years, but there are some "science fiction" writers who really are not interested in science and that can ruin a story for me. Or vastly annoy me. In general, I prefer the work of science fiction writers who have a background in science or engineering rather than the work of some random dude with a B.A. in English. Here is a review that gives some of the reasons why a hard SciFi fan won't enjoy Stardance.

Star Worms
I'm not particularly interested in dance. In contrast, Jeanne Robinson was a dancer and she made Stardance into a technically sound depiction of low gravity dancing. Make it a rule: if a SciFi author makes dancing a major part of a story, there should be a paragraph on the book cover explaining why. I'm not able to feel much enthusiasm for the idea that human enjoyment of dancing is inhibited by gravity so, wouldn't it be cool to dance in outer space? The whole idea of adapting animals to live in outer space has just never appealed to me.

Telepathy, Teleportation, Time Travel
My original reason for putting dance into a science fiction novel was rather lame. My main motivation was that Grean needed help. Grean needed to change the historical timeline of Earth, but the dirty work (Intervention) had to be done by bumbling humans. By the Rules of Observation, the primitive Earthlings of the 20th century could not be told about telepathy, teleportation and time travel. Solution: let your Interventionist agents believe that telepathy, teleportation and time travel are made possible by magic. To cast a magic teleportation spell, you need to wave your magic wand or say the magic word. Or, if you want to involve Jack Vance, maybe you can invoke the odd religion of Halma in which use of the proper dance steps can guide people into a magical science fantasy existence. So, Grean engineered a science fantasy adventure in which one of the two main characters is a dancer (Bet Pliqua).

Space Dance. Ghyl and Bet stop at the Moon
on their way from the Galactic Core to Earth.
Having sketched out the plot for Chapter 3, I'm now more than 20,000 words into creating my science fantasy adventure story that tells how Grean used magic to bring into existence the Buld Reality, the world as we know it. I'd originally thought of this story as being called The Dancing Earth, as a tribute to Jack Vance's The Dying Earth. However, I've grown more comfortable using either the title Star Dance or, alternatively, Space Dance, a title which I can think of as being a tip of my hat to Vance's Space Opera.

Practicing Telepathy by Bethy Williams
While trying to bring into existence the Buld Reality, Grean faced the challenge of sending Interventionist agents to Earth who knew nothing about the scientific basis of nanotechnology, teleportation or the other standard "tools of the trade" for Interventionists. Grean needed to destroy Gohrlay's monopoly on telepathy, and so, why not fight fire with fire? Grean scavenges the galaxy, finding the most effective gene combinations for human telepathy, and assembles a team of telepaths that will be able to operate effectively on Earth right under the noses of the Observers.

Marie Pliqua
Star Dance has the flavor of a fantasy story because Grean never explains to Gyle the technological basis of telepathy, teleportation, robots or any of the "magic tricks" that he is able to perform after arriving 'on' Tar'tron in the Galactic Core. Ghyl naturally has some telepathic ability, but when an nanorobotic endosymbiont takes up residence in "his" brain, his telepathic powers are greatly enhanced.

Simultaneously, Grean needed to push the primitive humans of 20th century Earth slightly closer towards being able to understand hierion and sedronic physics. Killing two birds with one Intervention, Grean chose to target Albert Einstein. In the Asimov Reality, where Einstein impregnated fellow student Mileva Marić and then, because of his irresponsible actions, he was disowned by his family and badgered by the family of Mileva. Escaping his troubles, Albert became a musician for the Ballets Russe and nobody in the arts world ever noticed that he knew math and physics. In the Ekcolir Reality, Einstein and Mileva were married, but they lost their first child (Lieserl) to a childhood bacterial infection.

Star Dance tells the story of how Grean turned the daughter of Albert and Mileva into the tool that she needed to end the Time War. Genetically, Bet is the daughter of Carl Sagan and Lieserl Einstein. However, the father figure who Bet grew up knowing was the Selfie of Alexander Godunov, an artificial lifeform that originated as another Earthling who Grean rescued from the 20th century and brought to the Galactic Core.

Bet in the role of Ghyl's Night
Alexander and Obsidia raised Lieserl and changed her name to Marie Pliqua. Obsidia, the ancient helper of Grean, is a master of disguises, so she plays the role of several characters in Star Dance, taking on several different bodily forms, including Night, a chess piece (image to the right).

Bet Pliqua is the daughter of Lieserl and Alexander and she grows up as a dancer. Eventually, she meets Ghyl (the other main character of Star Dance) and they are sent off on a mission to Earth as Interventionist agents. Next - Star Dance Chapter 4: Harlem
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