Wednesday January 18th, 2017

The exercise:

It's time to bring back the Random Book prompt. So go grab a book from your collection and borrow its first line. After giving it credit, let your imagination take it from there.

I wanted to use this prompt to inspire me to start reading one of the two books my sister Nicky got me for Christmas. Turns out? They both have excellent openings, as far as this prompt is concerned. I had trouble choosing between them for today's writing... so there's a chance this prompt might come back around a little sooner than usual.

Ideally, though, that'll be after I read the one whose starter I'm making use of today.


The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

I am not as I once was. When I look at these photos, taken so long ago, I see someone else. Those are not my clothes, my things, my friends. That is not my face. It cannot be.

Where are the lines, the scars, the wear and tear of the passing years? Where is the pain? That is what is missing most clearly: the pain. How it transforms you, inside and out. How it changes... everything.

You must be thinking: we all get old, you are not special. This happens to us all, this lack of recognition as we flip through dusty albums filled with faded photographs. We are born, we grow old, and then we die. It is part of the human experience.

If that is so, if those thoughts are swirling behind your eyes, then I should probably tell you that you are mistaken. We are not the same, you and I. I was never meant to grow old. I was not meant to die.

Perhaps I was not meant to have been born at all. I'm sure my mother and father would tell you so...

Had they survived.


Greg said...

The reviews of that book are mixed, so I'll be interested to hear what you think of it! It sounds like it's got an interesting premise, and most of the reviews refer to the interesting characters too, so maybe it'll inspire a few more prompts!
As usual I've gone to google books as randomly as possible, looking for something with a preview, and for a change we got a novel this time. Let's see how this goes....

Pennyroyal by Stella Whitelaw.
The man stopped his Land Rover on an area of level shale at the foot of Mam Tor and switched off the engine. For a long moment the bone-shaking noise continued and then it started a descent into silence. It still took five minutes before he considered removing his ear-plugs, and it was ten before he actually did, and nearly twenty before the mountain before him was still and quiescent. He got out of the Land Rover -- a simtek of an ancient vehicle that the Library data-pads told him was used in this kind of land back when burning things to produce energy had been popular -- and looked up at Mam Tor.
The Library, again, quietly informed him in a voice in the back of his mind that sounded like his mother's that this was named for a geographical feature on a planet that had been destroyed during the last war-cycle. The resemblance was surface only; the original Mam Tor had been a mountain; rock upthrust during tectonic upheavals in the planet's infancy. This was a simshield coating over one of six enormous engines that powered the Heinlein as it patrolled the empty gulf between planetary systems. An engine that scooped up masses of quantum foam and collapsed them under heavy magnetic fields into a scintillating plasma and extruded them back into space-time to recondense into new foam. The energy extracted during this process was similar to that obtained from detonating small stars and much less environmentally catastrophic. Though the Heinlein did possess the capacity to destroy small- and medium-sized stars if they were in the way.
The engine was, the Library informed him, not performing optimally. The plates of shale -- lustrously dark as though coated with a light-absorbing oil -- should have been plates of diamond, and they should be evaporating away, not accumulating into the morraine he could see around him. It needed to be shut down, analysed and re-configured, and restarted.
Shutting down was easy; and that was done. Analysis was harder: the Library could do it (in fact, only the Library possessed the processing power to do it) but the Library couldn't directly access realspace and needed human proxies. He needed to study an engine which he knew nothing about in the hopes that the Library could determine the flaws in it. It felt like an impossible task. Reconfiguring might be easy, might be hard: it depended on what the Library decided was wrong. And turning the engine back on again... he shivered at the thought.

Marc said...

Greg - eh, I don't read reviews in general, but definitely not before I read a book that I'm going to read regardless. Plus the less I know beforehand the better, as I hate spoilers of any sort.

But! I will be happy to report back on what I think of it once I'm done :)

Hah, love the description of the engine in your opening. The Heinlein sounds intriguing as well; I feel like it has more stories to tell, perhaps of what it encounters on its patrol.

I'd also be quite happy to read about what happens next here, but I imagine you'll not be at all surprised to hear that :)