Title: Hard Setdown by TQ Chant
Date Published: 5th January 2016
Sam Cane – ex-con artist (sort of), ex-soldier (definitely), and woman on the run.
She’s looking to escape a life of petty crime on Earth that’s got her in too deep with the wrong people. Taking a job with one of the corporations contracted to open up and exploit new worlds in the growing Commonwealth, she’s assigned to a young colony right on the edge of human space. It looks like the perfect escape, until she arrives on IGC-187X and things start to go downhill. Fast.
Arriving at the colony site, she finds it mysteriously deserted, its communication systems sabotaged and her ride rapidly heading out of the system. Failing to repair the communications system in time, she realises she’s stuck on the apparently deserted planet unless she can get a deepspace message out. Exploring the colony site further, she realises two things – that something terrible has happened to the colonists, and that she’s not alone. She contacts survivors from the colony, who tell her they were forced to relocate due to raider activity, but their story doesn’t quite add up. Betrayed by them, she connects with the only sane person left – Adissa, the daughter of the colonial administrator, who has been living underground since her father had gone mad and led the colonists to a mysterious settlement elsewhere on the planet.
Suddenly, getting a message out has taken on a new urgency. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouth with the colonists, Sam and Adissa work together to try to get an old buried launch array on-line. The full horror of the situation starts to impact on Sam as she realises just how far the colonists have fallen and that something far worse is lurking hidden under the deserts of the arid world.
Out on the fringe, she’ll find out that what you’re running from isn’t always the thing that will kill you.
Guest Post, Inspiration:
OK – how to write this without spoilering the plot?
Well, the first thing to say is that a lot of the more speculative things I write are set in the same universe. I’ve got a whole alternate history worked out from eighteenth century (in which I set a project I have up on he Unbound platform, The Frost Fair) all the way up past Sam’s time. I think this slightly obsessions stems from being a historian by training – I want to know how a society or a situation develops, and I want to know what the ramifications of events are. It’s why I enjoy expanded and shared universe type settings, and sometimes find it frustrating when someone develops a really interesting world and then writes a single book or a trilogy in it.
Events I’m writing about or have planned in the universe can quite often, therefore, inspire other stories set in other times and places. Sometimes by fixing a problem in the timeline or setting up the background to a plot, I come up with an idea for a story line. In the case of Sam’s story, the kernel was some throwaway mentions of a previous conflict, and the need for a Maguffin to explain an important aspect of the Universe that then took on a life of its own (which I can’t explain any more without giving away the metaplot…).
Nothing, of course, exists in a vacuum and I think it’s healthy to read and watch material in the same sort of space as what you’re creating in. It’s good to be inspired by what other creators are doing – as long as you don’t plagiarise, of course! I’ve drawn on all sorts, old and new, for ideas and occasionally things I thought I could do better (though with sometimes mixed results).
I don’t think you can write even speculative, far future or fantasy material without acknowledging the real world. My science fiction sometimes draws from historical events or themes. Without wanting to get political (though I think that to be alive is to be political), there’s a lot going on in the world right now that worries me. While my main goal is to write entertaining, exciting escapism, I do also like to explore some of these issues. The real temptation of course, is to write dystopian fiction, taking the way things seem to be going and imagining where it could end up. There’s an awful lot good, vaguely dystopian writing out there right now and I enjoy reading it. I’d rather, though, write something more positive, exploring what society might look like if things got better. The story then becomes more about external threats and internal recidivism threatening a more progressive society.
So that’s roughly what inspires my work, and Sam Cane in particular.
About The Author:
Tim Chant grew up (mostly), went to school in East Anglia and university in Scotland. He took his History degree and did the only thing he could with it – joined the civil service. When not shackled to his desk he writes science fiction, alternative historical fiction, historical fiction and any other fiction that takes his fancy. When not doing that, he’s an inveterate roleplayer and wargamer (and getting back into historical fencing). He lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their two rabbits.