Halloween excerpt from Water

At the edge of the crevasse, Cas gave everyone another climbing lesson, this time incorporating the silent rope signals. One could never assume they would have comms.

“I will go down first to see if this thing takes us anywhere we want to go,” she said.

On this side of the crevasse, there were broken blocks they could use as belay anchors. Tony set up as before and Cas tied in. When she was ready, they exchanged their calls and Cas, once again, backed over the edge of a crevasse and descended into the darkness.

If this crack went as far as the one above, it should cross L6. It might even go to L7, near the location of the shelter, though they did not have enough rope to go that far in one pitch.

She slowly picked her way down. They had been in the mine long enough that she had become used to the eerie groans and pops of the ice. But as she dropped further and further from her friends above, into the darkness, into the unknown, she began to notice them again. Some, she could actually hear, as the sound waves in the thin air around her vibrated their way through her helmet and the thicker air inside. Most, she could only feel through her hands and feet where they touched the crevasse wall. She had been climbing for several minutes when she realized there was something different about those vibrations.

She paused at a small ledge, helmet pressed against the ice. She could hear a faint rhythmic thump. That’s weird, she thought. And it was. Everything she’d heard so far had been random noise made by the ice as it sorted itself out after the quake. The sounds were often startling, but they made sense. But this… she could not for the life of her think what would make such a regular thumping.

She realized she had been standing on the ledge for some time. She checked her O2 level. It was low but still safe. So, not hypoxia, she thought. I must just be tired. She shook her head and continued down. Several meters further, she paused again and leaned her helmet against the wall. The thumping was louder. Whatever was the source of that sound, she was apparently getting closer to it. She wasn’t exactly scared by this thought. More curious than anything. But she was also a little scared. She continued down.

Several more meters and she felt something touch her back. She jumped but did not lose her hold on the wall. She took a deep breath then turned to see what was touching her. She was surprised to see her helmet light reflected back by ice just centimeters from her visor. Between her concentration on the climb and rumination on the source of that thumping sound, she hadn’t notice that the crevasse had been getting narrower. She looked down. The crack continued to taper below her. She would not make much more progress there. She looked around. To her left, the crack widened a little. She climbed left and looked down. Still narrowing, but it looked like she could go a ways. She continued down.

A few meters more and she had to traverse left again. This time when she looked down her light was reflected up at her. Was that a bottom? Could it be L6? A wave of relief washed over her. She leaned her helmet against the wall to rest a moment and was greeted by the thumping, louder than ever. The relief vanished. Ok, she thought, time to face the thumper. She continued down.

When she reached the bottom, she realized she was in a grid tunnel. She had made it to L6! Shadows shifted in her light as she looked around. One of them moved differently than it should have. Her breathing froze and she backed away quickly, falling over an ice block. She scrambled to her feet and cast her light in the direction of the weird shadow. It was a figure. In a suit. Lying on the floor of the tunnel. In one hand was a block of ice. The figure dropped the ice and Cas felt the thump as it landed, just like the thumps she had been hearing. The figure raised the hand in the air and waved at her.

There was something wrong with the helmet the figure wore. It was smeared in black such that Cas couldn’t see a face and there was a thin stream of mist jetting out where nothing should be coming out, ever.

 

(excerpt from the first draft/WIP of Water: Generation Mars, Book Three)

image: created with Stable Diffusion

Climbing kids

Every time I wonder if I’m asking too much of my main characters, eight-ish and ten-ish years old (Mars time is complicated), something like this comes along to reassure me. Kudos to Sam!

(And, yes, there is climbing in the next book.)

Ice sounds

Here’s the soundtrack I play in my office lately while I write. I don’t know how a collapsing glacier on Mars would sound to those stuck within, but I imagine it wouldn’t be too far from this.

The lights have gone out. The tunnels have broken and shifted around you. And these sounds constantly rumble and zing up through your feet and the thin atmosphere outside your helmet. Do you have enough air to find your way out?

My gosh, this book might be too scary for kids!

 

Water

This week, I wrote the first 943 words of the next Generation Mars book, Water. Oh, I’ve written many more over the past months in the form of developmental notes to myself: 14,000 or so. But these 943 are the first words I’ve written of the book itself. They are the climax, no less, and it’s a whopper. I wish I could tell you about it, but you’ll just have to wait till I get up that mountain.

Shelter receives Five Star review from Readers’ Favorite

“Douglas D. Meredith created this series as an introduction to hard science fiction for children. Shelter will engage children in wanting to know more about science, planets, and space, and should appeal to a variety of ages. The vocabulary isn’t dumbed down but explained in a manner that makes even the more difficult concepts easy to understand. The attention to detail is precise. Meredith weaves in an undercurrent of longing for earthly things such as wanting to play on the surface, sit and look at the sky, feel the grass, and climb trees. Humor is derived from the way the sisters interact. They may have been born on Mars but they still behave like ordinary kids, such as Ori being excited about working in the crop domes or the two trying to sneak out with a soccer ball to play on the surface. Their relationship is at the heart of the adventure as their love for their family drives them forward and pushes them to be courageous. The illustrations are in black and white which pairs well with the hard science fiction genre and portrays vivid images of the landscape of Mars. This is a great resource for children as it is informative and humorous, with likable characters and an adventure that will spark interest in the genre and a desire to learn about science. Notes are featured after the adventure and include coronal mass ejections, radiation, and gene editing.”

Readers’ Favorite Five Star Press Release – Shelter

Book festival

Generation Mars will make a rare public appearance at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend.

I’ll be in the Indie Author Pavilion for Children’s Books on Saturday, March 12, from 2:30-4:30pm.

If you’re in the Tucson area, come by and buy a book or just say “Hi!”

Shelter is now available

Readers of all ages,

Shelter: Generation Mars, Book Two is now officially released.

The family is on an away mission when a solar particle event forces them to seek shelter where they can. As conditions go from uncomfortable to desperate, it falls to the sisters to save the family. It’s a struggle for survival in which they learn the full meaning of shelter.

Available now on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733731040

 

Middle-Grade March promo

31 mind-bending, fantastical, out-of-this-world, roller-coaster-worthy middle-grade books to discover in March 2022!

Generation Mars has joined 30 other authors to fill your March with stories.

Each day will feature one of the outstanding books pictured.