Good morning, and happy Monday!
Today I’m happy to share Universe: Awakening (Terra Nova #1), by D. Ellis Overttun. Here to discuss his book, is the author himself. If you enjoy Science Fiction that makes you think, have a look, because I think you will enjoy this one!
The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe. It is the last of a complement of twelve that is part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and spatial distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years.
Before ISV Intrepid can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. The ship is later salvaged but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma.
The probes collect their data with uneventful regularity.
Fast-forward to 526,880. A sole-surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around the probe begins to stretch and distend. Then, the probe disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it manages to transmit one final message.
CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is that something has invaded the universe and is moving a superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next thousand years. To the Celesti, this is one lifetime.
What can be done?
The one person who might be able to solve this problem is the copilot of ISV Intrepid. He has been lying in stasis suffering from mental trauma. He has been this way for the past century, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unchanging condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there.
This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed.
Is it possible to unlock his mind?
The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower level of the hierarchy of the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary do something extraordinary?
Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series.
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Jo’el was alone on the bridge of the Intrepid. It had just landed and the computer was completing the final shutdown sequence. He was happy to be back home and looked forward to getting out of his flight suit and into a hot shower.
“Shut down complete.”
He disengaged his safety restraints and made his way to the rear of the ship. Everything was just as it was on the day the ship was first commissioned: shiny and new, no signs of wear and tear.
He walked down the gangplank. He was in Davin’s garden. It was a warm sunny day and all the flowers were in bloom. There was a pleasant fragrance in the air and bird song was melodic and soothing. A short distance away, he saw a man tending to one of the flower beds. As he drew closer, the man turned to greet him.
“Yes Jo’el,” the man replied as he rose and brushed his hands against his trousers. “How are you my son?”
“I am well,” he replied as they embraced.
“How was the mission?”
“A success! The modifications I made to your engine design worked perfectly. We deployed all the probes and even went outside of the universe for a short time.”
“Excellent. I am so proud of you! Where is your brother, Davin?”
Jo’el thought for a moment. For whatever reason, he could not remember.
“I…I do not know.”
“How can you not know? He was the pilot of the ship?”
“Really father. I do not know.”
The birds stopped singing and it became silent and still.
“How can you not know?! Where is my son? Where is your brother?”
“I do not know,” Jo’el replied in frustration. “How can I know? Must I watch over my brother?”
The sun disappeared and dark clouds formed in the sky. The warmth faded and it began to grow cold.
“Jo’el, over here.”
Jo’el turned. There, a short distance away, was Davin.
“See father,” Jo’el said filled with relief.
“Come to me my son,” the man said to Davin.
Davin smiled and drew near. As he came closer, he appeared to be in some sort of distress. The dark clouds began to turn black. His pace slowed and then finally he stopped. His face was contorted in pain and he screamed. Jo’el desperately wanted to help his brother but was frozen on the spot. He watched as Davin began to fade and was swallowed up by the ground beneath him.
Jo’el awoke screaming.
“Hey! Hey! Jo’el,” a familiar voice said.
Jo’el looked around trying to acquire his bearings. After a few seconds, he realized it was morning and he was back in his quarters. Auberon was at his side. The dread he felt quickly faded.
“Want to talk about it?”
He was about to continue but the memory seemed to evaporate.
“Something about Davin but…but I cannot remember.”
“I am not surprised. The mind has a lot of defenses. But, as unpleasant as it was, it is a good sign. It means the memory wants to be remembered. Give it time.”
“What did you find last night?”
“We tried but unfortunately nothing. However, we may have nudged something loose given your dream.”
“When can we try again?”
“I think we should wait and see what happens with your dreams. You might be able to remember it on your own.”
The answer seemed to satisfy Jo’el.
“There is something I would like you to consider,” Auberon said. “There is a good chance you will be questioned about the Intrepid during your presentation. It could trigger the memory.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“It could be,” Auberon replied. “Given most repressed memories are negative, a presentation in front of the Council would be the worst place to suddenly remember something unpleasant from your past.”
“What is the worst that could happen?” Jo’el said with a smile.
“It could put you back in stasis,” Auberon replied.
“Do you think that could happen?” Jo’el asked turning serious.
“I think the memory will take time to knock loose. So, I think the risk is low. However, I would be negligent if I did not bring it to your attention,” Auberon replied honestly.
“Does Kallista think I should cancel?”
“What do you think?”
“I think you should be the one to decide. We will stand by you whatever your decision.”
* * * * *
What happened that day?
Truth rising to the surface
From guilt that lingers
Available on Amazon
As I was writing this post, I realized that it is a completely self‑contained narrative, no preamble necessary. Purists will say I should have titled this chapter “The Nightmare”. You’re absolutely right but I thought that would give readers too much of a hint of what was to come.
Without the title, when would you know that this part of the story is outside the realm of consciousness? Your first indication might be that the ship appears to be brand new. You would be wrong although I can’t tell you why. The answer is in Book 2, Genesis: Vision of the New World. No, the first indication of the surreal comes from landing in a garden. The next departure from reality (funny thing to say in fiction) is that Jo’el meets his father, something that we learn earlier is not possible. However, there is an obvious familiarity between the two. How is this possible?
The dream allows us to assemble the events that have led Jo’el to this point. He and his brother, Davin, were on a mission at the edge of the universe. It would be natural for us to assume from context that Davin was killed and Jo’el feels responsible. The memory has been repressed deep in his psyche but wants to resurface.
In a prior post (http://dld.bz/h5ycu), I noted the Terra Nova series is 1 part Bible, 1 part science and 2 parts human nature. This is the first post I’ve written where the 1 part Bible features. The inspiration for Jo’el and Davin has been drawn from the story of Cain an Abel. There are, of course, parallels and differences.
Cain (a farmer) murdered his brother, Abel (a shepherd), in a jealous rage. As far as I can read, Cain felt no remorse for his action. He only concerned himself with reducing the severity of the consequences. As punishment, he was driven from his vocation by God and was cursed to wander the earth as a fugitive and a vagabond.
Davin was a vegan biophysicist and Jo’el a nonvegan (with emphasis on “non”) theoretical astrophysicist. Socially, Davin had a side prone to brawling and carousing while Jo’el was more solitary and reserved. However, in career undertakings, it was Davin who was more conventional with Jo’el pursing ideas that continually put him at risk of being cast out of the respected minority in his field. Davin worked under his brother, not out of submissive acquiescence, but because Davin knew his brother needed his support. Thus, unlike the first brothers, there was no rivalry between the two. They, in fact, shared loyalty and kinship.
Jo’el’s perseverance was rewarded when he was put in charge of an interstellar mission to collect data at the edge of the universe. However, it resulted in Davin’s disappearance. The remorse and guilt from this incident, in essence, drove Jo’el from his calling as he was debilitated by mental trauma. This dream is part of his rehabilitation, the long road back to normalcy.
You may recognize the exchange between Jo’el and his father as reminiscent of Genesis 4:9 (King James Bible):
“And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The part where Davin was swallowed by the ground beneath him is the focal point of Natasha’s pic and a reference to Genesis 4:10 (King James Bible):
“…the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”
However, the most obvious link in my story to the first brothers surfaces in a later chapter. It has come to be known as “the mark of Cain”. While this reference has evolved in our culture as a pejorative, its original intent was one of protection. I have expanded its function and speculated on its administration.
Meet the Author
I grew up in a town in the Midwest. My mother was a bookkeeper for a small HVAC company and my father was a draftsman. At university, I studied chemistry. However, when I graduated, I did not (or could not) pursue that vocation because I was terrible in the lab.
I have been a storyteller ever since I can remember. It started as a way to get out of trouble and evolved as a way to entertain those around me. My first recollection of writing prose was in elementary school when I had to write a short essay about a picture from a magazine. (Mine was a freshly baked loaf of bread.) In grade 7, I penned two short stories for a school writing competition. One was entitled “My Funny Cousin”, a descriptive piece about a relative (a little older than me) who stayed with us one summer. My mother very quickly killed that story. At the time, it didn’t make sense to me because she told me she thought it was very funny. It was only later that I figured out that I could have replaced “Funny” with “Flamboyant” in the title. So, it was back to the drawing board. My second attempt was a collection of anecdotes about the life of my maternal grandfather titled “The Hilarious Things My Grandfather Did”. That one went on to win.
Apart from contests and making my way through school a little easier, I found that writing (especially creative writing) had other uses. In school, I was the proverbial class clown. One time a teacher told me, “One more pun out of you Overttun and you’re out the door!” To which I replied, “O‑pun the door!” That earned me a string of one‑hour detentions that would end on completion of a 1,500‑word essay on any topic of my choosing. So, I chose the great outdoors. It was a story about a lumberjack. It went sort of like this, “Jack the lumberjack was a lumberjack. Everyday, Jack the Lumberjack would go out into the woods to do what lumberjacks do best. They chop trees. When Jack the Lumberjack found one, Jack the Lumberjack took his ax and went chop, chop, chop, chop, chop…” Needless to say, while I met the strict requirements of the essay, it was disqualified. In its place, I penned something very wordy about getting up in the morning and going through a normal school day.
My first complete novel was a story about a soldier of fortune in the age of horse and bow. At the time, I had contact with people in the entertainment business in California. The feedback I got was that I should take one of the chapters and expand it into a novel. That made no sense to me. What the heck did that mean? How could you expand something so small into something big? So, I never pursued it. However, the comment stuck with me. It was only much later that I figured out that it meant that I should never rush the telling of a story.
This brings us to the present and the Terra Nova Series. (Book 2 has been published and Book 3 is in progress.) I write for an audience of one: my wife. She loves the stories.
Excerpts and Commentary:
Topic: Universe: Awakening Excerpt Universe 2 – Beyond a Program
On: The Magic of Wor(l)ds
Topic: Universe: Awakening Excerpt Chapter 46 – Tsai and Citrus
On: Herding Cats
Topic: Universe: Awakening Excerpt Chapter 66 – The Second Way
On: The Tattooed Book Geek
Topic: Universe: Awakening Excerpt Chapter 85 – Heron of Edenoud
On: On The Shelf Reviews
Topic: Indie Spotlight – Terra Nova Series
Topic: Author Q&A
On: The Magic of Wor(l)ds
Topic: Author Q&A
On: On The Shelf Reviews
Topic: Author Q&A – Cinematic and Visual Influences
On: The Book Hole
Topic: Author Q&A – Musical Influences
On: From Belgium With Book Love
Topic: Background to Universe: Awakening and Excerpt “Wanderer”
On: Zooloo’s Book Diary
Topic: Cover Makeover Genesis: Vision of the New World
On: On The Shelf Reviews
For a deeper dive:
Genesis: Vision of the New World