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The Midnight Window: My Moon and Stars

I’ve reached the last scene of the penultimate chapter, and the end is pretty close at hand.  There are only four scenes remaining, and I may actually remove one of those because it might not be necessary.  I guess when I start writing these scenes this weekend I’ll know of the one I think needs removing goes.

But that’s for later, maybe Friday–no, make that Saturday, because tomorrow night I’m gonna be super busy–but for now I need to start my kids out on what for them is their last night together in North America as B Levels, and the next time they’re back in this longitude they’ll be ready to take over as the C Levels of the Second Floor.

It’s also the last day that this novel visits:  1 June, 2013.  There are no more days after this, either, so you know this is gonna end on a particular note.  But that’s as few thousand words away.  Right now that day is starting–and about as early as you can imagine:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry sat in the bay window of Room 308, his back pressed against the window frame as he gazed out upon the darkness over Salem Harbor at just a little past midnight on the first day of June. The residents nearly two kilometers across the water were dark, and the only major light source in sight was the small light station a half a kilometer away, located at the end of Derby Wharf.

The rest of the area was as dark as the skies he remembered the first night he spent at Camp Baxter during his first overnight camping flight, thanks to the same magic used to screen out all local light pollution.

 

So we’re back in that bay window at the Sea Sprite Inn, only this time we’re seeing things from Kerry’s perspective rather than Annie’s.  And when the time is stated as a little after midnight, that’s not a joke:  the scene is listed in Scrivener as taking place at ten after midnight.  Like I said, start of the day.

And I even have sort of the view of the area:

All thanks to Google Maps for making this possible.

All thanks to Google Maps for making this possible.

The Sea Sprite Inn would be right in the middle of the frame at the edge of the shore, and the room overlooks the harbor beyond.  The lighthouse is over middle right, half a kilometer from the inn, and the far shore is, as measured, almost two klicks off in the distance.  No word yet if anyone’s going to be eating at Witch’s Brew Cafe in the morning.

 

The evening went almost the same as last year. They walked to the same restaurant they visited last year—the same where Kerry’s birthday dinner was held—and met up with Coraline and her fiancé, though this time Trevor joined them for dinner: he was staying with the other A and B Levels in Boston and would fly with them in the morning. After they returned to the Sea Sprite Annie and Kerry rested for a bit talking and listening to music, then cleaned up and prepared for the night ahead.

Just like last year, neither expected to get much sleep.

Annie shifted around in Kerry’s embrace, getting comfortable against him and the pillows they were resting upon. She rested against him as she also gazed out the window. “No moon tonight.”

“No, it’s waining tonight.” He tightened his arms around her slightly, giving her a long, slow hug. “I checked before we left the school.”

“Hum.” She pointed out the window to star about twenty degrees above the horizon. “The red one there: what is it called?”

“That’s Antares, in Scorpius. It’s one of the largest stars that we can see, too.” He knew what she was doing and pointed to another start in the sky, a little further to the east. “But that one is brighter.”

She lay nearly on her back and stretched her legs. “And what is the name of that star?”

“That’s Altair. It’s also a big start, and spins so fast that it spreads out at the equator.” He played with a few strands of Annie’s chestnut hair. “Either are the brightest stars in the sky, so just like last year we can use them both.”

 

And what is Annie doing?  She’s looking for the brightest star ’cause the moon isn’t up.  It’s a continuation of what they pledged the year before:  when you see the moon, look at it and know I’m looking at it, too.  And if you don’t see the moon, pick the brightest star in the sky.  Any day now Kerry’s probably going to teach Annie to say “My Sun and Stars” in Dothraki when he tells her she’s the “Moon of My Life,” because the kids at Salem don’t need another reason to roll their eyes at these two.

So what are they seeing?  Oh, something like this:

My god: it's full of stars!

My god: it’s full of stars!

This is a screen shot from my newest program, Stellarium, which is open source and free–though you should leave a little donation, as I did–and is a powerful planetarium program that will allow you to track the sky, day or night, from anywhere in the world.  Yesterday, when I should have been writing, I was playing with different sky views, and I actually got an idea of the sort of sunshine Kerry’s going to get when he’s off on The Polar Express in the next book.  Spoiler:  it’s not a lot.

This means I’ll have something else to waste my time on–I mean, use as a tool to help with getting scenes right.  After all, I can now use this to see the local condition as a particular location–like when Kerry has to face his parent at the end of the day, novel time.  So much fun.

So, what becomes of this star gazing?

 

“Good.” She pointed towards Altair. “I like the blue star: it reminds me of coolness, and that which is cool can be warmed through cuddling.” Annie looked up at Kerry and smiled. “Red is anger, and I never want to be angry when thinking of you.”

“Or of a scorpion.” He chuckled before kissing her on the forehead. “Altair is it. Though watch out for the Monster From the Id.”

Annie giggled for several second. “What are you talking about?”

“Nothing—” He gave his head a single shake as he quickly glanced out the window with a slight smug on his face. “I’m just being silly.”

“Better than how you were last year.” She reached up and touched his cheek. “No tears this year; I like that.”

He pressed his hand against hers. “It isn’t because I’m not sad—”

“Then tell me.”

 

That’s where I left off, and when this starts up again, we’ll discover just why Kerry has no tears.  And . . . we’re gonna see something else as well.  Something you would never imagine.

Now, as I leave off, I must delve into a bit of geekness due to something Kerry said above.  While looking at Altair he tells Annie, “Though watch out for the Monsters From the Id.”  In the movie Forbidden Planet Altair was the star around which the planet Altair IV orbited, and that’s where the crew of the United Planets Cruiser, the C-57D, landed, made contact with Doctor Morbius and his daughter Altaira, learned about the Krell–and then had everything go straight to hell on them when their were attacked by the invisible monster later known as The Monster From the Id, which was really nothing more than an energy construct created by Doctor Morbius’ subconscious while he dreams.

In a way, this is a form of Dreamwalking that may just be possible in my world, and if it is, people better look out, because this Monster From the Id vaporized a space ship just to keep it from leaving the planet.  Any witch who could do this would be a force to recon with–

Which, come to think of it, is sort of how Annie looked when she had Emma backed into a corner--

Though, come to think of it, this is sort of how Annie looked when she backed Emma into a corner–

The movie had a budget of $1.9 million, which in 1956 was a hell of a lot of money for any movie, and unheard of for a science fiction movie from the 1950s.  The Monster From the Id was animated by Joshua Meador, who was on loan from Walt Disney Pictures (making this the first time Disney allowed one of their own people to work on another movie), and he actually slipped in a couple of what we would today call “easter eggs” during the attack sequence:  the creature has a small goatee (Doctor Morbius is the only person in the movie with the same feature), and the monster roars much like MGM’s (the studio that made the movie) Leo the Lion does at the start of the movie.

The biggest contribution from the movie was to science fiction itself.  Two of the main props–Robbie the Robot and the model of the C-57D–were used for years in other movies and TV shows.  (Robbie has twenty-five credits to his “name”), Gene Roddenberry was heavily influence by the movie when he created Star Trek (as I’ve pointed out before, the time the C-57D enters orbit around Altair IV is 17:01, which is also the registration number of the Enterprise), and both Babylon 5 and Firefly/Serenity borrowed from the movie.  In fact, a large part of the end of Serenity is related to Forbidden Planet in that the crew finally travels to Miranda and discovered information about the creation of the Reavers in Alliance rescue ship, C57D.   Forbidden Planet is based in part on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and in that play Miranda is the daughter of Prospero, a great sorcerer, so the crew of the Serenity reach Miranda and discover that the Reavers are pretty much the Caliban of their universe.

Joss, like Gene, has the geek gene.

Joss, like Gene before him, has the geek gene.

There you have it:  we start out with my kids stargazing together, and end up with lesson in science fiction history.

Never let it be said I don’t give you anything.

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9 thoughts on “The Midnight Window: My Moon and Stars

  1. You know I’m a sucker for those classic sci-fi and horror movies from the 50’s and Forbidden Planet is of course, a fav. Thanks for the history lesson :-).

    As for the novels, while I enjoy watching you build B for Bewitching, when will work begin to get A for Advanced out to your waiting public?

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