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Over the last few months, Variance Publishing has hosted on their blog a number of posts featuring their offerings and commentary by their authors, and they graciously invited me to contribute. Stanley Tremblay of Variance gave me permission to repost these here, and today’s post is the last of the three I contributed.
This is my response to the question posed to all the Variance authors about their novels: what’s your favorite line?
What’s My Favorite Line? RED MOON
Welcome back, fans, to another Thursday edition of ‘Favorite Line’. This week’s guest is Daniel Brenton, co-author of RED MOON. Let’s let Dan do the talking…
When Stanley presented his latest idea for the Variance authors to give a little inside look at their work by asking “what is the favorite line in your novel?” … I knew I was in trouble.
I, as Desi would tell Lucy, “got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
Red Moon, the novel I wrote with David S. Michaels (or, more correctly, where I played co-pilot while he did a marathon multi-month session putting the manuscript together, skillfully weaving in a number of chapters toward the end from yours truly) has a lot of lines I consider really good ones. Being human and having an ego, I confess I gravitate toward the ones I wrote.
I can’t tell you the first line I picked because that would ruin the ending of the book.
And I can’t tell you the second, because I’d have to explain it, and the simple act of explaining that one would be a pretty big spoiler.
So here’s my third favorite line, the first sentence of Chapter 52:
You are leaving the Earth.
Innocuous words in and of themselves, but in context, they bring this sequence of the narrative into sharp focus.
The story at this point has brought cosmonaut Grigor Belinsky, the only Soviet cosmonaut to attempt to reach the Moon, to the morning before his lift-off in an untried, hybrid Moon lander.
Belinsky, blackmailed into this enormously risky mission, wrestles with himself during these last few hours before the launch to do … what he knows he has no choice but to do.
In the excerpts below, the “Mirya” I mention is Belinsky’s dissident ex-wife, “SP” is Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, Chief Designer of the Soviet space program, and the R-7 is the workhorse booster of the Soviet and Russian programs, in use to this day.
You are leaving the Earth.
The words reverberated through Belinsky, a portentous, vague pronouncement that stirred him from his slumber, leaving him alone in a darkened, unfamiliar room.
Little snatches of a dream clung to the edge of memory. An Orthodox priest, a church spire that might or might not have been one of SP’s beloved R-7s. Only one image lingered with clarity — Mirya’s lovely face, somehow austere, regarding him from a distance.
After a few moments, he remembered he was in the Hotel Cosmonaut, in a spartan but comfortable room he had used before his first flight on Soyuz 2.
An alarm clock to his right ticked out seconds. Belinsky reached out to a small lamp beside the clock on his bed table, turned it on. The clock read 3:55. They would be waking him soon to prep for the flight.
Launch day, already. Too soon. The clock beside him beat like a mechanical heart, each tick pumping out the seconds, his life bleeding relentlessly into the past.
With a surge of frustration, Belinsky slapped the alarm clock off the table, heard it shatter against a wall. He sat up and stared at the broken mechanism for a moment, dismayed at his own outburst. At least the ticking had stopped.
Those five words set the tone for the chapter, follow Belinsky through his preparation for launch, and serve as a refrain later when Belinsky is waiting for lift-off in the cabin of his space craft, struggling to face the hurricane of emotions inside him that threaten to rip him to shreds.
Belinsky strapped in, found his mind running free.
You are leaving the Earth.
He had stowed his bag of personal belongings in a locker already crammed with desiccated survival rations….
….Slowly he became aware to of the background noises — tiny circulating fans, the creaks and pings of the Proton booster as it expanded in the summer heat, the low hum of electronics. He ran through the checklist until he and Ground Control were satisfied. The rest, for his part, was simply waiting atop 600 tons of toxic, self-igniting fuel….
….It was going to be a noisy liftoff. Compared to Soyuz 2 with its heat shield, the thin hull of Firebird wouldn’t hold out much of the engine thunder. It might leave him deaf.
He had an impulse to tell Ground Control to call it all off. Madness. He would be lucky to survive the first thirty seconds of flight, let alone reach the Moon.
He wrestled with it, held it down.
Writing this material was something of a challenge. To give you a quick context, originally Dave and I sketched out a screen treatment of the story which Dave attempted to shop through his contacts. The consensus was that this version, which was set entirely in 1968-69, had no relevance to today’s audiences. After that, the story sat dormant for a while until Dave conceived two parallel story lines set in 2019, and picked up the ball and ran with it.
Circumstances in my life dictated that could only contribute in a passive role during most of the writing of the novel, reviewing chapters, making suggestions, doing research to flesh out the characters and make the technical details more authentic. Happily, I was finally able to directly contribute prose during the writing of the last third of the novel.
The challenge was to give Dave chapters that fit fairly closely with the style he’d already established, and (frankly) keep my material up to the level of quality of what he had already produced. I was both relieved and delighted when I emailed him this completed chapter, and he responded with, “You son of a bitch. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. You got me. You really got me.”
I’m sure I can speak for Dave when I say that we both feel confident Red Moon will “get you,” too.
This was a well thought out book, and Daniel shows us this. It’s been played up in magazines and in the space industry (including venues like SF Writers of America, Encyclopedia Astronautica, and authors in the genre). To see what they had to say visit the RED MOON book page. While there, you can download the two chapter sample to further hook you on this ‘what if’ story.
You can find this on Amazon (and Kindle), BN.com, or your local retailer (ISBN: 978-0-979692-94-9). If you or someone you know is a Sci-Fi fan, or wonders what would have happened if we weren’t the first to the moon, or you enjoy a knock-down, drag-out of a read, this book can’t be passed up!
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Thanks again, Stanley, for showcasing Red Moon.
Copyright © 2010, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.