Excerpt: ODDER SPACE
Jerm Jarden is in some deep ship.
The following is the introduction of the new upper middle grade novel ODDER SPACE, now available as a paperback and an eBook from Amazon.
First Things First
In school, back home, my eighth-grade science class learned that there’s no sound in outer space. Our teacher, Mr. Eno, explained that space is a vacuum, which means that there’s nothing in it. Sound waves need something to move through… so no things means no sound. Outer space, therefore, is not just very, very big but also silent.
Except that it isn’t, exactly. Silent, I mean. It is definitely very, very big.
Soon after my mom took me out of school so that I could travel with her on her new assignment — aboard the Benevolent League of Worlds Fleet vessel Amity — I learned that, in fact, space is not a vacuum. Space is a lot of mostly nothingness, but there are some things out there in the dark. Some very, very small things. Things that most living creatures in the Universe can’t see with their so-called naked eyes.
But many intelligent species have built sophisticated devices that can see extremely small things. Devices like microscopes, for instance. And… uh, more powerful microscopes. And there are also other kinds of devices that can hear extremely quiet sounds. The Amity is equipped with a whole lot of these very sensitive devices, because the Amity is meant to observe interesting things and events in outer space — phenomena, the League Fleet scientists like to call them. And Mr. Eno does, too.
Officially, my mom is Lieutenant Commander Calathea Jarden, M.D., but most people call her Doctor Jarden. Or just Thea. The League Fleet isn’t strict about ranks or titles. It’s not a military organization. It’s an exploratory one. It’s still important that everyone follows orders and does their jobs properly, but it’s not required that anyone stands up perfectly straight always or salutes anybody else. It’s also not out of the question for a League Fleet crewmember — such as a ship’s doctor — to bring a child with her on an assignment — her child, that is — especially if there would be no one at home to watch him.
My dad is in the League Fleet, too — he’s an engineer and also a lieutenant commander. Because they both got new assignments at the same time, and because at thirteen I’m not quite old enough to stay planetside by myself, my parents flipped a coin to decide which of them I would accompany. Even if Mom hadn’t won the coin toss, I probably would have gone with her. Dad’s new ship is testing out a new kind of propulsion system, which isn’t dangerous, but isn’t not dangerous.
The Amity was merely going to observe some phenomena, including a peculiar pulsar, which wasn’t supposed to be dangerous at all.
Things have a way of going sideways in outer space, though. If and when I make it back home in one piece, I’m going to tell Mr. Eno that he’s wrong about sound out here. When a pulsar explodes, for instance — even a small one — it’s loud.
Fortunately, no one on the Amity was hurt. Not physically.
Unfortunately, there was another ship with us at the time, and it was destroyed.
But fortunately, the Companion was an unmanned equipment vessel.
But unfortunately… well, that’s what my mother’s first patient the following day wanted to talk to her about.
Just two more quick things before we get to that conversation, though:
In case you don’t already know: “Amity” means “friendly relations.” But someone at League Fleet Headquarters must have thought that “starship Friendship” would sound weird. (And it really does.)
And, now that I think about it, given the trouble that I got the Amity into, I’m not sure Mom would still say that she “won” the coin toss.