Sunday, January 24, 2016

Realm Explorers Part LXXXIII: Visit Lost Colony Ships in Space with John Thornton

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:

John Thornton

Title of book and/or series:

The Colony Ship Eschaton (Completed ten book series, beginning with Recovery of a Colony Ship)
The Colony Ship Vanguard (Completed eight book series beginning with Finding the Vanguard)
The Colony Ship Conestoga (in progress series with three books, beginning with Quest for the Conestoga)

Brief summary of the story:

Set about 170 years in the future, the Earth is a radioactive wasteland.  The last remnant of humanity lives in Dome 17, but the dome is failing.  Scientists have developed two new and unproven technologies: faster-than-light travel, and teleportation.  Both have significant limitations, but offer hope. 

Roughly one hundred years before, the people of Earth launched seven enormous generational colony ships each having immense biological habitats containing flora, fauna, and people.  These seven ships (Vanguard, Marathon, Warren, Conestoga, Eschaton, Trailblazer, and Zubalamo) were sent on separate journeys to distant solar systems with the hopes that in several generations, the colony ships would find a new home for humanity.  However, all seven ships were considered lost.

The desperate people in Dome 17 seek to locate one of those lost colony ships by sending two person adventurer teams in faster-than-light scout ships.  The FTL technology can only carry so much mass, so the scout ship and two pilots are the maximum amount that can be sent.  The mission is to find one of those colony ships and if it is still functional build a teleportation receiving pad on that ship.  Then the people of Dome 17 will use a sending pad to connect to the newly built receiving pad and teleport the survivors onto the colony ship thus escaping the dying Earth and failing dome.  It is a race against time, technological problems, and the unknown in an attempt to save humanity.

Each series follows the team of adventurers to a separate colony ship.  Therefore the three different series all start in the same place, Dome 17, but then each series tells what happens with the missions to those ships.   

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

There are three basic ‘worlds’ in my novels; Dome 17, the mechanical aspects of the colony ships, and the biomes on the colony ships. 

The first ‘world’ is the sterile and dry life of humans in Dome 17.  There are no animals, flowers, or any type of biology except for the food rations that are grown in rigidly controlled ways.  Water is precious.  Every part of life is tightly controlled and regulated, as the fifteen hundred people wrestle to keep the dome functional, and understand what is happening.  They are desperate to survive, and plan to use their new and unproven technology in the attempts to reach a colony ship.

The colony ships are gigantic and comprise the other two ‘worlds’ if I can use that term.  Basically they consist of a core needle ship which houses the propulsion systems, navigation, and mechanical aspects of the spacecraft.  So there are lots of technology places and engineering as you would expect in a huge spaceship.  The needle ship carries eight separate biological habitats.  The other part of the colony ship, the third ‘world’.  These enormous cylinders are placed in piggyback fashion on the needle ship and have different ecological climates inside, from tropical to savannah to coastal plains, to aquatic zones, ect…  The biological habitats were designed to mimic the natural environments of Earth.  These biomes also serve as the homes for the generations of humans who will live there until the colony ship reaches its destination world. 

However, all seven of the colony ships have suffered some kind of failures.  The novels describe how the ships have failed, and what the adventurers discover as they explore those derelict ships.  

If we were to visit the colony ships as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?

Each colony ship is in a different condition.  Some of the habitats look very beautiful, while other may not be functional at all.  To the people from Dome 17, who have never seen animals, or plants, or any natural setting, the biology is amazing.  So watch for the reactions of the adventurers to things they have only read or studied in history books.  Also observe for the interacts between the hundred-year old colony ship technology and the new and advanced technology the adventurers bring with them from Dome 17. 
 
What dangers should we avoid in the colony ships?

Be very careful.  Nature and technology may have changed drastically in the hundred years the colony ships have been in flight.  Watch out for the animals that are still roaming the habitats, but also be aware that some humans may still be living some kind of life on those ships.  How has their technology worked?  How has it failed?  And will the adventurers from Dome 17 find a safe place to go?    

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in the colony ships?

The Dome 17 people are used to processed food ration bars and strict controls on water.  The people who live in the biological habitats have a totally different idea of food. 

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in colony ships?

As part of the limited equipment the Dome 17 people are able to bring in the FTL scout ship, they each have a high tech pistol which is fusion powered.  However, Dome 17 was a stable and internally safe place, so they are not used to fighting or combat at all.  The wild animals of the biological habitats, and colony ship humans may be very different.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to the colony ships?

The faster-than-light scout ship is very limited in cargo space.  So the two adventurers have only the basic gear needed to build the teleportation receiving pad.  Fusion packs, molecular torches, pistols, medical kits, and a set of data sticks and data stick readers.  Additionally, they do have an artificial intelligence system (an AI) built into the scout ship.  The AI has its own personality and the goal of assisting in making the mission a success.  Each AI is self-aware, sentient, and able to verbally interact with the adventurers via a personal com-link.  It is unknown to the adventurers what the affects of faster-than-light travel will have upon them and their equipment.  

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in the colony ships that we don’t see on Earth?

All the life in the colony ships originated on Earth, but has been in the colony ship’s biological habitats for one hundred years.  So there may be variations on different predators, prey, and plants.  Also, as isolated biomes, each colony ship might have had mutations, or new strains of disease.  The adventurers hope to find stable, safe, biological wildernesses on the colony ships.  The plot involves what they do find. 

Since the colony ships have been in space on their journeys for one-hundred years, there is the possibility that alien lifeforms may have discovered them. 

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in colony ships?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.

One of the colony ships, the Eschaton, was built for a religious group.  They saw it as a form of Noah’s Ark to save them.  Spirituality, dreams, and visions still play a significant role in some of those people’s lives. 

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in the colony ships?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.

Permalloy is a new type of super-hard metal which was used to construct the colony ships.  It is spun as a liquid and then hardened into whatever shape is needed.  There are also technological methods of altering gravity to provide for Earth normal gravity in the biological habitats.  The colony ships have built in artificial intelligence systems, but they are one-hundred years inferior to the ones the adventurers have. 

Additionally, there are automacubes, robotic maintenance drones, which tend to the engineering needs of the colony ships.  None of the adventurers know the functionality of any of the systems on the colony ships.       

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in your books.

In Dome 17 the people play a game called ricochet ball.  This helps them to keep fit and provides an entertainment outlet.  

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in the colony ships as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?

The biological habitats were designed to mimic Earth, so there is a solar cycle.  This gives the biomes day and night rhythms. 

Is there a particular religion practiced in the colony ships?  Please describe what it involves.

Religious practices vary depending on which colony ship is investigated, and what its specific background was.  Also, the intervening years have allowed any humans to survive to adopt new and unique religious practices. 

What is the political or government structure in the colony ships?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

These are great questions, and the plot involves the adventurers trying to uncover just who or what is in control of the colony ships.  Originally each ship had a flight crew that oversaw the operations of the colony ship, as well as a separate government looking out for the people living in the biological habitats.  What remains of those original designs is revealed throughout the stories and varies from colony ship to colony ship, and even from biological habitat to habitat.  For example, the people in the tropical habitat may have a whole different way of operation from those in the coastal plains habitat. 

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit the colony ships?

There is a huge clash of cultures between the humans from Dome 17, and those humans who have survived on the colony ships.  Levels of technology, societal expectations, and the difference between living in Dome 17 and living in a biological habitat play a big part in the stories.  

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?

Oh dear, well, yes.  Everything in my life has shaped and influenced my writing. 

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?

I strive to write realistic characters.  So the people in my books deal with all kinds of emotions.  From elation over the first sight of an animal, to fear of the unknown, to deep depression, to post-traumatic stress, I write about people who are not superheroes, but individuals caught up in circumstances greater than they have ever encountered before.  How will they relate to each other?  How will they deal with loss?  How will they cope with the deaths of friends? 

Author Autobiography:

I have a widely diverse background. I worked as an ICU RN for 10 years in various, cardiac, surgical, and medical units. I was at the bedside when a myriad of people died.  I also saw some wonderful stories of triumph over adversity.

I also have an advanced case of arthritis which has resulted in my having seven total joint replacements, and stopped me from continuing to work as a nurse.  I have worked part time visiting the elderly, shut-ins, and others for the last 18 years.  

I am married, have four grown and married daughters, and three pets.  Two silly dogs and an ancient cat (18 1/2 years old) share our home with us.  

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?  

My books are available on Kindle for only $.99 each, and in paperback.  The easiest place to get them is on Amazon. 

Where can readers connect with you online? 

I have a Facebook page, which is the best place to contact me.  

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to the colony ships.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the Star Realm, in Realm Explorers Part LXXXIV!
-Annie Douglass Lima

2 comments:

Mary Hill said...

Hi, this sounds like a fascinating ya series. Thanks for sharing on Literacy Musing Mondays. :)

Tami Q said...

My middle child would enjoy these books!