Just finished recording and editing the science fiction audio drama Shalbatana Solstice, a prequel I wrote for my novel Lunar Dust, Martian Sands. I plan to release both in July.
Both stories deal with people trying to make a life on a lonely planet, and make the world their own. No zombies, no aliens – unless you count the characters from Earth who don’t plan to stay on Mars. People provide drama enough for a story, even a sci-fi story. Mars supplies the mystery.
Both stories have also been a long time coming, the novel much longer than the audio work. I have to say up front that while writing is a lonely effort, it takes a whole bunch of people to publish, such as knowledgable people to read the drafts, then read the rewrites. And when I decided to do the short story as an audio drama, I had to bring in a director, cast, studio engineer, and for this story, musicians and singers.
No, Shalbatana Solstice is not a musical, though music plays a key role for the context and the plot. The story takes place during a festival at a remote science station on the ridge of Shalbatana Valles, and what’s a festival without music? Yet this festival is by invite only, and little is known about what goes on during the night of the solstice outside the close-knit scientists, researchers, staff, and for this night, one skeptical pilot who attend. Some who are there are awestruck by events they witness. Others can’t leave Mars fast enough, haunted as they are by the events they witness during Null Time, those 40 minutes after midnight and before the Martian day when anything can happen.
Lunar Dust, Martian Sands takes place some years later. The pilot of the first story, Ed, has gone from flying suborbital shuttles on Mars to being captain of an interplanetary tug, the Cydonia Zach. The mystery he finds himself embroiled in this time is less cosmic but far more dangerous. The future of the settlement on Mars may be at stake, but, first things first, so is his life.
Both stories were fun to write, and an adventure of their own to publish. Whether both or either will succeed remains a mystery, at least for now.