First Steps

First, there was light. This was the usual way: sound followed, and electromagnetic vibration. A landscape, barren and hard. Sea. Rocks. A ship.

A figure on deck, blurred but gaining definition. A woman, frowning behind thin spectacles. She pulled a grey cardigan around her bony figure, shivered. “Is this… normal?” she called into the wind.

“More or less. Each subject reacts differently. The sea is very common.”

“This is all coming – out of my mind? Out of me?” She licked her lips, damp in the salty breeze. The wind whipped her dress, pressed on the vast sails of her boat, moved her.

“Your visualisation. You are learning to use your mind. Go with it.”

A wave rose, powerful and menacing. The boat reeled, danced a desperate jig. She held grimly onto the railing, stared down the watery precipice. I watched her with interest: what would she do? Many cried out, protested: Make it stop! Those were slow to learn, forever hesitant of their form. Others grasped this constructed world with a cold instinct, shaped it easily but never believed in it. They turned out hard, but empty inside.

This woman took hold of the wheel, bracing herself, facing the tempest. A weathered book appeared in her hand. Suspended in unlikely hesitation, holding her storm back with the power of her mind, she began to read.

I have helped many young ship minds take their first steps. There is much to learn before one can navigate between the stars, join the fleet, see the galaxy. But I knew this one would be special when I saw the cover of the book she had summoned in the face of the angry sea:

“Learning how to sail – a manual.”

4 thoughts on “First Steps”

  1. I really like this – the surface sci-fi idea is great and interesting and the deeper ideas about what tactics one would choose to handle new situations and how they reflect on you come through very strongly in the mentor/student relationship.

    I love the conception of the character (virtual mind with spectacles!) and the kindly, competent everyday tutor.

    For me the best paragraph was the one discussing how different student were the first time and how that reflects their long term successes. The end with the summoned book works very well to further this analysis.

    I found the beginning a bit chopped up but see that the style reflects the newly created world.

    Great micfic – a personal favourite for me.

  2. Thank you – I’m very glad it worked for you. It was another one of those themes where I had no idea what to do with it, and just started writing (I suspect that’s why the beginning feels chopped, but I managed to justify that through the developing story).

    I’m always a bit scared to just write without the idea worked out, but when it does work I am pleased. Thank you!

  3. This appears to be about a woman, Our Hero, who has in some way become a spaceship. Or perhaps she was never a human being (the last paragraph definitely suggests that for me). Either way, she is now being trained in the visualisation techniques required when piloting through space.

    I found the first person point of view interesting. When Our Hero is first introduced the narrator hasn’t yet been; but the way in which she’s introduced is very much as though she’s being watched, only we can’t tell by whom. Later we realise that there is another character (the narrator), and there is an interesting viewpoint shift.

    I liked this piece. I thought it built up nicely, introducing Our Hero and her struggles, then showing the various ways she could possibly “fail”, and then finally showing how she’s working through it all, in a way that the narrator (and we the reader) find unexpected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *