Friday Fictioneers: Starstruck

Here’s my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, a day late. The horrible news from Connecticut – twenty little kids, dead – knocked me sideways, too much to write anything last night. But here we are with the thoughts of a happy but worried astronomer whose pet project may or may not get funded –


Everybody’s stopped asking why I keep a worn-out basketball around, because I might answer. So I won’t give you the techy details; I’ll just say that it’s enormous fun mapping Kepler2-97c bit by bit as the data comes in. Because you know what’s so special about that planet? It’s the right size and the right temperature for people, that’s what. Just knowing it’s there is such a rush.

Only there’s marketing to think of. Money. And that’s the other reason I hover over my big patchy ball, adding all the information I can get. Nobody’s going to pony up for lists of numbers on a screen. But a map? People understand maps. They can imagine being there.

Christmas dinner will have to cook itself. I’ve got a world to build.

* * *

Tell me what you think of this one!

32 responses to “Friday Fictioneers: Starstruck

  1. This story is very interesting. This person certainly knows what they’re all about… with a solid business plan. I’m thinking this is set in the future.

    • Thank you, Ted. Yes – a fairly close future, when we’ve refined the detection techniques and improved our telescopes enough to detect “small” – earth size – extrasolar planets.

  2. I see you like mysteries, have you read… ‘The Shadow of the Wind’.

  3. Sounds like the precursor to a Sci-Fi movie.
    Nicely written.

  4. Clever take on the prompt, Sharon. I’d much rather build worlds (with words of course) than cook dinner any day.

  5. I guess my people need to talk to your people because it sounds as though your people have it down. Ahh, world-building! The stuff of dreams and sci-fi. We can talk business plans on Monday. 🙂

  6. It’s incredible to think that around those tiny bright dots in the night sky, there could be a planet, and on that planet there could be someone else looking up at the night sky.

    • Yes, it is incredible – and yet we already know that there are (big) planets around a number of them. When I spend too much time looking up at the night sky and trying to grasp how far away all those dots are, I can start feeling as if I might fall straight up into it 😉 (And if you really want to make yourself dizzy, consider how huge those tiny dots actually are. Bonus points for keeping in mind that the light you see has been traveling for thousands or millions of years to reach your eyes!)

      It’s a very, very big universe we’re in.

  7. I love it, a trip to possibility land!

  8. Pingback: How to make us worship you, and like it! | rarasaur

  9. Very good imagination. I can see people rushing in to populate.. 🙂

  10. a world to build….not many people can be in that position, so i hope “he” makes the most of it. well done.

  11. Nice one Sharon, hope all is well in your world. 🙂

  12. Enjoyed the story, Sharon. Most of the worlds I build are inside my head, but I can feel your character’s enthusiasm.

  13. Dear Sharon,

    Nice take on the prompt. I got a kick out of it becasue you rooted your story to the present with proper jargon and the latest news re planet finding. good job.



  14. I like this story.
    I can feel with the scientist – the excitement, the financial needs, a way to convince. Indeed, dinner can wait.

    • Thank you! Telling me you can feel with the character is a wonderful compliment. (And I apologize for the late response – for some reason a couple of your comments went into my spam box.)

  15. Hmmm… I initially thought this was on a distant planet, but know I’m wondering if this person is sculpting his world while on planet Earth. I liked it, but an old-fashioned globe in a world filled with techy details was a little tough to believe. Hope he can sell it! (I LOVED the last line!)

    • Thank you!! My idea (hard to get across clearly in such a small space!) was that the speaker is right here on earth, working for one of the programs that search for exoplanets (planets outside our solar system). Research programs like that often have trouble persuading people to provide funding, and this particular astronomer is making a model of a newly discovered planet around another star, hoping that if people can see what that distant world looks like they’ll be intrigued and willing to pay for more studies. (The story is set twenty to fifty years in the future – we don’t have the skill yet to detect an earth-sized planet, let alone get information about its geography.)

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