Several years ago, I wrote a short story titled "Christmas in Space" for a holiday anthology on The Roses of Prose blog. I did a lot of research for this short story just to be sure I had facts straight. I even forced myself to rewatch movies like Avatar, Oblivion, Interstellar, and Passengers to learn about the effects of cryosleep. If you've read any of my blog posts, you know what a hardship that was. 😊
After the holidays, I couldn't let that story go. I was fascinated by teams from Earth who were willing to leave everything behind. So, I expanded the short story into a novella, MISSION TO NEW EARTH. What reasons would be so compelling to find a new home for humans? I came up with global warming, depletion of natural resources, earthquakes and resulting tidal waves, even the possibility of a supervolcano in Yellowstone.
With info from the Mars One Mission, I discovered the requirements and training for my characters who would take a one-way trip to a "Goldilocks" planet--one that is just right for humans. In my story, our moon and Mars had already been colonized, but it wasn't possible to evacuate all Earth's inhabitants there. They needed a place where humans could live as we do here.
United Earth Space Agency was sending three teams that represented the United Americas, Euro-Africa, and Asia to find three Goldilocks planets. The final training for the teams took place on Titan (Saturn's moon).
Even with expanding the story, I kept one detail the same. One team reached a planet beyond our solar system on Christmas Day. I gave that a lot of thought. Not all the inhabitants of Earth are Christian, not even the majority. Since the three teams preparing to locate Goldilocks' planets represented all of Earth, I thought it was important to include mention of other religions.
It was our last Christmas in civilization. That evening, we celebrated with the other teams. A party that combined Earth’s December celebrations—Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Mawlid an-Nabī, Dhanu Sankranti, Bodhi Day, even Omisoka because none of us would be here for New Year’s Eve. Secular symbols made sure those who didn’t follow a religion weren’t left out.World-building for this story took as much time and energy as a full-length novel. I don't regret the effort. The book may be small (in length), but the "message" is important.
One of the characters summed it up at the end of the story.
“As you already know, I’ve never been a religious man.” Tom had made that clear on many occasions. “This voyage has changed me. Since we came out of cryo, I keep thanking God for letting us survive. Now I thank Him . . . or Her—” He glanced at Gloria who had strong beliefs about gender neutrality with regard to the Supreme Being. “—for providing humankind with a new beginning. May we not screw it up the way we did Earth.”No matter how you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you much happiness.
Would you go on a one-way trip to explore a new planet? Would you do it to save humankind?
In 2172, Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of nuclear winter—the timeline changes. Eight years of training crammed into four.
Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, but are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.