I was trying to think of a novel way to incorporate faster-than-light travel in a story, when I was struck by the thought of horse drawn carriages. What if, instead of building a new kind of drive, people encountered a new kind of creature, and made it into a beast of burden?
That's where my idea for geists came from. Filling in the concept also added questions that I tried to address in the story. Is it moral to use a creature for your own ends? The substantial differences between a geist's consciousness and a human's complicate the moral question, and of course there are those in this world who would rather not think about such questions at all.
The characters came to life for me, first, in the ways they related to their work. I tried to give the captain a shrewd arrogance, with a dash of humor, that fit her role as a leader and someone who had climbed the ranks to get where she was. I found in Jeda a world-weary professionalism with an aversion to thinking about some of the hard questions of working with geists.
The story came together around the question of how the Solar Federation ought to treat geists. What do the characters value more, the rights of alien creatures, or the practical benefits of harnessing their abilities? Examples of both responses appear, and I nodded toward a third path with the story's resolution.
Very interesting, Michael! Thanks!
Check out all the stories on November 30!