Speculative fiction (what some longtime readers might think of as "SciFi") can be described as the fiction of ideas.
Even more than other fiction, SF often examines the consequences of one idea across a whole society. For instance, what if robots became so beautifully built that they could pass for human? What if you could outsource your own memories? What if Hitler had won the war?*
*Fans of the genre will recognize that these three "ideas" are at the core of stories by the late, great (but bat-crap paranoid) Philip K. Dick. The guy that dreamed up the stories behind The Man in the High Castle, Blade Runner, and Total Recall (we like the version with Arnold) and a bunch more.
So with SF on my mind, today's writing warm-up exercise:
The eclipse was less dramatic than she'd expected. Not that she was in the cone of totality, but still, she'd never witnessed a solar eclipse before. Never mind a double.
Still, she'd taken the afternoon off, and though the cheap protective glasses had broken –– she'd forgotten them in the seat of her vehicle and then sat on the damn things when she'd slid into the seat in the cool darkness of the parking bay.
Still there it was: her first double-lunar eclipse. She watched two penumbral cones shaving the sun into a puny lozenge of light. An unseasonable breeze sprang up. She shivered and wished there was someone next to her. She hadn't considered herself in any way sentimental, but she longed now for something communal, a human companion.
The sight of the sun, even as small and cold as it was from this distance, turning just that much smaller and colder –– well, she felt for a moment that she understood primitive superstition.
And then, as quick as the remembered snap of a plastic tiddley-wink, the moons parted and the sun shone round and bright again.
He kept watch on the mirror-calm surface of the water, barely breathing.
He was comfortable –– or anyway about as as comfortable as anyone zipped into a breather suit and strapped bodily against the pot-bellied ventral surface of a drone hopper could expect to be. He refused to consider the blurring of the features of shore, blocked out thoughts of the hopper's speed (only a quarter-sonic, almost survivable without the suit), kept his attention on the glassy reflection of the sky.
The handful of beta-blockers he'd swallowed at the start of his shift was working to keep his blood-pressure low. He shrugged his shoulders against the petal-soft lining of the suit. He stretched the webbing between first his left and then his right hand.
Eyes open, he told himself. He was going to need to be very quick and very lucky or he was going to end up very dead. And he wouldn't be the only one.
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