It is Twenty Minutes into the Future
. A mysterious secret project at an unnamed American university has developed what's known as the Phase Shifter — a device allowing access to other dimensions, alternate Earths which all coexist on the same planet, but at a different four-dimensional angle to what we call "reality." Several have been found in which Earth is still a habitable planet, and for the first time, a person is to be sent to explore one of them, and return with a report on its flora, fauna, and/or mineral wealth. Physicist and enthusiastic outdoorsman Martin van de Mijne volunteers for the project; having buried his wife (a victim of pancreatic cancer) two years earlier, he feels he has little enough to lose should something go wrong.
The Shifter teleports Martin into the midst of an Edenic mountain country, and before long he discovers that the place is not only habitable but actually inhabited. The unusual creatures that he meets... well, he would call them fairies, except that fairies aren't an average of seven feet in height. They remind him vaguely of Tolkien's elves
, except Tolkien's elves (while equally efficient hunters) aren't really the Barbarian Hero
/ Warrior Poet
type, nor do they dress like something out of a Frank Frazetta painting
, nor do they have wings and antennae. Despite their initially fierce appearance, the Esprit (as they call themselves) soon reveal themselves to be an incredibly friendly race; once Martin has begun to learn their language, his closest friends among them are not only willing but eager to teach him about their culture.
Things aren't as simple as they seem, however. His superiors in the Shifter Project hope to remove him from it when they begin to suspect he's losing sight of his mission. And while the Esprit themselves are friendly, there are a host of less friendly animals on their world...
Among The Esprit
is a work in progress, an illustrated SF-meets-sword-and-sorcery fantasy somewhat in the vein of the Light Novel
. Its author, who posts here as JakesBrain
, is making his first drafts and preliminary artwork available online at jakewashere.deviantart.com.
Contains Examples Of:
- Action Girl: Mirali. Darodea is, more or less, an Action Girl in training.
- Berserker Tears: Mirali, when she thinks Ravani's been killed.
- Author Tract: Although the author is aware of the danger of filibusters, and thus scrupulously avoids them, he does occasionally use Esprit culture as a wry commentary on his own society.
- Badass Longcoat: Martin wears a trenchcoat, but his badass pedigree is somewhat in doubt.
- Bamboo Technology: The exclusive province of Dunlin the Healer; she invented the world's first battery, and uses it to power what is essentially a Geiger counter.
- Con Lang: Used for the first few chapters, until the narrator develops some facility with the language.
- Going Native
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Mirali has three large clawmarks running across her left hip.
- Hot Scientist: Dunlin.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: Martin implicitly describes the Esprit by explaining how they think he looks:
If you saw me, you would see a normally proportioned human being, about six feet in height . . . what they saw, on the other hand, was a short, thick-necked, wide-chinned, stubby-armed, barrel-chested, bandy-legged creature with abnormally small eyes, ears, hands and feet, and a strangely rounded, bulbous nose. His hair was so short, and most of it seemed to be on his face, of all places; and his clothes were dull and gray and seemed to drape over his entire body — as though he were afraid of exposure to the elements! No wonder he was so pale... And where were his antennae and his wings? Did he lose them in some horrible accident, and was that why he was wearing that huge cap and that ridiculous long cloak?
- Immortality Begins at Twenty
- In My Language That Sounds Like: In the opening chapter, Martin learns that his name sounds like "mountaintop" in Esprit, and Ravani Galan learns that his nickname "Gal" implies femininity in English.
- Just Think of the Potential: Martin's cohorts in the Phase Shifter project are torn into factions over the project's exact purpose — one hopes to find sentient life to communicate with, the other hopes to find uninhabited planets with exploitable mineral wealth. Both sides are having a Potential Applications fight at the opening of the story.
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: Hoo boy... Okay: Martin writes the story; he manages to get it to one of his fellow scientists, who transcribes the journals to digital format and passes them on to another scientist connected to the Phase Shifter project, who in turn hands them over, years later, to the man writing a book about the "failed" project.
- Lost Technology: Crossing a massive desert, our protagonists discover that the large rock formations are actually melted skyscrapers. Martin realizes that they're standing at ground zero of a three-millennium-old nuclear strike — and that they're being exposed to still-dangerous radiation.
- Nice Hat: Martin's faded, beat-to-shit bucket hat. He's owned it since his first year of college.
- No Periods, Period: While there are benefits to being a female member of a species that does not menstruate, there are also drawbacks; like many Esprit couples, Ravani and Mirali have never had children because they can't tell when Mirali is ovulating.
- Punctuated Pounding: "'LET — him GO — you SON — of a BITCH — or I'll BREAK — your GOD damn — SPINE!'"
- Random Events Plot: Hopefully the fun kind of random, instead of the confusing kind.
- Screaming Warrior: Ravani, whose tendency to do this nearly gets him killed.
- Walking the Earth: A valid lifestyle choice on the Esprit's version of Earth. Ravani and Mirali are probably the best examples.
- Warrior Poet: The Esprit.
- Write Who You Know: Martin just barely avoids being an Author Avatar by virtue of his advancing age, linguistic knowhow, and being a widower.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The hair and wings of the Esprit are usually bright red for males and bright green for females. Unusually thought out by the author, who brings genetics into the picture in a rather Chekhov's Gun way.