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Denizens: Prologue

...So now it falls to me to set down this history. The Antarian shuttle disaster of last June claimed six hundred and fifty-seven lives, chief among them (at least from my partisan point of view) my parents. Consequently, I find myself unwillingly released from my promise to my father that an account such as this would not be published in his lifetime. He felt that turning the Event into a story would cheapen his and my mother’s part in it; such was never my intention, nor my wish. However, the final judgment will, as always dear reader, rest with you...

So begins an epic tale that will seize hold of your attention and hold it in thrall during forthcoming weeks and months.

Master storyteller Brian William Neal already has two great novels in Open Writing - The Kingdom Of The Blind and The Last Star Trek. Click on those titles in the menu on this page for hours and hours of reading pleasure.

Today we begin the serialisation of another of Brian's unforgettable books - Denizens. Read this prologue, and you will be hooked. Then watch out for the continuation of the story, chapter by chapter, every Monday in Open Writing.

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Book One of the Saga of Humanity

PROLOGUE

New Aotearoa
Procyon System
February 17, 2508

So now it falls to me to set down this history. The Antarian shuttle disaster of last June claimed six hundred and fifty-seven lives, chief among them (at least from my partisan point of view) my parents. Consequently, I find myself unwillingly released from my promise to my father that an account such as this would not be published in his lifetime. He felt that turning the Event into a story would cheapen his and my mother’s part in it; such was never my intention, nor my wish. However, the final judgment will, as always dear reader, rest with you.

The later accomplishments of Professors Thomas and Jennifer Stoddard have been widely documented, and I do not intend to cover any of that well-trodden ground here. Instead, I will confine my narrative to the events that made their names, their fame and, ultimately, their fortunes. And now, by sorrowful legacy, my own.

Considering my lineage and the name I bear, some may deem it surprising that none of my chosen professions have any connection with the oceans of the many worlds of the Federation of Humankind. I am, at present, a humble writer (odd how, in this age of technology that renders obsolete the necessity to actually write, we still use that word) of adventure tales which, while keeping me solvent, could hardly have brought me the wealth that has now, by unhappy inheritance, become mine.

As they say, I’d trade it all….

I am setting this down in the house my parents called home for the last forty-six years of their lives, on a small piece of paradise orbiting Procyon A, with its breathtaking views of the two major moons, Apollo and Gemini. The origin of the names is lost now, but their grandeur, glimpsed through a skyscape of dusted rings, is awesomely spectacular.

The name that a beholden Federation allowed my mother to give to this world means New Zealand in the now-dead Maori language, and I have been here since December. In those happy, shaky isles, so far away, that time of year is summer; Christmas here, however, was cold, with little cheer.

My wife and children will not be joining me for several weeks, and although I miss them, I am grateful for this time alone, and for the opportunity to finish this account. For I am here to praise my parents, not to bury them, although in the telling of this tale I may well accomplish both. I hope so.

The account my father produced of the Event, while factual, was a dry and academic tome, as have been all the other versions, informed and otherwise. Well-written histories perhaps, but sharing one common shortcoming: all were told from just a single viewpoint, and nowhere does the entire saga appear in one volume.

Partly for this reason, but mostly because it is the only way I know how, I am setting down this account in the form of a novel. By doing so, I hope to set right a few errors that have been allowed to go uncorrected for so long. Although I was not born until after the Event occurred, I was nevertheless raised on the stories, related to me by my parents and the others that survived them. I can only hope that those who remain will forgive any inaccuracies, and allow me the necessary license to tell the story, in my own way, of how the destiny of humankind was fulfilled.

I said I was a writer; perhaps you have heard of me, perhaps not. I am not, as so many are these days, a futurist, but I will do my best to record this story as faithfully as I can; I have had, after all, much help from many good friends. For this is their story, and it is as much for them as for my parents; as much for those who returned from the far places, the deep places, as for those who did not.

My father was adamant that, while he lived, only one Stoddard’s interpretation of the facts should grace the Galactic Net and I, having hitherto had no interest in the subject (from a writer’s point of view) have had no trouble honoring that wish. Now, however, I can tell the story, from all sides, of the most significant event in the history of the human race.

In writing this account in the form of a novel, I am dedicating it not only to my parents, but also to that unknown scribe who first dared to beg for the suspension of disbelief, and who first asked, what if…? I ask the same of you, cherished reader, and although I have taken some license here and there, and made the occasional speculation, I hold the salient facts of the story to be true.

It is a story of love, of great courage and determination, and of selfless sacrifice. Above all, it is a story of wonder, a testament to the incredible diversity of life that the universe has to offer, and which we are only just beginning to discover. It also asks many questions, not least of which is: what else is out there, still waiting to find us?

This, then, is the story of the Denizens.


Thomas J. Stoddard, Jnr.


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