Kasper Interviews Author Gloria Wickman

The Sun Never Shines on Ariadne VI Book Cover The Sun Never Shines on Ariadne VI
Gloria Wickman
In the Hopper
2016

When Commander Alexis Riley crash lands on an alien planet, her biggest regret is that she didn’t die with her crew. Along with the only other survivor, an android named TOMAS, she must travel across hundreds of miles of barren wasteland to have any chance of survival. But just as Riley finds her will to live, the planet finds new ways to try and kill her.

*****

My fault. My fault. The thought echoed in Commander Alexis Riley’s head in time with the do-deep, do-deep of the klaxon alarm. She unbuckled the harness that held her prisoner to her chair, hands shaking as she pressed the release button.

“Report,” Riley said tersely.

When no answer came, Riley shouted again, louder this time. Again silence.

No, not silence, just the absence of speech. The klaxon still blared and Riley heard the electrical systems sparking behind her. The ship was no longer flyable. She didn’t need Li Fan’s report to know that. Li was a good engineer, but some things were unfixable.

Guilt bubbled up in Riley’s throat but she clamped it down. She’d deal with it after the crisis. Right now her crew needed her to lead. She’d answer for her mistakes after she got them off of this alien planet.

A drop of blood from her forehead dropped past Riley’s eye. She brushed it away from her face. Other than the inch long cut above her eye, and some bruising from the safety harness, she was uninjured. Considering the speed at which they’d entered the atmosphere, it was nothing short of a miracle. Aasif Patel was one hell of a pilot.

Riley stumbled out of her chair, leaning on the armrest to keep her balance. The ship, a five-seater Gamma class scout ship, stuck out of the ground like a javelin, it swayed as Riley inched toward the front of the ship, where Aasif and Georgia Davis sat motionless.

“Patel, Davis, what’s your status?” Riley’s voice crept higher, her nerves finally showing through.

“Fan?” Riley called to the engineer who sat behind her. She would check on her next.

The metal groaned as Riley slipped down the last few feet toward Aasif and Georgia’s stations. It was less than ten paces from her own seat, but the trip had seemed interminable. Now, at last, she could see her crew.

Aasif was dead. Riley could tell by the sickening angle of his neck. She felt for a pulse anyway, needing the final, horrible confirmation.

Riley turned to Georgia. Georgia who had been laughing and joking about their first official scouting duty only an hour ago. Riley would never hear Georgia laugh again.

“Li?” Riley called as she pushed herself back up toward the back of the ship. She didn’t hide her desperation anymore. Please, God, don’t let me be the only one.

Eight paces back to her seat. Five more to reach Li. Thirty seconds to learn that she was utterly, completely alone.

Riley stumbled back to her seat. She leaned against the chair back, dry-heaving. They were all dead. She’d gotten them all killed. It was her mistake, so why the hell hadn’t she died with them?

Riley felt the holster of her service pistol resting against her thigh, almost digging into it. Trembling, her hand reached down and snapped off the protective strap that crossed over the top of the holster. She flipped it back and forth a couple of times, feeling the leather soft against her fingertips. The klaxon sounded again and she pulled the pistol from its holster.

 

Riley hadn’t expected the severity of the ion storm. Their mission had been to observe and collect data on the magnetosphere of Ariadne VI. The storm came up quickly and fried most of the electrical systems, sending them into freefall. Aasif had done his best to stabilize them as they plunged toward the rocky surface below. If she had ordered them to leave earlier, he wouldn’t have needed to.

They crashed near the eastern edge of the storm. But on Ariadne VI, being on the edge of the storm meant that there were hundreds of miles between Riley and daylight. The ion storm was too thick for the ship’s radio beacon to penetrate, and even if it did, any rescue ship would be just as doomed in the storm.

Riley lifted the gun to her head, finding that the tremor in her hand ceased. It’s better this way. She thought. A commander had no place being the only survivor of her crew. They’d trained together, served together, and they would die together. Riley’s finger curled around the trigger.

 

“System restart complete.” The mechanical voice startled Riley so much she nearly dropped the gun.

Behind Riley and across from Li’s chair, TOMAS, the Trans-Orbital Magnetosphere Anomaly Surveyor, hummed to life. TOMAS, a prototype unit assigned to the mission, was built into a standard 12th generation Travel-Ease frame. The model was more typically called the Centaur because of its elongated base and humanoid upper torso.

As their official name suggested, Centaurs were designed for moving over rough terrain. Instead of the legs most humanoid models used, the Centaur models had a set of four triangular treads to propel them forward. Despite the cobbled together nature of the design, studies showed people responded better to seeing a human and emotive face.

“Status report,” Riley said as she slid the pistol back into its holster. She covered the shakiness of her voice with a cough, then took a deep breath before turning to face the robot.

“System functionality at seventy-six percent,” TOMAS said. A small motor hummed softly and TOMAS’s face turned into a grimace. Normally the transformation would have been silent, but the motor must have been damaged. “The rest of the crew?” TOMAS asked.

“It’s just us now.”

“My condolences,” TOMAS said.

Riley wondered if he was capable of meaning it.

“What are your orders, Commander?” TOMAS asked.

Riley looked around the ship, at her fallen crew, “Round up anything that’s useful.”

**  Author Bio  **

Wickman Author Photo

Author Gloria Wickman

Gloria Wickman is a prose fiction and comic book writer. She received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and minored in French at the University of Wyoming. In addition, she has studied comics writing and creation through courses from Comics Experience taught by former Marvel comics editor Andy Schmidt. When not writing or reading, Gloria can be found taking walks around her neighbourhood, playing video games, or attempting craft projects far beyond her skill level.

**  Author Interview  **

Kasper: Hi Gloria Wickman, it’s wonderful that you have joined the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network.  Comics are something that most of us have grown up with, and we’re all keen to find out more about you and your comics.  Hop on aboard and we’ll fire up our FSFNet interview space shuttle. ☆҉ ‿➹⁀☆҉ ☆҉ ‿➹⁀☆҉ ☆҉ ‿➹⁀☆҉ ☆҉ ‿➹⁀☆҉ ☆

What other writing have you done?

Aside from some short stories, I’ve also written some comics as well. I’m currently working on a heist story set in turn-of-the-century Hawaii, and I have a finished short comic called “Aces & Eights” available on my website at gloriawickman.com

Ohh…I love a good heist story.  I can’t wait for that one.

What made you choose the science fiction genre?

I have loved sci-fi since before I even knew what a genre was. I grew up on Star Wars, Star Trek, and a host of 50’s alien movies, so it fused into my personality pretty early on. I love the endless possibilities it presents, the chance to see things completely different from anything on earth, but above all, I love the sense of adventure in the genre.

How did you go about developing your cover artwork for The Sun Never Shines on Ariadne VI?

I wanted a cover that showed a bit of the planet, Ariadne VI, and represented the climax of the book, when Commander Riley is faced with a tremendous cliff she must overcome. Luckily, there are some places on earth that had a similar feel, so I used some pictures of them to make the finished image.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

My first advice would be to make an outline first, or at least play through the story in your head. I know some great writers like Joe Hill can just sit down and go, but for me, even if I have a great character in my head I still need an idea of where I’m going otherwise it’s just endless pages of people snarking at each other without a plot.

Good tip.

What are you working on now?

At the moment I’m deep into revisions on an urban fantasy book that is still, unfortunately, without a title. I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the year, but we’ll see how it goes.

What do you do when you have writers’ block?

I have two methods for writer’s block. The first is to take a walk around my neighbourhood. I don’t force myself to think about the story as I’m walking, but usually something will pop into my head by the time I’m done.

The other method I use is something I call, if you can’t write well, write crappy. I think a lot of writer’s block comes from having the editor voice running through your head when you need the creative one talking instead. So if I’m stuck on how to start or end a scene, I write the worst possible version imaginable, or I make a list of a bunch of ideas that I could use. Most are terrible, but usually after I get all the terrible ones down on paper, a better one will fall out and I can go from there.

Trying to write crappy actually sounds like a lot of fun.  Great idea.

If you could only take three books with you through an interstellar portal, what would they be?

First I would take an empty notebook because I have a feeling I’ll probably need to take notes about whatever is going on on the other side of the portal. Second, I would take a how-to book on traveling through interstellar portals because I will most definitely need that. Finally, I think I’d take The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because that book never fails to cheer me up on a bad day.

List some great books you have recently read:

In terms of fiction, one of my favorite books that I read this year was The Martian by Andy Weir. I was hooked from the first page and I think I finished it in one or two days. I almost always prefer books in the third person, but the main character’s voice was so strong that I realized I needed to re-examine my prejudice against first person stories.

For nonfiction, I picked up an older book at a library sale recently called The Lost Civilizations of Africa by Basil Davidson. Most people already know something about Egypt, but I learned a lot about the empires of Mali and the cities of Zimbabwe. The part that interested me the most was the complex trade going on between the eastern coast of Africa, and India, China and Indonesia. I majored in anthropology, so history and trade between cultures is of special interest to me.

I like that you have eclectic taste.

What is your favourite quote?

There are a lot of quotes I like, but one of my favorites is by Amelia Earhart, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Where would you like to travel to?

Everywhere. An item on my bucket list is to visit all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica!), but I’d especially love to go to France and Korea because I’ve studied the languages.

 

Quick quiz

Favourite food: Bing Cherries.

Silliest saying: Looks like the shoe’s on the other hand now. (I’m fairly certain this is from a movie, but my sister and I have used it jokingly for so long I’ve forgotten where it came from)

Best holiday spot: anywhere with family

Favourite song at the moment: “Ah! the good old days” (아! 옛날이여) by Lee Sun Hee

With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? I’m definitely a plotter. I think of outlining as making a map for a trip. It’s there so I don’t get lost, but if I want to explore something along the way, I have no problem putting it aside and heading into the woods.

Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Star Wars.

Best superpower: Teleportation. It would really simplify my traveling plans.

Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Finish the dang book I’m revising. If I keel over before I do, I will be very pissed.

 

I’m with you on the revisions, Gloria.  They do seem to take longer than the writing did.  Good luck.  I’m sure it’ll all be worth it when your new book arrives.  Thanks so much for coming and sharing your thoughts with us all today.

 

Interviewed by Kasper Beaumont, author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series. www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com

 

**  Gloria Wickman’s Author’s Links  **

Website: gloriawickman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gloriawickmanwriter/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14106358.Gloria_Wickman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Gloria_Wickman

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gloria-Wickman/e/B01FDXSKLO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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