Birthday Girl

I’m celebrating a birthday today.

Because I can. (I think we’ve covered this logic before…)

I have an app on my phone that flashes a red balloon for each birthday on any given day. (If you don’t have one of these, get one. Greatest thing ever in this modern age, especially since I forget birthdays.)

Today’s birthday falls on a Sunday this year, so it is extra special.

The birth itself falls a bit in the future, however, because I write science fiction, and these things happen.

She is not the only one of my characters whose birthday will pop up on my reminder list, but hers is still the most important to me.

The following is a quote taken from The Story Road, the first of the Henri Baudin stories (I promise a trilogy one of these days. Gimme time). I will let her describe it:

I was born, if you will, on the nineteenth of March in the year 7,426 of the Old Calendar, the Homeworld Calendar. It was a rainy Sunday, when those things meant something. The Great War was raging, and the factories did not take a day off to rest. This last spring, when no one was about, I celebrated my five thousand, six hundred, and fifty-seventh birthday. I have been awake for most of them.

Suvi. Summer Baudin. The Historian. The Narrator of History in the Alexandria Station universe. The goofball who was Javier Aritza’s sidekick in his lifetime. Doyle Iwakuma’s greatest discovery. Henri Baundin’s teacher. Jessica Keller’s darkest secret.

I did not set out to make her thus. She grew into her role by refusing to be saddled with expectations or limitations. Suvi can be like that.

I was writing The Librarian, and needed to spell out more of her backstory, so I invented The Science Officer. She took on a life of her own after that.

I have just (JUST) finished with the fifth Javier story (four is coming out in May, I think. Details to follow). In it, Javier has a moment considering his own mortality in the context that Suvi was born before Javier’s grandfather, and will hopefully outlive him by a considerable amount.

And if he’s only going to have one child, he should make sure she turns out to be a pretty nice girl. I think she did. Certainly, she will probably outlive all of her cousins, the other Immortals.

And a good chunk of my career can be laid at her feet. The fact that I sell as many books as I do comes back to The Science Officer taking off when it did, and the Jessica books regularly selling well. And there will be more of both.

And time to fill in the gaps.

Over breakfast this morning, I was talking to Fabulous Publisher Babe™ about writing into some of those spaces one of these days. The Gas-Sailors Era. The Resource Wars. The Union of Man. The Concordancy War.

That will be possible because I expect to finish Jessica soon. I’ve always ever only planned nine novels, and I will start writing number six, The Red Admiral, this summer, right about the time that Flight of the Blackbird comes out.

I’m now done with the fifth Javier, The Doomsday Vault, in the last five minutes, and will head into the sixth one soon. (Title still iffy, leaning towards The Hounded Galleon.) Seven and Eight will follow closely as a double episode, and wrap up Season One, and then I’ll take a short break before I start Season Two. I currently can’t imagine where I go after sixteen Science Officer stories, but I’ll let y’all clamor for more and offer suggestions. He and I might be ready for that to end in a few years. And we might not. YMMV.

I want to step outside the Alexandria Station universe one of these days. I saw a picture the other day that simply popcorn kittened me hard. The picture showed a humanoid with four arms playing an electric sitar. That’s an alien concept, and there are no aliens in Alexandria Station. None. Made that decision early on, because I wanted to focus on a place where all the problems were human.

I can write good alien. It involves getting inside the head of someone who isn’t just an actor with a nasal prosthetic and some makeup. It is an entirely different way of seeing the world, interacting with it, talking about it. I have a lot of aliens running around in my head, wanting to be born, but Jessica Keller cracks the whip on them very hard and tells them to wait their turn.

She’s like that.

But Suvi is even more so.

She exists at all points after The Science Officer. She will outlive Javier, Doyle, Henri, and Jessica by millennia. That’s what happens when you are an AI. You can envision living forever. And that does make you a little alien.

She strives to remain human, however. To remember all the men and women she has loved over the centuries, even as they become reduced to pictures and footnotes. Forgotten by the rest of human civilization.

And she will be born on a rainy Sunday in March, five thousand, four hundred, and nine years from now.

Happy birthday, Suvi.