Just over ten days left to pick up the fantastic Visions of the Future StoryBundle, including my space opera novel Plurapod Pathogen! You’ll get nine other wonderful books as well, including a short story collection and a cat-forward anthology, starting at only $15.
That’s a lot of great science fiction reading for you and your sci-fi loving loved ones as we wind down the year and settle in for the holidays.
Head over to our curator Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post for more about each book, and of course check out the StoryBundle website for covers, descriptions, excerpts, and all the details.
Here’s Dean’s introduction to Plurapod Pathogen, and read on for more about the fascinating/creepy origin of the novel’s pathogen. Hint: It has a solid basis in reality.
“Kari Kilgore in PLURAPOD PATHOGEN gives us the first book in her Empire Revealed series. This is fairly near future science fiction with a lot of twists and turns and great characters as only Kari can write them.”
As is often the case when I’m writing, no matter the genre, I end up drawing from things I’ve encountered in real life. Or in this case, thank goodness, something I researched for another book!
Several years ago, I worked with my uncle Frank Kilgore to write and publish The Virginia Headwaters of the Big Sandy River: A Story of Revitalization and Nature’s Resilience, a science textbook for high school students in our region. Besides handling page layout and design and taking several photos locally, I dug into research about threats to our waterways.
Sadly I found a lot of the expected sources of pollution, from industry and other sources. One that surprised and honestly horrified me was a natural source in an unnatural location.
Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) is a freshwater diatom or algae that forms underwater stalks and shows up as massive surface blooms. It’s native to the northern hemisphere, but it has spread and grown into an invasive species over the last forty years, all the way across the United States and even to New Zealand.
The wonderfully descriptive name of rock snot gives a bit of a clue what it looks like, at least on rocks.
The trouble really kicks in when folks accidentally bring it to new areas on their boats, boat trailers, or their boots or oars. It can even hitch a ride on fishing hooks or lines, or in a single drop of water!
What really caught my attention was how the blooms themselves appear, unfortunately including here in Virginia since the mid-2000s.
Didymo looks like clumps of dirty wet wool, or worse, dirty toilet paper floating on the water. As you can imagine, this not only is unpleasant to look at or swim through (shudders), but it wreaks havoc on native species of fish and other wildlife.
Yucky as didymo is, I couldn’t let it go at that while I was writing Plurapod Pathogen. I turned up the appearance and how easily it spreads, of course. Then I gave it the ability to cause a heck of a lot more disruption, which I’ll leave you to read more about.
The fun part of all of this—if anything about this foul and invasive species can be fun, except to a writer—is I stumbled across didymo about fifteen years before I ever thought about writing Plurapod Pathogen. And when I needed the trouble-making organism, I didn’t go back to our science textbook or look a single thing up online.
Why not? Because I was writing science fiction rather than a non-fiction piece. Set far in the future, and on a distant planet.
All I needed was that long-ago spark waiting patiently in the back of my mind. Once the toddler who runs the writing machinery in my head got hold of it, all I had to do was hang on tight and do my best to keep up.
I did have another source besides didymo, one I was lucky enough to see in person on the Oregon Coast several years ago. Walking on the beach the day after a spectacular storm, I saw what the easily creeped out part of my mind was quite convinced were tentacles of some kind of secretive sea creature the West Coast folks wouldn’t tell us naïve Easterners about.
But the toddler inside my head was even more excited to learn what I was looking at was actually a plant. Giant kelp or bladder kelp, to be exact.
Put that together with rock snot, and I had a truly impressive environmental threat on my hands. Or I should say in my imagination, thank goodness!
You truly never do know where inspiration will strike, especially when two things you may have encountered years apart get themselves together. Or where it will take you if you get out of your own way and let it rip.
The Visions of the Future StoryBundle is packed full of all kinds of inspiration and the wildly creative fruits of some of the best science fiction imaginations working today.
You can grab Plurapod Pathogen and a whole lot more at an outstanding price, but don’t let time run out!