I’m serializing my novel Europan Holiday here on my blog, Wattpad, and Leanpub. I plan to post on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule until it’s done. Eventually I’ll do a regular print and e-book release once I’m done but this gives me a chance to review the book as I go.

Europan Holiday

Sitting at his new glass-topped table, Nick rubbed bleary eyes, and picked up his mug of hot chocolate. He took a cautious sip of the scalding drink and rolled it on his tongue. Outside, through the porthole in the rover wall just a short distance away, was the transparent wall of the dome, and beyond that the teaming dark expanse of Europa’s ocean. Except it wasn’t that dark. Lights drifted and swam and pulsed in a rainbow array of colors. It was as if the entire Milky Way had come down and surrounded the dome, and all the stars were living things. It was one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing sights he had ever seen. Even the northern lights over Fairbanks hadn’t compared to this.

Nick put down the mug on an Apollo 11 coaster, thanks to Vibeke and other elves, who had brought his personal belongings from the space cabin wrecked on Europa’s surface to the new rover. From what Vibeke had told him they had retrieved his belongings soon after they landed, rescuing them before the extreme conditions on the surface cause too much damage. From the sound of it he expected that the entire space cabin and the trailer had been recycled. Part of him mourned the loss, he had after all built it with his own hands, but this new rover was a fully functional vehicle capable of traversing Europa’s surface while protecting him from the radiation, and it was connected to the internet back on Earth. That seemed a pretty good exchange.

He was connected now, looking at his blog in real time. He had already previewed his first post a dozen times and scheduled it to post. It was about to go live.

Nick smiled for the cameras. “This is it. Sitting here waiting for the clock it counts down last seconds, before my first blog post goes live. This is the first where I show how the repair of my power systems went wrong, and I met an unexpected visitor. It’ll be the first in a series of posts that will go up over the next several days. I don’t know what the reaction is going to be, and I’m a little nervous.”

It felt strange to be back under the cameras again. He wasn’t live streaming to Earth. He liked to have a little more control than that, appreciated the chance to edit his content before it went out. He decided what footage to use and what to cut, and mostly recorded it for himself. Except here Vibeke was also in the rover. Right now she was lounging on the bench in front of the large window, holding the book by Clifford D Simak in her hands as she read one of old classics. Having someone else in the room with him, made him feel little self-conscious to be talking to an unseen audience. He’d get over it.

“How long?” Vibeke said.

“Right. About. Now.” Nick hit refresh on the browser.

And there it was. Power failure and an unexpected visitor.

Nick scrolled the blog post down. He’d written a brief introduction and then below that was the edited video. Click play, and the video loaded and played, without any lag, pretty incredible considering this was coming all the way from Earth, but the Trinhlin and elf technology made such distances unimportant. There was no lag. Communication was instantaneous. The video played, the sound low, and Nick watched himself deal with the power outage his own space cabin. He’d cut the footage he’d taken from the drives and laptop down to just over nine minutes. He tried to keep the videos no longer than 10 minutes, sometimes doing couple videos if there is something lengthy that he wanted to cover, but mostly he kept it shorter. Footage followed him outside, cleaning the snow off of the generator housing, included his falling and disorientation after Donder disconnected the tether, right up to the point where he entered the space cabin and first saw Vibeke up in loft. And there it stopped. It was a good cliffhanger.

Nick leaned back in the chair and picked up his hot chocolate. He sipped and savored the taste. He looked over the mug at Vibeke and she met his eyes.

Nick said, “I’ve already scheduled the next three posts and I’m working on the next video but that will cover our introduction to the takeoff from Earth, and the trip here right up to the point where my suit cameras failed.”

“That sounds good.” Vibeke smiled. “How long until we know what the reaction is?”

Nick said, “There’s already been a reaction. I’ve gotten a ton of emails I haven’t had a chance to work through yet from people wondering where I am, and why haven’t been on Twitter. That’s what I’ll be working on the next several days, in addition to editing the new footage. I’m going to need to have something to show them. Should I give them a tour of the Cottage?”

Vibeke put aside the book and shook her head. “Not right away. Let’s show them something that they will understand better first.”

“What did you have in mind?”

Vibeke pointed one of her three gloved fingers up, and curled the other two in. She grinned impishly.

“What do you mean?”

Vibeke smiled broad and. “I think it’s time we worked on teaching you the rest of the systems.”

So far he had only tapped into the camera systems, and she had shown him how to use the built-in environmental controls to maintain a comfortable temperature. No rocket stove here, though there was a heater in its place. And even the kitchen stove was an electric appliance rather than the gas one. According to Vibeke the whole thing, like his suit now, and even the modified battery in his laptop, were all powered by some sort of zero-point energy. He’d read enough science fiction to grasp the concept of tapping the quantum foam to generate power, apparently the Trinhlin had already mastered that technology. Just that alone would change everything on Earth, if generating power was cheap and easy to do down to the smallest device. It would answer a lot of scientific questions that he couldn’t understand, but that wasn’t his job.