Up in the attic was a pile of discarded books. I was maybe eight when I read my first travel fantasies. They were excerpts from Gulliver’s Travels in an English lit textbook.
My sister Jo was at college in those years, and she had tossed a collection of folktales and myths on the pile. The book was designed as a resource for use at story hour, and the entries were copied from original texts. I don’t remember the title of the collection but it had an orange cloth cover, and in it was an excerpt from Farmer in the Sky, Robert Heinlein. It was an international collection, so in the mix were Greek gods, bloody battles from the Eddas, American Indian tales of Coyote and the stars, and at least one signature story from every continent. I’ve been hooked on what's sometimes called "The Literature of the Fantastic" since then.
I’ve read a lot of generation ship stories. In my head I see a simple graph on making a real one. Advances in our ability to build such a vessel go up from the lower left corner, resources and the will to do it go down from the upper left, and there’s an intersection point where such an endeavor becomes impossible.
Not on my watch, I hope.
Given the constraints of plausibility and the rock, water, and technology that I chose to use, I tried to design a habitat people could live in and work in, and maybe, with a lot of luck and constant effort, survive in. There’s room enough in it to be different and there’s room to get away from each other from time to time. And certainly Mama’s attic is there somewhere, available for anyone to rummage around in, full of other stories and other dreams.
Sage Walker’s Latest Novel
Humanity’s last hope of survival lies in space… but will a random death doom the venture?
Our planet is dying and the world’s remaining nations have pooled their resources to build a seed ship that will carry colonists on a multi-generational journey to a distant planet.
Everything is set for a bright adventure and then someone is found hanging dead just weeks before the launch. Fear and paranoia spread as the death begins to look more and more like a murder. The authorities want the case settled quickly and quietly so as not to cause panic… and to prevent a murderer from sabotaging the entire mission.
With The Man in the Tree, Locus Award-winning author Sage Walker has given us a thrilling hard science fiction mystery that explores the intersection of law, justice, and human nature.
Recommendations for The Man in the Tree
“Sage Walker writes some of our genre’s most beautiful prose, and somehow manages to wrap it around painstakingly researched science fiction with compelling characters and breathless plots. And this book might be her best work yet.”
“The Man in the Tree is an excellent addition to the space colony/generation ship genre. Walker brings fascinating characters, well-thought out science, plausible political intrigue, and a wonderful sense of place and society. Rapid-fire storytelling from start to finish!”
“One part hard science fiction, one part meticulously constructed detective procedural, and one part stunningly detailed, seamlessly envisioned blueprint for a world-ship that might carry life to a new sun, Sage Walker’s brilliant, elegant The Man in the Tree is wholly the story of an intelligent, thoughtful man threading that needle’s eye where law, justice, and the human heart converge, one careful step at a time, in terror lest he be wrong, in terror lest he be right.”
“Walker is fashioning a wondrous world, and breathing life into that world’s inhabitants that is unmatched in science fiction.”
“The investigative and legal issues of the book’s world are extraordinarily well thought out; how the mystery is solved and justice is addressed fit very tightly into the themes of ‘new world, new rules.’ Walker demonstrates new ways of thinking about futuristic social systems that are optimistic rather than dystopic. Fans of hard science fiction and philosophical mystery will enjoy this hopeful view of humankind’s future.”
Read entire review
Sage Walker's First Novel: Whiteout
“Breaking new ground in novels about virtual reality, Walker's first novel treats VR more as a means than an end, focusing less on the technology itself than on those who use it.
Signy Thomas is a member of 'Edges,' a group of men and women of varying special talents (and a medley of past and present intimacies) who have formed a VR research company. They accept a commission from the Tanaka Corporation, ostensibly to get the world's leaders to agree to maintain current limits on the harvesting of krill in the Antarctic. The job seems too easy until discrepancies arise and one of the Edges team, Dr. Jared Balchen, is kidnapped from a Tanaka ship. Even after his disappearance, Jared's spirit and virtual presence hover over the actions of his colleagues.
While their primary contact is often through VR, the individual members of Edges travel frequently through 'real' space—though Walker deliberately eschews describing most of the locations. While the author builds a complex yet credible web of inter- and intracorporate treachery and double crosses (and reveals Tanaka's real goal in the process), every death she limns is a noble one, with even death ultimately contemplated as a life-giving experience.
This is an impressive debut, rich in ideas and feeling, told in a voice all its own.”
“It's 30 years from now, a time when pollution, collapsing ecosystems, and climatic change mean chronic ill-health, near starvation, and insecurity are normal for most people. An upcoming UN Antarctic Treaty Commission conference in Lisbon will discuss fishing and mineral exploitation. At the same time, Japan's Tanaka corporation, heavily into Antarctic fishing, hires Edges, a business partnership/family unit, to do p.r. work and persuade the delegates to vote the way Tanaka wants. Nearly broke, Edges—comprising researcher Signy and medic Jared in Taos; artist Pilar and media whiz Janine of Seattle; and New Hampshire-based computer expert Paul—can't afford to turn Tanaka down. Janine is dispatched to Lisbon, while Jared joins a Tanaka harvester ship in the Southern Ocean. Jared arrives just as a dead man is being hauled out of the frigid ocean—but the Tanaka people are curiously reluctant to discuss the matter.
Edges keeps in constant touch via virtual reality communications, so that when their systems crash Paul wonders who else might covertly be involved. Then Jared vanishes overboard and is given up for dead. Signy refuses to believe it, however, and rushes to Antarctica to investigate; ugly rumors involving terrorism, piracy and sunken ships begin to surface. Janine, meanwhile, is astonished when the Japanese delegate votes opposite to the way recommended by Edges. Clearly, Tanaka is playing a very deep game, while the Tanaka heir apparent—the ruthless, ambitious, and potentially immortal San-Li—has an agenda of her own, which Edges must unravel if they are to avoid total disaster.
A strikingly assured, mature drama, engrossing and beautifully constructed, with only the ending a tad soggy: an estimable and highly auspicious debut.”