Hello all and welcome to our continuing series of author interviews. Today’s guest is Human StarPilots author and international educator and consultant Fabrice Rigaux.
Being bilingual and bicontinental, Fabrice brings years of multicultural understanding to his writing and demonstrates his knowledge of differences and similarities to his debut novel (and we hope others). I’d like everyone to stand up and give Fabrice Rigaux a big round of applause for taking part in our exciting adventure.
Fabrice was born in the USA and is an American and French consultant in Information System and Technology who lives in Macon, France, with his wife and two children.
Fabrice has worked exclusively in an international environment often serving as a bridge between US and European cultures. In addition, Frabrice regularly teaches at the university and professional levels.
Fabrice and I talked about my poor French, the influence of great writers, being an academic, teaching people how to cope with unexpected IT problems, AI, having a dream and achieving it, being responsible for our actions, working in a future world, being stranded on a desert island with your wife, working in Oz, being quiet but not boring and dull (that’s my job), living plainly, Fredric Brown’s “He was the last man on earth and someone knocked on the door”, critiquers and first readers, his father’s influence on his writing, what characters will do to get into a story, the value of outlines and more.
You can find links to Fabrice’s book on the right or at the bottom of this post (depending on your device). You’ll also find links to Fabrice’s social presences underneath the video.
An excerpt from Fabrice’s Sequel to HUMAN STARPILOTS
The shuttle aerobreaked as soon as it hit the atmosphere of Adheek, and the vibrations began. Then, they increased until Brian Evans got hard pressed to keep the contents of its stomach inside. The terrible whining got also louder, piercing his headset and an acrid odor of spilled oil filled the cabin. His nausea was barely manageable. “Just a few more minutes” repeated Brian time and time in its head, clenching his teeth and fidgeting his pilot bracelet. He was a tall wiry man, in his mid-twenties, fair skinned with brown eyes and dark hair. For a thousand times since he had left Earth, Brian wondered why he had left the ground for another world sixty light years away. Emily Cattlin and Willfried Bauer, his other fellow students on the flight, seemed barely better. With her green eyes, and red hair, Emily radiated usually so much energy everyone felt drawn to her. But today, her face bordered on the grey and the mark on her neck showed the strain she went through just to keep her head up. Willfried, blue eyed and powerfully built, was more withdrawn and cautious. Now he closed his eyes tightly and gripped his seat, his knuckles white.
On the other side of the cabin, the three station members, who commuted regularly between the planet and the station, were now subdued. “This won’t be long now,” said Althal, the pilot, from her seat. Her calm voice in the headset covered for an instant the external noises and it took a moment for Brian to understand the strange words. Suddenly, the lander pierced the cloud cover and the surface of Adheek appeared. The speed decreased and the shuttle extended its metal wings on both side to gain more bearing. The shaking decreased a little, and allowed them some respite.
The windows remained dimmed and Brian could not see the ground clearly. “Adheek’s midday sun is too bright; wait a moment,” said Althal apologetically. The lander turned slowly in a large curve and the windows became transparent. Brian gasped, taken aback by the redness below. The lander flew above a vast vermillion plain, bordered by high amber mountains on one side and with small hills on the other. Two bright blue rivers came from the largest summits, and crossed the vast landscape with red green fields between them. He couldn’t pick out any details. A heat haze blurred the ground. The lander made a last turn and the massive city of Certan appeared pierced by the two rivers. The squat buildings glowed in the sun with a dark red tinge. “So, this is where we will learn to fly,” thought bleakly Brian,” if we ever find spaceships.”
“Heat wave; brace yourself” shouted Althal, and the lander lurched again with intense vibrations. They were frequent air pockets now and Brian felt the security harness close on him. The small craft felt close to disintegrating. There was a click and the ejection cartridges engaged under the seats. Brian watched in morbid fascination Althal’s hand. She blurred on the controls to guide the shuttle through the unseen turbulences. She was everywhere, modifying 3D switchs, adjusting courses. After an eternity, she called: “Four, three, two, one, and touch down”.
The lander rolled now quietly on the runaway after an initial heavy bump and the three crewmen started muttering. Brian picked out only a few words from the low accented voices. “… isn’t improving … whatever they say officially … climate destabilisation…”. There had been a environmental advisor from Adheek on Earth and he had had harsh words on climate control. Maybe, his examples were not as perfect as it had seemed back then. A silent glance at Emily and she nodded with his conclusions.
Althal got up and opened the exit hatch. The heat engulfed in the vehicle, crushing everyone. She lowered the ladder in an electric whine. After a few minutes, the three crewmen took their luggage and before they disembarked, they said goodbyes with their strong accent. They went down the ladder to the runaway and joined quickly the small building which housed the spaceport. Emily followed them, eager as always. After a year of the preparation, a month of space travel, they were a few kilometers away from the Academy. Her smile was radiant and contaminated Brian who followed.
The skin of Althal and the station crewmen had a green complexion which, he knew, came from a recessive genetic evolution related to Adheek soil. The gravity felt heavier and actually was by five percent. The oxygen was also lower and they had followed an intensive physical training to live in these conditions. As soon as Brian exited he felt the midday sun over his head burn him. Last, Willfried got up, controlling its breath quietly for half a minute before he moved to join them.
Althal smiled at the bottom of the ladder, not a drop of sweat on her perfectly neat white uniform. “Good descent, don’t you find? Sorry for the heat wave. It happens in summer. Welcome to my home!” She turned to show the mountains which loomed above them and the tree line at the other end of the runaway in a grand gesture. “I believe, only your ambassador and his staff have preceded you here from your planet. On behalf of the Pilot Corporation, I am glad to welcome you.” Then she added with a bright smile “These are the official words from KiletNamek, the Guild Master! He would be cross with me if I did not welcome you properly. Come with me; let’s go to the surface car which will transfer you to the Academy.” With that, she turned and moved briskly toward the spaceport.
The small building, a single floor and an array of antennas on the roof, was dwarfed by the huge warehouse attached to it. The edges were slightly blurred by the heat but they could see that the grey concrete walls were tagged with multiple writings, and they recognized in Old Federation the characters for Adheek. A few ground vehicles were neatly parked in rows on the side with huge cranes used to set up the shuttles on top of the atmospheric launcher and to load cargo. No one else was outside. For that matter, there was no wind, no birds or animals, no noises on the tarmac.
“It’s a small spaceport. We cannot afford more with our climate. Ah. Nerm is over there,” she pointed to a dark a dark and heavy ground transport. It waited fifty meters away, under the shade of a small shaded shelter. As soon as he saw them, an old and tired looking driver, Nerm written in old letters on his badge of office, got out and helped them cram their luggage in the back compartment. They were quick to get in the air conditioned atmosphere and leave the heat.
“Mind if I ride with you?” Without waiting for an answer, Althal sat in the front with the driver and turned to ask. “Will there be other student from your world?”
“Three other students will follow in the next shuttle,” answered simply Emily.
“That will make eight of you on our planet, with your ambassador,” completed Nerm.
“Among two billions of us. Not a bad ratio,” laughed Althal. “Don’t be scared; most planets don’t have that much more travelers.”
“While we mention Don Mariano Della Vega, he sends his apologies. With the landing schedule uncertain in summer, he has gone to a Merchant Meeting in Telem, a coastal city located two hundred kilometers southwest from here. He asked me to convey his apologies and to invite you for a dinner in three days when he returns.”
The car took up and flew a meter above the uneven ground. It moved toward the city with little noise, as it used a hydrogen cell and an electrical engine to run the rotors. They quickly left the spaceport and Brian concentrated on the surroundings sights: a solar farm, a plantation with exotic ruby trees and red green crops, more red concrete buildings. Brian started to see the similarities between them: trapezoid shape, large concrete walls, small aperture on three sides and wide windows on the last side, large solar panels everywhere. Here and there, he saw decaying plants abandoned and dismantled. There were very few cars like the one they were in but many larger crowded ones.
No birds flew in an empty sky. A few animals rested under the shade of the large iron trees. The driver, Nerm, recited the different places as they flew over red clay and quite deserted avenues. Althal added quick wit to the unfamiliar places. All three were soon lost in the new names of the strange city. They reached progressively an older part of the city, with more steel and glass, less concrete and wider, sunnier avenues. The signs of reconversion were more important with cranes everywhere in a massive rebuilding effort.
Suddenly, the Academy appeared in front of them in the middle of an immense plaza. The three distinctive spires which formed its emblem loomed over a large isolated two storey metal building. The third tower bore a large crater partially ruining it. All three shot toward the sky far above all the surrounding houses. Enormous windows faced the sun, clearly dating from a cooler age. Vines had covered the walls and left cracks and wrinkles, so deeply set that the recent plaster could not erase them. Laser mounted on the walls tracked the car while it crossed the plaza to stop in front of the entrance.
On the front porch, a tall old man in a green uniform waited for them. They immediately recognized the perfectly serene figure, the square jawline, the hard eyes as headmaster Reinkel am Pol, the Dean.
“Welcome to all of you, and thank you Nerm for your service to the University,” said quietly the teacher, then turned to enter the main hall and beckoned them to follow him. “Don’t linger in the heat. We have a lot to do to get you settled.” He radiated a strong and imposing presence; yet his voice was cold and unemotional. Nerm left with the car and Althal. They had no other choices than to follow in the antique building.