Excursion, n ; An expedition of so disagreeable a character that steamboat and railroad fares are compassionately mitigated to the miserable sufferers.
Everyone needs a gimmick and to sell a book I decided on a fabulous holiday competition. Other people give away bookmarks or free copies of the book or even signed free copies of the bookmark. I would go one step further. For everyone who buys a copy of Justice 4.1 (The Tsarina Sector) and turns up at the check-in desk at the Kaunas City Spaceport, Tsarina, will get a two week, free, all expenses paid holiday for two on Tsarina.
Cannot say fairer than that surely?
The problem is, whilst everyone is doubtless convinced that the book will be a true classic of its genre; folk asked difficult questions about the holiday, along the lines of what is the place like, what factor sun-block will I need; is there a nudity taboo which might impact on the beach holiday they have planned?
Now Haldar Drom is as nice a guy as you’ll meet but he’s a bit slow at getting back to me so I started pirating pictures off the web.
So obviously we need a spaceport. Where do I find a picture of a spaceport? After hunting round I found this and posted it to Facebook.
But I wanted to somehow make it unique to Tsarina so I added the comment
“So I’ve included an artist’s impression of the Spaceport. It’s been lying about in the files for a few centuries to be honest. Not only that but we never had the budget to build it as designed but the picture gives you some idea. Just replace the domed structures with an assemblage of converted transport containers, pre-fabricated industrial units and a couple of obsolete spaceship hulls which were too good to scrap completely. (Strip the drives out of them, leave in the power systems and they make perfectly acceptable office accommodation.)
Oh yes and the grass is greener and more verdant than in the picture. Apparently the artist was from off-world and never got to terms with our climate. (Or the geography for that matter, he’s completely forgotten to put in the river.)
And it’s still possible to land here without getting eaten by the natives.”
This only brought forth more comments. What does the place actually look like? So frantically I scoured the web again. I found this one, I liked it.
Actually I’d have liked it in real life because of the ingenuity, but it’s a very practical combination of shipping containers and a covered working area. So it’s there on the spaceport somewhere.
People commented that are site was rather more run down that I was claiming, so honesty compelled me to post this, an atmospheric shot of the breakers yard which is on the periphery of the spaceport.
Finally because Tsarina has seen better days, there is part of the spaceport which is no longer used much, and is sliding into dereliction. I found this…
Now then, in the second book, (about to go to the editors) Haldar takes a trip to the spaceport by river taxi and I describe the fishing village which is growing out of a decaying industrial suburb. Whilst I was looking for other stuff I found this.
And then Susan Watson posted this picture, asking why I was covering up Tsarina’s less attractive face
So I looked at the picture and liked it. I could work with that, so I merely commented
“I don’t think it shows the place in the best light. The old power station isn’t normally that bad but there’s too much Lignite available close to the site to ignore, and it does date from the messy period during the fall of the Salinid Emperors. We had to keep the lights on somehow. It’s wearing well for 350 years old. It’s actually some distance south of the Spaceport and you cannot normally see it from Kaunas City. The old access road has been scrapped since the winter that was taken; it had outlived its usefulness.”
And by chance, by design and by the suggestions of friends, Tsarina keeps growing. The background has now acquired a Lignite fired power station which will inevitably warrant a passing mention in a future book, if only because the smoke might delay flights, or alternatively act as a marker, more visible from orbit than the space port itself.