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The Worlds of Hollow Moon
by Steph Bennion
A LONG TIME FROM NOW IN A GALAXY WE CALL HOME... Welcome to tales of space-opera mystery and adventure! The Hollow Moon series is for all who relish a dose of humour and practical astrophysics with their fantasy, for young adults and adults young at heart. It is the twenty-third century and scientists, dreamers, crooks and believers have bridged the vast cosmos, staking their claims where distant suns burn fierce in the sky...
|"The world building is excellent, the characters intriguing and the action a mix of drama and an occasional scene of pure slapstick that had me chuckling away. [...] If you like space opera, then I recommend this series." - (Awesome Indies' review of CITY OF DECEIT).|
HOLLOW MOON (Book 1): Here starts the tale of Ravana O’Brien, the intrepid teenage heroine of the series, a half-Australian, half-Indian trainee engineer who lives with her father in a forgotten asteroid colony ship drifting around Barnard’s Star. What began as a minor escapade to rescue her erratic electric cat soon becomes a fast-paced mystery of interstellar intrigue, taking Ravana and friends back into the civil war from which she and her father had fled. Hollow Moon is an incredible planet-hopping adventure into the shady world of politics, rebellion and school band competitions; a tale of mystery, humour and thrills! This book was described by Awesome Indies as: “...a refreshing change from the dark paranormal, dystopian and urban fantasies that populate the YA shelves...”
PAW-PRINTS OF THE GODS (Book 2): Ravana O’Brien, the reluctant young heroine of Hollow Moon, finds herself on another wild adventure, this time in the company of two extra-terrestrial greys, a cake-obsessed secret agent and a mysterious little orphan boy wanted by the alien-worshipping Dhusarian Church. A perilous quest across the deadly dry deserts of Falsafah brings them into conflict with cyberclone monks, homicidal giant spiders, a psychotic nurse and a god-like cat woman who knows more than she’s saying. Archaeologists are on the verge of a discovery that will shake the five systems to the core. Can detective Ostara and reporter Fornax uncover the truth? Paw-Prints Of The Gods is a space-opera mystery set around the discovery of ancient alien ruins on a desert planet; and a prophecy that may or may not be real.
CITY OF DECEIT (Book 3): Raja Surya, young heir to the throne of Yuanshi, cannot stay out of trouble for long. Zotz Wak, intrepid boy inventor, decides Earth is the place to become a man. The eponymous City Of Deceit is the dystopian darkness of 23rd-century London, ravaged by rising sea levels, social inequalities and terrible politics. The United Nations is deciding the fate of Surya’s world. The Que Qiao Corporation is using the threat of alien monsters to call for war. Ravana O’Brien, the heroine of previous adventures, is stricken with a mystery illness and her hollow moon home has problems of its own. With the first ever interstellar battleships making their appearance, the far-flung worlds of the five systems would never be the same again. Taranis, the dark priest of destiny, has returned...
For special offers, please see WyrdStar News and the associated RSS feed for the latest offers (Amazon free offers, Smashwords vouchers, etc). Thanks for visiting! Steph.
by Professor Wak (a time telegram from 31 December 2299)
Greetings, dear reader! How do I summarise the history of our trials and tribulations, for the benefit of you who are so far away in time? Ms Bennion, the author, freely admits that the historical timeline underpinning the books is part conjecture, part wishful thinking (she remained optimistic that Britain would be a major player in the future of space!). However, she has requested that I make some effort to explain the background and as one of her creations I can only do my best.
You will already know that Hollow Moon and most of the accompanying tales are set in the late twenty-third century, a time when human ingenuity has bridged the vast cosmos and many millions have staked their claims where distant suns burn fierce in the sky. Yet for all humankind's wondrous endeavours, the old squabbles and struggles remained. For every traveller who came to explore, another came to exploit. At the centre of these stories are the people of the asteroid colony ship Dandridge Cole, a forgotten ark sent from Earth to a world few cared for, circling a sun too dim to see. The affectionately-known hollow moon was a place to hide, a refuge for the runaways fleeing the rank and file of someone else's great game.
* * *
The twenty-third century in a star
system far, far away...
(Note: More on locations can be found here.)
A lot of things happened before we neared the end of the twenty-third century, of course. However, the story does not start in earnest until the closing decades, a time when the Indian and Chinese colonies in Epsilon Eridani really started to flourish. It was on the moon of Yuanshi that the alien-worshipping Dhusarian Church came into being, under the leadership of the mysterious Priest Taranis. The authorities continued to deny the existence of the greys and now denounced the creatures as inventions of Taranis and his church. The 2270s also welcomed our reluctant heroine, an innocent little girl with the unfortunate name of Ravana, who was born in the Indian city of Lanka on Yuanshi.
|-->"Ravana was the ten-headed demon
king," Surya declared."
-->"A lot of people have names from mythology," mused Ganesa. "It seems to be a growing trend as we delve deeper into the galaxy. Don't you think that's odd?"
-->"Fascinating," retorted Hanuman, faking a yawn.
-->"I am pleased you know something of the legends of our homeland back on Earth," Yaksha said to Surya. "The priest Taranis was also fond of the old stories and once gave the name Ravana to the unborn son of a good friend of mine. He predicted that the boy would be a great warrior who would see Lanka join forces with Ayodhya; and thus free Yuanshi from Que Qiao rule! My friend wanted no part of this and had secret medical treatment early in the pregnancy so that her child would be born a girl. Yet she was so scared of Taranis that she still let the priest name her newborn Ravana."
[Hollow Moon, Chapter Four: The return of the prince.]
The growing rebellion on Yuanshi against the ruling Que Qiao Corporation finally erupted into civil war, culminating in the assassination of the Maharaja in Ayodhya and the start of corporate martial law. The Maharaja's widow and son, fleeing into exile, hijacked a ship and found a safe haven on the fringes of civilisation in the Barnard's Star system. Their new home was a lonely asteroid, the century-old colony ship Dandridge Cole, known affectionately as the hollow moon. Ravana O'Brien too ended up at this very same refuge with her father after she lost her mother during a botched royalist attack on Yuanshi. The hollow moon was a light in the black, away from the searching eyes of governments and corporations.
* * *
Scientists, dreamers, crooks and believers
So it was that Ravana, her father, the Maharani, her son and many others ended in exile at the hollow moon. Ravana became a shy and lonely sixteen-year-old, trapped by the limitations of life aboard the asteroid colony ship. For many years the simmering civil war in the Epsilon Eridani system was but a memory. Unfortunately, the 2280s saw the reappearance of Taranis, the Dhusarian priest. In a dramatic series of events, the peaceful isolation of the Dandridge Cole was shattered when the young Raja, the late Maharaja's son, was kidnapped. It was the eve of a peace conference on Yuanshi's neighbouring moon of Daode and skullduggery was afoot!
|HOLLOW MOON (novel)
What is the secret of the hollow moon? Join intrepid young heroine Ravana O'Brien in a fast-paced and witty science-fiction mystery of interstellar intrigue. As the dark priest of destiny returns from the dead, Ravana and friends find themselves on an incredible planet-hopping adventure into the shady world of politics, music and rebellion!
Political scheming wasn't the only game in town. The bloodthirsty game show Gods of Avalon had taken over the moon of Avalon, Alpha Centauri, but its influence was present throughout the five systems. On Avalon itself, a young orphan, homeless and living rough on the holovid sets, suddenly finds himself thrust into the spotlight during one of the games. Life out in the black is dangerous enough without inventing more horrors.
|MERRY CHRISTMAS, MISTER WOLF
Christmas at the exclusive ski resort of Kirchel, with its concrete log cabins and artificial snow, was a tedious affair. But the robot security wolves that patrolled the dome at night were rejects from the brutal Gods of Avalon game show. When the power fails, Hestia and her friends would soon wish they had never ventured into the forest in search of park ranger Granny.
|A WIZARD, A SWORD AND A KING
The young orphan Artorius is resigned to spending Christmas on Avalon alone, wandering the snowy streets of Londinium just as a new series of the bloodthirsty holovid show Gods Of Avalon is about to start. But why are the alien-worshipping nuns encamped in the fake Temple of Mithras taking more notice of him than usual?
Artorius' own story would become entwined with that of Ravana due to the scheming of the mighty strange people of the Dhusarian Church, who had established a secret refuge on the inhospitable planet of Falsafah in the Tau Ceti system. Mysterious ruins were being uncovered by archaeologists, triggering a series of events that led to a far-too-close encounter with the creatures known as weavers, eight-legged horrors straight out of Ravana's nightmares. No one could deny the existence of aliens any longer.
|PAW-PRINTS OF THE GODS
On the forbidding planet of Falsafah, archaeologists are on the verge of a discovery that will shake the five systems to the core. Ravana O'Brien finds herself on another wild adventure with a mysterious little orphan, a cake-obsessed secret agent and a god-like watcher who is maybe also a cat. The cyberclone monks are preparing to meet their saviours. But nobody believes in prophecies anymore, do they?
Back in the Epsilon Eridani system, Maharani Uma's return to Yuanshi sees the conflict between the Que Qiao Corporation and the royalist rebels of Yuanshi escalate, until the United Nations is forced to intervene. Summoned to Earth, the warring factions scheme against one another, unaware that a shadowy figure from the past is playing them like pawns in chess...
|CITY OF DECEIT (novel)
Raja Surya, young heir to the moon of Yuanshi, cannot stay out of trouble for long. Zotz Wak, intrepid boy inventor, decides Earth is the place to become a man. He never expected to be accused of spying. Surya never dreamed he would take the captain's chair of a proper battleship in space. In London, the United Nations is deciding humankind's fate. Taranis, dark priest of destiny, has returned.
|THE CLOCKWORK CAT
Coming Christmas 2017... Ostara Lee, private detective, is lured to the wealthy city of Bradbury Heights by a mysterious message asking for her help on a case. Captain Nyx of Newbrum police is in league with smuggler Bouki Moritasgus and only a brass clockwork cat, stolen by street urchin Tomtem from the Dickens Christmas Fair, can save the day.
|PSYCHE'S SEVEN (short
The notorious prison of Feng Du was no place for Psyche to spend the first fourteen years of her life. When her mother passes away, she escapes to the mainland and finds sanctuary with a group of young miners. Meanwhile, Governor Malingee of Taotie has ambitions to be number one in Epsilon Eridani and nothing will stand in her way...
Dear reader, rest assured there is much more to tell before the twenty-third century draws to a final close. Watchers to history will stir. The great game both begins and ends. You probably haven't seen the last of giant spiders either! (To be continued...)
* * *
What happened before that?
|The twenty-third century must seem so
far away to you, dear reader. Imagine what your own
twenty-first century would have seemed like in the minds
of the people struggling to make their mark during the
Industrial Revolution! I will try to fill in the gaps,
but where do I start? In one respect, this particular
tale begins in New Hampshire back in 1961, with Barney
and Betty Hill's close encounter with intelligent
beings from another world. Legend says it was at this
fateful meeting that Betty found herself in possession of
a book destined to become the holy text of the
twenty-third century Dhusarian Church.
Back in 1961, humankind's early tentative forays into space had just started. The twentieth-century space race was pure politics; in contrast, the conquest of space in the following century was driven by science, innovation and commerce. Space was now big business and the sky was no longer the limit. The second space race saw not only private companies reaching for Mars and beyond, but also the rise of the mighty industrial powers of China and India.
After much progress, the twenty-first century drew to a close. Europe was flying its British-built Skylon spaceplanes, there were permanent bases on Luna and Mars, ore mines on asteroids and even a cloud-mining facility in orbit around Saturn extracting near-limitless supplies of fuel. Engineering workshops on Luna were building the next generation of spacecraft. Meanwhile, the Chinese mining company Que Qiao Enterprises, pioneers in exploiting the mineral wealth in the asteroid belt, were building crude habitats from spinning hollowed-out asteroids, forerunners of the future Barnard's Star colony ships.
* * *
|-->"The greys?" asked Ravana.
-->"For all our wondrous technology, mankind still clings to his barbaric ancestry," Fenris told her. "The greys have shown us there is another way. The Isa-Sastra is a gift to mankind, given to the first prophet Betty Hill over three hundred years ago and which fate has now placed in the hands of our High Priest Taranis."
[Hollow Moon, Chapter Seven: Voyage to Epsilon Eridani.]
* * *
Alpha Centauri or bust
|By the time we get to the 2120s, the
government of the United States of America felt confident
enough to send a manned expedition to the nearest star.
The USS Constellation, an experimental
interstellar starship, left for Alpha Centauri.
Regrettably, years into the voyage, all contact is lost
with the ship.
Undeterred, the Americans decided a different approach was needed. In the 2160s the Edward Everett Hale, built in sections in Earth orbit to become the largest crewed ship ever seen, left Earth for Alpha Centauri on forty-year mission. The expedition was sponsored by a holovid broadcast company and the crew's regular updates become the longest running soap opera in space history.
As the Edward Everett Hale slipped beyond Neptune, work had already started on the next grand adventure. Two ten-kilometre asteroids were being hollowed-out and shaped into colony ships, a design inspired by the smaller habitats built by Chinese mining teams in Sol's asteroid belt. Back in the UK, Professor Krakenspreken was developing his revolutionary extra-dimensional drive; a project bankrolled by Que Qiao Enterprises and the Chinese government. Regrettably, Krakenspreken died in mysterious circumstances on the eve of the first test flight of his ED drive and never got to see how his invention changed space forever.
* * *
|-->"Cryogenic capsules were used on the
failed mission to Alpha Centauri," Xuthus said,
awestruck. "The USS Constellation, which
was years before the Edward Everett Hale. I did
a project on it at school," he explained, seeing
their mystified looks. "The Constellation
disappeared without trace and cryogenic capsules were
never used again."
[Paw-Prints Of The Gods, Chapter Eleven: Ice cold in Arallu.]
* * *
|IN THE LAP OF THE GODS
(short story, from WYRD WORLDS)
There are those who would stop at nothing to keep Professor Krakenspreken's innovative extra-dimensional drive from becoming a reality. For the investigating police officers, reality stretched further than they expected. Events lead them to suspect that perhaps fate is best not left in the lap of the gods, especially when the mysterious Athene is involved...
* * *
|Work on the hollow asteroid colony ships
continued. By the 2180s, they were ready for their
fifty-year voyage to Barnard's Star; the Robert
Goddard had a largely American crew, the Dandridge
Cole mostly Europeans. Alas, America's luck failed
yet again and barely a year into its flight, all contact
with the Robert Goddard was lost.
In the last decade of the twenty-second century, everything changed. Krakenspreken's ED drive had been perfected and suddenly we had spacecraft that could leap light years in the blink of an eye. The 2190s saw the first Chinese exploration ships with ED drives arrive in Alpha Centauri system. As you can imagine, this was quite a disappointment to the American crew of the Edward Everett Hale, who did not arrive until ten years later. Nevertheless, the United States won a significant first when Silenus Smith of the Edward Everett Hale became the first human ever to set foot on a world orbiting another star; the moon of Avalon, orbiting the gas giant Thule.
The dawn of the twenty-third century brought forth the interstellar age. Armed with new ED-drive ships, space-faring nations of Earth started eyeing up far-flung planets. In the Alpha Centauri system, the crew of the Edward Everett Hale established scientific outposts on both Avalon and its sister moon of Asgard. Their ship was not designed to make a return trip and the crew had set out fully expecting never to come back. Yet the invention of the ED drive provided an unexpected lifeline and many returned to Earth as conquering heroes.
* * *
Reach for the stars!
|A flurry of interstellar missions
followed. In the 2210s, Chinese explorers with more
advanced ships reached Epsilon Eridani. Against all
international laws governing space, the entire star
system was claimed by China as its own. The following
decade saw Commonwealth and European Space Agency
ED-drive ships exploring the Barnard's Star system.
There, the domed colonies of New Birmingham and
Lan-Tlanto were soon established on Frigg, a planet that
despite its hostile environment unexpectedly hosted
primitive native life.
Another decade would pass before the asteroid colony ship Dandridge Cole arrived in Barnard's Star system. By now, Frigg had gained the far more sensible name of Ascension. Like travellers of the Edward Everett Hale, the weary travellers of the colony ship disembarked to find that the crews of later, faster ships had beaten them to it.
Meanwhile, China and its partner India were busy with major colonisation and terraforming operations in the Epsilon Eridani system. China claimed the Earth-like planet of Taotie for its own colonists and granted India settlement rights on the moons of the gas giant Shennong. The 2240s saw India establish the domed cities of Ayodhya and Lanka on Yuanshi, followed by Hemakuta on Daode. The native flora and fauna of Epsilon Eridani was primitive by Earth's standards, yet it was not long before settlers started reporting sightings of alien humanoids who became known as greys. The authorities steadfastly denied such creatures existed, a pretence that was maintained for several decades.
* * *
|-->"There's no such thing as
greys!" retorted Philyra. "It's nothing more
than a shaven Yuanshi water monkey. One of those scams
aimed at gullible tourists!"
[Hollow Moon, Chapter Eight: High and low in Hemakuta.]
* * *
Brave new worlds
Half-way through the twenty-third century, political power in off-world colonies began the inevitable slip away from the old nations of Earth. The United States, having largely abandoned Alpha Centauri to concentrate on its operations closer to home on Mars and Jupiter's moons, lost their old bases on Avalon and Asgard to squatters, for the new players in the space race were independent settlers fleeing the stifling environment of an overcrowded Earth. The Avalon Broadcasting Corporation had taken over the abandoned Edward Everett Hale and started independent broadcast services across the servermoon network.
By the 2260s, the European Space Agency had concluded that the Barnard's Star system did not merit further investment. When settlers refused to abandon their new homes, the UK Government reluctantly granted Ascension the status of a Commonwealth colony. New Birmingham had become Newbrum and been joined by the new domed settlements of Bradbury Heights and Kirchel.
Que Qiao was now a mighty interstellar corporation and the default ruling authority at Epsilon Eridani, much to the annoyance of Indian settlers on Yuanshi and Daode. Up until the 2270s, Que Qiao had allowed the Indian settlers on Yuanshi to manage their own affairs, which they did so by adopting a monarchy-style government under a Maharaja. Growing corruption within the ruling classes forced the corporation to intervene, but its heavy-handed approach to policing quickly turned sour.
* * *
|G.E.N.I.E. AND THE L.A.M.P.
Angelos Inari, petty thief and self-professed laziest man in Epsilon Eridani, is offered more money than he's ever seen to steal a top-secret corporation interrogation device. Before the night is out, he is surrounded in riches and has won the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, the mysterious Namtar has no intention of letting Inari keep his wonderful new prize...
|TO DANCE AMONGST THE STARS
Can the poor, down-trodden kitchen slave Ganesa find a Prince Charming in the shape of young, dashing space captain Hanuman? As they meet for the first time on the dance floor at the American Embassy's Christmas Ball, she is the first to admit he's not exactly her type in this tongue-in-cheek pastiche of Cinderella.
* * *
|Priest Taranis disappears from the
scene, leaving it to the followers of the widowed
Maharani Uma to continue the fight against the Que Qiao
Corporation. Yet there is another taking an interest in
events, the mysterious god-like watcher known as Athene,
who has an agenda of her own.
Elsewhere in the five systems, various space-faring nations had turned their eyes towards the Tau Ceti system. The Arab Nations and European Space Agencies, again with the help of Que Qiao, sent colonisation missions to the Earth-like planet of Aram, Tau Ceti. Although the United States liked to pretend it had no interest in the new interstellar frontier, it had secretly established research bases on Falsafah, Tau Ceti, where tantalising evidence of possible ancient alien ruins had been found. Yet rumours abounded of strange visitations closer to home.
Marion Kedesh of the Grand Priory would later end up on Falsafah in the company of Ravana O'Brien, in a battle against homicidal giant spiders, hostile machines, the disturbing new leaders of the Dhusarian Church and their cyberclone monks. And thus we arrive back where we started; on the verge of a story that would change the five systems forever!
* * *
|THE WATCHER AND THE PRIEST
Priest Taranis is far from home and close to death, his quest to find the mythical home world of the greys having ended in disaster. Against the odds, help is at hand, but who is the mysterious stranger wearing his boots? Caught between masters and slaves, sacrifices must be made if the dark priest of destiny is to live to tell his tale...
|IT'S A BLUNDERFUL LIFE
It is Christmas Eve and revolution is afoot on Yuanshi. Pursued by armed agents, Fenris contemplates his fate as he prepares to end it all with a midnight leap from a bridge. Then a mysterious stranger arrives to persuade him that life is worth living, but can a Samaritans hologram really hope to convince him by showing the greatest blunders of his life?
|THE NON-EXISTENCE OF GRAVITY
(short story, from BRAVE NEW GIRLS: STORIES
OF GIRLS WHO SCIENCE AND SCHEME)
Fifteen-year-old Cethlenn was lucky to be working with her Aunt Morrigan, a crazy yet talented engineer with a workshop on the moon of Asgard, Alpha Centauri. That is until Luison, an undercover corporation agent, tricks Cethlenn into a dangerous scrapyard experiment aboard the derelict USS Goliath...
|ROCK OF AGES (short
story, from WYRD WORLDS II)
Letters from the past were hidden for a reason. But breaking into the secure facility was child's play compared to an unexpected family reunion. What was the connection between Krakenspreken's daughter and Kedesh's own lost uncle? Tea and cake at the spaceport was a welcome distraction. The mysterious woman calling herself Athene less so...
Professor Wak, 31 December 2299.
Return to Start of Timeline
* * *
READING ORDER: A QUICK GUIDE
The order in which stories published to date fit into the overall 'Worlds Of Hollow Moon' story arc is as follows:
|>||In The Lap Of The Gods (2013)||Short story from Wyrd Worlds anthology; set 120 years before Hollow Moon.|
|>||GENIE And The LAMP (2014)||17 years before Hollow Moon.|
|>||To Dance Amongst The Stars (2011)||15 years before Hollow Moon.|
|>||The Watcher And The Priest (2015)||Nine years before Hollow Moon.|
|>||It's A Blunderful Life (2012)||Set straight after The Watcher And The Priest.|
|>||The Non-Existence Of Gravity (2017)||Short story from Brave New Girls Vol.2 anthology; eight years before Hollow Moon.|
|>||Rock Of Ages (2014)||Short story from Wyrd Worlds II anthology; six years before Hollow Moon.|
|>||HOLLOW MOON (2012)||Hollow Moon #1 (novel); this takes place in 'the last decades of the 23rd Century'.|
|>||Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf (2012)||Two months after Hollow Moon.|
|>||A Wizard, A Sword And A King (2013)||Set straight after Merry Christmas, Mister Wolf.|
|>||PAW-PRINTS OF THE GODS (2013)||Hollow Moon #2 (novel); six months after Hollow Moon.|
|>||CITY OF DECEIT (2016)||Hollow Moon #3 (novel); four months after Paw-Prints Of The Gods.|
|>||Psyche's Seven (2016)||Four months after City Of Deceit, though part one is set ten years earlier.|
The Five Systems: a guide to locations
The following is a list of places referenced in various stories. The charts are not to scale! Stories that visit a named settlement or world are shown in italics. (NOTE: The short story The Watcher And The Priest takes place in an alien Dyson Tree habitat orbiting the star Procyon, beyond the Five Systems.)
* * *
* * *
Some of you who have read my 2012 novel Hollow Moon may know that the asteroid colony ship at the centre of the story is named after Dandridge MacFarlan Cole, American aerospace engineer, futurist, lecturer and author who died tragically young (age 44) in 1965.
Cole often promoted the idea of colonising the asteroids. The 'planetoids', as he argued they should be called, could be hollowed out or inflated to create a bubbleworld with habitable space on the inside. He envisaged the resulting space arks orbiting within the solar system or even being sent out on interstellar expeditions.
He and artist Roy Scarfo collaborated on the book Beyond Tomorrow: The Next Fifty Years in Space (1965), a wonderful vision of future advancements in space exploration, space development and colonisation, all based on scientific feasability at that time. The illustration on the right of a hollow asteroid is taken from this book.
(See also 'In Memory of Dandridge MacFarlan Cole', WyrdStar News Archive.)
* * *
* * *
* * *
WORLDS OF HOLLOW MOON came about through my love of space
opera and science fiction. I enjoyed writing these books
so much that more are sure to follow!
> The Worlds Of Hollow Moon overview.
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All content (c) Steph Bennion, WyrdStar and Danse Macabre 2007-2017.
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