In Space Train by David Bridger Firefly meets Wagon Train. Space pioneers, frontier worlds, alien societies, war refugees rebuilding their lives, heroes with heart, loving relationships of many flavors, and a scarily clever ruthless enemy.
1. Gibson Shipyard, Moon Allegro
Tom planted his magnetic boots firmly apart on Mary Mackin’s roof and stood tall to defy the first sickening wave of vertigo. Before every long transit, he always stole twenty minutes to stand on the highest point of his ship’s enormous whale-like hull, three hundred meters above the refit dock. It was terrifying, but in the two hundred days to come he would treasure the memory of it.
Voices murmured in his earpiece: crewmembers completing their final refit-acceptance checks and reporting the results to his first mate, George, who’d worked and eaten and sometimes even slept down in the control room for the past twelve days straight.
George was Tom’s lifelong friend. He’d been with Mary Mackin from the start, and knew her as well as Tom did. He was every bit as capable of taking her to the stars, and Tom wouldn’t dream of interfering with his work.
Besides, right now was the last chance he’d get to ride his roof for another year.
The enormity of space pressed against the atmosphere dome high above. He lifted his face to see it stretching away forever, and the vertigo surged.
Stars swirled. He closed his eyes and breathed steadily, deliberately, counting, splaying his fingers wide beside his hips to maintain balance until he could crack open his eyelids safely and look ahead again.
The planet Main was rising over Allegro’s ragged black horizon. To its right, Allegro’s distant sister moon Adagio glowed like frozen milk at dawn.
And now, to Main’s left, the first burning blinding bright golden sliver of sun rose too. Voice, the Tempists called it, but Tom didn’t do religion so the sun worked just fine for him.
Main’s cities were lit up across its only living continent, the northern landmass of Manti. Dull yellow glints beneath the blanket of night. In contrast, its three-and-a-half dead continents lay dark and ruined even in the flat light of day. Main’s people had mined out their planet a hundred years ago to feed Manti’s huge cities. Still hungry, they’d mined out its two moons. Then they’d moved on outward to mine the binary planets, Major and Minor, and the asteroid belt.
Vertigo slewed his brain sideways. He managed to stay upright and keep his breakfast down where it belonged, while the universe tilted slowly back to where it belonged.
Major and Minor stood out bold and bright in the black space beyond Adagio, halfway between Willerby, Tom’s home world at the far habitable edge of the system, and the Stiletto Nebula smudged like torn lace across Allegro’s horizon.
Somewhere in that deep pocket of emptiness lived the worst day of his life, still filled with dread after twelve haunted years.
The screams of eighty-seven terrified people dying in flames filled his mind. His seven crewmembers, all resistance volunteers like him and close as family since the first days of the war, and sixteen actual families of refugees. Thirty-nine men and women and their forty-one children, who’d all trusted him to take them to safety.
A Bite of… David Bridger
Would you rather live in this world or the one you create in your books?
Our world is terrible, but the one in Space Train is even worse. I’m writing what I see as the inevitable end stage of our blindly suicidal capitalism. However, I would rather live there and then than here and now, because in this book there is an escape route from the planetary carnage. My hero Tom captains a space freighter that takes refugee families to start new lives far away across the galaxy.
Why do you write?
Why do I breathe? ☺
How much of your writing is autobiographical?
Rather a lot, actually, but it’s all fictionalised and completely deniable.
David Bridger settled in England’s West Country after twenty years of ocean-based mischief, during which he worked as a lifeguard, a sailor, an intelligence gatherer, and an investigator.
Then he got hurt, came home a bit physically broken, and for good measure caught a severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) virus in a military hospital. Now he writes science fiction and fantasy novels. Sometimes they’re informed by his experiences out on the crinkly blue. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or via his publisher.