Today we are privileged to have as our guest Ken Pelham, award winning author. Ken reads and writes in multiple genres and is a member of the Alvarium Experiment, the consortium of award-winning writers reinventing the way readers experience short fiction. His short story, “Under the Whelming Tide” is available FREE today on Kindle. Follow link to download while supplies last!
KP: All genres have their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve always loved short stories in general and science fiction short stories in particular, because the format lets you get quickly to the strength of science fiction. Ideas. I’d been looking around for a couple of years for a good anthology to submit work to, and it occurred to me that with all the explosive advances in online publishing and marketing, heck, I could create my own anthology. I scribbled out a page or two of concepts for how a working group could publish together yet independently around the same concept. I pitched the idea to Charles A. Cornell, a writer I’d met a couple of years before and whom I knew as an outside-the-box kind of guy. I was certain he’d say, “Um, yeah, listen, I gotta go wash my cat. Or something.” But he pounced on the idea and dubbed it “The Alvarium Experiment,” describing a hive of busy bees producing gallons of honey. We bounced ideas back and forth for a couple of weeks until we had the premise for the first project, The Prometheus Saga. We were shooting for an idea with great flexibility and unlimited possibilities, and we had one. We pitched it to writers we respected and soon had browbeaten a group of twelve into signing on. We launched that effort, each of us publishing independently on the same day in January of 2015.
After a year we started kicking around ideas for a second project. Lots of notions were floated and we debated merits of each. Elle Andrews Patt suggested an idea of aliens arriving at Earth, but, lo, the aliens are human. This idea sprouted wheels and gained traction, as it had the same wide-open horizons as the first project. We had new writers join in, and we were off and running.
Q: What was the inspiration for your Return To Earth story, “Under the Whelming Tide”?
KP: I often come up with ideas by playing the “what if?” game a lot of writers use. I had the prompt from the hive-mind group-think—a return of human beings to Earth. It’s a loaded idea and that’s the great beauty of it. Among the “what-if’s” I came up with was, “What if they’re physically different from us?” That one jumped off the page at me. Okay, so they’re physically different. Why? Because of differing evolutionary paths, of course. What makes different populations of the same species evolve differently? Different environments, of course. So if I took a group of humans off-planet and placed them into a radically different environment for untold generations, they’re going to come out much differently.
Another inspiration behind this story was undoubtedly Robert A. Heinlein’s classic short story, “Universe,” published in 1941. I read it about thirty-five years ago and still think about it. Heinlein presented the idea of a vast spaceship, so long in space that its inhabitants have evolved their own culture, lore, and mythology, oblivious even to the mere existence of anything outside their ship. They don’t even know it’s a ship; it’s their “universe.” In my story, the Aethir are aware of the cosmos around them but live generation after generation in an arrested state of intellectual growth. They have highly advanced technology at their disposal but they don’t truly understand it, as they simply inherited it from its originators.
Q: Could you tell us about a difficulty you overcame as you wrote this particular story?
KP: After noodling it awhile, I knew that the idea would require a good bit of explanation to make it believable. And explanation is the arch-enemy of fiction. So I had to come up with a scheme to present the explanation while moving the story along and avoiding the dreaded “info dump.” I hit upon the idea of a trial for heresy, in which I could dispense the info while tricking it out with a little suspense. The old courtroom drama ploy. Perry Mason in outer space.
Q: What does your next year as a writer look like?
KP: Busy, busy, busy. I’m working on a nonfiction book that kind of grew out of blog posts I wrote about suspense fiction. The book takes a fun look at the evolution of genre fiction, the cross-pollination between genres, and their places in society and literature overall. I’m also working on a short horror story for an anthology. I have a third Carson Grant thriller in the works. Soon as the nonfiction book is complete, that one will take priority. I swear.
The audiobook edition of the 2nd Carson Grant novel, Place of Fear, should be out a little later this year.
Q: How can readers find out more about your work?
KP: By all means, come set a spell at www.kenpelham.com and on Twitter, @kenpelham. On Facebook, I show up on the Alvarium Experiment page, and on my own page. Also have an author’s page at both Goodreads and Amazon.
About the Author
Ken Pelham’s debut novel, Brigands Key, won the 2009 Royal Palm Literary Award, was published in hardcover in 2012, in softcover in 2014, and in audiobook in 2015. The prequel, Place of Fear, a 2012 first-place winner of the Royal Palm, was released in 2013. His nonfiction book, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Mastering Viewpoint, was named the RPLA 2015 Published Book of the Year.
Ken grew up in the small South Florida town of Immokalee, and lives with his wife, Laura, in Maitland, Florida. A member of the International Thriller Writers and the Florida Writers Association, writing keeps him off the streets and out of trouble, although he’s sometimes spotted cycling, fishing, or scuba diving, seldom simultaneously.
About Return to Earth
Return to Earth is the second project of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of accomplished and award-winning authors.
The stories do not need to be read in any particular order; each story is an entry point into the overall story.
Return to Earth stories & authors are:
“AOB” by Bria Burton. Aona, an Alien-Operated Bot (AOB), suffers a malfunction that could jeopardize her mission on Earth and could lead to the extinction of an entire species from another planet.
Visit Bria at www.briaburton.com
“The Paradoxical Man” by Bard Constantine. Albert Rosen is one of five explorers who vanished on a deep-sea expedition into the Bermuda Triangle. He returns to Earth centuries later, transported across space and time through a mysterious wormhole. However, Earth is not the home he remembers. Humankind has been evacuated, and the survivors lie in hibernation aboard the Locus, an orbiting space station. Rosen is forced to match wits with Deis, an artificial intelligence determined to keep humanity in stasis until he is convinced they are fit to return.
Visit Bard at www.bardwritesbooks.com
“Children Of The Stars” by Charles A. Cornell. In Japan, an American medical researcher discovers the deadly secret behind an eighty-year-old woman’s ageless appearance and incredible fertility, and her connection to the bizarre disappearance of the freighter the Ourang Medan in 1948.
Visit Charles at www.charlesacornell.com
“Project Bright Star” by Kristin Durfee. A once thought failed secret mission to colonize a distant planet, named 0X3B1, is discovered to have been successful when descendants of that mission return to Earth fifty-one years after their grandparents left, much to the surprise, and fear, of the world.
Visit Kristin at www.kristindurfee.com
“Recovery” by Veronica Helen Hart. When a virus threatens the lives of everyone on board a transfer station for intergalactic travel, it’s up to Dr. Candace Bertram to retrieve the only known vaccine from Earth. The risky, untested method of transport could mean catastrophic mission failure, and grave danger for Dr. Bertram.
Visit Veronica at www.veronicahhart.com
“Coming Home” by John Hope. Finally achieving his dream of being an astronaut on the Jupiter missions, Jasper’s mind is elsewhere, on the recent loss of his stepfather, Bud. But Jasper’s space mission is interrupted when he is sucked into a wormhole that transports him to a different time, 30 years in the past. And now, doctors don’t believe where he’s from. Fortunately, his loving nurse at his side comforts him and a love builds. That is, until he realizes that his nurse’s son is Jasper as a young boy.
Visit John at www.johnhopewriting.com
“Someday Loyal” by Elle Andrews Patt. Alien invaders are lobbing fireballs at Peoria, but Grandmama is holding tea. When the military arrives in search of Mrs. Suniol, Alice is drawn into the mystery of Lake Snow, a missing husband, and securing the key to an entire civilization’s survival.
Visit Elle at www.elleandrewspatt.com
“Under The Whelming Tide” by Ken Pelham. The Aethir, space-born descendants of the mythical planet Earth, are returning home at last to fulfill their destiny. But not all believe the great homecoming will be the heaven they have been promised.
Visit Ken at www.kenpelham.com
“Social Experiment” by Tracie Roberts. For the past two years Dr. Olivia Tate had led a satisfying life with her alien spouse, Kya Dumont. As a scientist and cancer survivor, Liv is on a mission to discover a cure for the deadly disease. But something equally deadly has put Kya’s people, the Oo’mahn, in danger of extinction. With an order to evacuate Earth, Kya struggles between helping her people and remaining with the woman she loves, especially now that Liv has also fallen ill. Now Kya’s ship is approaching and the couple must not only find a cure for Liv and the Oo’mahn, but also devise a plan to remain together despite the objection of the aliens.
Visit Tracie at www.tracieroberts.com
“Gaia Returning” by C.L. Roman. Pirates steal things. It’s what they do… When Captain Irina Demyanov’s first mate disobeys orders and steals the crown jewels of a vengeful alien race, she knows she’s out of options. Desperate to escape, Irina takes her chances on a dangerous vortex leap and lands near an unnamed, yet strangely familiar planet. The gamble may have paid off, but between hostile inhabitants and inevitable discovery by their pursuers, the pirates’ chances of survival appear slim. Can the human remnant find refuge, or will their enemies put a permanent end to the human race?
Visit C.L. at www.brassragpress.com
For additional info about the stories and authors, visit the website: www.alvariumexperiment.wixsite.com/returntoearth
Facebook Fan Page: The Alvarium Experiment