Chris Gerrib is joining us today to talk about his novel, One of Our Spaceships is Missing. Here’s the publisher’s description:
In the 23rd century, spaceships just don’t go missing.
FBI agent Ray Volk is assigned to a task force to investigate a tragic accident: the disappearance of interplanetary passenger liner ValuTrip Cardinal, carrying 500 souls between Mars and Earth on a routine run. What looks like a cut-and-dried case of pressure loss is complicated by the arrival of a Martian Captain. A very cute Martian Captain who keeps sticking his nose in Ray’s investigation.
Martian exchange student Kelly Rack knows the disappearance is no accident. She survived the ships’ hijacking, but learns the former cruise entertainer leading the pirates has plans for the passengers, and they don’t include sightseeing. Kelly has avoided the murderous pirates, except now an off-duty Earth Commander insists on organizing resistance for the passengers. She forces Kelly to climb through service tunnels on sabotage runs, risking capture and death.
Can Ray shake down the right accomplices to capture the good ship ValuTrip Cardinal before its new captain spaces everyone on board? Will Kelly discover the pirates’ hidden plans for their prisoners? The race is on, because One of Our Spaceships is Missing!
What’s Chris’ favorite bit?
Deciding on my favorite bit for this book was hard. I like my books – I wouldn’t write them if I didn’t! I finally decided on two favorite bits – namely language, which informs culture, and worldbuilding.
For language, George Bernard Shaw said (and Winston Churchill made popular) “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” For this book, all you need to do is substitute Mars for England and the quote will still apply.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, One of Our Spaceships is Missing involves a spaceship, a passenger liner, that disappears enroute from Mars to Earth. The action of the story takes place almost entirely either on the spaceship itself or on Earth as the US authorities investigate the disappearance. In both settings, I’ve got two main characters – a Terran and a Martian. This leads to several amusing bits of miscommunication.
On Earth (Kansas City, mostly) our Martian Navy Captain First Class is paired with an FBI Special Agent. The Martian keeps slipping and calling his partner an Inspector with the Federal Police. Our FBI agent, used to the US Space Force which is in the Department of the Air Force, keeps wanting to call the Martian Navy (a space-based organization) the Space Force.
Here’s a sample of that – a bit of dialog between Ray Volk, US FBI agent, and Mark Nagata, Martian. It’s the immediate aftermath of a shootout in a Kansas City suburb the two men are involved in.
“You know,” Volk said, “I told you not to wave that gun around.” The previously calm house was a buzz of activity as at least a dozen people milled about, a mixture of plainclothes and several different uniforms.
“Next time I won’t.”
“Also, for the record, thanks for not staying in the car.”
“Well,” Mark said, “next time, I will stay in the damn car.” He looked up at the fierce sun. “Especially on hot days like today.”
“It will get hotter,” Volk said. “Nice shooting. Especially good for your first gunfight.”
“Second, actually,” Mark replied. “Popped a ventilator in the asteroids.”
“Ventilator. De-air man. Guy who kills people for a living.”
“We call those ‘button men’ or ‘hitters.’”
“I guess ventilator is a Martian-ism,” Mark replied.
On the spaceship, our Martian exchange student, who has had a bit of military training, is only vaguely aware of the United States. Since the Martian military doesn’t have the rank of commander, she refers to our commander as “Captain America.”
That’s my first favorite bit. My second favorite bit is the world I’ve built. The United States of America is still around but different. Texas and Alaska are independent nations, so the US flag is back to 48 stars. Texas and the US get along, Alaska and the US not so much. The US is no longer a superpower – in space, Mars is the superpower now.
About 70 years before the events of the book happen, Mars and the US went to war with each other, and the US lost. That war was basically the last war fought in space and although it happened a long time ago, people on both sides lost ancestors. There are three corollaries to that fact.
The first is simple – none of the people in either military have actually had any combat experience. It’s all theoretical to them. Well, until it isn’t. The second is that because the US and Mars last war involved them shooting at each other, relationships between the countries is chilly. But since this is a US-flagged ship hijacked from Mars, the two sides need to work together. Lastly, the war, and the treaty which ended it, has created a lawless region in our Solar System – a region perfect for a spaceship to disappear into.
Writing fiction is always a labor of love. If you don’t like what you’re writing, why should the reader? I also firmly believe that if the writer’s not happy, the reader can tell that. As you can tell, I had a lot of fun writing this book. I hope you have as much fun reading it!
Chris Gerrib admits to being a bit obsessed with Mars, but in a healthy way – all three of his previous book are set on Mars. Chris lives in the Chicago suburbs and still has a day job in IT. He holds degrees in history and business from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University. He also served in the US Navy during the First Gulf War, and can proudly report that not one Iraqi MiG bombed Jacksonville, Florida while he was in the service. In his copious free time, Chris is a past President of and currently active in his local Rotary club.