One Way Trip: A Universal Story on any Planet

One Way TripImagine blasting off on a trip to Mars—one of the first two humans to set up a colony there, unable ever to return to Earth—and suddenly you realize that you actually yearn to go back home after all. In his short novel, One Way Trip, Stephen M. Braund follows Martin, a young astronaut, on exactly this journey, with all its implications. This bittersweet story of love and loss takes the reader back and forth between Martin’s childhood, where he meets Gwen, his true love and the one who inspired his love of the stars, and his adulthood, where he has lost Gwen forever and must aim for the stars without her. It’s hard for the reader to imagine that Martin can forge a new life successfully, yet Braund makes us care about him and root for him to succeed.

Neither of the two courageous men who will establish this Mars colony are emotionally whole, despite how level-headed and firm in their commitment they seem at first. It’s as though both Martin and his companion, Jomo, with tragedies and serious losses in their past, must lose even the very planet that shaped them before they can truly face up to and deal with the lives they lived there. Talk about needing to get perspective!

Braund carefully but convincingly reveals the details of both Martin’s and Gwen’s lives as we gradually come to understand what led both of them to the places they now occupy, one on Mars and one on Earth. And as more of the truth comes out, it’s disconcerting to discover that Martin is perhaps more to blame for this vast gap between them than he appeared at first; we don’t want to think that this isolation, loneliness, and loss might in any way be something he “deserves.”

But as the story moves through the years, where Martin and Jomo have gradually been joined by other scientists and have worked through the beginnings of a colony that slowly starts to thrive, we begin to sense that the griefs of the past may finally have settled into a sense of peace. And in the end, this very long journey of loss may result in unexpected fulfillment.

The only extra insight I would have wanted from this book would have involved some details about the colony itself—how it really worked and how the people created a viable place to live on another planet. But of course, that’s mainly because I love the stars and the thought of venturing out into them as much as Martin and Gwen do.

But Braund is primarily interested in the very human story and the motivations behind this launching into the astronomical unknown. He captures the depths of Martin’s and Gwen’s (and even Jomo’s) emotional work in a surprisingly deep and insightful way, considering that this is not a long book. He literally demonstrates that there is no place distant enough to allow anyone to flee the inner work they must do in order to heal; their past will always follow them, wherever they go.

This is a story that is as moving and insightful on Mars as it has ever been on Earth.

When they say “book bags,” they really mean it

If you’re looking for a nice satchel that has a “bookish” feel to it, check out the offerings from the Etsy site, Krukrustudio. These satchels are fitted with covers that look much like the covers of many people’s favorite books or at least of some general book by certain favorite authors. For example, Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice:

Satchel with a cover designed to look like a Jane Austen book,

Jane Austen satchel

This Austen is leather, while a second one is felt, and Agatha Christie also gets into the collection twice, once with the leather And Then There Were None and again with the felt Poirot. And the range is quite extensive, both chronologically and in genre. You can go all the way back to the Iliad

A leather satchel whose cover looks like the cover of the

Homer’s Iliad

…or you can come up to Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World. There is one for Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or you can go with Pasternak, Pushkin, or Chekov. The creators and sellers are in Moscow, after all. This is probably one of the reasons why these satchels cost what they do–in addition to the labor involved and the materials.

But if you want to get something that will support your book addiction and also be useful, you may not be able to resist one of these. Especially since they take orders for other books if you prefer something else. I know I’m tempted!

Satchel with a cover based on the Russian author, Chekov.

Chekov

Thoughts on the Hardcopied challenge

Stack of five printed books that I read in July

My five Hardcopied books

 

So, three weeks later, what did I get out of the Hardcopied challenge, to read only print books for the month of July?

First thing. I already read a lot of print books, but the Hardcopied challenge got me to slow down. (On my time off. The working day was as hectic as ever, alas.) I hadn’t finished many books this year, after averaging one book a week last year, but in July, I decided that sunny Sundays were reading days. So every Sunday, I went to a different Toronto park with a book, and I read. (I sometimes went out in the sun to read on Saturdays too. I was inspired.)

I could feel the difference right away. Of course there were still distractions; any park worth its name is going to have those. But there wasn’t the pressure that I had to jump–to a different topic–a different thought–a different online task. It didn’t take long before I was reading longer passages and then stopping to think about them as I looked around. I noticed a lot of things around me. The house across the street from the park bench by my building, where the new owners had really been spiffing it up. The different people and their different dogs, strolling along the boardwalk down by the beach. And who could resist the guy in High Park, who sat coaxing tiny chipmunks onto his hand, where they sat eating nuts, their fluffy little tails hanging off his palm?

There was no pressure to get one thing done solely so I could get on with the next thing. I also stopped work a little earlier on some days (I work at home) so I could lounge around with a Blue Jays baseball game in the background and read some more. So I finished five books in July, after only managing one each in April, May, and June. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a stint of reading quite this much. And it’s been a great, relaxing summer too.

I’m already kind of eager to do it again. I may toy with the idea of doing my own Hardcopied thing every second or third month or something. But I do want to continue to set aside long stretches of time just to sit and read. And think. And absorb.

 

Birthday Swag for Hardcopied Book Challenge

Birthday swag

Birthday book swag

I wasn’t planning specifically to buy any books for the Hardcopied July print-only challenge. After all, I  have six large bookcases full of actual print books, many of which I haven’t read yet. (Remember my “Reading Through the Bookcase” plan? I’m not done with that, and I’ll be getting back to it.) So it wasn’t like I didn’t already have lots of books to choose from.

But my mom died in April and left me a little bit of money. And if she were here, now would be about the time that she’d be mailing a cheque for some birthday money for the end of July.

So I bought these things yesterday, on Canada Day, to celebrate my mom and my birthday and the print-only reading challenge. I miss being able to buy books whenever I want. And two of the books were recently recommended in a book discussion, while the third is by one of my favourite authors, Joanna Trollope. So, bonus!

And those beautiful needlecrafted bookmarks I’ve got sticking out of the books? Those were done by my mom (just two small examples of some really marvelous work she did over the years). So she’ll be there while I’m reading.

 

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin