Gen Keeps Me Up at Night

Gen has evolved. You know I don’t like to give away anything. Spoilers are hard to avoid when I’m trying to explain the series with others, and I’m a fan of letting the readers discovers every tantalizing bit.


I thought today I’d share an excerpt. With luck, the whole book should be ready for publication soon. But until then, here is a bit of the upcoming book 4 in the Water Worlds YA sci-fi apocapunk adventure series: Gen.

Enjoy! And thanks for reading.



Her voice whispered in my ear, without even asking permission.

You’re being rude to your father.

“This is not your argument, Imp,” I said aloud.

She shut up.

I took another breath and held it, then let it out slowly.

It’s not his fault. He’s old. He doesn’t understand.

Did that come from me now, or my imp? It sounded like something I would think, but I wasn’t sure.

Another deep breath, in through the nose, then out steady and controlled through the mouth.

There’s no need to shout. Don’t waste your breath.

That was me this time, definitely.

And then I was calm. But only on the outside. I crossed into the atrium and passed through the large family garden.

The ceiling and walls simmed the evening sky outside, now deepening into blue dusk. In a miracle of bio-design, large ornamental trees, arranged tastefully in the corners, began to glow. Their cool light would get stronger as the evening lengthened.

I paid no attention to the wonder of it. Inside, I was a roiling mass of snakes.

A gurgle of recycling water and nutrients flowed around the living greenery like the babbling brook it was supposed to mimic. Tomato cages hung heavy with fruit, peas and beans climbed the trellis wall. Plots of onions, herbs and spices added a tang to the air, already rich with the mighty O exhaled by the healthy, living plants.

I refused to let myself enjoy any of it. I wanted my anger to last. I wanted to savor it. To taste the bitterness and remember it.

Head down, I took the turn into the long, narrow corridor that led to my coffin. The ceiling and floor lit the way before me and, just as quickly, dimmed behind. The bubble of light escorted me through the cold, stone hallway like a pulse pumping blood through an artery, delivering precious O from heart to brain.

Pictures, many in antique frames, appeared as I passed, then vanished in the swallowing dark behind, like memories that come in a flash of remembrance and, just as quickly, are forgotten again. Rectangles and ovals of family and friends, of places visited, were suspended on the walls, or set upright on a long shelf running at eye-level.

Some activated as I passed, looping scenes of younger-us in happier days. Many of those were fun and even amusing, but it was the old ones — the stills — that fascinated me as a child. Even frightened me a little.

Dead ancestors forcing smiles, eyes staring straight ahead. Or else caught awkward and unaware in a mini-moment of time that would last forever. For some, this may have been the only evidence that they ever even existed.

It was another example of M and D’s endless love for all things old. Or their inability to let go of the past. I wasn’t sure which. I’d examined every one of these pictures over the years, of course, in great detail. Obsessively, even. I used to spend hours here in this dark corridor, wondering how people, living so long ago, remembered all the bits and pieces of their whole complicated life with just these few frozen shards of memories, trapped in paper and dye.

Was all the rest simply forgotten forever? How many stories were lost over the countless generations? The brilliant ideas buried by time that others would have to re-invent. The little daily triumphs that would go unseen and untold. The constant fear of knowing they faced only one short lifetime, and a hard one at that.

But this evening I was oblivious to it all. Even a little annoyed by the clutter. As I neared my coffin, spotlights woke the door, and it slid open with a sigh.

In that half second, I thought I saw something flitter behind me, in the shadows. I spun to look. That oldest of all animal instincts, fight-or-flight, ran down my spine with a chill. But whatever this was (or wasn’t), it was gone now.

I took a deep breath, not sure if I was just on edge or if I was seeing things again, and stepped into my room.



About HSStOurs

H. S. St. Ours is the author of the Water Worlds young adult science fiction, apocapunk adventure series. He lives and writes in Maryland. "Water Worlds is a saga of the terraforming of the planets of the inner solar system, as seen through the eyes of generations of young women. I wrote this series especially for young women, because I believe there is a paucity of good SF for them in particular."
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