Bree is on a mission. She’s trained to fight. But what she really needs to learn to do is listen…
Bree is an ordinary teenage girl living in a Martian city where everyone dreams of returning to Earth. She’s never seen a bird fly or the sea or the rain.
She’s amazed when she’s chosen for a mission to Earth, a rare honour usually reserved for the highest-achieving pupils. Why her?
There are terrible shocks ahead. Who is trying to contact Bree? What are the others not telling her? As she discovers more secrets, she will have to decide who to trust. Whose side is she really on – Home or Earth?
Sci-fi and me
by Ruth Morgan
I was never the biggest sci-fi fan until I discovered the stories of Ray Bradbury. His stories, including those famously set on Mars, aren’t in the least cold or clinical – traits I’d always associated with the genre – but warm and human. To me, Bradbury takes your ordinary, average Joe from the 1950’s, sends him into space and then exaggerates everything to a breathtaking degree – a room containing a sun, a ‘million year picnic’ – and his characters react pretty much in the way we would imagine reacting. It’s a combination I find exhilarating.
There must have been a direct connection between my discovering Bradbury and my starting to take an interest in space itself. When I began getting into astronomy, I soon realised it’s the sheer scale of everything which blew – and continues to blow – my mind. Take Polaris, the North Star. It’s about 434 light years away, so the light we see left that star when Shakespeare was alive! There are stars we can see with the naked eye that are so far away, they might not even exist anymore, like Betelgeuse (it’s okay to say ‘Beetlejuice’, apparently) which may already have gone supernova and that incredible light show simply hasn’t reached us yet. I joined an amateur astronomy group a few years ago and some of my incredible ‘firsts’ include the first time I saw Saturn’s rings through a telescope. I screamed – a lot. People wondered if something was wrong. Nothing was wrong – I’d just had an epiphany and that was hard to explain.
Because the more I discover about the wonders out there and the unimaginable sizes and distances involved, the more I push my sometimes feeble feeling brain to try and encompass new knowledge like this, it only brings me back to thinking about our Earth: that pale blue dot in the famous photograph taken by Voyager 1. We’re so unbelievably small in space – possibly hardly worth a mention in the grand, universal scheme of things, whatever that scheme might be – and yet, we’re so special. Earth has so much beauty and human beings have so much potential but we let ourselves down again and again by small minded, short term thinking.
So, evenings spent in the dark up a mountain in Wales with a load of strangers (it’s okay, legit astronomy types) gave me the inspiration for ‘Alien Rain’ although when I began writing the story, it was with the vaguest notion of where it was going to lead.
The book is set 1000 years (Earth time) in the future and is the story of Bree Aurora, a teenager who attends an elite academy on the ‘Cardiff’ dome on Mars. She’s chosen for a mission to Earth, an honour only normally granted to the highest performing students and that certainly doesn’t describe Bree, who seems close to flunking out. So why has she been picked and why is she constantly being given such special attention by the expedition’s creepy medic, Doc Carter? To start out, she doesn’t feel worthy of the honour she’s been given.
This is an adventure story, and a mystery and although it begins on Mars, the main action in set on Earth. It’s an Earth unfamiliar to us but not too difficult to imagine, an Earth in severe decline which the Mars humans want to shut down for good and strip of its remaining resources (although the government hasn’t admitted as much, as yet, to its citizens). The dominant species is the dragomansk, a deadly species genetically augmented by humans as a weapon in the final war that wiped out Earth humans. Earth is a dangerous place.
I write fast but I think slow and because I enjoyed writing this story so much, I allowed myself oceans of time to luxuriate in the thinking bit. I became so bound up in Bree’s difficulties, from her initial self esteem issues to the real physical dangers she faces later on and I felt immense satisfaction in getting her to fight her corner. She has an unusual talent, a creative talent for poetry writing which her Professors on Mars don’t give her much credit for but by the end, it’s her talent along with her bloody minded determination which is all she has left to protect both herself and the Earth.
Now, I don’t want to give too much away and there are a lot of twists and turns in this story which I hope will keep you hooked ‘til the end but just to say, if you enjoy a supernatural element – as I do – there is plenty of that in Alien Rain, too. When I said that Earth humans had been wiped out, well, that’s true in a physical sense.
Many thanks for letting me blog about me, my love of space and the product of that love which is Alien Rain. I’d love you to enjoy it.
Ruth Morgan has been writing for more than twenty years. In that time, she’s written picture books, poetry, plays and numerous scripts for animation and radio. She lives in the seaside town of Penarth in South Wales with her partner and illustrator of many of her books, Chris Glynn and their son, Gethin.
‘Alien Rain’ which is her second YA novel, was published by Firefly Press in April. As well as coming up with stories, Ruth gets a massive buzz from astronomy, salsa dancing and ukulele playing. You are welcome to imagine what a really good night out, to Ruth, would look like!