Ship’s Heart: Naime the Shipwright (character interview)

Sick with a spring cold and/or allergies, and still struggling with nonfiction writing. So instead, another fictional excerpt which is more than a propos to some of our current questions.


Love is atmosphere, it’s safety, it’s the circle within which we can breathe easily, knowing that the warmth at our back means us well.

I remember, even after all this time. When I was a small child, each evening I rested in the circle of my fathers’ warmth. They sat on the balcony of our quarters in the Astok lighthouse tower to watch the sun set over the distant mountains. That last light shimmered bloody on the waters of the Inland Sea, then faded to dull silver. The headlands bulked up in darkness against the deep-blue sky. The breeze played around us, as the seabirds swooped.

Somewhere else in the house, someone picked out a tune on a stringed instrument; on the balcony below us, small children played.

My fathers sat with their arms around each other. I rested on the lap they made together. Warmth at my back, sea-coolness and breeze on my face: that memory is so pleasant it has not left me in seven centuries.

Then as I grew, love took in the fondness of my nest-mates; we might tussle and argue, but we were together. Our rivalries flared for the space of a game or a bout of grappling, and dissipated thereafter. I don’t know if that was a matter of our temperament or the atmosphere our parents created for us. Probably it was both; in adulthood, I saw murderous rivalries between siblings or cousins, that could be traced back through the decades to earliest childhood and the invidious comparisons of mothers or fathers or patrons.

Love feels as ordinary as weather, but like the weather requires great power and the appropriate conditions.

And beyond the atmosphere, above the sphere of weather: well, space taught me that, the Road of the Stars that I trod first as a human captain and then as one of the motive minds of the Ship. We make what we can, against the pressure of Void; if we don’t make well, we learn the face of annihilation.

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