13. Age of the Sail
by Albatross, January 2016
The Age of the Sail is a science fiction epic set in a distant future long after the settlement and terraforming of Mars along with many other satellites and moons in the neighboring areas. During the terraforming of Mars large tracts of naturally forming Beryllium are found that provide a perfect material for solar sails. The large abundance of the material creates the very affordable ability to build solar sailing ships that can maneuver between Earth, Luna, Mars and her various moons. There have been many wars and Earth isn’t as technologically advanced as one would expect so far into the future. Mars has become a ‘new world’ very reminiscent of the early Americas. Colonies have formed in every possible location as people have used the new affordable ship building to leave their former lives and pursue an existence in a new place with new ideas. Mars is kept by the governments of Earth, but they allow for a certain amount of autonomy in their local governance (with a watchful eye). There is widespread poverty, along with massive wealth owned by a very tiny fraction. Massive trade routes open every two years between the planets, and in that time the space between them teems with ship traffic, trade, and piracy. The ships themselves are not much more than canisters hauled by the sails. Simplicity reigns. They require human crews that can operate the ship, manipulate the sails manually, as power is very limited and nothing is wasted. Ships battle by slinging objects at each other rather than any sort of energy draining advanced weaponry, with crews in suits moving about the ship, repairing, adjusting in the sails, and fighting in zero gravity. Ships are boarded, taken as prizes, and all trade shipments require a convoy for protection.
In this setting the story follows our hero as she leaves Mars for the life of a sailor. She works on Mars making solar sails for very little wage and lives in poverty with her Grandmother. She also works a meager pub in the evenings. Here she comes into contract with pirates and accidentally learns of the location of treasure hoard hidden in an asteroid field. As her situation becomes more dire on Mars, the treasure becomes very alluring. She becomes a sail mender on a ship that harvests asteroids, hoping for a chance to get closer to the treasure. Becoming a sailor she gets pulled into this adventurous world, entangled with pirates, betrayed by comrades, fighting her way to what she hopes will be something to save her grandmother and improve the lives of those she loves.