I was working on my sci-fi novel Passages when my family visited Yellowstone National Park. One of the coolest things I saw in this active volcanic area was evidence of the organisms that manage to live in the hot geyser waters—thermophiles.
Thermophile means ‘heat-loving,’ so of course these bacteria like it hot, living at temperatures between 113 and 252 °F. While it’s not possible for a casual visitor to the park to see the actual bacteria, signs of them are along most of the park’s geyser walkways—they are the colorful scum in the water and on the rocks.
Sometimes they create the colorful rings of ‘scum’ around the thermal pools—the different thermophiles living in different heat zones of the water, the more heat-tolerant closer in, others falling into other zones as the water cools.
But it’s not only the heat, but also the minerals in these volcanic pools that allow the thermophiles to live and grow. For example, sulfur replaces oxygen for the underwater anaerobes.
With some of these details, I began to expand on my ideas of what native plants might live on Passages’ volcanic world of Aarde, and how the visiting scientists might study them. This led to ‘setting up’ study areas on the various continents, such as this one the hero and heroine visit in this excerpt:
We strolled the atrium’s paths, passing a few ’torgs and stopping like any couple to read the labels of the native plant collection assembled by early botanist teams. Alone, we approached a wall of windows separating the heated lab.
I scanned the interior for occupants. No one worked in the well-lit room. The office door lay beyond the table-height vats of steaming water containing the thermophiles, primitive heat-loving plants from the geothermal areas of the planet. The water lapped at rocks, all encrusted with colorful scum, different ones in each glass tub. I’d never realized Aarde’s active volcanic regions might be pretty.
“Twelve artificial hot pools,” Quinn said from behind me. “They’ve replicated the temperature gradients to grow every native bacteria, algae and hornwort.” He pointed to a vat containing tiny, rock-hugging, crimped-edged leaves.
The plant didn’t look at all like Cyrem’s photos. “This sample isn’t sending up the horn-like spore stalks,” I said.
“Oh?” Quinn bent to the door’s lock and removed the keypad cover. “There must be a reason,” he said and stuck his finger into a mess of wire. A glow lit up his skin.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I hissed.
“It was locked. Quiet a sec.”
Blessed Waters, he should have been flat on his back, electrocuted. I waited while he closed his eyes and let sparks fly over his skin.
The door slid aside with a whoosh.
He replaced the cover. “You’re not the only one with talent.” He raised a brow and ushered me inside.
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“Find someone you can trust.”
For decades, Eve and her fellow electorgs—part human, part machine—have worked on the quiet planet of Aarde, beating back toxic spores that threaten to poison the native people. When the new commander halts work right before a deadly spore release, Eve frantically plots to protect the villagers she considers friends and family.
On the run after an ambush, Quinn holds a secret that nearly got him killed. If only he knew what it was. Though the attack scrambled his memories, Quinn is sure of one thing—he can’t trust the electorgs. But they know information he desperately needs to puzzle out who wants him dead, and why.
With the fate of life on Aarde in the balance, the logic of joining forces with Eve overrides Quinn’s fears…and erupts into an attraction that could prove fatal for both of them.
Because the planet’s commander might just be Quinn himself.
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Before kids, Laurel Wanrow studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower walks and answers calls about the snake that wandered into your garage. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.
When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.
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Below are the bloggers participating in the Blog Tour for Passages. Each stop will have excerpts and tidbits about the science & fantasy, and a chance to win the tour prizes: a $10 Amazon eGC or a sign paperback of Passages. (Giveaway open to US/CAN)
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PASSAGES Blog Tour
Jan 26: Travel to a Mineral Hot Springs on Vicki Batman’s Handbags, Books, Whatever…
Jan 27: Goudrogen Crystals on Jessica E. Subject’s Happily Ever Afters Across the Universe
Jan 27: Hornworts on C. D. Hersh’s Two Hearts Creating Everlasting Love Stories
Jan 29-31: Thermophiles on The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor
Jan 29: Author Interview with Mia Jo Celeste on Other World Diner
Jan 30: Moons and Rising Waters with Laurie A. Green on Spacefreighters Lounge
Jan 31: Creating a Character’s Home Planet—in a Red Dwarf Star System on Pippa Jay’s Adventures in Scifi
Jan 31: What kind of a book is it? With Kira Decker on Toni Decker Books
Jan 31: Lacuna, a Bit of Realism, a Bit of Magic on Author J. C. Nelson’s Urban Fantasy and More
Feb 1: Resolving your story problems…including knocking out a pesky spore? on Riley Moreland’s Whiskey With My Book
Feb 3: What do you think of when I say “cyborg”? on Veronica Scott’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog
Feb 4: The Mystery of Transporters on Heather Massey’s The Galaxy Expresshttp://tge.scifiromancequarterly.org/?p=512&preview=true