Stories that changed me: The Star by Arthur C. Clarke (1955)

When I made my quiet return to my passion of writing, I began with a course in creative writing, and short story writing. Part of this course was to read and read and read. And read some more.

During this course I discovered the grandfathers of science fiction, Jules Verne and HG Wells. And then I stumbled upon The Star by Arthur C. Clarke.

“The joys of life are often in those moments of stumbling when expectation is at its lowest so that the impact of the discovery is at its greatest.”

(Yes, feel free to quote me on that.)

This story written in the 1950s about space exploration towards a star that – oh, wait. I’ll let this description from Kings Alumni Community tell it for me.

“The Star” is the story of a group of space explorers from Earth returning from an expedition to a remote star system, where they discovered the remnants of an advanced civilization destroyed when their sun went supernova. Their chief astrophysicist, a Jesuit priest, is suffering from a deep crisis of faith, triggered by some undisclosed event during the journey. This story appeared in the magazine Infinity Science Fiction in 1955 and won the Hugo award in 1956. It later appeared in Arthur C Clarke’s book of short stories, The Other Side of the Sky.

Something about ‘crisis of faith‘ and ‘advanced civilisation destroyed‘ and ‘supernova‘ pulled me in. Tickling my own questions on religion and humanity. On universal love and connection beyond human contemplation let alone understanding. And also, what was a Jesuit priest doing leading a space expedition?!

This marked the beginning of a hidden love for sic-fi and fantasy that I wasn’t even aware of. The way it was able to explore humanity and question deeply between right and wrong, even redefining ideas completely, appealed to my inner philosopher.

And by the end of this short trip to space, I was forever changed.

Perception altered.

Mind blown.

New dimensions opening.

Ending with a question, it triggered many of my own questions.

You can read Arthur C. Clarke’s short story The Star, here.

It is three thousand light-years to the Vatican. Once, I believed that space could have no power over faith, just as I believed the heavens declared the glory of God’s handiwork. Now I have seen that handiwork, and my faith is sorely troubled. I stare at the crucifix that hangs on the cabin wall above the Mark VI Computer, and for the first time in my life I wonder if it is no more than an empty symbol.click to read on

 

 

Last day of school

PHOTO PROMPT © Gah Learner

Mishka pulled the curtain aside, hoping to see a window. Her heart sank when she saw it was boarded up shut with wooden planks. Her breath came in sobs, heart thudding faster in her chest. Was her mother looking for her? Thoughts of her mother brought fresh tears.

A woman entered the room. She wasn’t in the car when those men pulled her into it on her way to school. Hope rose like a red balloon in her chest.

“Please ma’am. I want to go to my mommy.”

She eyed her up and down. And shut the door.

98 words

Not one of my favourite stories, but only because of the topic. This was extremely difficult to write. Usually I have no issues connecting with my dark side to conjure up all sorts of evil and crime. But to try to empathise with a child, kidnapped from her safe world, not knowing what will happen to her, or if she’ll see her family, friends and school again, was heart-breaking for me.

Child trafficking is on the rise. At ridiculous levels. I find it intolerable that elected governments are so quick to initiate changes to taxes, fuel prices, land appropriation or other laws that line their pockets. But horrendously slow to put a stop to crime. Rather it feels as if they create a safe haven for such syndicates to operate in. I can bet anything, that due to the rapid increase in child trafficking, it points to politicians or other high-level officials lining their pockets from this modern day slavery.

In South Africa, children cannot walk to school without running a high risk of being kidnapped and disappearing into thin air. They’re taking children from outside the school gates. Last week, they smashed the rear window of a car, to try to steal a baby from his car seat. This is the level of desperation and enticingly lucrative nature of child trafficking. Luckily, the mother managed to drive away and they failed to unbuckle him in time.

The culprits should be given a life sentence or the death penalty. A child kidnapped and sold into slavery has had her life taken from her.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the blue frog icon to read more flash fiction.

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Night of the Star

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

 

Some things never change.

Nadia looked up at the full moon, brilliantly white. The same full moon lit up the dark roads all those years ago as she held Mama’s hand fearfully. Sobbing for her murdered Papa. Led to that unknown place beyond the mountains she knew so well. She still hated that word refugee. But over the years it became part of her like the moles on her skin.

“Ready Nadia!” her new captain slapped her shoulder. Cheers erupted from the stadium crowd as the team ran on to the pitch. Refugee to star striker.

So much has changed.

 

100 words

This one is so close to my heart. I had a previous life of entrepreneurship (don’t ask), and my passion was Muslim women in sports. So I started a sportswear brand aimed at developing and encouraging Muslim women in sports. Many women are not active enough for various reasons.

Today I saw this video of Nadia Nadim who has signed on with Man City Women, and I feel like a proud mother hen. Despite the business not working out, this is what it was all for. To develop top level sportswomen. Her story is incredible. Boy did she break barriers. Her father was executed in Afghanistan by the Taliban. Her family fled to what they thought was London, but unknowingly ended up in Denmark. It was the mistake that led to her career as a footballer.

She has achieved a lot in her life already and still plans for much more: watch the video!

 

 

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge is to write an entire story in 100 words or less. Click here to read more flash fiction.

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The rich man by the sea

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

 

Moonlight glinted off crystal glasses. Patrons dined al fresco on fish caught from the sea that lapped close by. He inhaled, salty but fresh. So different than the village he grew up in. Some men huddled at the bar, sneaked glances at him, sneers and frowns. Words sailed on moonlight. “Darkie”. “Probably stole to get rich.” “They’re all crooks.”

He guessed even his accented English would be an affront. To them, a sign of lower intelligence. Apartheid ended years ago, but the prejudiced were enslaved by their egos and twisted logic. A much harder trap to flee.

97 words

 

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In general South Africa is a caring, connected community that at times even overcomes its prejudices to shine brightly amongst humanity. This is merely an illustration of the more subtle prejudices and stereotypes that people may have against one another, seemingly harmless, but simmering under the surface.

 

Written for the 100 word challenge Friday Fictioneers hosted by the awesome Rochelle, who writes mainly from the persecutive of the Jewish experience of the holocaust (and so much more). I’d strongly recommend heading over to her blog to read some very interesting posts.

Click on the frog or click here to view more flash fiction.

 

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