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The Glass Dragonblower’s Daughter

This is the first thing you will learn about space, my daughter. It is not empty, in the same way that the earth isn’t empty, nor the sky, nor the water. It is full of life.

You just don’t see it yet.

1. The Spell of Earth

Here are some things I remember about my father.

First of all: that he was a big man. Not tall, and not wide, but big, with strong
arms to hold me and toss me in the air and legs like trees moving uprooted from the
ground. He was solid.

Second of all: he smelled like fire and burning things. Perhaps the heat from
the great kilns and furnaces that filled up his workshop were baked into his skin and
clothes as well. The scent was neither pleasant or unpleasant, much like he was. Sadly,
my father is largely forgettable apart from the physical. He was large and he smelled
like fire.

Here is a final fact about my father. He was murdered ten years ago. They say
killed in an accident, but I know it was murder. The machines he made would not have
dared to kill their creator.

I only discovered this yesterday.


My name is Nanu. I was born on Sythera, the fourth planet in a solar system with
two suns, one asteroid belt, eight planets, thirty moons, and several recurrent comets. My
USP (United System of Planets, established in 2332) ID number is 428-633-573. I am
five feet and four inches tall; twenty years old; I hate broccoli, love apples; and spent most of my childhood building model ships.

I remember Father going away when I was ten, going to Earth, the big blue planet
far away, for meetings. He was an important engineer, and no one could make better engines than he could, those finely piped pieces of glass that held the fuel that powered our ships. Only glass can hold those mystic oils; only well-made glass that can stand the
heat of ships, the cold of space, the pressure of the void.

The trip would take three years to get to Earth, an indeterminate time for the conferences, meetings, and various political and scientific get-togethers, and three years to get home. By Sytheran Standard Time, he had been gone ten years; by Earth Standard Time, seven. He would have been home by the time I was ready to have children, or at least have found someone to have them with.

But he is dead now, and will not be a grandfather.

Do not misunderstand me: I am not alone, no orphan from an opera. I live with
my mother and my three brothers. My mother is a farmer, and as my father knew the secrets of space and fire, she knows the secrets of earth and root. The green things speak to her, telling her to pick certain herbs mid-morning, when their oils are rich and condensing to the sun. The ground whispers it must be kept warm for fall harvest, and
so she makes the thermo-blankets in case of early frosts. She knows ten ways to cook a
potato, and for this above all I am in awe: I can burn soup.

I am somehow not the child of my parents. I hold no secrets, unless I hold every secret. But this I know: the stars sing to me, and tell me to find a way to Earth. Soon.

Here are some facts about Earth:

It is eight thousand miles wide.

It is not exactly spherical.

The highest temperature ever recorded was 136 degrees Fahrenheit; the coldest is -129 Fahrenheit.

The average year on Earth is 365 days made up of 24 hours each.

These are not secrets or spells, but facts I found on a computer. Those, unlike people, do not lie that much. Much.


In the old days, in the old stories, they would say what I’m about to do is go on a
quest. I don’t know about that; a quest sounds like something white men on white horses in white armor do, not what brown women with toolboxes do. All the same. Here I go.

This is my record. Wish me luck.


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