Dreaming of the Stars

Dreaming of the Stars by Cora BuhlertEven in a galaxy torn apart by war, the young still have dreams.

On Rajipuri, a poor planet in the Empire of Worlds, Anjali Patel and her two younger sisters look up at the stars and dream of escaping the limitations of a traditional and rigidly stratified society.

At the same time, in a camp for war orphans in the Republic of United Planets, Mikhail Grikov also looks up at the stars and dreams of escaping a life of pain and abuse.

One day in the far future, they will meet and change the galaxy. But for now, they’re merely dreaming of the stars…

This is a prequel novelette of 8500 words or approx. 29 print pages to the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

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More information:

  • This is a novelette of 8500 words or approx. 29 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • Dreaming of the Stars was one of the stories and indeed the longest I wrote during the 2016 July short story challenge. The idea was to write a short story per day in July 2016.
  • Like many stories in the July challenge, Dreaming of the Stars was inspired by a piece of concept art, namely this one. I looked at that image and since I already was immersed in the In Love and War universe, I decided to write a prequel story about Anjali and her two younger sisters as kids back on Rajipuri.
  • In addition to Anjali, we also get to meet her two younger sisters Lalita and Sundari. Anjali has an older brother as well, but he doesn’t appear in the story, though he is mentioned.
  • While I was writing Anjali’s story, I realised that since In Love and War is the story of both Anjali and Mikhail, I needed his perspective as well. And so we get a snapshot of Mikhail’s pretty horrible life in the camp for war orphans on Wamsler IV.
  • While working on the In Love and War series, I knew fairly early on that Mikhail was an orphan and that he’d grown up in a prison-like camp. However, until I wrote Dreaming of the Stars, I didn’t know how horrible the abuse that young Mikhail suffered really was. It not just about broke my heart, but also gave me a deeper insight in his character.
  • Mikhail’s saviour/mentor/surrogate father Brian Mayhew also appears in this novelette. I initially introduced Mayhew, because Mikhail needed someone to take orders from. At first, he had been intended as an antagonist who relentlessly pursues Anjali and Mikhail, but eventually he became a more nuanced character. For Mayhew in full-on villain mode, check out Bullet Holes.
  • In the In Love and War universe, the older and more established planets were settled along ethnic lines and as a result, a lot of the worlds in both the Empire and the Republic still retain the culture, language, religion, naming practices of the ethnic groups that originally colonised them. Both Rajipuri and Mikhail’s lost homeworld Jagellowsk are examples of this.
  • When Anjali refers to herself and her sisters as “peasant girls from Rajipuri”, “peasant” is a class marker, not an occupation. In the rigidly stratified society of the Empire, peasants are the lowest class.
  • The highest ranking representatives of both the Empire and the Republic often bear Anglo-American names, which suggests that their ancestors came from anglophone countries. Hereby, the Empire is basically the British Empire on steroids with a very rigidly stratified class system, while the Republic is partly the USA on steroids, though they have a technocratic government, which is not like the modern US.
  • The various Republican worlds that appear in the In Love and War stories are all named after characters in the classic German science fiction TV series Raumpatrouille – Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion. Wamsler IV is named after General Wamsler, a not very likeable supporting character in the series, while Mikhail’s lost homeworld Jagellowsk is named for the Orion’s security officer Lieutenant Tamara Jagellowsk.
  • The cover is stock art by Grandfailure.