A fair few eclectic factors went into the overall arc of the story.
The first thing was Venus being the key aspect of its science-fiction premise. The atmosphere of Venus at fifty to sixty-five kilometres above the surface is considered the most Earth-like atmosphere in the whole Solar System, with the added benefit of the air we breathe being a ‘lifting gas’ and making things float.
The idea of diamonds on Venus came from the fact that the atmosphere of Venus is 95 times heavier than Earth’s at surface level, and surface temperature is a bit under 470°C (just over 870°F). Diamonds need high temperature and high pressure to form the way we know and love them, and Venus’ conditions seem pretty useful in that regard.
Carbonado, more commonly known as black diamond, is more porous than regular diamond. Anything with pores usually uses them to release something, such as sweat in living things. Therefore, having a liquid form of life hiding within these pores seemed a logical enough idea to manipulate for sci-fi purposes. There is still contention that the known Carbonado deposits in the Central African Republic and Brazil are from a meteorite impact many years ago, possibly as far back as 3 billion years.
Digging through ancient indigenous cultures around the world, many of them considered Venus an important representation of a deity. I settled on the Yolngu peoples of the Northern Territory in Australia because of Venus representing Barnumbirr, their creator goddess. The name was made masculine by changing it to Barnaby, and gave me the central character.
The Yolngu were chosen for another important reason. They were the trailblazers of indigenous land rights, and 2013 was the 50th anniversary of their petitioning to have their land claims recognised instead of the long-held terra nullius used by colonialists. The rights movement began with the mining of their lands without their consent. Such a consideration, and a love of his land, was a strong aspect of Barnaby’s character. That he was mining Venus, when the idea had been repugnant back on Earth in his home land, seemed hypocritical for a time, until the issue of life forms came into play.
Other characters were included to play a supporting act to the ‘love of their land’, strongly reflected in Barney’s mining team. Kumara Sana, a Pawnee Indian from North America, supported the indigenous aspect. Woodrow Garriott was the more stereotypical American, though he got on well enough with Kumara due to their common ‘home lands’ in Oklahoma. Carolina Malargüe and Juan Cebreros added the international flavour with their Argentinian and Spanish origins respectively, which linked back through time to the Spanish exploration of Mexico and South America. Argentina got its name from its silver mines, so that was a given for inclusion.
A character who got a larger piece of the story due to positive feedback was Léana Stirling. The initial plan was to have her die due to the infection of the Venusian life form, but thankfully I was alerted to how generic that line of action was. After all, why does an alien life form have to infect and kill its host? Why couldn’t an alien life form serve a benevolent purpose once it infects someone? My thanks to Shadowoperator and DuckofIndeed for helping me see the ‘path less travelled’.
Léana got her surname, and the job of the Venusian Cloud Colonies, from the Stirling Engine. The real inventor of the machine was Scottish, so I likely made a bit of a faux pas there. Would anyone protest if I revised the story to her being Scottish? I did kinda have Merida from Brave in mind when I wrote her, though I thought the shock of red hair a more Irish thing…
I wrote a short story review around four weeks ago, which mentioned my inspiration for the twist of the Venusians having already arrived on Earth many years ago, and play a part in the evolutionary cycle of homo sapiens.
Many of the supporting characters were inspired by important families and peoples in the diamond industry. The most thinly veiled were Claudio and Liban of the Grisogno family. The De Grisogono company was founded by a black diamond specialist named Fawaz Gruosi. if you followed my Geneva scene with a map of the city, you would find yourself at their shop.
The story took a more environmentalist turn because it seemed to fit with Barney’s character, and that of his people. We always hope that newer generations will be able to see the errors of their forebears, and not make the same mistakes or let the same injustices occur.
I hope that everyone who read OVCC#9 enjoyed it, and any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated =)