The moment has come when sharing more of my personal process would result in spoilers. Can’t have that! So instead, I’m posting a passage. Could you, dear reader, tell me what impressions you get? What happened before this; who’s talking (any information about them you can glean) and what their relationship is with each other (some of it will be obvious – anything else?); what might happen next? This will help me know how successfully I’m setting the scene. Possible spoilerage has been kept to a minimum. This is, however, the first time ANYONE has received even a tiny hint regarding one of the most important directions the story has gone.
“S.K. continued her preparation. She found anything and everything compelling: introductory level courses such as physics, chemistry, geology, geography, planetary biology, and basic medicine. Then there were the advanced, specialized courses in sociology, psychology, anthropology and statistics.
One evening, having a drink on the neighbor’s porch, she was talking about her courses – her own fascination was such that she couldn’t imagine how anyone could be uninterested – when after one particularly lengthy discourse, the older woman suddenly threw her hands up in surrender, laughing. S.K. was startled for a second, but then she began laughing too. She had been pacing through the intensity of her thoughts. Now she sank down in the chair beside the neighbour.
For a few minutes they consumed tea and cakes quietly.
“You know,” the neighbour thoughtfully broke the silence, “all of this boils down to one thing. Spying.”
S.K. nearly dropped her half-eaten cake, she was so surprised. “What?” she sputtered, spraying crumbs. “I’d never!”
“Call it cultural anthropology if you prefer,” the neighbour had a slight smile on her face. “But you’re going to try to blend in, to explore, to study, to divine what is unknown to us. Discovering what one might even call secrets. And then, you’ll report back to us.
“Your premise is mistaken,” S.K. declared hotly. “Spying is done to gain an advantage. Anthropology is simply to learn.”
“What do you think will be done with the information you so carefully gather and deliver? And why do you think the Com wants this done?” Her neighbor leaned forward, punctuating the last words with a stabbing finger.
S.K. continued to stammer weakly. The neighbor patted her on the knee. “You may be right,” she said soothingly. “But it’s something to think about, and you might consider adding another topic to your list of studies – our economy, emphasis imports.”
S.K. spent the next few days mulling over her neighbor’s words. Her interest, always voracious, had been piqued. She added “An Introduction to the Economy: Imports and Exports” to the teetering stack of texts on her desk.
As she delved into the textbook, she discovered some interesting things.”