Earth Legend

Earth Legend - A novel by Florence Witkop
Earth Legend – A novel by Florence Witkop

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What It’s About:

Elle Olmstead isn’t your normal, every-day botanist. She’s different. As a descendant of Ceres, goddess of the harvest and fertility, she, like others of her family, has a magic touch with plants. Real, honest-to-goodness magic. Which is why she unwillingly stows away on the Destiny, a space ship filled with ten thousand colonists heading for a distant planet. Because she knows that her abilities are essential to keep the plants alive that keep the colonists alive and that will be the basis for their survival when they reach their destination.

She’s caught and thrown in prison, where her powers are useless. Soon the plants begin to shrivel and die. Starvation is imminent, not to mention that the plants provide essential oxygen. But no one believes her when she tells them who she is and what she can do, especially not Cullen Vail, the one person she has come to like, maybe even love. Because Cullen is head of Security, an inscrutable, military type who has no time for stowaways and doesn’t believe in foolish legends.

She lied before, why should he believe her now? But somehow she must persuade him of the truth or ten thousand people will die.

Free short story about the Olmstead family:

If this story appeals to you, you might enjoy reading this free short story about another member of the Olmstead family that can be read immediately on your device or downloaded from Smashwords.  THE TREE THING



A vivid world created on board The Destiny

May, 26 2015

Earth Legend tells the story of Elle, a descendent of the goddess of harvest Ceres, who lives in a time of drastic upheaval as her own world is about to be traded in for a new colony on a distant planet.

With any story that uses a subject matter as dense and scientific as space travel, straddling the line between authenticity and imagination is difficult. I was a little concerned that the launch wasn’t more heavily protected and that that there wasn’t more of a screening process in place. But the initial conflict, of Elle and her cousins driving to the launch of Destiny, and trying to stow away as colonists, a group of genetic elite chosen to travel on the space ship Destiny and begin a new civilization on a far away planet, is surprisingly clearly and undramatically introduced to us. The author’s style is authoritative and reliable. From this point on, the reader is able to suspend her disbelief so even though we can’t verify the plausibility of the ship’s mission, it doesn’t matter.

But from then on the world building is simple and evocative. We get a clear picture of the atmosphere on board the Destiny, its expansive artificial settings, the darkness as “a good imitation of night” rather than night itself for example, and the vitality of the flora and fauna that Elle comes to care for so deeply. The outside world, and Elle’s outside connections, are less clear, but I don’t think this is a fault of the writing but a choice; it serves to make the world on board the ship seem more immersive and bubble-like. A romance plot as well as the high-stakes survival narrative pull us along expertly and with equal force.

The only aspect of the book that slightly jarred with me was the insertion of the mythological characters, but the author did a good job of convincing me in the dialogue between Elle and the Captain later on, in which the difference between myth and history is brought up, and we are able to see the characters grapple with this problem themselves.

Some sections of this romantic prose are gorgeously elongated and illustrated, the part where Elle looks deeply into Cullen’s eyes for the first time for example and notices worlds of colours and details in them – “his eyes weren’t solid black and that was close indeed because I saw clearly the pure night and lightning and thunder in them.” And the moment that Elle stops seeing the Destiny as a constrained temporary world and it becomes a full rich world, where she, at least on some level, belongs, is also really well done. “The Destiny was no longer a ship. It was a country and Center City was the capital, complete with streets and parks and it was beautiful,” she admits, as she becomes more and more invested in how she alone can determine the outcome of the Destiny’s mission.

Overall, this is a transporting read, with characters and a world that feel real and are well controlled by their author. I can imagine this as a pretty cool movie, too!