History and Politics
- High Wings
- The Commoner Princess
- Royal Wedding?
High Wings—This is the story of the origin of the Starmasters, seen from the point of view of Beth Kramer. Immersed in science-fiction fandom, Beth watches as MaryEllin Holmes disappears into the interstellar unknown. At home, her terminally ill husband also watches. He knows what Beth does not—the nature of her destiny after MaryEllin's historic journey.
The Commoner Princess—This story and the one that follows are in this section because, of course, Ariella is a princess and princesses are, by definition, historical figures. Here we see Ariella in her role as the commoner princess, finding out what it's like to be an ordinary cargo-handler. Interesting consequences soon follow as she finds herself in the middle of a spaceport brawl.
Royal Wedding?—Royal weddings are at once majestic and ludicrous. Princess Ariella's wedding to a wealthy sultan's son is no exception. Full of glorious dresses, fabulous people, a venue blazing with jewels and exotic plants, and the royals themselves, this wedding promises to be the wedding of the century. Except that Ariella is the Commoner Princess, which means that no one ever knows exactly where she is. And this is the reason that in Parliament Square, bookmakers are taking bets on whether the blushing bride is actually attending her own wedding. But, of course, there's more…
Legal and Laws
- Ballad of the Windsong
- Home to the Stars
The stories summarized here turn on legal issues, mostly involving either psionics or star flight. The Radiant Empire, though it employs psionics, is not comfortable with them and thus regulates their use of their talents extensively.
Ballad of the Windsong—As a song, this story is funny. Everybody laughs at the plight of the young pilot, too young by far for her job, but forced to it by her gift. Only when you read the story do you come to understand the magnitude of all Melinda has lost—and the identity of the man who sets out to help her regain her life.
Home to the Stars—Angela Reyes once loved a stranger from the stars. Now her daughter's father has returned, promising the help she and her family have been denied for so many years. But that help comes at a price…
Vocations—Sariah Starmaster, like many of her profession, has to have some interest that ties her to the ground. For her, it's teaching math. The only problem is that she isn't certified to teach. And then there's the matter of why the location of top theoretical mathematicians follows the route of her ship so closely—and what may happen as a result.
- Family Matters
- How Silverhawk Got Her Name
The three stories summarized here are placed in this section because they “turn” on issues of genetics. In none of these stories are the genetics obvious—however, this would have destroyed the narrative quality of the stories, no matter how much I might have enjoyed writing about them.
Mother—Caryssa is facing her last chance to qualify as an Entertainer among the show people who constitute her “family.” But her act is unconventional and not particularly lucrative. She seems doomed to fail—until a mysterious patron appears, offering her an outstanding opportunity. At the same time one of the Entertainers dies and leaves Caryssa her “place.” Now, Caryssa must choose between the life she has always wanted and the life offered by her mysterious patron.
Family Matters—Meet Annie-Haz, a skilled hazardous-materials handler at a busy spaceport. She is the mother of eight children and the devoted wife of Jerry-Chef, who works at one of the port's finest restaurants. The family is busy and happy, until Annie is told that she has the star flight talent…
How Silverhawk Got Her Name—DaLea has clearly come a long way since she was forced out of her job as a top researcher at a major university. Now she must face down the demons that haunt her discovery of starflight talent. Her particular post-traumatic stress trigger has rendered her terrified of spaceports, a situation she must remedy in order to embrace her new life.
Teaching and Training
- A Man Called Twenty-three
- The Portmaster of Kellsharah
- “Boot” Camp
Due to the exigencies of the awakening star flight talent and the need to train these nascent Starmasters for their own health and the safety of others, the governments had to institute a training regime. These stories incorporate various aspects of the training of the Starmasters.
A Man Called Twenty-three—This is a story about a man, a Starmaster, who has been in misery due to his inability to succeed in his career and who faces the threat of losing what he has so far achieved. Yet chance and chance meetings veer him into a Vocation, a calling, where he excels. Meet Jai Patrik More, an early era Starmaster, who will be a supporting character in several other stories.
The Portmaster of Kellsharah—Starmasters have to be trained to handle a variety of groundside situations in ports with different customs and threats, even when they are suffering flight dazzle from too much flight or deep in flight need with its state of mental confusion. Meet Jessec Kesslau, an out-of-work actor hired to help run groundside training simulations and the woman he aids the most.
“Boot” Camp—Flight need, when Starmasters have gone beyond the period they can go without flying, has unusual effects, like levitation, which could even threaten to send buildings into orbit. So those Starmasters who have a ship-bond are trained by the Navy to be able to reflexively answer to their ship's name and to function in a semi-coherent state long enough to get back to their ship. “Boot” Camp challenges new Starmaster Silverhawk in a hysterical recounting of this training.
Career Path and Vocations
Many Starmasters had not planned on being such before the talent awakened in them. Then they must come to an accommodation to the career they are thrust into and hopefully find a career path that is fulfilling when flying is something they must do to survive. They must also adjust to the loss of those they are separated from. Because of this, the laws regarding Starmasters place great emphasis on allowing them to fulfill their emotional needs for pursing their other interests as well as family and social connections. The stories listed here describe the types of challenges that these Starmasters face in seeking fulfillment in their lives.
Homecoming—Though Starmaster Nathan Sajalio has found a fulfilling career in flying cargo, he is haunted by memories of his one love after the machinations of her father and his diagnosis of star flight talent tore him apart from her years ago. His career is no longer sustaining emotionally, endangering his life and those who fly with him.
Stranger—Beyond training, there is the need to put the training into practice to succeed, which is especially hard when making relationships does not come easily. Here Starmaster Camille St. LeCaz struggles to impress the new portmaster of her new employer who seems determined to get rid of her.
Sojourner—Latter day Christians, crecenyei as they are called in these times, are taught they have a "calling" or Vocation—a gift from God and a ministry which they must pursue, though it is not always known or apparent to them in the beginning. Meet Zephaniah Phateo, a lapsed crecenyo, who is struggling with his lost faith and seeking fulfillment in his life and career as a Starmaster. He is offered a new career—Will he take it?
- War Stories
- Weather Woman
The stories summarized here turn on the unique power and talent of Starmasters and the other psionics who work with them
War Stories—For the protagonist of this story, flight need brings on a horrifying side effect. It is the aura-seers among the port's personnel who must deal with him. Or perhaps it's enough to be observant…
Weather Woman—Though originally written to a title prompt, this story nonetheless reveals something startling about the sheer power the Starmasters have at their disposal.
Awakening—Sanjele comes of age in her religious community unaware of her unique talent, which she expects to discover at her confirmation. When she does discover it, she is thrust immediately into the role she will assume in her life.