Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Tendrils of Wind

Now Playing: Trevor Morris - In Your Heart Shall Burn and Calling the Inquisition (Dragon Age: Inquisition OST)

[Introduction].

I figured because last week I featured an excerpt from an author I'd already showcased, well, then, there's no harm in doing it again! I promise, after this, I'll feature someone new. I'm not going to put a new rule of, "no repeated authors", but it would help to bring some variety.

Here's my reasoning for why I'm including this: it was my second choice already for my Divergent series pick a few weeks ago. I went with that scene of Allegiant because it managed to be really powerful in just a few paragraphs--two pages in print. That's admirable.

But this scene is fun. And I like fun things. This was one of the moments in the first Divergent book that made me grin. I read somewhere that this zip line scene and the Capture the Flag game weren't in the original manuscript for Divergent. Veronica Roth wrote them at the suggestion of an editor--her first version just had a ton of focus in the hardships of initiation, and the editor thought it would make readers question why Tris wanted so badly to be part of this faction if it looked like it was all just a one-note journey of misery. I'm glad she took the advice to sprinkle some fun in the book. If anything, this is the kind of thing the other books needed; some breathing room for thrill and amazement. The writing really shines here.

He looks down at me and says, "Ready, set, g-" 
Before he can finish the word "go," he releases the sling and I forget him, I forget Uriah, and family, all and the things that could malfunction and lead to my death. I hear metal sliding against metal and feel wind so intense it forces tears into my eyes as I hurtle toward the ground. 
I feel like I am without substance, without weight. Ahead of me the marsh looks huge, its patches of brown spreading farther than I can see, even up this high. The air is so cold and so fast that it hurts my face. I pick up speed and a shout of exhilaration rises within me, stopped only by the wind that fills my mouth the second my lips part. 
Held secure by the straps, I throw my arms out to the side and imagine that I am flying. I plunge toward the street, which is cracked and patchy and follows perfectly the curve of the marsh. I can imagine, up here, how the marsh looked when it was full of water, like liquid steel as it reflected the color of the sky. 
My heart beats so hard it hurts, and I can't scream and I can't breathe, but I also feel everything, every vein and every fiber, every bone and every nerve, all awake and buzzing in my body as if charged with electricity. I am pure adrenaline. 
The ground grows and bulges beneath me, and I can see the tiny people standing on the pavement below. I should scream, like any rational human being would, but when I open my mouth again, I just crow with joy. I yell louder, and the figures on the ground pump their fists and yell back, but they are so far away I can barely hear them. 
I look down and the ground smears beneath me, all gray and white and black, glass and pavement and steel. Tendrils of wind, soft as hair, wrap around my fingers and push my arms back. 
- Divergent by Veronica Roth 

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.