A young girl must find her missing grandfather-and uncover the secret he harbors that could save Earth and the entire solar system from annihilation.
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For me, writing is exploring. Whether it's the surprising connections among people, the wondrous patterns of nature, or the mysterious wellsprings of the spirit--the universe beckons. I love to explore it, whether by foot or by pen.
Writing is both the most joyous--and most agonizing--labor I know. And it is by far the best way to travel--in our world or any other. Ever since my youth on a ranch in Colorado, I've felt passionate about nature--and about writing. I wrote and published my own magazine as a kid, called the Idiot's Odyssey, which sold about five copies an issue (including the ones my parents bought). I kept writing during my college years at Princeton, and during my years at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. During that time at Oxford, I composed stories and poems while hiking in the Scottish highlands, while sitting beneath the boughs of an English oak I named Merlin's tree, while backpacking through Asia, Africa, and the Arctic; and while participating in a traditional roof thatching in Japan. Even during my years managing a fast-growing business in New York City, I often rose before dawn to write.
Finally, I followed my dream to write full time. In 1990, I moved back to Colorado and started writing in the attic of my home, with the help of my wife and our five young children.
I am currently writing a five-book epic about the youth of Merlin. This story gives me a chance to add a new dimension to the rich lore about this enduring figure. Why am I spending almost a decade writing about Merlin? Because he is much, much more than a great wizard. His story is, in truth, a metaphor-for the idea that all of us, no matter how weak or confused, have a magical person down inside-waiting to be discovered. If you would like more information about the epic or my other books, please visit my official tabarron website.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Kate climbed atop a wooden stool and thrust her head into one of the deep cabinets built into the kitchen walls. Her muffled voice declared: "This kitchen has the deepest shelves! You could store an elephant in here."
"That's a farmhouse kitchen for you," her grandfather answered. "Two hundred years ago, when this house was surrounded by nothing but wild woods and a few apple trees, those shelves had to hold all the provisions needed for a long winter."
"Now they hold mostly spider webs," said Kate, still searching for plates.
"Yes, I know." Pouring a heavy dose of cream into his teacup, he reflected: "Sunshine and cream, that's all my mother said she ever required for a happy life. In Scotland she found plenty of good Jersey cream, but not much sunshine. Now here I am in America, with plenty of sunshine, but inferior cream."
As he took a sip, his eye caught a spiral-shaped prism, hanging from a string in the sunlight. Tiny fragments of rainbows swam across the wooden walls of the kitchen like shimmering fish of liquid light.
"You know," he said pensively, "a person's life should be like a prism: inhaling light...exhaling rainbows." He pushed back some stray strands of hair. "If only it weren't so brief. If only there were more time."
"Time for what, Grandfather?" asked Kate, descending from the cabinet with two handfuls of dust and spider webs, but no plates.
Grandfather didn't answer. Since moving to this quiet college town a year ago, Kate had been his constant companion, watching him do experiments in the lab, helping him mount butterflies for his collection, joining him for long walks in the university woods, or entertaining him with attempts to mimic his rich Scottish accent. Even before the move, when she had lived an hour away, she had enjoyed visiting Grandfather every bit as much as her schoolmates would enjoy going to the beach or the amusement park. Although she had always been something of a loner, the kids at her old school had seemed to accept that fact; they understood that she was more interested in her books and her collection of rocks and crystals than in the usual after-school games.
Now, however, life was different. Because her parents' appointments at the university--her father as chairman of the history department and her mother as a professor of geology--had caused them to move into town, a mere two blocks from Grandfather's house, Kate invariably came here straight after school. Whenever she stepped through his door, all of her problems seemed to melt away. If Grandfather was preoccupied with an experiment, she would just curl up for the afternoon with one of his books on crystals, cloud formations, space travel, or Greek myths.
"Two peas in a pod," her mother had often called them. To which Grandfather invariably replied: "Two biscuits in a basket, if you please."
They were inseparable.
But not lately. For the last month or so, Grandfather had retreated deeply into his work, so deeply that even Kate's best efforts to rouse him had failed. He had always been a little absentminded, even during the years when he had been in charge of the Institute of Astrophysics. Yet now something was different. Even Cumberland sensed it. Most painful of all, Grandfather had taken to locking the lab door at all times, and he wouldn't--or couldn't--open it when she knocked.
"You are feeling all right, aren't you? No more of those dizzy spells?"
"Of course not, dear child. I'm fit as a fiddle."
Trying not to sound overly interested, Kate asked: "Then what's been keeping you from answering the door to the lab? What is it you're working so hard on?"
The old man drew in a thoughtful breath. "It's complicated," he finally replied. He scratched behind Cumberland's long ears. "Too complicated."
"Is it another telescope?" she asked. "Like the huge one you built in South America?"
"No, Kaitlyn. Designing that telescope was exciting, but not really my normal line of work." His face creased slowly into a smile. "I did enjoy those trips to Chile, though. I used to do some of my best butterfly collecting en route to the Southern Observatory."
Kate continued to probe the cupboards for plates. "Another laser, then? You're inventing a new one?"
A sparkle from the prism flashed in Grandfather's eyes. "No, not another laser. That would be a much simpler task." He resumed rocking the chair, as if for a moment he had forgotten Kate was there.
She leaned across the counter. "Grandfather, do your experiments have something to do with traveling faster than light?"
Grandfather stopped rocking, and his eyebrows lifted high on his forehead. "How did you ever--"
"Look!," cried Kate, pointing to a tiny glittering form dancing on the fountain. "What an amazing butterfly!"
Grandfather leaped to his feet. "Morpho nestira," he said softly in wonderment. "So you are still alive."
As the butterfly settled upon the stone fountain, it began slowly to open and close its delicate wings, rhythmically, like a beating heart. Each time the wings opened, they flashed with iridescent blue, green, and violet--colors more brilliant than Kate had ever seen. As the wings drew closer together, the colors evolved from the deepest hues into an opalescent luster. The undersides of the wings, by contrast, were a simple shade of brown, with only a subdued pearly sheen around the edges providing any hint of the colors inside. Then suddenly: The wings reopened in a burst of brilliance, radiating blues and greens of impossible purity.
"Those wings are like rainbows," Kate whispered.
"Yes," answered Grandfather, "but even better....You see, something I learned from that butterfly could make it possible for people to travel to the most distant stars in the universe."
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Book Description Ace, 2003. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0441010369
Book Description Ace, 2003. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110441010369
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97804410103631.0