Here is a short excerpt of the book, the second one in the Terra Two series, published in June 2014.
Read alsoThe Weekly Gardener Volume 1 June: December 2011
Collected articles from theweeklygardener.com - June through December 2011.For current articles visit The Weekly Gardener blog
Sister Roberta didn't want to look too impressed because she had rightfully earned the reputation of a genius for whom nothing was impossible, but she had to admit that Purple's capabilities went so far beyond human limitations it would have been stupid to turn down the already processed knowledge for the dubious glory of reinventing the wheel.
Sys stood next to her, smiling and acting as if it had offered the sister a stick of gum, completely unmoved by the complexity and advanced technical knowledge required to generate this science presentation. Roberta wondered how come the um didn't act superior, any human certainly would have. It was not that Sys didn't have internal processes that acted very similar to human emotions, it loved its mother, was very protective of its school friends and could get happy or sad on occasion, but it had a seemingly infinite patience, an avid thirst for knowledge and a complete lack of ego which Roberta suspected had more to do with its Purple kinship than its human upbringing.
"I see the energy field is definitely strong enough to push us to hyperspace, what else can it do?" she asked Sys.
Sys didn't answer but picked up a tin beaker between its cupped palms and slowly turned it into a plastic flower, a broccoli spear and finally a bubble of milk. Sys and Roberta stared at the milk ball for a while, the liquid acted as if floating in imponderability with the surface tension as its only container, a gooey ellipsoid spinning slowly around its slanted axis.
"Holy mercy!" Seth exclaimed, staring open mouthed at the willful transformation of matter. The leader seemed to be everywhere at the same time and never missed the important breakthroughs of their community. Her comments startled um, who lost its focus and allowed the milk to splash on the floor, subject to gravity again.
"How come it didn't turn back into tin?" Seth asked. Um looked puzzled at the question, not understanding the logic.
"How are you doing this?" Sarah whispered from behind Seth.
"They're the same sub-atomic components, I'm just reorganizing them," um said simply, a bit bothered by the all the attention.
Roberta had regained her confidence and recognized some of the equations from way back when she fused materials together and pulled Jimmy from the beach. The theoretical model made perfect sense to her, of course, but all the other sisters who had gathered in the lab in the meantime were more befuddled by the equations themselves than the miraculous transformation of matter.
"Well, I guess we can all stop cultivating the fields now," sister Joseph commented, for once not protesting but a little unsure of her footing. "We can make cat-brain's toy here turn dirt into potatoes and we won't ever have to worry for nothing.
Sarah smiled at the fine irony; they have been praying twice a day for almost two hundred years to a God who told them nothing was impossible and now everyone was confused by the fact that this promise was in fact true.
"I like cultivating the fields, it's good exercise and something to look forward to every morning," Sarah answered, still smiling. "Why waste a perfectly good miracle on something you can do for yourself?" she continued.
"At least we know there will be no more emergencies," sister Mary-Francis commented.
"Unless something happens to the sugar toy," sister Joseph replied. "We should make more of them, you know, to be on the safe side," she said and the corner of her eye caught a glimpse of a very flushed Sarah who looked petrified with outrage.
"Yeah, yeah, it's your child, blah, blah, insensitive, I know. Get over it!" sister Joseph said unfazed. "Seriously, shouldn't we have more ums?" she turned to Seth.