If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It was a peculiar letter of invitation that brought you here. It had arrived almost as a cold-call. Out of the blue, without any provocation. Inside, it promised all the right things - as though written to tempt you and you alone. It promised discovery, wealth, and above all - escape. There was a resume contained within, filled with the most peculiar questions. You sent it off, and thought nothing of it for months. You began to wonder if the letter was a dream.
Until recently. Three days ago another envelope arrived, but this one was different. Enclosed within was not a letter, but a flyer for an academic conference, and two tickets. One, a two-way ticket to and from Seletar Airport in British-controlled Singapore, and two, a letter of invitation to the conference described on the flyer. What a strange place for a conference. And equally strange was the name. American Nautical Society for the Advancement of Scientific Research (ANSfASR). Quite a mouthful, so it's a good thing you've crossed paths with the Brits before - enough to speak the language.
Landing in Singapore was something out of a dream. The airport had been an RAF base only two years ago, and it still looked the part, fortified against potential attacks, but the city of Singapore itself was something amazing in itself. On the Malay Peninsula, you might have been forgiven for expecting a backward tropic of savages, but this city is anything but. The city sports colorful red architecture which shines against the blue sea and the backdrop of the forested cliffs, but more than anything there is the sound and scent of industry. Progress. As far as the eye can see, all land is under development and construction. As a hub for western trade, like Hong Kong itself, this port is undergoing rapid expansion and development. It's a far cry from the economic depression hitting London like a hammer.
You follow the flyer to an address - across a great red bridge - and find that rather than a conference center, it leads to a small and unassuming performance hall. How can a conference with the budget to pay the way of scientists from any corner of the globe afford only a tiny little building like this? How many could be in attendance? You doubPost too long. Click here to view the full text.