This is the eighth installment in a set of blog posts about my current science fiction series, and after this one, I’ll take a break from these more serious posts for a bit as I go finish polishing the draft of book three and write the outline for book four. The first book, THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA, is now available in paperback. The sequel, READING THE WIND, came out on July 22ndin hardback. Previous posts have explored how the books address problems that also affect us now, will affect us in the future. This post is half-way reflection on themes and the future: Adventure, Prejudice, Changing, and Fighting
The SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA and READING THE WIND are half of the story arc telling how Chelo, Joseph, and their friends grow up (there are four books planned in the series). The third Book, tentatively titled WINGS OF CREATION, is done in draft, and my writerly back-brain is working out plot details for book four. I will probably find even more things this work is about after the final word is written. Creative work is often that way for me – the process of writing unearths spiders, butterflies, and scarab beetles that have been hiding under the stones of my subconscious. But in the meantime, there are four things these books are about for sure.
Adventure: When I set out to write the first book, I wanted to write a simple adventure. I wanted to write entertaining characters on an interesting world, and I wanted it to be an adventure for me (it was my first solo book) and an adventure for my readers. While I sometimes buy a book for more lofty goals (to learn about climate change or history or a particular politician or historical figure or time), unless a book entertains me, I don’t finish it. I didn’t try for brand new concepts or difficult worldbuilding, I tried to tell a good story. No story works for everyone; some critics love these books, some not so much. But enough people have said they liked Chelo and Joseph and the paw-cats and the hebras and the mysterious silver ship that I succeeded at a level higher than I expected to for my first solo novel.
Prejudice: The futurist in me is seeing alarming possibilities for us to become even more fractured as a society. For the last few elections, we voted down two unusually hard lines. I’m a liberal, myself (see, lines? But I’m often disgusted at how quick some of my friends are to put down all things Republican with no analysis). The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger. For the first time, global corporations have more power than many governments, maybe than all governments. And then there’s science. If you assume we’ll use the tools we’re developing around genetic engineering, we will have groups of people who are actually different one from another, in ways far more substantial than skin color or language.
Changing: I addressed this in my last post. The dusky crack between childhood and adulthood has fascinated me for years. I’m in my middle years, where the even scarier crack between old age and death is becoming interesting. In the best books and stories, characters change. They grow up and they face death and they see death. Maybe they even die. Chelo and Joseph change and grow, and so do the other altered and the relationships between them.
Fighting: I pretty much knew the other three themes when I started. The anti-war theme is a reflection of our time. Some days it’s easy to forget we’re at war. But we are. In Afghanistan and Iraq, and in some ways in other places. Like Chelo, I hate war. Not warriors, not strength. War itself. It’s such a waste, and it leaves such deep and permanent scars. Yet the nature of war is such that I find myself writing about battles and preparation for battles in order to show my feelings. Kind of like the movie Saving Private Ryan. When I saw that in theaters, I felt sick to my stomach. It was a fabulous anti-war movie filmed in a war zone. I hope my readers get a little horrified at the battles happening on the screen of my writing.
As I finish this series, I’ll keep paying attention to these themes, and more may emerge.