I’m just dropping by here quickly to record for whoever reads these things that I will have a short story in the upcoming anthology, We Are All Thieves of Somebody’s Future, from Air and Nothingness Press. Right now, it’s scheduled for a May 2024 launch, and I think there will be a limited number of copies printed and available only from the publisher, so be on the lookout for more to ensure you can get yours.
My story is called “Starlight Vigil,” and it has a special place in my heart because I was experimenting with time’s role in storytelling structure. If you’ve ever heard me get nerdy about fiction-writing craft, you might know I have a thing for nonlinear storytelling. It’s something of a faux pas and goes against the grain of conventional wisdom, but I don’t care. Extended flashbacks? Love them. Time dilation? Yes please. Chronology distortion? Uh huh.
In “Starlight Vigil,” I wanted to tell a simple story with a heart rooted in one heroic character’s sacrifice, and I wanted to present the story in such a way that we focus not on the fact that a character has died (not a spoiler; it’s the opening lines of the story), but why, the effect their life has on the others who continue, and the legacy their sacrifice creates.
My hope is that, because of the perspective and the presentation given to the events in this story through a nonlinear, multidirectional timeline, readers might see a tragic story through a lens of hope.
The non-nerdy description of my story is that a micrometeorite punches a hole in a generation ship carrying the last of humanity, and an engineer sacrifices herself to save the vessel—presented out of order and in reverse as well as forward.
Anyway, I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of this anthology when it’s available, and I hope you enjoy my story as well as the pieces by the other authors. I’m eager to read them, myself.
There is a popular sentiment that stories, like life, are about the journey, not the ending. I think good fiction has to differentiate itself from life, so stories are about the journey and the ending.
Maybe I’m hopelessly morbid, but I think about death all the time. I know I’m not the only one, but how I’m going to check out is constantly on my mind. It doesn’t frighten me or stop me from living, but like a good story, I do want to know how it all ends. Like reading a good story, though, I’m not eager to get there. It’s a paradox. I don’t want it to end.
(Update: I mention below that I recommend the first two books in this series, but I no longer feel that way, since I discovered Dan Simons is a terrible human being and I believe we not only can’t separate the artist from the art but that we shouldn’t. Maybe that’s a blog for another time, but suffice it to say I can’t endorse the work of anyone who distorts American ideals and espouses beliefs that hurt innocent people simply trying to live happy, fulfilling lives the best way they can.)
I acknowledge it’s unfair of me to review Dan Simmons’ entire Hyperion Cantos together because it’s a long, complex journey with highs and lows in terms of both narrative drama and writing quality. In many ways, it’s less a four-book series, and more a duology of duologies. Unfortunately, the first two books are far superior than the latter two, which mainly serve to button up the universe. If these books interest you at all, I might recommend reading only the first two; however, the Endymion books might compel you, and you might find yourself beginning to resent them and questioning whether it was worth beginning the series in the first place.
Last night, I watched Passengers, the film starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence whose characters wake up far too early on a colonial spaceship that’s en route to a new planet. I think it’s a film that certainly has its flaws but is ultimately worth a viewing for any fan of character-driven science-fiction. It’s a film that, given a fair shake, deserves attention for some solid storytelling and acting. But critics panned it.
With such an interesting premise and two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, you might think it was a solid bet. So what happened?
It’s conjecture, and a film’s failure and success is contingent on innumerable factors, but I think Passengers is another film where the critics got it wrong. What’s more, the film sufficiently and specifically addresses the most substantial problems in the second half, which makes me wonder if the critics who panned it checked out after a major development in the first half in which a character does something utterly, morally repugnant, something that is a huge risk in the realm of storytelling, something good stories have to do to be memorable and effective.
I spoil the hell out of the film below, so if you haven’t seen it and plan to, you may want to wait to read this until you do. But before you go, the bottom line is Passengers is a wonderful film, and you should watch it. If you’re interested, don’t be like me and let the critics dissuade you.