Monday, March 4, 2019

Coffee with a Writer: We Are Made of Stars

Coffee with a Writer: We Are Made of Stars

Once upon a time there was nothing. No light. No sound. No warmth. Only the thick black void of pre-existence. There was something to be said for whatever could exist in all of that nothingness, but it was not, and never would be, alive. In one moment there was simply nothing and in the next there was light. Warmth. Spreading, expanding, mixing and churning until there were stars, and suns and moons within the blanket of all that nothingness. And from the dust of all those cosmic interactions we came. 

I'm not a religious person, I'd call myself spiritual at best. But I do believe that what we are, what we have been, and what we will be is not coincidence. Nor is it fate or destiny, mind you, but a precise movement of a massive symphony that simply is. There's something about the idea of the cosmos that exists beyond the limits of our small blue planet that has always intrigued me. And terrified me, to be honest. It's so vast. So largely empty. So... different. Out there in space there is nothing the same as what we know here on our little blue rock. This deep, esoteric, primitive fear of what lies beyond the light is what keeps me with my feet firmly planted on the ground. Were we offered a ship's ride off the planet I would have to think twice before I stepped on board. Instead, I choose to write about what's out there; dream, imagine, and hope.

Science fiction romance is the perfect vehicle to explore the ideas of a cosmos that both terrifies and fascinates me. What better way to delve into all those infinite possibilities than to write about falling in love? It is, if one is to be honest, the one thing that will bind life forms across the endless blanket of the cosmos. Love. There are no species that wouldn't know it, no matter the word or sound or thought they use to describe it. Perhaps they hate it. Perhaps they would fear it. But all would know it. I adore the idea of humanity expanding beyond our limits, going farther, changing and growing and becoming. What would we find? How would that change us? 

One of my favorite projects so far has been writing about the Takamo Universe and the people who inhabit it. The Universe began as an email game, and has grown now into a MMORPG to be released soon. We write stories of the people who inhabit the game in order to give the player a more immersive gaming experience. My personal goal is to tell the stories of love, survival and family that bind the people of the universe together through the darkest times they will ever face. In Aphelion, a Takamo SF anthology duet, I introduce Kellen and Rayelle, two children stolen from their homes and experimented on by a shadowy organization called The Authority. The Authority is attempting to create the perfect soldier, but Kellen and Rayelle will never submit to their will. In the following story, Dead Man's Drift, we meet Kellen again, now the guardian of Rayelle's two grown daughters. Together, they travel the galaxy doing what Klevessans do best-- lying, cheating and stealing. But when they discover a plot to kill a high-ranking government official they know they have no choice but to do what's right no matter the consequences. 

There's something so special about these stories, because even though they take place far into our future, thousands of light years away, these characters are relatable. They're struggling with their pasts, the inevitability of their futures, and the weight of responsibility that might mean their deaths. They band together, testing the bonds of family and friendship, in the name of doing what's right. They're not perfect, or even necessarily good, but they have a duty to the one thing that holds them all together-- their humanity. ((In this context humanity does not necessarily connotate the human species, but more the idea of what it means to be a sentient, loving creature.))

In the end, Kellen and the others realize that no matter their species, their backgrounds or their beliefs, we all came from the same place, to that place we will return someday. We are all made of stars.

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