Monday, January 16, 2012

Upside of Darkness

I’ve faced the same demon for the last six years. I call it ‘Future Earth.’ This is a post apocalyptic dystopia, one I’ve created for the Q E series. It’s not an easy place to be. Writing it, at times, made me ill. But there is a powerful upside to darkness. It can expand the mind.

My worlds clash and the contrast is part of the enlightenment.

Future Earth is a technological hegemony where geo-engineering has failed, most known species of flora and fauna are extinct, women are denigrated and the only currency is drinking water. Not a nice place for my main characters, Kali and Nell, to grow up.

But adjacent to this is Gaela, a pre-industrial, agrarian based, magical hegemony where genders are equal and all life revered. It’s through these contrasting worlds I explore issues of gender, race, aggression, social constructs and environment. Also sentience, and love. Lots of love, even in those very dark places.

On future Earth all but human kind is considered an it. Object. Expendable. On Gaela, everything—people, animal, rock, tree, river, storm—is a thou. As Joseph Campbell said, our whole psychology changes when we see the world as a thou.

How? It turns out the brain can’t tell the difference between a dream, a memory, a fantasy or ‘reality’. If we are emotionally engaged with the story—seeing it unfold through the eyes of the main characters, frightened when they are in danger and uplifted when they fall in love—it’s the same, to the brain, as if the events were really happening to us.

This is the magic of speculative fiction. It takes us to a place where the question what if . . . becomes true. By going there in the mind, new neural pathways form, connecting us to the experience of things like gender equality and reverence for all life. From the contrasting worlds, readers may gain a deeper understanding of themselves and where life as thou can lead. From that point a different future becomes possible because we have, for a moment in time, lived it.

How about you? What dark stories have shown you the light? I’d love to hear about them. Comments welcome.

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing epic science fantasy novels set in the worlds of Earth and Gaela. Kim’s latest series is Quantum Encryption. You can find out more about her at kim.falconer.com or her daily blog The 11th House. She posts here on the 16th of every month.

3 comments:

Kim Falconer said...

Hi everyone. The winged image at the top is a fabulous piece called Apocalypto by Grzegorz Rutkowski. The other is a closeup of Rosette, Drayco and An' Lawrence from the Spell of Rosette. Illustration by Cliff Nielsen.

The credits just weren't going into the post properly.

:) Kim

Sharon said...

okay, trying to post again...I love Dark UF because those characters and stories tend to stick with me, probably due in part to the first person POV. It is easy to slip into the characters and feel their pain and make me wonder what I would do in their shoes and think about them when I close my eyes at night. The most recent to affect me is probably The Hunger Games trilogy. Some others that come to mind are The Signs of the Zodiac (Vicki Pettersson), The Fever Series (Moning), The Hollows (Kim Harrison), Sookie Stackhouse (Harris), Rhiannon's Law (JA Saare) and there are plenty others....I cry, cuss and laugh right along with these characters.

Kim Falconer said...

Sharon! Ditto. I'm reading The Hunger Games right now. Talk about the upside of darkness. Her dystopia is a vivid contrast to the human hearts trying to survive it. There is something about the first person that brings it home. Wonderful!

I haven't read Saare or Moning so they're going on my tbr list. Thank you!