April 26, 2015

Slice of PIE: Leaving Science Fiction

As I sit here, my son, his wife, and my two grandchildren are travelling to their new home in South Korea where they will stay for the next three years.

I cannot quite explain the complex mix of emotions I have – I’m thrilled that they are embarking on a new adventure. I’m terrified that my grandchildren will forget me the way I forgot my grandfather. (All I can bring up of him is a black and white picture of him sitting at the desk of his job at a pipe fitting company. I don’t remember anything else...) I’m proud that my son – along with his family – are serving the country

As is often the case when I am confused, I turn to writing.

Do any science fiction books have the theme of “leaving”.

Huh…as I never asked the question before, I never noticed how profoundly  the idea was woven into the fabric of science fiction.

From Jules Verne’s FROM EARTH TO THE MOON in 1865, to Robert A Heinlein’s PODKAYNE OF MARS and HAVE SPACESUIT: WILL TRAVEL, through David Gerrold’s DINGILIAD books, and arriving in the present at Neal Stephenson’s much anticipated novel, SEVENEVES (which I haven’t read yet) in which, “The world is ending, and the human race makes a desperate effort to get some survivors off the planet. Five thousand years later, the descendants of humanity are divided into seven different races, all of which decide to pay a visit to the old homeworld.”

Frank Herbert’s DUNE, “...the world's best-selling science fiction novel”, begins with a leaving that would have completely altered the storyline if it hadn’t happened, “In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul. It was a warm night at Castle Caladan, and the ancient pile of stone that had served the Atreides family as home for twenty-six generations bore that cooled-sweat feeling it acquired before a change in the weather.”

I don’t think I’ve ever written a story about “leaving”, though I clearly began to think about it recently as this line of a story I wrote – and am agonizing over whether or not an editor’s directions to “shorten it” are right or not – shows:
“The other man was panting when he finally said, ‘I don’t have to do anything except get you to thumb the contract. Then we’re free of each other.’
“‘What if I have other plans? What if I want to leave, too?’
“‘Where would you go? That stupid university thing? You’ll never get in! That kind of education’s for Pure Humans! You’ve got a life here!’”

From: “Prince of Blood and Spit”
In fact, I notice that I’ve been writing more about leaving lately...

All of this, in this short Slice of PIE, is to shove you into examining how your life events come out in your writing. Whether you believe they do or not, our minds are powerful things. They often work without our conscious volition and clearly, since I found out “my kitlets” were leaving, my deepest heart and mind have started to churn out fiction along the same lines as my concern.

Have I produced a solution to my grief at saying goodbye, or do I need to recognize – like all of the works I cited above – that to leave is to leap into a new adventure. HOWEVER…these stories are all about the “leavers”. I’m going to need to find stories about the “ones who stayed behind” and how they dealt with it.

Anyone have any books they’ve read that deal with the “ones who stayed behind”?

If they are NOT there, then I guess I have my work cut out for me!

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