Almost three years ago, I wrote "At some point over the last couple of weeks I’ve stopped merely writing science fiction stories and started living in one."
Well, it's happened again, but this time we've been living in the opening salvoes of a sci-fi movie. Uncle Sam was shooting down UFOs. Literally, as in underline 'Unidentified', highlight it in pastel blue, then biro asterisks either side.
A craggy four-star general was sent out to tell the world, quite reasonably, that he wasn't ruling anything out about their origins thus allowing the possibility of a close encounter of the second kind. This messaging fubar then had to be countered by a White House Press Secretary with five (movie) star good looks, who told us there had definitely been no casting calls for aliens.
And then? Well, it's all gone very quiet. Surely they've found the wreckage?
You know how this would go from here if it were Hollywood? Everybody would be gripped to their screens, waiting for the next revelation. They'd be putting their automatic weapons down in Ukraine, slack jawed. An unshaven Italian would forget to shout at a female family member. An Englishman would stir his tea... and never stop. But, in reality, no... Don't know about other parts of the world, but even with no confirmation of what they actually were, we went back to focussing on the usual smorgasbord of death and political cockwomblery.
The issue comes down to a lack of sonder. Sonder: n. the realization that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. As writers, we have a tendency to forget that everybody is a hero in their own story; in space opera, your cast of thousands do not simply exist to propel the protagonist's narrative forward. They've all got their own to keep spinning.
There's a quote relating to the opening of World War II I've been trying to find - I have an idea it was George Orwell, but it was probably something far more quotidian, a voiceover on a documentary or a throwaway movie line - along the lines of "the country was on the brink of war, but people still read their newspapers from the back." Black Country genii Pop Will Eat Itself once sang, "I have seen the future, and this is how it begins: in chaos and riots and the screech of machines". How wrong they got it... the end will begin by us looking in the wrong direction.
Of course, as we all know deep down, the first act is being rounded off as I type, by the surviving alien occupant of the downed craft walking into a Denny's in one of those rectangular states where nobody's ever seen the ocean, to befriend a credulous child who does his best to hide his new BFF from the black suit and sunglass-wearing authorities...
Watch the skies. You have been warned.
2084. The world remains at war.
In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.
The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.
Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.
Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.
24 0s & a 2
Twenty-four slipstream stories. Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.