Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Scifi as folklore

One reason I like to write science fiction is that I see the genre as the folklore of the future. Some writers see the future as apocalyptic, and I tend to agree we will probably come close to ending ourselves without the help of space aliens. However, I tend to think that if we learn responsibility as a species, we might become seeds to the universe. The problem is the duality of our natures. We contain both good and bad: generosity tempered with avarice and self-seeking, xenophobia combined with an adventurer's desire for exploration. You can come up with more examples, I'm sure. To make matters more difficult, sometimes our good traits result in disaster, and sometimes our worst characteristics save us.

In my new novel, Crewkin, corporate leaders, though only indirectly mentioned, are just as greedy and ruthless as some few are today. To create ship crews that won't succumb to the rigors of long-distance space travel the corporations develop specialized crews.

The concept is simple. Raise children from birth who exist only within their own society. Provide nurses who care for but never develop relationships with their charges. Develop leaders and make sure everyone else submits to their leader's rule. Control the genome; make sure they have superior genes, select for disease resistance, strength, a certain look to make sure your crewkin look very similar, this will also emphasize their difference from other human beings. Educate them with information reinforcing the 'rightness' of their isolation and their ultimate superiority. Teach duty and dedication as their sole focus. Finally, use punishment to subvert any independent thought or action. However, no one should call these groups slaves, for they are crewkin, and as far as the general public and government know, choose to live together, even die if kept apart. Then, to increase that perception, brainwash your crews to suicide if the crew can no longer function, make sure the general public believes this myth, and there you have your perfect crew.

Perhaps, in the history of crewkin, there might be one who doesn't fit. What happens when she chooses not to die? What happens if she has the courage to seek a life outside the confinement of crewkin indoctrination? Can she survive? And if she does, what type of danger does she pose to the corporations?

Look for Crewkin from MuseItUp Publishing in February.

Monday, May 3, 2010

CREWKIN has a home!

More about Crewkin, to be published February 2011 with MuseItUp Publishing!

Renna has one chance for survival—earning a berth on an intra-planet shortrunner cargo ship. She can never join another crewkin, those crews who man the long haul ships of space. They are closed societies, formed at birth, meant to live together until death. Her crewkin are dead, and she failed in her duty to join them in death. If she can't fit in this time, she may never join another crew, and might just as well have died. However, 'norm' crews are very different from crewkin—less dedicated, less capable, crueler, and with inexplicable expectations.


2178.347-17:34 universal space time. status log: systems failure. initial test terminated. manual shutdown in progress.

Renna felt as lifeless as Sen’s cooling body on the bed next to her. She packed her possessions in her travel bag with careful precision. They were few enough. Everything else belonged to the ship, or the Crewkin as a whole, and reverted to Markham Company. Renna didn’t care. She needed no reminders. The vision of the bodies of her kin, removed one after another from this hospital room promised memory enough.

“You can't survive.” The doctor echoed Sen's last warning.

A glance showed the doctor, leaning against the door, watching her, waiting. She didn’t know his name and he never offered it. Another anonymous Markham employee, dressed in a Markham medical uniform, as foreign to her as everyone else.

Years of ingrained prohibitions prevented the response screaming inside. She controlled her voice. “You recommend I join Sen, join my crew?” Like you and your staff encouraged her? Helped her? A final joining? Bastard. Renna closed her bag.

Truth struck her. I don’t want to die. Coward. She couldn’t look at Sen, loyally joined with her dead kin.

“Where will you go? You are genetically unfit to live planet-side, and mentally unprepared to interact with another ship's crew. Crewkin are long haulers, not shortrunners. You won't fit in.. That’s why we recommend a final joining.”

Renna looked at the windowless, beige room, mostly empty now that her kin and their hospital beds had been removed. Only her and Sen’s beds remained. Sleeping alone in a bed had seemed so strange. Perhaps another unspoken means to encourage her kin to their final joining? Her eyes itched and burned, but she held no more tears.