So, almost 15 years ago I went to a talk by William Rees, the man who is credited with coming up with the term “Carbon Footprint.” It was an uplifting lecture about how our civilization is in really big trouble because of carbon emissions and how the most devastating effects of this won’t really be felt until late in this century. He spoke of the inevitable mass migration brought on by climate change–the climate refugees that would unbalance any semblance of a world order. Around the same time, I heard of an informal migrant camp in France, near the Chunnel portal, referred to as “The Jungle.” I soon began toying with a narrative about a future where every city in the world is surrounded by sprawling migrant encampments brought on by a relentless migration of ecological refugees. I imagined where cities became compartmentalized, everything privatized–police, infrastructure, medicine–as a way of protecting those with means from the rest of the world. I thought of all of this, made notes, jotted ideas… even started a novel where a man, who lost his wife in an terrorist attack, sought vengeance from these migrants. But the narrative fizzled. The draft never made it past the second act. That was that.
Next, almost 10 years ago I had an idea for a more traditional science fiction story about an interstellar ark requiring several generations of passengers to make it from Earth to their new home. The story would revolve around the middle generations of these people, those who were unwittingly being sacrificed by the previous generations to do little more than have offspring that will one day produce offspring that would survive the journey. I returned to this idea several times over the last few years, in the process establishing a backstory on the creation of this spacecraft and the first generation of people who would have volunteered to begin this journey, knowing that they would die on board. As I worked out more of the details of the creation of this ark, I began to find connections to my previous idea of a world plagued by mass migrations. And I soon found a plot that satisfied me–the story of people who want to leave the Earth itself, aware that they were sacrificing not only the rest of their lives, but the lives of their descendants for the dream of being the first humans to reach a new star.
I began the draft almost a year ago, and I finished the draft this morning (and by strange coincidence, it’s my birthday; so, happy birthday, me). The last third of the book was a tough slog, as the demands of the narrative pushed me out of my comfort zone. Now, my job in revising is to try and ensure that the narrative is any but a tough slog for the reader. Fingers crossed. Here we go. The hardest part it is done. The most time consuming part remains.
It’s called The Sacrificed. It’s a standalone story, currently a little over 100 000 words in length. Hopefully it was worth time that went into it.