What Makes the Chronotrace Series Unique?
From time to time I do interviews. A lot of times I get the same sorts of questions: talk about your motivation for writing, talk about your books, how you became a writer, your writing process, etc. etc. All of these are great and I enjoy answering them, but recently I was asked about what makes my books unique out of all of the millions of books that have ever been written. Tough question! Because to some degree, there is nothing new under the sun. It’s all been done before, right? Right? Well, maybe. I think it’s possible to write something that you think is unique and find out that someone in Russia wrote the same thing in 1932, for example. But barring that, I started to wonder, how original is my work? When I started taking a look at my science fiction series, The Chronotrace Sequence, I realized that there were quite a few really unique (off the wall?) things about it that I had kind of forgotten about in the day to day business of just writing the series. So here are a few for your consideration.
The Ascent of Humanity
This series centers around a man trying to recover his identity and survive in a harsh and unfamiliar world, but the backdrop for the story centers around a group of people attempting to recreate themselves in their own image. And as far as the second thread goes, humanity really is ascendant in this story in some rather unique ways. For instance, there are no plants or animals in the world of the Vast. It’s possible you might have read through the entire series and not noticed that, but it’s true. The characters never see any of these things, though I do reference insects metaphorically a couple of times and in one chapter Adan, the main character, thinks he sees a garden rich with foliage.
It was a conscious decision to write the series this way, but after I committed to it, I didn’t realize how hard it would be. It didn’t seem right to describe anyone’s reflexes as “cat-like” or describe a ship’s flight path as “swooping in like an owl catching its prey” and so on, because these things didn’t exist for the characters I was writing about. I could not describe someone’s blush as “rose red” or their stubbornness as “digging their roots into the ground” either. It made the novel that much more challenging to write.
Rocks have feelings too
Probably one of the most radical things in my books is one some readers might have missed altogether and this is the role rocks play in the story. No I didn’t say, “rock and roll”, I said “rocks”. You know those inanimate things we walk over all day and never give much thought to? Yeah, those.
To make the world of the Vast feel more alien and “other” than it already did, I decided that the rocks would be alive in some sense. Because none of the rocks get names or appear as identifiable characters in the story, I think it might be easy to have missed this subtle aspect to the series. The references to this also don’t get much page time, but in the second book especially several chapters revolve around this concept.
Do the rocks “think”? Are they born and do they die like the life forms we are more familiar with? I don’t really explain much about that in the book. I was more interested in just throwing it out there as a possibility. Could it be that our 21st Century concepts of living and non-living things might change in the future? I don’t know, but I had fun thinking about it and adding it into the story. Though I didn’t include this element for any other reason than what I have already mentioned, I find it interesting that even the Scripture has some references to the rocks as more than they seem. Here is just one example:
I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.
– Luke 19:40
I believe this passage is merely a metaphor, but what is fiction if not one big giant metaphor?
A recipe for stone soup
Along those lines, if there are no plants and animals in the world, how do people survive? What do they eat? Well, the eat rocks of course? Pounded up, pulverized, pumice-filled pastries…umm…delicious. This may seem odd, but we actually already do eat rocks here on earth. Ever buy one of those boxes of cereal that says “10 essential vitamins and minerals”? Well, guess where those minerals came from? You guessed it, our old buddies the rocks. Certain foods are rich in iron, calcium, and other minerals which are body actually needs. So eating rocks isn’t as far fetched as it might seem at first blush.
Since rocks are “living” in some sense, this makes even more sense in the world of the Vast. Certain rocks might even “grow” or at least be “harvested” in some form or fashion by the people. In some sense, the Vast is our world turned inside out. The world is too harsh for people to live on the surface (most people anyway). People live under ground, and that is also where the eco-system flourishes as well. No, it’s not like what we’re accustomed to, but that was the whole point, to let the reader know that they are “not in Kansas anymore.”
So those are just a few of the distinctives I could come up with regarding my series, The Chronotrace Sequence. If you’ve read it, did you notice any of these aspects? Were there some unique aspects to the books that you noticed, but which I didn’t mention? Let me know what you think! I always enjoy hearing from you.