As I write the stories of Meymod I wonder whether the narrator would understand spores and instead I think of blossom. Falling blossom. It makes more sense, a nano technology, a geo-engineered cleaner being something that floats easily rather than spores. Though the idea of sporing blossom is interesting, a fungus tree, for isn’t that what mushrooms are on the macro level?
There is often a problem with creating tension in a story that is being told by a narrator in the future. If we take The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood gets around this by only placing a historical note note at the end from 2195, in which we discover Offred recorded her story on tape. You realise then that this a story that is told from the future about a character in the past who also tells the story of her past before Gilead. This is what I like to call the time traveller story. As in, ‘Hello, you think this story is in the future but for me this is the past but I am treating it as the present’. Mind fuck. Readers don’t cope with skipping around timelines. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas achieves this mind fuck by basically splitting the timeline into several short stories broken up over the novel’s structure and timelines. That way we invest in multiple characters. Sometimes this is referred to as the mosaic novel. It’s not a modern idea, it’s a modernist idea, see Dos Passos for that. Back to Meymod.
The blossom falls. The blossom consumes and we know that the narrator survives and those she travels with, don’t. This throws up the dramatic question, why? Which drives the story. We know she is telling her tale because she is old, she is the last of her kind and again this throws up another question: who has replaced humanity? I am fascinated by story. I love how structure can inform and change how we see story. We are natural storytellers and the best form of education, of learning, is via a story. I cannot tell you one thing about algebra but I can tell you about the meaning of life, 42. I did both of these things around the same time. I remember Douglas Adams, sometimes word for word, but have no idea what X or A is equivalent to. Maybe if they’d been a story I would remember. Blossom falls in the story and even though it is never said in exposition, we know the blossom was created by us, and it has gone so very wrong but this is not a story of geo-engineering. It is a story about second chances or putting right a world gone wrong, of birth, loss and the song of birds. Did you know that the dawn chorus is basically just all the birds shouting: ‘I am alive!’ Isn’t that both frightening and glorious? That’s my story at the moment, somewhere between those two polar opposites.
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