Most of us lead fairly routine lives. We spend our days following a predictable schedule rarely deviating from our comfort level. That’s why we look forward to weekends and vacations and opportunities to experience the unusual. Our lives are enriched by stepping outside of the everyday.
The same holds true with fiction. Nobody wants to read about someone’s unexciting life. We want escapism in our novels. An author’s job is to disrupt characters and place them in uncomfortable or dangerous situations. The deeper the conflict and the greater the tension, the more enjoyable the story. Why? On a subconscious level, we identify with fictional characters and see ourselves living through the same set of circumstances. If an author is successful in his or her presentation, our hearts pound and our adrenaline surges. We experience the same emotions as the fictional characters. This magic is what authors aspire to create in the minds of readers.
What happens, though, when the plot of a novel centers on a notion so exotic that the concept of morality is difficult to define, when reality becomes blurred to the point that you honestly don’t know how you would react if you were a character in the novel. Stories like these challenge our core values and are especially thought provoking. They teach us a little about ourselves.
For example, what if tomorrow you awoke to a world with no electricity? What if power remained down for an indefinite period of time? Gas pumps wouldn’t work without electricity so there would be no fuel. No fuel means no transportation which means no way to get to work. Grocery store shelves would never be restocked. There would be no communications, either land lines or cell phones. No TV, no Internet, no health care, no banking, no heat or air-conditioning, and eventually nothing to eat. Imagine roving bands of marauders plundering the little you do have. Picture starving, desperate people. What constitutes morality in such a world? What would you do to survive? Would you steal food to feed your starving children? Would you kill? Would you join the marauders or would you pool your resources with those of your neighbors and agree to defend each other?
Take a journey where life is far from routine or comfortable or safe. A world that challenges the notion of what it means to be human.
Earthburst, a post-apocalyptic saga by Dennis Royer - coming spring 2012.