If you follow this blog regularly, you know that I really, really loved Jason M. Hough’s Dire Earth Cycle series, and since it’s SDCC week, we thought it might be fun to feature a guest post since Jason is on a SF and Fantasy Lit panel tomorrow with the likes of David Brin, Marie Lu, Jonathan Maberry, Rachel Caine, and Henry Herz. So, if you’re at SDCC this week, don’t miss it! Enjoy!
Casting Sacred Things
Jason M. Hough
In my science fiction series, THE DIRE EARTH CYCLE, I treaded on something that should not be treaded upon. I’m talking about the good old US of A. In my novels, our great nation is a non-player. There’s only one American character in a bit roll appearing halfway through book two. America the superpower is a distant memory, long removed from the world’s limelight. It’s a place one character refers to jokingly as ‘North Mexico.’
That last could be taken as an insult to either America or Mexico, depending on your perspective, but I meant it as neither. The implication is that an equalization occurred. While America experienced a decline, Mexico rose to achieve something of a parity with us. Keep in mind, the books are set almost 300 years from now. A lot can happen in that amount of time. Hell, our nation isn’t even 300 years old yet. My inspiration for this transformation, by the way, came from the decline of Austria over the last few hundred years.
But this topic goes deeper than the specific scenario in my novels. The real point here is that one should not confuse science fiction with futurism. A futurist seeks to imagine our probable future. How things will actually turn out. For the science fiction author, while we could play futurist if we choose, all we’re really trying to do is imagine a possible future, however unlikely. I suppose what I mean is one should be careful to assume the specifics of a science fiction world are what the author feels is truly how things will turn out.
Still, there are some readers who will balk at a sci-fi novel that envisions a future they, the reader, don’t agree with. Certain things are seen as sacred by society and feelings may be hurt if you cast such things in an unfavorable light. It’s a risk you take as a writer, but I think as long as you back up your world with a realistic explanation for the situation as presented, the majority of readers will come along for the ride. There will always be some, however, who cannot suspend disbelief when it comes to something sacred to them.
My books feature a post-apocalyptic setting where the only viable place to live on Earth is in Darwin, Australia. The further you were from there when things went bad, the less chance you made it to safety. In such a scenario, it’s believable that not many Americans would be around. Given that, I reasoned that if America had already waned from its former glory at the top of the nation food-chain, I could more realistically keep the focus on the players who are involved.
In other words, my decision to put the USA in the distant background of this story was purely to serve my story, and that’s as it should be.
Jason M. Hough (pronounced ‘Huff’) is the bestselling author of THE DARWIN ELEVATOR, THE EXODUS TOWERS, and THE PLAGUE FORGE. In a former life he was a 3D artist, animator, and game designer (Metal Fatigue, Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction, and many others). He has also worked in such fields as high-performance cluster computing and machine learning.
He began writing THE DARWIN ELEVATOR in 2008 as a Nanowrimo project, refining the manuscript until 2011 when it sold to Del Rey along with a contract for two sequels. The book released on July 30th in the US and reached the New York Times Bestseller list the following week. DARWIN is his first published fiction.
The trilogy, collectively called THE DIRE EARTH CYCLE, was released in the summer of 2013. Jason’s next book, currently untitled, is tentatively scheduled for release in 2015.
He lives near Seattle, Washington with his wife and two young sons.