We are a storytelling creature. Whether it’s movies, books, or video games, we love a good story. That, however, is not what I mean when I say we are a storytelling creature.
We have, for example, this story called “money”. Money is not a real thing; it is not part of the fabric of the universe. We created it. It is an idea. A story. We tell ourselves that if we have enough money, we can buy food, housing, clothing, games, and anything else we might want. Without money, the story goes, we starve, we suffer, and we die. We believe the truth of this story so much when we see someone homeless on the street, we do little more then shrug as we walk by and say, “Well, that’s what happens if you don’t have enough money.”
When I say we are a storytelling creature, I do not mean we enjoy sitting around the campfire listening to a good yarn but that stories are the fabric from which we weave our society. We are willing to kill and die—we allow ourselves to watch others suffer—if that is how the story goes.
Though it may seem crazy, storytelling may be our species’ super-power. It is our stories that create universities, doctors, engineers, and clean water that runs from our taps. When our stories align with the world, our civilizations thrive. Students, for example, listen to teachers and investors fund scientists to create magnificent futures because that is how these stories go. When the world changes, we can change our stories along with it. This allow civilizations to adapt and evolve.
Those moments when an evolving world forces us to change our stories too quickly can be dangerous times for society, however. We believe our stories so much we are willing to kill and die for them. Some people cling to the old stories. What might they be capable of to protect the stories that they hold so dear? When the world changes, we might be clueless as to what directions our new stories must take to allow us to prosper. How do we choose the right plotline to counter a dangerous world?
In my new novel, Duatero, I wanted to capture this moment when a society wrestles with the realization its old stories no longer work but have yet to create new stories that will allow them to survive.
The setting is a lost interstellar colony on the planet of Duatero. It lost contact with Earth thousands of years ago and struggles to survive as native life continually encroaches on its lands, ruining crops and contaminating the people with a terrible disease. The people of Duatero have managed to achieve an equilibrium with the native planet, eking out a decent existence.
Kredo and his followers are holy warriors tasked with protecting the colony. Masters of the old ways, they are Duatero’s greatest heroes. But now, something has changed. The native life has become more aggressive, diseases more virulent. The old ways no longer work to keep their society alive. As Kredo watches his civilization collapse, he struggles to create the new stories that will give Duatero a future.
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