What year is it? Why don’t I say?
Well, for one thing I don’t want to pin myself to a specific point in time. I grew up reading plenty of science fiction that was very specific about the year in which it took place, and I’ve seen those years come and go. While there’s something magical about being hyper-specific about what happened when in order to produce a specific future, there’s a lot of work that goes into making those timelines (which often looks quaint and odd when those dates pass) and it’s not a specificity I feel I need in this story. I’m happy to add more details between one time and place and another, and I have an idea of the history of the setting… but I’m not about to stick a label on the year that humanity developed fusion power.
Another thing I like about having an unspecified date in Bury’em Deep: it gives more plausible temporal space for society to realign itself culturally. I value that. I especially value that because of some opinions I have about race and science fiction; the books I read and enjoyed as a kid did a miserable job of including protagonists who didn’t look like me (pale & male), and I want to change that. I especially want to change that because I love these stories, and I think everyone should be able to see themselves in them. This means that I want to include main characters who aren’t “white” as our society currently defines it—yeah, I put quotes around it, I think whiteness as we talk about it today is a largely social construct and a dumb and exclusionary one at that. I don’t want to write a story where skin color is still the predominant social divide. If / when I include that, I want it to be uncomfortable and to raise questions (and preferably not “why did Henry think including this could ever work?”).
I don’t think I’m the right or best person to tell stories about the experience of minorities in our society. I try my best, but I know I’ll screw up at some point. I hope my attempts to do better than some of my predecessors can help move us forward.
I *do* think that I can write good adventure stories. My hope is that I can write good adventure stories with protagonists who don’t look like me, and thereby make space for other people in the genres I loved as a child. And by setting this story in a distant future that feels just-similar-enough, just-recognizable-enough, I hope that I can help *all* my readers imagine worlds where at least some of the distinctions that our society has drawn can be erased or rewritten.
One step at a time, right?