I’ll note this now: this is not necessarily a post on violent extremism, like the kind we often see in today’s news, but about how far a character will go to hold onto their beliefs, and why.
One of the themes that I’ve been thinking about for this new Mendaihu Universe is extremes. I used it to some degree in the Bridgetown Trilogy, wherein many characters have their beliefs and emotions tested. Is what they’ve always felt really the truth? Is the kind of peace they’re fighting for really what is needed? And what if what you perceive to be the truth actually is the truth, at least in your own reality? How far would you go to fight for what you believe to be the right thing to do for everyone? These were the universal questions, set upon a group of people. I wanted not only to show how they progressed as their own person, but also as a collective. Actions do affect everyone involved in one way or another. It’s not just about the action itself, however…it’s about the consequences.
For the new Mendaihu Universe book, I’m looking at the same themes again, but this time on a personal level. After the spiritual revolution that took place in the Bridgetown Trilogy, we now see its outcome, some generations down the line. Without going into too much detail (partly because I’m still pretty much at the beginning of the story anyway), I want to examine how the actions of the past affect the beliefs of the future. I want to see how these beliefs and rituals have changed, now that they’ve been commonplace for a significant amount of time.
The idea of extremes for this new project came to mind after watching a large number of historical documentaries about Britain, and a lot of Time Team episodes with my wife over the last few months. Specifically: today we have believers of various faiths, many of them reinterpretations or reimaginings or revolutionary versions of older ones. Some faiths raise imagery, idolatry and destination to holy statuses, for instance. I started pondering about something I’d thought of much earlier in my life, back when I was taking catechism classes. I started thinking about what life was like when these Biblical stories took place; not just what the stories tell us in description or what’s given to us over the years with tapestries and paintings and whatnot. This is where the Time Team episodes were coming in: while watching Phil and Mick and Raksha and all the other Time Teamers troweled their way into the past and tried to reconstruct what ancient buildings may have looked like, I started thinking about the Bridgetown Trilogy from the same point of view. What we see now, as we’re excavating the past, may be something completely alien from the original idea, changed and mutated by time and evolution. It’s only when we take the time to not just look but understand what that past moment was about, do we get closer to the truth of that point in history.
First thought of course being: how would Denni Johnson, awakened as the the deity, the One of All Sacred in its last iteration, be viewed by those who follow the One some fifty to a hundred years later? One of the first mentions of Denni in this new book is when a character sees an eight foot statue of her, complete with angelic wings, hands reaching down to all those who look up at it, near the same corner of the warehouse where she’d ascended to deity status in the first place. I followed up with a few other ideas: new characters taking the names of those in the trilogy, following in the footsteps of their ancestors. The human-alien relationship on Earth becoming closer in some respects and more tenuous in others. And so on.
This is what I think about now when I’m watching a documentary or reading a book about something historic. I’m not just being told a story about something that happened in the past; I’m also being given an idea of what thoughts, ideas and emotions may have been like as well. I’m being given context to go with the story. And this is what’s been going on with this new Mendaihu Universe story; I’m writing about a far future that’s trying to remember what the past was like, in order to learn from it and move forward in the right direction.