In this week’s Futures, the sky goes very dark indeed courtesy of C. L. Holland and her story, Totality. When not wandering in the dark, you can find C. L. Holland on Twitter or having Conversations with Dragons. Here, she reveals the inspiration behind her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.
People keep telling me Totality should be longer. They ask: Who are the aliens? What do they want? What happens next?
Honestly, I don’t know. That’ not what it’s about.
The story came from a Codex writers’ forum contest, and from the prompts I found myself wondering what would happen if the Sun did go out. How long would life last? (Hint: not long.) How would it even happen without also robbing us of gravity, and why? One answer was a giant parasol and a calculated, bureaucratic alien invasion.
The contest was for flash fiction, which limited the scope of the story. It’s hard to fit chases, dogfights, aliens and motherships all in less than a thousand words, and we’ve all seen those before. I had to go smaller.
Flash fiction often depicts moments of choice. In an invasion, most of us would be the people huddled in community centres waiting to find out what was happening — not the fighter pilots, scientists or soldiers. The main character is no different. She doesn’t know who the aliens are, what they want, or what the future holds. The choices she makes within those constraints is the story I wanted to tell.