Somewhat fittingly for the week running up to the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, Futures finds itself in the midst of the First World War courtesy of Remembrance by Melanie Rees. Melanie is an Australian speculative fiction writer and ecological scientist, and you can find out more about her work on her website or by following her on Twitter. Here she reveals the surprising origins of her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.
I’m rarely able to pinpoint the precise inspiration of my stories. Usually a swarm of ideas, characters, themes and images are buzzing around my head until some of them unite to start a new story hive with a sense of structure and coherence.
However, Remembrance started on the 4th of May for a 48-hour writing challenge, so the origin is quite clear-cut. The prompt, not surprisingly for May the forth, was Star Wars with a few iconic words and quotes to feature in the story.
ANZAC Day was just over a week prior to this, so the setting came to me quickly, and the use of time travel to get to my setting wormed its way in naturally.
For those who aren’t familiar with ANZAC Day, it is held on the 25th of April and marks the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli Beach during the First World War.
The Death Star was massive, its target massive. So I took my story to the other extreme with a small weapon and very specific targets.
My first draft went completely overboard with the quotes and Star Wars references. There was even the line, “I am your father”, which appeared during a very literal grandfather paradox. Plus it had an even more convoluted subplot with the great grandfather war hero character claiming: “No. I am your father.”
It was ludicrous. However, in the midst of all those horrendous quotes and nonsense, a serious story lurked that I really wanted to tell.
The morality of drone warfare has intrigued me for a while, such as the asymmetric nature of war, especially in contrast to the First World War with opposing forces with similar technology, along with the philosophical qualms of fighting when the enemy isn’t very tangible.
The additional factor of time travel, brings an extra level of disconnect between drone operator and an enemy that technically isn’t even alive anymore. I realized there was plenty of character conflict to get my teeth into. And hopefully, enough for readers to take something away from the story.