Communion Of Dreams


I . . . see . . . things.
March 10, 2012, 12:16 pm
Filed under: Pandemic, Predictions, Science Fiction, Society, tech, Writing stuff

Unsurprisingly, I have been thinking a lot about St. Cybi’s Well, the prequel to Communion of Dreams I have had simmering for some years. I say ‘unsurprisingly’ because more than a few folks have been asking what the next book will be and when it will be available. Some quotes from the Amazon reviews to illustrate this point:

“I’m looking forward to his next book.”

“The worst thing about buying this book is now I’m waiting for a sequel!”

“I hope Downey will return to this alternate future history and tell us more about the deeds and dreams of the people who live there.”

* * * * * * *

He got down to the main street, turned left and continued. On his side of the street were some small office buildings, then the large city park he’d noticed on the drive in. Then he came to the long, tall wall. Pausing for a moment, he pulled the uniPod out of his satchel, removed the wireless earpiece and pushed it into his left ear. Then he fiddled with the uni, tapping a series of commands on the screen, until the machine found the local hotspot and downloaded the audio tour.

“The park wall, just in front of you, was part of the effort of the 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, to rehabilitate the old castle grounds in the late 19th century. As you move along the wall, you will see it is adorned with totems of various animals in a realistic depiction, climbing over the wall as though to escape. This was The Lord Bute’s response to being denied the creation of a zoo in this park by the city fathers at the time. As you move along the wall you’ll soon see the looming Clock Tower, a favorite of the Lord Bute. Working with his architect, the renown yet whimsical William Burges, the two men sought to bring to life a bit of what they thought the middle ages should have been.

“This is the casual tour guide. More detailed descriptions and an in-depth discussion of any and all topics related to this site are available. Just select the level of information you require.”

That’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 of St. Cybi’s Well. The book is set in 2012, the protagonist is Darnell Sidwell (the “he” in the above excerpt), and concerns the onset of the fire-flu. Obviously, all of this is part of the ‘backstory’ for Communion of Dreams.

Seems pretty straight-forward, right? Tech feels good for the present day. Why did I choose the term “uniPod” though? Just to get around Apple’s trademark or something?

Nope. It’s because I wrote that on November 29, 2005. I know that because of the “date modified” info in the WordPerfect file.

The iPad was introduced in April, 2010.

* * * * * * *

A friend posted this comment to his Facebook wall yesterday:

I’ve been thinking about So-and-so’s post and subsequent thread the other day regarding the inarguable expansion of militias. Living here in Paradise Lost, it’s sometimes easy to lose sense of the prevailing winds of sentiment sweeping across the American landscape elsewhere. But it’s apparent that there are a lot of pissed-off people on both sides of the ideological fence and that each faction is seemingly preparing itself for more – and ever escalating – confrontations. And so I have to ask: Do you think we’re heading for a civil war? (And yes, I am being serious)

I sent him a link to this blog post from two years ago: Playing with fire.

And from page one of Communion of Dreams:

The Commons had been borne of the fire-flu, with so few people left out in the great northern plains after it was finally all over that it was a relatively simple matter to just turn things back over to nature. Effectively, that happened a few short years after the flu swept around the globe. According to law, it was codified almost a decade later in the late Twenties, after the Restoration was complete and the country was once again whole — expanded, actually, to include what had been Canada, minus independent Quebec. Hard to believe that was more than twenty years ago.

* * * * * * *

This is from the end of Chapter 9 in Communion of Dreams:

Jon thought he should clarify. “Jackie’s got the gist of it, but let me try and explain a little more completely. Sometime during the chaos of the post-flu, there were two marginal groups that got together. One was the heir of something called The Order, a reactionary offshoot of the old Aryan Nation.”

“Ah, neo-Nazis. Yes, I know them.”

“Thought so. The other group was a splinter of the radical environmental organization Earthfirst!, sort of like the far-left fringe of the Greens. They managed to create a hybrid belief system: that true adherence to God’s natural law would bring man back to a state of grace, suitable to be readmitted to the Garden of Eden. To promote this belief, they want to see a complete restoration of the Earth’s biosphere to a natural state, with humans having almost no environmental impact.”

Via a MetaFilter thread I came across this morning, a link to this movie: END:CIV

In a quote promoting the film on that website:

“In END:CIV, Franklin López does a refreshingly thorough and well packaged job of laying out the inherently self-destructive nature of westernized civilization and the ineptitude of peaceful reform. Using Derrick Jensen’s Endgame as a lose framework, López not only identifies root causes of systemic oppression and exploitation, but also exposes the deceptive nature of reformism and green-washing, instead spotlighting examples of indigenous resistance and the Earth Liberation Front. By the end of the film, passionate viewers will no longer just be questioning not whether western civilization is justified, but what they themselves can do to help bring it down.”

-Leslie James Pickering
Former spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front

* * * * * * *

I write about this not to tout my prophetic abilities. No, just to illustrate that for anyone who is paying close attention to both technological and sociological trends, certain things seem to be pretty obvious. As I told the Tribune:

“I’ve tried to anchor the world of 2052 firmly in what our world today is really like, but extending trends we have seen operate in the last 40 years,” he said. “Toss in a few wildcard events, some unexpected discoveries, and then cross your fingers.

“And to a certain extent, this is why I don’t really think of ‘Communion of Dreams’ as a typical ‘science fiction’ book — it is solidly grounded in known science and built from the reality around us,” he added. “The people in it are all real people, not unlike folks you know or would find in any mainstream novel. In this sense, it is just another work of fiction, though one which is a bit more speculative.”

Oh, and to say that pretty much everything I had written six or seven years ago as background material for St. Cybi’s Well has to be thrown out. The fictional world I came up with for 2012 has, largely, come into being. Or seems to be pretty damned close to happening just as I foresaw. Granted, there hasn’t been a theocratic regime come to power in the US – but can you honestly look at the current Republican rhetoric and not say that we’re close to that?

Gods, I just hope I’m not right about the onset of the pandemic flu . . .

Jim Downey

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[…] Again, I almost regret that “I . . . see . . . things.” […]

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