Once in a while, I invite other writers to talk about their genres of choice. And while I tend to lean to the lighter side of things, I sometimes hear the Dark beckon to me. I mean, I love movies like Alien and Event Horizon. So I asked Dark SF writer Ian Kennedy to talk about what makes him tick, and what drives him to write what he does… Take it away, Ian!
What makes me like dark science fiction? Noah Chinn asked me to write this blog post here.
Perhaps it would be good to start with what I have written. My latest book, 1500 Light Years, a dystopian first contact novel, deals with the crew of the spaceship Maia as they explore the first star system humans have visited outside of our own. Spoiler alert: things go wrong. The crew not only have to deal with the problems of surviving in an alien star system, but they also start to fall apart as a crew and due to the environment, which includes drug use to stay awake, they slowly go insane. The book looks at insanity and blind devotion combined with addiction and madness. It also looks at survival, and what a human will do to simply survive. The novel was inspired by Heart of Darkness, Requiem for a Dream, and Lord of the Flies.
Why did I write a very grim and dark book? Because I believe that the only way to fix what we have wrong with us is to study the darkness within us. The book points out what goes wrong with the crew, and in doing so allows us to analyze what is wrong within ourselves as readers. I am not preaching with this book, but I make it clear that there is no Planet B. What is out there in the universe is very hostile as we have evolved on this one little sapphire and emerald rock. Treat it nicely, please. Survival might be possible out there, but it is infinitely harder. The book could also be read as an allegory for drug addiction, not just in the parts where the crew must stay awake, but throughout the whole story from start to end.
But also, I write these stories to be somehow cathartic with myself. I like grimdark stories. I simply do. Do not get me wrong, I love a good laugh, and the comedy science fiction books of Douglas Adams are some of my favourites; or the quirky writing style of Andy Weir. But I do not write comedy myself. I am not really a comedian, and therefore I feel that if I tried it, I would fail, and it would be a waste of time.
Therefore, I write dark science fiction. I also have written a science fiction trilogy called Broken Cosmos. It is a hero’s journey style trilogy where the main character must survive all manner of trials and collect friends along the way to achieve his goal. It is a dystopian cyberpunk space opera; a grand romp across our solar system in order to destroy a terrible weapon and prevent a war. This is just as dark as 1500 Light Years, as the main character is slowly dying due to his technical implants, and he is slowly going insane. I seem to like characters who go insane.
I have another few manuscripts that I am working on too. They are all dark science fiction. They range from war-torn planets to overthrowing regimes.
In the end, I suppose I think I can make my feelings known and somehow point out the foibles of human nature by writing dark science fiction. I enjoy it, even if my characters do not. I hesitate to say that I am lecturing people about things, because I try not to do that, but I guess that I do try to point out the problems in society in my stories.
Now, my next novel should be out in the first half of 2024. It is, you guessed it, a dystopian novel. This time about climate change and people having to evacuate the Earth and flee to Mars as refugees, and all the problems that come with doing so.
So anyway, you have read enough from me. Go buy my books, if you want to read exciting tales of human ordeals.
All the Amazon book links are on my website with the books available in ebook, Kindle Unlimited, and paperback with the first novel of my Broken Cosmos trilogy also in audiobook: www.ikennedyauthor.com along with my contact email at the bottom of the site. And my Facebook and Twitter pages are: https://www.facebook.com/ikennedyauthor , https://twitter.com/ikennedyauthor