Tuesday, June 9, 2015

“The Dark” Is Out!

In this furthest reach of space, not even God can hear you scream.

As regular readers of my blog and Facebook pages know, my latest novel, The Dark, is now available both in  print and for the Kindle.  I did things a bit differently this time.  Due to the press of time caused by my health issues, I elected not to wait for any reviews before proceeding with the print edition.  If you’ve been following my health advisories, then you know why I elected to publish both editions at once and not delay. 

As with its predecessor, when I started The Dark I had no idea I was ill.  Yet I was laboring under these very intense premonitions that my time could be running short.  I had done only six weeks’ work on the project when I got my cancer diagnosis.  So I can’t claim the choice of subject matter was directly related to my health although the premonitions may have influenced me.  Still, for the second scifi/horror novel in a row I found myself wrestling with issues of both theology and annihilation.

The “God” theme in A Journal of the Crazy Year was just a plot device, really, although it wound up forming the heart of the narrative.  If you’re going to bring up the subject of God in a book dealing with the end of the world, you certainly have to ask the question of why God would allow such a cataclysm, and whether anyone would be worthy enough to avoid such a fate.   Nor is it surprising that a novel like The Dark, which deals with profound evil, would have a religious theme; all devils require the divine to give themselves form and definition.

But I began to ask this question:  Would it be possible to fly so far out into space that you arrive at a place where God does not exist?  A place where there is no one to hear your prayers?  What would happen?  Would you be able to tell right away that God was not there?  What would be the effect on the human spirit?  How would people react?  Would there be any difference at all?  Or would really bad things begin to happen?

A key conversation in the book takes place when the chief science officer, Dr. David Jones, tries to explain to the mission’s on-board guest scientist from the Vatican Observatory, Father Cameron Teal, what is going on as their starship emerges in a vast expanse of dark space:

He gazed through the port.  “What you are seeing out there transcends darkness.  It is absolute nothingness.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  Naught.  It’s a nullity without expression.  The inside of a zero.  A goose egg without the goose egg.  And it’s older than God.”
At this, Father Teal shot him a sharp glance.  “Nothing is older than God.”
Jones nodded.  “Precisely.  That’s what I just said.”
“But nothing predates the existence of God,” Teal argued.
“Again, we’re in total agreement.”  Jones nodded to the window.  “And you’re looking at that nothing right now.”
“But—look, you’re using semantics to twist my words.  Nothing is possible without God.”
“Right,” Jones agreed.  “And again, we agree.  Nothing is possible, without God.  And that nothing surrounds us as we speak.  Therefore, God is not here.”

And, of course, everything changes.  Chaos descends.  And yes, as a hint I’ll admit that There Will Be Zombies.  The gist of the book concerns what happens in this dark place, how people cope with the loss of the light and everything that implies, and whether they are able to get back to normal space.  I won’t provide any hints beyond that.

In addition to good old sci-fi horror, as with A Journal of the Crazy Year, I applied my journalism background and did a ton of research.  The voyage of discovery at the heart of the novel seeks to explore the limits of the universe.  Everything I say from a cosmological standpoint is reasonably well grounded in actual science.  I was even lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a project scientist for NASA’s Kepler Mission who agreed to read the draft and make sure my facts are within shouting distance of known science.  So, hopefully you’ll not only be entertained but might also learn something.

I hope you will add The Dark to your summer reading list and that you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it for you.


Find out more about the Dark, download a free sample chapter, and see purchase links here.

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