Post-apocalyptic hope

My story “Sweet Time” is part of Black Hare Press’s second free ebook of short science fiction stories for people to enjoy during the pandemic.

The book includes my hopeful post-apocalyptic story “Sweet Time,” in which Liberty emerges warily from her solitary bunker after nineteen years, braced for a dystopian society or a dead planet, but not at all prepared for what she finds instead.

Liberty, whose name and backstory have gone through several changes, was conceived about ten years ago when I had a freelance gig writing for a Christian homesteader/prepper website that combined useful DIY information with what struck me as a rather un-Christian hunker-in-your-bunker mentality. (I did what I could to gently challenge that at the time–my commissioned devotionals tended to cluster around passages like “Be not afraid” and “Love your enemies.”) Manruth appeared to me in a dream twenty-odd years ago when I was a teenager. I think there’s more to write about her and her people, but I haven’t seen it clearly yet.

Sometimes I think that fiction writing is a rather irresponsible use of energy in a time of widespread grief, fear, and unpredictable change. But I know that writing helps to keep me saner. I’ve also read reports on studies about how the fictional stories people absorb help to shape their narratives about the real-life stories they inhabit and create. I know that’s been true of my reading. So I hope that if I tell stories in which ‘there dwells the dearest freshness deep down things,” as Gerard Manley Hopkins said, in which human kindness is bone-deep not just superficial, and in which life is not zero-sum, the few people who read them may look around with a little more tenderness or look ahead with a little more hope.

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