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.