Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

an asset or a curse - d4 (46. Ascending #5) by Sherrie Cronin

"A clever title combined with an exciting plot make this book a "must read!" While my brain normally doesn't absorb scientific concepts, I loved this sci-fi book. The expansive setting, the unique characters, and the intrique plot captivated me." - Terie, Goodreads


A clairvoyant young woman finds her visions of the future to be a nuisance, until she discovers that she is hardly unique. An entire group of seers has learned how to profit from their knowledge in ways that Ariel has never considered. Another group is obsessed with using their talents to understand a dark future they cannot ignore.

An alliance with either crowd looks dangerous, given that they both seem a little crazy. There is no possible way to help them both. Worse yet, each group is convinced that Ariel is more than a potential asset; she’s the one thing that they must have in order to fully succeed.

Creating a Psychic Hero

Ariel, the precognitive hero of d4, lived in my head for years. It wasn't until I began writing her story, however, that I realized how complicated her particular superpower is.

My first challenge was to figure out whether Ariel would consider her ability to be more of an asset or a curse. To do this, I played the following mind game with myself. 

Pretend you have to make a big choice. Move in together? Go back to school? Retire early, have a child, take the trip of lifetime, marry, divorce, or quit your job? Whatever you choose will effect you for as long as you live. So, if you could see the future concerning just this one choice, would you want to?

I couldn’t answer my own question without giving some serious thought to how precognition was going to work in the world I was building. I decided that Ariel was going to get something akin to snippets of enhanced videos. She would experience a few seconds of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions she would encounter if she went down a certain path, along with a little knowledge about her situation at the time. That meant she was going to get more information than a lot psychics in the world of fiction, but she still wasn’t going to know everything. 

Then, I had to think about how she was going to make her choices. Was she the kind of person who was going always do what made her happiest? Even that was complicated. Happiest at first? Over the course of her entire life? Maybe she would she rather go for the least misery. Would she care which decision resulted in the greatest happiness for the most people?

I went back to my mind game to think about how this would work.

You've quit your job and you are moving to a new location of your choosing. You've narrowed it down to three places. People, climate, opportunities and ambiance all interweave into different advantages for each.

You see yourself in one location, standing miserable in the rain. You did like the idea of Seattle, remember? The scene shifts. There's you, surrounded by friends laughing. You don't care that it is raining outside. You have a sense that this is a celebration, and one of something important. No wait. Now you’re alone on your couch crying. Does it have anything to do with what you were celebrating? Maybe not. You’ve moved to the kitchen and you are holding a bloody knife in your hand. You glance down and see that you are cleaning a fish. Good grief. You take up fishing in Seattle? Forget that.

What about Santa Fe? Charleston, South Carolina? I tried to imagine images and feelings marching through my brain. Is that baby my child? My grandchild? Does this little person grow up to cure cancer? Is curing cancer really a good idea? 

My head started to hurt just thinking about it. 

That's when I considered that my future, anyone’s future, is a mess of events and emotions with highs and lows and all the boring stuff in between. Whatever we choose, we end up loving, living and making the best of things. 

Once I realized that all of our choices will bring some good, some bad and whole a lot of whatever we make of it, I had new view of precognition. And that’s how I created Ariel, the ambivalent psychic, who starts out the book by thinking that her gift doesn’t matter that much at all.

About the author:
Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.

She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.

The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well-paying The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.

Apparently she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. "It's about time," were his exact words.

Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie's head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She's been wide awake ever since, and writing away.

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Sherrie Cronin said...

You do a very classy job of presenting your posts. I appreciate the efforts you made with d4. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting