“Breakpoint” features great new cover art from Die Welle Design:
I’m also doing a giveaway to celebrate its release: It’s free today and the next few days (December 1-3) on the Kindle store. So, tell your friends and grab a copy for yourself!
IMPORTANT NOTE: You don’t need a Kindle device to read the story. All you need is the Kindle App downloaded onto your PC, Mac, or phone (or even onto your Kindle, if you have one!) If you have an Internet connection and a device, you should be able to download and read this story anywhere in the world.
And if you do get it, please, please, please leave a short review (good, bad or indifferent) when you’re done on Amazon or Goodreads!
So, before I go, here’s the story behind this story.
In ancient times, I was an undergrad and one summer to make up credits, I took summer school. I perused the course list and decided to take a course on Dante’s Divine Comedy. It was a great choice and it’s one of the few courses that’s stayed with me from that time.
First, the Divine Comedy is great! Think of it as medieval fantasy fiction, if you will. In it, a man imagines what it would be like to travel through all of hell, purgatory and heaven. It’s full of monsters, adventure, strange creatures and disembodied angelic hosts. It has plenty of torture scenes (in hell AND purgatory!), musings on imperial politics, descriptions of (proto-) science experiments, and some scenes where bad Popes finally get their grim comeuppance. It’s one of the greatest feats of imagination ever pulled off—and it’s pulled off very, very well. I could go on and on, but you will have to check it out for yourself. (I recommend a dual language Italian and English version so you can get the song and rhythm Dante originally wrote in. His Italian is beautiful and powerful).
Anyway, there’s this great scene in Canto III where all the dead (damned souls) are gathered by the river Acheron waiting to cross. And there’s this beautiful moment, this stunning metaphor. Dante says something like, these damned souls are all just leaves on the trees in the autumn. Some are stronger, some weaker. But eventually the weather gets colder and the winds get stronger and every last leaf gets stripped away. And so it is with the souls gathered by the river Acheron. Some weak, some strong—but all doomed—and all being swept away.
So, I embedded that scene in my skull. Years later, I read the start of T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom and found this astounding dedicatory poem at the beginning:
I loved you, so I drew these tides of
Men into my hands
And wrote my will across the
Sky in stars
To earn you freedom, the seven
Pillared worthy house...
That’s right, more poetry! Coming from a PROSE writer… Anyhow, more years went by and I heard this song by Ellie Goulding called “Anything Could Happen.” It starts with this great line:
Stripped to the waist,
we fall into the river.
Cover your eyes
so you don’t know the secret.
That song had this quality to it. A sort of haunting, elegiac tone. Full of regret, but also a sort of promise. Of a new dawn and a new day coming. And it also, strangely, conjured that Dantesque scene by the river Acheron as the sun was coming down on the doomed souls.
And somehow, suddenly things started to click, to move. I just wondered to myself: “What if you could take that scene in Dante’s Canto III and move it into our world? How would that work? I mean, would that work at all? Better yet, what if I moved it into fantasy or the future?”
“Yes,” I thought, “what if it happened in the future?”
So, I decided instead of happening in hell, what if there was a world with cyborgs (half-human, half-AI), where they had to perform some sort of ritual of renewal (software upgrade) and they all—good, bad and between—had to gather for it? Could I take Canto III and turn it into science fiction?
I fired up my computer, jotted down some scraps, those scraps became a plot outline, and the outline became a story. And that’s how “Breakpoint” came to be.
So, hope you like it and if you have minute, please check out the story and leave a review.
Until next time.