Here are some things that I tried to get across in this novel that I think maybe need to be explicitly stated.
This is breaking kayfabe, and I’m writing this as a member of the Inmara as we reside here on Earth, not the interstellar spacecraft we’re writing about. I’m still Eh, though. But, the original Eh, the one in the myths.
The lifespans and distances described in Crew (and Ni’a and Outsider) are the result of carelessness when world building. Metabang wrote a few things in its novel, keeping them fairly vague, and we’d also decided on a few other numbers that we put down in our notes. Then Abacus got curious near the end of its novel and sat down with a calculator to figure things out, and found the resulting numbers appalling.
But we stuck with it. As ridiculous as they make everything seem, most of us have enjoyed imagining what it might be like.
We also found that the results were pretty useful for introducing psychological effects that were similar to dissociation, shifting identities, and amnesia, which we have experienced.
So, that explains the Sunspot being over 131 millennia old, and my fictional self being even older.
Now, in real life, and in all seriousness, we are currently personally the targets of about three genocides. We are trans, and autistic, and intersex (as well as plural). And that has affected us at least subconsciously since we started becoming aware of the world. We had nightmares about our imminent deaths at the hands of fascists before we could explain why. And we will not brook any argument with anyone about the factual nature of this. It is a documented and recognized truth that our government has been participating in programs to eradicate people of all three categories, and in different ways.
But we do not come from a family that is used to thinking about being the targets of fascism.
What you need to know is that this book, and the entire series, is not about fighting fascism on Earth. It borrows some wisdom about that that we’ve learned over the years, because we’ve found that it can apply internally to a system like ours. But it is re-framed and reworked to fit a place like the Sunspot, where you literally can’t kill anyone who has made it to Crew status.
You can only contain them with dissociation, or Sanction, and then it’s temporary.
What we have found is that, in a system like ours, if you think you’ve killed a fellow system member, you haven’t. You’ve only temporarily caused them to dissociate. And if you lock someone away and prevent them from coming to the front to express themselves or contribute to your psyche, they only become more violent and desperate and they learn how to rattle their cage and thrash hard enough to affect everyone.
We’ve had 45 minute long non-epileptic seizures as one kind of result from this. We’ve also experienced what felt like attempts at possession to violently yank the wheel to the side while driving a car down the freeway. And we’ve experienced intrusive thoughts that most of the rest of us would classify as bigoted.
All of these things were perpetrated by different system members, with different motives, and were scary for different reasons.
And what we’ve found is that there is really only one way to make any of those things stop happening for us, and that’s to listen to the people who are that angry and desperate.
But “listening to” does not inherently mean “agreeing with.”
One can listen carefully and thoughtfully, and still respond in a way that lets someone know that their grievances have been heard, but without giving moral or ethical ground. One can still say “no” after listening.
It just helps to explain why you’ve responded with a “no”. And to give the alternatives you are willing to accept.
The result is something like what Fenmere described in chapter 13, Adjusting Tolerances. But we left that whole discussion unresolved because it is still unresolved with us.
We are many people. We don’t all agree. Not even those of us who are ostensibly on the same side.
Like I said, we will have this conversation again and again and again and again and again.
In the end, though, both the fictional Sunspot and the one that was created as a shared psychological construct in our head are meant to be sanctuaries for us, the Inmara. We have to make them a safe space for us. And to that end, while we address our internalized bigotries toward ourselves and try to learn how to be better people in the outworld as well, there’s a lot of wish fulfillment going on in our stories.
And confessions of need for that wish fulfillment.
Maybe you’re someone who can relate.
If so, then these books were for you, too.
But, mostly, they’ve been for us, to write, experience, and then read, and reread.
Because Jenifer and I are the two eldest members of our psyche, and we have so, so many children and grandchildren. And they need bedtime stories they can relate to and see themselves in.
Thank you for letting us share them with you.
There’s going to be at least one more book in this series.