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A Distant Star: Creative writing thesis: speculative science fiction

When Humanity left a ruined Earth, they vowed to leave behind everything that brought them to that bleak choice. It was the end of the world; if they could not change, they weren’t worthy of a second chance on another planet. Tearing down unliveable cities, they built kilometres-long space-ships, able to support generations of travellers on their Migration to the most likely habitable exoplanets. A Distant Star opens at the end of the city-ship La Sesa’s journey, as it comes into orbit around their new homeworld. However, the planet is already inhabited by a native sapient species. Acknowledging that Humanity doesn’t have a great track record with such situations, La Sesa sends a historian, Lirit Sanget, and her team – medic Anahera and comm-tech Hikoa – to open communication with the local peoples. Lirit has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder and the common comorbid condition Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Her limitations change the way she navigates a dangerous environment, but she forges her own path on an uncharted world. Lirit, Ana, and Hikoa are pulled into a parallel world even less familiar than their new home. In this polarized reality, they find two species in a generational war. The three realize that their own biases affect their perception of the conflict: whose side they believe, which species they relate to, how they interact with warriors when all they know of war is a historical footnote. As the three piece the two species’ stories together, they struggle with the realization that they have to watch their ancestors’ mistakes play out all over again, and they cannot step in to stop it. They can only see their own choices in new light and find a way to change the trajectory of their future. Positive, forward-looking, scientifically sound speculative science fiction is crucial right now. The trends in our modern-cycle news, media, fiction reflect the bleak dystopia of our global reality. We need stories that show us ways of pulling us out of the hell we’re heading for, of fixing what is broken, of reaching Humanity’s potential. Sci-Fi is so much more than escapist popular drivel or cool futuristic aesthetic; sci-fi is, and always has been, a way to tell such stories. I was largely inspired to write this book by reading the Wayfarers Trilogy by Becky Chambers, especially the last book in the trilogy, Record of a Spaceborn Few. It was the first time I had a clear example of how a “post-inequity” society could function, what issues might arise in that society, and how to address those issues. It gave a tangible goal for activist work, and it gave me hope in our future. With this thesis, I aim to illustrate an equitable society; to use my lived experience to increase accurate, meaningful representation of people with disabilities in fiction; and redefine who can be considered a “science fiction action hero”. Writing this manuscript is a way I can help others the same way stories like the Wayfarers have helped me.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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