A highlight from Embracing rage in speculative fiction with Kritika H. Rao
You probably go seeking them. So in my case, I did use thriller pacing because I really enjoy reading thrillers. And I kind of grew up reading thrillers a lot. I really enjoy science fiction, but not the hard science fiction of our world, which, you know, how rockets work and that kind of thing. Like I love reading that kind of stuff, but I can't write that for the life of me. So I kind of created a world where I can understand the science and there's logic involved and rules, etc. But also fantasy, because it's secondary world fantasy and I get to create stuff. I don't necessarily need to rely on real world mechanics of things. So I feel like readers, to a large extent, don't necessarily care very much by genre labels. I think they're looking for something that they can enjoy, they can, you know, maybe learn from, but be entertained. And at the heart of it, I just wanted Surviving Sky and Rage to be an entertaining story. And I kind of put together stuff that I find entertaining and interesting. So I don't think readers necessarily rely on genre labels too much, but I think as writers, especially in publishing, we can kind of get a little caught up in it. And we kind of have to because, you know, it's been pitched as a certain book. It has to occupy that space in the bookshelf. So when I'm writing, I don't think about it too much. But, you know, when my agent and I kind of pitching it, etc., then then those labels kind of retroactively come in place. So like, let's hone in on the climate fiction kind of element for a second here, because I found the book. Obviously, you mentioned it was written during the pandemic. You know, it's wildly topical. I mean, today had a mini -earthquake outside the window. I've never seen the rain come down quite as hard as that. It was kind of frightening. But, you know, climate change is an ever -present threat and an ever -present news story, like in everybody's life at the moment. Is there a message about ecology, about the threats of climate change in your book? I think there is a message, but it's pretty layered, I would say. I won't say that's the first, you know, message that anybody would overtly extract from the book, which is strange to say because this is a plant city and there's jungle storms. And obviously, this is a story of survival. Climate change is real in our world. It's happening, right? And it's human -induced to a large extent. You know, we are all grappling with it. But the question that really kind of interested me was how we're dealing with it, right? You still have billionaires in their jet planes, you know, going places, not really caring very much. You have governments still digging oil, you know, creating pipelines and that kind of thing. And then you have people who really care about the climate, not activists necessarily, but just regular people, you and I, who maybe are trying to do our best living in this world in, you know, with the circumstances and resources that we have, you know, knowing that we don't necessarily hold a lot of power when it comes to controlling our climate, like collectively as a species we do, but individually and maybe as individual groups of people, we don't necessarily have that. So I kind of wanted to retain that human perspective when it comes to climate change. And the minute you kind of start thinking about that, you are about different sections of society and especially power and privilege. And especially when it comes to climate and survival, certain questions that are coming up about, you know, who's survival, who has power and how is that power dictating the world and the climate in surviving Skype? It is a group of architects who are magical architects, essentially, who are manipulating the world. And it is their histories and, you know, their stories, et cetera, which are exalted. And people like Ahilya, who is not an architect, who doesn't have magic, she has no history. And so she almost in a way doesn't have a role in survival. She's very much like she and people like her very much just like passengers who are in this like plant city, dependent on architects like her husband to kind of help them survive. And she doesn't like that. And she's like, I should have a role to play in my survival, much like I have felt, you know, when I kind of hear about these about billionaires or, you know, but people who are making those decisions about our planet and our our Earth, I just I have felt that I felt powerless and I felt the need to be able to do something that can be effective and that can make a difference. And that, you know, we actually have a role to play in our survival in the surviving sky. They above float the jungle storms and life has evolved to a place where they no longer actually live on the planet, but they live a little above the planet, kind of hovering over the planet in the stratosphere in these plant made cities. And one of the things that Ahilya wants to do very early on in the story is to go back to the planet and find a way to make the planet inhabitable, despite the jungle storms, you know, all of that. She's like, this is our planet. We should return there. We should live there. We used to once upon a time. So we should do that again. I think that's a huge part of her arc is trying to figure that out. Whereas a husband who has the magic, et cetera, and, you know, lives above controls the magic that allows people to live above the ground is very much like, well, we escaped from the jungle. We're never going back. Survival is escape. And you kind of have to live with that. And I think in some ways it does mirror also the question that we have right now, but our planet being habitable versus, you know, going away to a different planet maybe.