Silly Symbolisms in Speculative Fiction
Historically, speculative fiction has fueled social activism, debate, and the adoption of evolving or devolving social policy depending on one’s values. In 380 B.C., Plato envisioned a utopian society in The Republic and that story represented the beginning of a long string of speculations: ecology, economics, politics, religion, technology, feminism….
The impact of speculative fiction on world view and politics was especially potent in the 1960s when Ellison, Aldiss, Herbert and others wrote about the stuff that many American teens at the time were reflecting upon – social and political issues at a tumultuous time. Protests against increasing militarism during the Vietnam War were fueled by the writings of Ellison and Vonnegut. Speculative fiction back then was more than escapism, as evidenced by Ursula Le Guinn, who is commonly attributed with coining the term, “social science fiction,” winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970.
Speculations sparked by artists in every venue have at least a subliminal impact on each of us, an impact that transcends our own prejudices, traditions and belief systems. Popularized as genre fiction with a huge fan base, the Harry Potter stories were more than simple escapism, even if the messages slipped in through side doors. For example, Harry was a civil rights activist. In freeing an enslaved House Elf, be became a positive role model for zillions of adoring fans, thereby propagating a value that could potentially impact how the average citizen of several countries considers the current refuge crisis.
Rarity from the Hollow is speculative fiction written in colloquial voice that satirically and comically addresses the (1) need to improve systems for the prevention of child abuse, not only in America, but world-wide; (2) duty to internationally recognize that war trauma can cause PTSD for which veterans, out of respect for their service and irrespective of which side of the battle, deserve mental health treatment; (3) moral obligation to research the medicinal use of marijuana for the treatment of mental health problems as an alternative to pharmaceuticals produced by big drug companies; (4) advantages of creating economic options for workers living in impoverished communities to enable self-sufficiency.
Of course, on the other hand, maybe it’s just another goofy science fiction story.
Author proceeds have been donated to child abuse prevention. Children’s Home Society of West Virginia was established in 1893. Currently, it serves over 13,000 children and families each year. http://childhswv.org/
About the author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.
Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.” —Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest
“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.” — Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review
. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review
Comfort Zones: Please note that there is a mention of a child having been murdered in this novel, by the meanest daddy on Earth. However, there is no scene and she plays a comical and annoying ghost most of the story. Here's a finding by Awesome Indies about the first edition to help you decide if this novel is too far outside of your comfort zone: “a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/ The early tragedy feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire.
Please also note that the character mentioned above (Faith) is a victim of sexual abuse. Sexual content in the novel:
- While the protagonist occupies the body of an eleven year old, she is the product of genetic manipulation by Universal Management for millennia;
- Lacy Dawn began her trainings via direct download into her brain five years before the beginning of this story, so she has been fed information about every known human subject, including biology, reproduction, economics…for years before readers are introduced to her (ET involvement is an opening chapter reveal);
- Her best friend, Faith, as a sexual abuse victim, has a sad and unhealthy awareness of sexuality;
- The android has no private parts, "not even a little bump," and is much less mature emotionally than Lacy Dawn throughout the story;
- There are no sex scenes in the novel and only references, including the disclosure about Faith's victimization by a reference and as a flashback with no scenes;
- As the android pursues humanity and starts going through an accelerated human development stage, he never develops any actual sexual interests but does try to kiss Lacy Dawn on the cheek once;
- Lacy Dawn vows not to have sex for the first time until after she is married -- a traditional and now unusual family value;
- She is fourteen years old when the novel ends and has typical teenage interests but remains untouched, not even a first real kiss;
- There are normalized sexual references and innuendos between Lacy Dawn parents after their romance was rekindled -- the father was cured of PTSD and the mother's self-esteem improved, in part, because she got new teeth as part of the deal to save the universe;
- But, the above sexual references are presented as puns, nothing on screen, and are milder than most romance novels that I've read, such as by Nora Roberts.
Piers Anthony, best selling fantasy author during the '80s and '90s, found that my novel was “…not for the prudish.” Kevin Patrick Mahoney, editor of the once noteworthy site, Authortrek, found that my story was, “…not for the faint hearted or easily offended….” An early voice in the first chapter speaks about things that no child should know. It is that of a traumatized child – a voice most of us never listen to, or want to hear, but in real life is screaming. I'm a retired children's psychotherapist. The language and concepts in this story are mild in comparison to some of the stuff that kids have said during actual group therapy sessions that I have facilitated over the years. By child developmental stage, it is similar to the infamous early adolescent insult in E.T.: “penis breath.” It is tame in comparison to the content of the popular television series, South Park, which has been devoured by millions of teens. My story does include marijuana smoking, but that subject has been frequently broadcast in the news as state move toward legalization, when legislation is introduced, or debates emerge. Except for a scene involving domestic violence in the third chapter, there is no violence or horror -- no blood, guts, gore, vampires, or werewolves. The “F word” is used twice, but the all other profanity is mild colloquialism. Rarity from the Hollow is a children's story for adults with a HEA ending like a romance novel.
Rarity from the Hollow Excerpt, Chapter 2,
……Designated to be consolidated, the school received little maintenance except to reduce liability. The playground had a chain link fence with vines growing through the diagonals, squeaky swings so loud that everyone on recess had to holler, and two teeter-totters with splinters that targeted fresh butt. Only one improvement had been added during the last three years of consolidation controversy. Pieces of shredded car tires were put under the monkey bars to cushion falls.
During recess, the teachers smoked cigarettes behind the corner of the brick school building. It was a designated smoking spot so that students wouldn't be exposed to bad influence. Consequently, the playground was without adult supervision.
"Why do you want to feel angry so often?" Lacy Dawn (the eleven year old protagonist) asked Faith (Lacy Dawn’s best friend and classmate).
"It messes up your digestion and gives you the farts."
"I like to fart – silent and deadly," Faith said.
Lacy Dawn moved toward the gang hanging out under the monkey bars. They were older kids who lived on the hard road and who had parents who had been employed before the coal mine shut down. They still thought they had money.
"My dad got a call about a job in Cleveland. What do you think, Lacy Dawn? Your mommy was born there. Is it cool? Will I meet Eminem?" the tallest kid asked.
"Does your daddy still hit your mommy when he gets drunk?” Lacy Dawn asked.
"Sometimes, but what's that got to do with Cleveland?"
The tall kid grabbed the monkey bars and went to its end. His tip-toes touched the shredded tires. It was easier because the ground was several inches higher than before the shreds had been laid. Nobody acknowledged the achievement and all awaited his response. “When we get to Cleveland, I'll stand up to him. I promise,"
"You'd better or she'll know," Faith pointed at Lacy Dawn.
The tall kid sat on the rung that had broken off his front tooth two grades before.
"Why'd you tell him that?" Lacy Dawn whispered in Faith's ear. "I ain't got that kind of magic yet and you know it. I can only see inside people when they’re right in front of me. Cleveland’s a long way off and, besides, Eminem’s from Detroit."
"My mom and dad don't ever hit me. Sometimes, I wish they would. I do stuff so they will, but it don't ever work," the next tallest kid in line for therapy disclosed.
"Parents use different styles of redirection. Yours use guilt." Lacy Dawn said.
"Yeah, I cut myself once. See. It helped a little, but I would really appreciate a switch every now and then."
"Don't fetish,” Lacy Dawn said. “Relax. You're a good kid and your parents want switched, too. It's not your daddy's fault that the mine shut down. He feels guilty about not being a good provider and gets rid of it by giving it to you." Lacy Dawn kissed the scar on the kid's arm above the bottom of his shirt sleeve.
The crowd went "Ooohhhh…" when the scar seemed to fade.
"You're a good doctor, Lacy Dawn," echoed the crowd.
"Next!" a kid who lay on top of the monkey bars above the gang yelled.
"Give me your shit, Ronny,” Lacy Dawn instructed. “But, don't you ever say anything bad about Faith ever again. I'll vex you into eternity. You've been giving her a hard time since the first grade. It ain't fair."
"Sorry,” Ronny said. “I'm just so sad all the time. I take it out on anybody that will react and she's an easy target – fat and ugly."
"Next year, she'll be hot. She'll give you a hard-on that won't go down for days. You'll regret every mean thing you ever said to her."
Faith moved into position to punch his exposed belly.
"I already regret everything," Ronny said, “everything.”
"Your parents thought if they taught you how to predict consequences of your behavior you would exercise self-control. You learned it too good and now you go over and over every little detail. Before you do something mean, just take a few slow, deep breaths and you won't hit anybody anymore. Then, you will have less regret. When you stop being mean, I'll help you fix your depression. But, if you ever say one mean thing about Faith again, I'll let her kick your ass like it's never been before," Lacy Dawn said.
"My mommy don't do nothing but watch soaps," a girl in the second said.
"Mine too," three smaller children gathered for wisdom.
Cigarette smoke formed a cloud that floated from around the corner of the building. Only one female teacher still had a husband and he had been jailed for manufacturing meth after their house caught on fire. It was another tidbit of conversation during an extra-long recess disallowed by the State Board of Education. Recess was the most productive part of the school day because of Lacy Dawn's magic way of helping others.
"I wish I had a husband," the only male teacher employed by the school yelled loud enough for the kids to hear above the squeaky swings.
“There goes Mr. I’m Gay again,” a boy said.
“He’s so boring,” another said. The crowd nodded.
"I wish I could fix my own family," Lacy Dawn whispered to Faith.
"It's a kid's job to help her parents and any kid who don't ain't much of a kid and maybe don't even deserve to live!" Faith yelled louder than Mr. I’m Gay. It was her daily speech to classmates.
The school bell rang to return to the classrooms. Another fifteen minutes was left before compliance was expected. Several kids gathered tighter around the monkey bars to try to get attention from Lacy Dawn. The healthier ones played more or less organized dodge and kick ball games in opposite corners of the playground.
Like the center on a football team’s front line, Faith tried to look mean by grimacing and folding her arms. It was a body-guard-like role so the others used her as an avenue to Lacy Dawn by lining up. A first grader pulled down her shorts to show a blue bruise on her butt. Faith rolled her eyes and turned away. A fourth grader opened his mouth and pointed inside but Faith didn't look. A girl in the fifth who sat beside her in class pointed to her crotch. Tears streamed. Faith winced for a moment but screened her out by turning her head. Not today, Britney. Lacy Dawn only has so much magic at any given time. She needs to recharge. Everybody has issues and tissues. You can be first tomorrow.
A fight broke out in the far corner of the playground. The games stopped and the kids rushed for the better entertainment. Lacy Dawn and Faith followed to get a good place to watch. The teachers saw the action and either returned to the building or gathered behind the crowd to bet on the winner.
"She called my mommy a HO," a second grader with a bloody nose accused a sixth grader and swung air.
"But she is. My daddy told me. I didn't mean to make you mad," the sixth grader tried to maintain a distance by stepping back. "I'm sorry. I don't even know what it means."
"A Ho is a person who has a lot of indiscriminant sex," the smartest girl in school except for Lacy Dawn said to show off. She put on her headphones and walked toward the school to prepare for the next spelling bee, which would include the word “indiscriminate.”
Faith picked up the dodge ball and beamed her in the back of the head.