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Bewildering Stories

The Critics’ Corner

“Dark World”

by Resha Caner and Don Webb

[Don Webb] Resha, the underground setting in “Dark World” is quite unusual, and the characters, particularly the Captain, Varus, and Penel are very appealing. However, the ending leaves me a little puzzled. Can you tell us more about your conception of the Seytan and the Convergence, and their role in the story?

[Resha Caner] I was trying something new with both the setting and characters. I was pleased with how the characterization worked but was never completely happy with the plot.

The Captain has met the Seytan before, when he was trying to defend the 15th Queen. Apparently that needs to come through better.

I intentionally left the Convergence vague. I was afraid that if I explained it too much, it would deflate the tension of the story. Were I to build up a series of more stories for this world, I’d have more time to get into it.

In short, the Convergence is my name for a cosmological theory proposed by some real-life physicists who worked out a suggestion by Stephen Hawking. The idea is that space-time (3 physical dimensions and 1 time dimension) becomes 4-dimensional space. Hence, time “disappears.” That’s why no one can ever get to it. A similar idea shows up at the end of Isaac Asimov’s book The End of Eternity.

[Don] An interesting comparison. At the end of Asimov’s novel, “Eternity” ends and “Infinity” begins. But Asimov was not thinking in cosmological terms. The End of Eternity has its center, like many of his works, in politics.

“Eternity” refers to the stagnation imposed on humanity by a morally and ideologically bankrupt cabal of conservatives. Harlan and Noÿs break the Eternals’ monopoly on time-meddling — which is logically absurd to begin with — by traveling back to the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and deciding basically “to hell with Eternity.” Infinity, a dynamic concept, is for liberals.

That’s a useful footnote to my review article of the novel, but it is a digression, nonetheless. Why is it necessary to sacrifice Varus and the three workers to the Seytan?

[Resha] Varus tricked the Black Soldiers and the Seytan into thinking that is where the Red Colony had gone, but it was only a smoke screen. Everyone was anxious to find the Convergence, but no one really knew what it was, and they were ready to believe someone had actually found it. It would give them hope that they might find it as well.

In the meantime, the Red Colony simply escapes across the ocean. That is why Varus has to make the sacrifice. At one point it is stated that the Seytan would continue until it had completed its purpose: destroying everything associated with the Red Colony.

The Seytan prepares to go into the water after the ship; Varus takes the Red scent upon himself and diverts the Seytan, hoping to deceive it into thinking that killing him will end everything Red. If he succeeds, the Seytan will end with him.

[Don] Even though Varus does claim responsibility for creating the Seytan, it seems a pity to write a good character like him out of the script, so to speak.

And I wonder if the diabolus ex machina is really necessary anyway. Varus claims to have been an arms dealer. Therefore he would have had both the Red and Black factions as his clients. Could he find a way trick the Black Queen into believing that the Red group had been lost at sea? And that would open up another story, in which Varus escapes from the Blacks and rejoins the Reds, perhaps at the Convergence... Just a thought.

Thank you for a very enjoyable story, Resha. There’s a lot to like in it, mainly the characters, and they’re what counts.

Copyright © 2010 by Resha Caner
and Don Webb

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