This is a guest blog post from Alvaro Zino-Amaro, who is one of the amazing writers contributing to the forthcoming Unioverse anthology, Stories of the Reconvergence. The book arrives on August 15, but you can pre-order your digital copy right now.
Shortly after I was invited to contribute to the fabric of the Unioverse, I began studying its grand backstory. It was an exciting, heady plunge. I found myself learning about the remnants of ancient, mysterious races; technologies that could operate across vast distances and perform feats of near-magic; cycles of history stretching back millions of years.
Against the immensity of these epic scales, I imagined the intimate journey of one solitary artist.
Art history is littered with the stories of outsiders who, time and again, master different crafts in order to express their singular perspectives. In a Unioverse comprised of countless worlds and inhabited by innumerable types of beings, where infinite variety is an everyday reality, what could the word “outsider” mean?
Pondering this question gave me the first hint of my story’s plot. The visionary artist I conceived of captivated audiences by using high technology to create dazzling works of conceptual art–but was also trying to solve the mystery of his own “otherness.”
Again, falling back on real-life examples of famous artists through history, I wondered whether the same source of the protagonist’s wild creativity might lead to some unhealthy behaviors. What if our character had a dependency on something potentially life-threatening, feeling unable to create without it? How far would he push himself?
A common thread in chronicles of substance abuse seems to be the desire to escape oneself, however temporarily. The Unioverse, I realized, offered me a built-in mechanism that could literalize this idea: transpod technology allows for the leaping of consciousness from one body–or “skin”– to another. Someone feeling deeply alienated might develop an addiction to this process of escaping from skin to skin, experiencing moments of blissful non-being in between the adjustments to, in a physical sense at least, becoming someone new. But abusing the transpods exacts a heavy toll. After several hundred jumps, the mind begins to collapse, approaching the so-called Zero Hour, a complete loss of sanity.
“Suigeneriscide,” a word I invented to combine the notions of being sui generis, or unique, and ending oneself, is both the title of my story and the name of a daring piece of conceptual art dreamed up by Raestio, the story’s troubled protagonist.
We meet him as he is preparing to showcase “Suigeneriscide,” his most bold, challenging performance yet. As the crowning achievement of a long and storied career, it spells an end; as the gateway to new personal possibilities, it marks a beginning. Will he retain his faculties long enough to complete his ambitious plan, or will the Zero Hour claim him before he has the chance to find out the truth about himself?
Even with his audacious imagination, Raestio is unprepared for the revelations that await deep within his own identity.
I hope you are too.