BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Monday morning I looked at pictures that had been taken of the solar eclipse. Unfortunately, it wasn't visible in Atlanta, so I couldn't see it firsthand. The images were incredible, and as I was looking at them, I remembered that ancient peoples were terrified of eclipses, that they feared the sun wouldn't reappear.

I tried to cast my mind into that place, back to a time when scientific knowledge didn't exist and superstition ran wild.

I remembered that show I'd seen a while back on why humans have an ingrained fear of the dark and that our modern world with its electricity isn't as dark as it was back in that day. There's a darkness scale and very few places anywhere on Earth register at a 1 on the Bortle Dark Sky Scale. Cities like New York measure so high on the scale that a person would need to be on a boat and sail out far enough for the Earth's curvature to hide the glow.

So imagine a world without electric light, a time when humans had just begun to form agricultural societies and give up hunting and gathering. And imagine the sun appearing to be "eaten" by this dark shadow.

For one, brief moment I was able to imagine this terror.

But only for an instant. I am a product of an age where science is advanced, a time when we know the sun will reappear shortly, and that while this is an event of note (eclipses don't happen every day), it's natural and something that happens at regular intervals.

I think this is part of being a writer. Being able to imagine how someone else might feel (someone from a world so completely different than my own) is what it takes to write stories and characters. I'm never going to be a magical troubleshooter and it's unlikely I'll ever meet a demon, but that doesn't mean I can't tell stories about people who have these different realities.

If you have a few minutes, try to send your mind back in time and imagine the fear people felt. I think it's a good exercise.