After the year we all had, this book hits home. Read what the Author has to say about it.
A Country Of Eternal Light by Darby Harn released at the beginning of June in the Speculative Fiction genre.
A rogue black hole tears apart the solar system. Mairead’s life is already in pieces.
The Earth has less than a year to survive.
Asteroids rain hell; earthquakes rattle cities; manic tides swamp coasts. Mairead intends to give herself to the erratic waves that erode her remote Irish island, the same that claimed her child. When Gavin, an American, arrives to scatter his father’s ashes, she becomes torn between wanting for life and death.
Despite the tides, fuel shortages, and closing borders that threaten to trap him on the island, Gavin can’t seem to scatter the ashes. He doesn’t know how to let go any more than Mairead does and they find a strange comfort in their confusion.
Their affair draws Mairead back to the world of the living, but the longer Gavin stays, the more it seems there might be a future for them. There is no future.
Life closes down around them. The world they know shreds. Life drains into an inescapable abyss. And yet Mairead fights, both the gravity of her grief and the restless, dissonant desire to find some kind of peace no matter how brief.
Ma shuffles into the kitchen, coat on like she’s going somewhere. She sees the radio and remembers.
“Not today,” I say, but she switches it on anyway.
Six past and now time for today’s obituaries. Katie Burke, Kilmurvey, Co. Galway, 14th October, suddenly, sadly missed. Iranian quake toll rises. Russian oil fields under water. The Pope condemns American abortion initiative for all remaining pregnancies. Scientists hold vigil over Saturn, her rings scattered like a snowdrift across a country road. All her moons buckshot. Jupiter suffers the most, swollen and bruised like an aging prizefighter, determined to die in the ring.
The government handed out these little LED tickers. Alarm clocks, like, to put on the refrigerator. Counts down the seconds until the rogue black hole intersects the orbit of earth. A year from now. That’s all we have left.
The tides will drown us first. One of the comets will hit us. A planet or a moon will, or comes close enough to yank the earth from its orbit. What difference does it make? What difference is cancer? Parkinson’s. A heart attack. A bullet. A car. A black hole. All our deaths are projectiles, hurtling through blood streams or interstellar space or dark coastal roads at targets with no proper sense of the size of the barrel they’re swimming in.
I switch the radio off. “I don’t want to hear this.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Darby Harn studied at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Irish Writing Program. He is the author of the sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, The Coffin Bell and other venues.
Has the last year given a new/different meaning to the book’s message?
It certainly has. I wrote A Country Of Eternal Light in large measure between 2014 and 2018, and it was about processing a singular type of grief against this macro human suffering in progress from the rogue black hole. I never imagined then there would be any kind of corollary in my life to that. This past year, we’ve all experienced some measure of personal grief, whether it’s for loved ones, a loss of connection, a loss of certainty in the world as it was. That plays out against this very global grief of millions dead from the pandemic.
As I re-read the book this past winter, I was struck by how resonant, for me at least, the sense of isolation was for Mairead and Gavin. The creeping sense of things closing down around them, services being suspended, simple basic commodities like toilet paper – of course – being hard to come by. It had a new feeling entirely that I couldn’t have ever imagined.
The book takes place on a fictional island off the west coast of Ireland, and the manic tides induced by the black hole make any kind of ferry impossible. Very quickly, their way of life reverts back in many ways to what it had been in the early 20th century. It’s a small community, isolated from the rest of the world, and utterly exposed to the worst of what’s to come.
This sense of grief, micro and macro, is what finally motivated me to publish the book. I had set it aside a while back, thinking I wouldn’t ever release it. It was too personal. Too strange a thing. But living through the grief and fear of the last year brought it all back to me. I don’t know if there is a need for anyone to read a story about the end of the world at the moment, but there was a deep need for me to let go of it. I needed to put this spirit of Mairead’s out into the world. Her fierce soul, diminished but unbroken by her circumstances.
Mairead has lost her child. In the not too distant future, she’s going to lose her life. There’s no uncertainty about that. There is a year left for the world, at best. Likely much less. She’s stranded between her want to die and her basic instinct to carry on, to hang on to some kind of hope, irrational as it is. She doesn’t understand it and maybe she never does.
But I think like a lot of people in the last year or so, she is ground down by an intolerable grief. But as much as she hurts, as much as she just wants it to be over, there is this very human engine within her. There is this spirit within her that can’t be diminished. I’ve found solace in that as I came back to the book, and hopefully others will, too.
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/darbyharn
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Darby-Harn-255976537767428
This post is part of a tour. The tour dates can be found here: https://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2021/04/nbtm-country-of-eternal-light-by-darby.html
$25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner