Today we'd like to welcome our guest blogger
SHANE W. SMITH
THE LESSER EVIL
about the book:
Stanley Myres, Chancellor of the galactic Senate... Elam Padakan, Overlord of exiled superpower Padakan House... Young Ross Tillman, a student on Messar... When civil war erupts on Messar, these three men are drawn into the conflict. And as their paths begin to intersect and tangle together, they come to realise that the galaxy has very different plans for all of their dreams. The Lesser Evil is a graphic novel that examines what it means to have a dream... and what that dream can end up costing, regardless of whether it comes true.
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Genre - Science Fiction / Graphic Novel
Rating - PG13
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Thank you Shane for visiting.
Shane has written a guest blog about why he writes science fiction
The lure of science-fiction
The decision I took to write stories in the genre of science fiction was taken before I had the critical faculties to evaluate the pros and cons of such an idea. In some ways, it seems strange that such an intuitive impulse should turn out feeling so right. Sci-fi may not be the right environment for all my work, but I’ll now try to unpack the reasons I think it works for The Lesser Evil.
When I’ve tried to base fiction stories in my hometown, I’ve never been comfortable with the result; it feels heavy with my own voice, filtered by my eyes, and the characters seem as though they are wearing masks that may at any time fall off to reveal that they are, in truth, just people in my life. This writing ‘too close to home’ is accompanied by both paranoia and embarrassment, even if the characters and events have nothing to do (or so I think) with the people and events around me. When looking over what I’ve written, there’s always that thought: ‘So-and-so will think I’m writing about them,’ or ‘I know someone who will take offence at this.’ (Bowman, 2009)
Never the stereotyped society-shunning artiste, my life has always been tied to other people. The family with whom I lived as a child, the spouse with whom I am currently living, and friends and colleagues whom I secretly hoped would one day become fans. And so I found myself gripped by the same paranoia outlined by Christopher Bowman in the above quote.
I turned to science fiction, anticipating that its distance from contemporary reality would offer enough of a buffer between my life and those of my characters that fewer comparisons would be made.
When I began putting this brief explanation together, I came across Christopher Bowman’s article in the April 2009 imprint of Text, who outlines similar concerns. His solution was to develop a new narrative voice, an ideolect that is not his own. He finds this to be a “vehicle of enablement” and finds that it acts as a reflection that allows him to “turn around and see [...] in a new light.”
What Bowman finds in a new narrative voice, I have found, to some extent, in a science-fiction setting. This largely came from over a decade of practice, but I now feel I am somewhat comfortable with the genre.
However, though I find that science fiction does offer some relief from comparisons between my life and that of the characters in The Lesser Evil, I have realised that the story began to truly shine (in my own heart, at least) once I embraced it as my story.
The point is that sci-fi is (for now, at least) my vehicle of enablement, the combination of exotic and familiar (as Stephen Donaldson puts it in his intro to The Real Story) that makes for a compelling story.
Following on from the previous ideas, this quote from Worlds Apart: The Narratology of Science Fiction explains the benefits of the familiar/exotic mix:
… standards of comparison between the two worlds can therefore be established. But at the same time that world is structured by its novum, a distancing element which forces the reader to look at the basic narrative world from the estranged perspective of a new optic. Ernst Bloch has said that the “real function of estrangement is – and must be – the provision of a shocking and distancing mirror above the all too familiar reality.” (Malmgren, p11)
Ballard, too, claims that his explorations of “outer space” are really investigations into “inner space” (cited by Malmgren, p134). And of course, anyone familiar with the genre recognises its potential to make us see everyday objects or interactions in a brand new light.
This is, of course, the purpose of “encounter” science fiction, generally involving alien life forms, but which has also been successfully done with man-made automatons.
We think of ourselves as the Knights of Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. (Solaris, cited by Malmgren, p48)
Science fiction is clearly not a reflection of reality. Faster-than-light travel, time travel, alien civilisations, slow-moving-laser beam weapons, etc etc, do not exist in contemporary reality, and the current belief is that many of these might actually be impossible. However, science fiction does provide a mirror of sorts – a kind of distorted looking-glass, if you will – a reflection on reality.
As I have claimed The Lesser Evil as my story, I suppose I should clarify, or at least qualify, this statement. The Lesser Evil is, in true science fiction style, a reflection on my life and values, rather than a reflection of them.
References: Worlds Apart: The Narratology of Science Fiction (Malmgren, 1991)
Shane W. Smith was born in 1985. For quite a long time after this, nothing much happened. Then he got used to writing about himself in third person for bios like this. Before The Lesser Evil was picked up by Zeta Comics last year, his proudest professional moment was getting a comic book entitled Academaesthetics published in an A-ranked academic journal. His family makes up the remainder of his proud moments.
Shane has a Bachelor Degree in Creative Writing, with First Class Honours, and believes that analysing stories to find out what makes them work is the best possible use of his brain power.
The Lesser Evil is, hopefully, the first step in Shane's prolific and profound creative career.
Find out more about Shane's books at his website: http://shanewsmith.com
Shane appears courtesy of