Michael Gardner’s story “Renewal” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 15 September 2017.
Before writing “Renewal”, I’d read a short story about an immortal couple who were both hundreds of years old. This got me thinking about common fantasy depictions of immortals – vampires, Highlander – where they don’t age, they live forever, and every once in a while they change their identities so they can continue their lives without raising suspicions. Of all the things to get hung up on, I began wondering how anyone today could easily change identities with so much information online, and held by Government and business.
So that got me thinking about reincarnation. As a concept of immortality, it solved the “new identity” challenge. And I soon came up with the idea of a man essentially fathering himself. I thought this concept brought with it some interesting challenges, such as facing death over and over, as well as having a romantic partner become your mother. I was aware that there was a risk that anything I put to paper might simply come across as oedipal and sordid, which I didn’t want, but I decided to start writing and see how it turned out.
The second element that became a key part of the story was my own tendency to dwell on things that go wrong – thinking about what I should have done, and how I could do things better if faced with a similar situation next time. This became a key trait for my main character, and shaped how he approached his immortality.
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