C.M. Fields’s story “Reach for Your Ocean Heart” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 26 February 2021.
I actually wrote the last paragraph of this story first, and then sat on it for months. I wanted a rich, dreamy, post-societal-collapse setting, so then I wrote Olia’s half of the story and sat on that for another long while while I wrestled with the constraints set by the last paragraph. Eventually I realized that what the story needed was to contrast with a totally different bent of science fiction so I wrote in Hawa and Exie’s story, which is, ironically, the heart of it, despite being the “hard” sci-fi half.
One thing that has always fascinated me, as both an astrophysicist and a writer, is the intersection of human relationships with the harsh realities of our future as a space-faring species. Relationships as we know them begin and end within a normal lifespan—but do they have to? Will we still love each other even when we live to be 150? How will we navigate ultra-long-distance relationships? To what ends will someone go through to be with their beloved?
A lot of my stories explore the relationship between human and android. I think a lot about why we will eventually build sentient machines, and the role of such machines in society, and what they will think about us. And of course, how long it will be before romantic relationships between humans and androids become common. Hawa is such a person trapped by this conundrum of societal roles: Exie is both a person and a machine built to serve a purpose. In order to subvert the inevitable passage of centuries, Hawa invents a sort of generation ship of a relationship—by the time Exie returns to Earth, Hawa will no longer be there to receive her, but her descendants will be.
Ultimately, “Reach for Your Ocean Heart” is about the triumph of love over circumstance, and what we gain and what we lose when we love for centuries.
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