David Whitmarsh’s story “Stand or Fall” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 17 December 2021.
This story began life as an exercise in filling the backstory of a character in an as yet unpublished novel that follows the fate of two thousand refugees who escape the Enemy’s attack on Zosma, one of the last of humanity’s settled systems. Mila Kraft, who is sent by Ilyas to Zosma at the end of this story, is one of the main characters; a doctor who is older than she looks, and follows the syntheist faith but is sympathetic to the Covenant. I started by thinking about how she acquired all those attributes.
The Enemy’s assault on humanity lies in the past in the novel, forming part of the background. Writing this story gave me a chance to play with ideas about how different societies, isolated from each other by the light-speed limit on travel and communication, would react in different ways to the inexorable advance on an invincible enemy.
The first draft almost wrote itself in just a few days. The mechanics of the story came together easily, but it has taken many revisions and much valued feedback from others to develop and clarify Ilyas’s arc.
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