Thursday, October 22, 2015


C. A. Higgins is the author of Lightless, and writes novels and short stories. She was a runner-up in the 2013 Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing and has a B.A. in physics from Cornell University.

Higgins applied the Page 69 Test to Lightless and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Ida tried to imagine it, to let it play out in her head as Ivan spoke, to compare what he said with the way she imagined it would have happened. Ivan and Mattie, walking together, elbows bumping. This was eight years into knowing each other, and they would move in harmony.

She imagined them coming to the Annwn, the ship standing on her rim, and finding the door unlocked, letting in bits of dust and sand from the howling Martian wind. They looked at each other, and Mattie drew his gun first—or did Ivan?

“Mattie was glad to see her somehow,” Ivan said. “Even though she’d just broken into our ship.”

In Ida’s mind’s eye, Mattie holstered his gun immediately, pulling the door shut against the howling winds. Ivan was slower to lower his weapon, and he put it away only once Mattie had embraced the woman waiting.

In Ida’s imagination, Abigail was faceless, blank.

“She got right to the point,” said Ivan. “Abby doesn’t like to waste time. She told us that she had a job for us.”

In Ida’s mind, Ivan, standing opposite Abigail, was just as guarded and wary as he was when he was facing her.”
Page 69 of Lightless comes right as Leontios Ivanov—better known as Ivan—tells his interrogator, Ida, a story. Ivan has been arrested after illegally boarding a top-secret military spaceship, the Ananke, and Ida has been sent to interrogate him to find out if he has any connections to a notorious terrorist. Ivan insists that he doesn’t, but consents—under duress—to answering any questions she may have. Ida, convinced that he is lying, has to sort through the details of the stories he tells her in order to find the fine threads of truth that will unravel his lies. Since the passages are from Ida’s point of view, by the time the stories reach the reader they have passed through two unreliable narrators: Ivan, who must be lying about something, and Ida herself. On page 69, the reader sees a scene described by Ivan as Ida imagines it—and has to decide for him- or herself how much of it is true, and how much a fabrication of one character or another.

The story that Ivan tells on page 69 focuses on three characters: Ivan himself, his best friend Mattie, and the mysterious Abigail Hunter, whose secrets Ida becomes more and more intent on uncovering. The dynamic between those three characters is, in some ways, the core of Ivan’s stories—and in this scene, the reader gets a first glimpse of it.
Visit C. A. Higgins's website.

--Marshal Zeringue