Monday, February 25, 2019

"Arkad's World"

James Cambias has been nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the 2001 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

Cambias applied the Page 69 Test to his newest novel, Arkad's World, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Arkad's World is not a major event, but it does show off some of the book's strengths and gives all the main characters a nice scene together.

My heroes — Arkad, Jacob, Ree, and Baichi — are traveling across the eternally sunlit face of the planet Syavusa in search of a spacecraft holding Earth's lost cultural treasures. They have stopped at a remote fuel station run by nonhumans, and Ree claims her ankle is hurt so she can't go on. She insists she can get back to the spaceport without the others; Jacob is skeptical but Arkad is terrified.
"You can't stay here on your own if you're hurt," he said, louder than he intended to. Both adults looked at him curiously. "The Psthao-Psthao will take you."
Baichi, who has an infallible memory, fills in the characters (and the reader) on what the Psthao-Psthao are — beings from an unknown planet who live in caves and tunnels.

Arkad knows something she doesn't: that the Psthao-Psthao take the dead and dying to feed their larvae. He saw them take his mother, and just the thought of them frightens him. He volunteers to stay with Ree and protect her, but that suggestion only seems to irritate her.

I like the scene because all my characters are showing exactly who they are. Jacob is concerned with the mission more than anything else. Ree is working a scheme of her own. Arkad is protective of his friends. And Baichi is detached, unafraid, and can show off her knowledge.

As a bonus, I introduce one of my favorite alien species in the book on this page: the scary and death-obsessed Psthao-Psthao. Though they are mostly an off-stage presence through most of the book, I actually put quite a bit of thought into them, especially their culture and psychology. What would it mean to know that you were born (well, hatched) in a corpse? That someone had to die for you to live? These are beings who don't mind dying themselves, but are horrified by the thought of not being eaten.

So if you like Page 69 of Arkad's World, you'll probably enjoy the rest of the book.
Visit James L. Cambias's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Darkling Sea.

Writers Read: James L. Cambias.

My Book, The Movie: Arkad's World.

--Marshal Zeringue