I didn’t realize until the final proofreading stages of The Alchemist’s Theorem that the story contains an invasive 9/11 metaphor. In Terra Copia’s past, a creature attacked their land. There was a lot of destruction and chaos. What remains in Terra Copia’s present is a society that is completely governed by fear. The intense fear of more creatures returning to and destroying their world is what drives the characters and the plot. When I saw that the events and aftermath of 9/11 had seeped deep into my novel, it caused me to reflect on it.
I think the terrorists who attacked on 9/11 did far more damage to us than they had even imagined. The organism that is the United States had a giant poison pill dropped into it, causing a pervasive infection of fear to spread throughout. Not only has the fear done damage to our internal systems—causing degraded infrastructure, flare ups of the culture wars, and hoarding of resources to specific systems—but it has created opportunities for mutant, capitalistic bacteria to invade our systems and take advantage of our compromised state.
I see that we as a country are slipping from first world status to a second world situation. Our infrastructure is collapsing, various death rates are going up, and we are still leaps and bounds away from equality. We are not a country at peace. A sick body needs rest, resources, and care. We need our immune system. But one of the unfortunate side effects of the fear infection is the industrial military complex. The resources, effort, and care we need to heal has been put toward clawing at the beast that carried the fear infection into our country. Like the time of the bubonic plague when we killed the rats, not understanding that the fleas were the source.
Despite my depiction of our gloomy state, I am actually quite optimistic about our future. Brooks has been doing a lot of research on Star Trek for the fiftieth anniversary next year. We talk a lot about the franchise and its significant cultural impact on the human species. Brooks describes it as “A giant rock that was dropped into our culture, and the ripples have affected every aspect of it.” The most common theme that is brought up over and over again is how Star Trek gives us an optimistic future to strive toward. Currently, there are many individuals and systems working toward a future of peace, a future where there is no war, no poverty and true equality.
My Crohn’s disease reminds me a lot of the state we are in. My internal systems are unbalanced, fighting each other. I have been governed by fear for years, the fear that I will return to my worst state of health. I had a test done once to see how my immune system in my digestive track was doing. One number showed that part of my system had given up, but another smaller number showed that part of it was still trying. I’ve been working very hard for the past couple of years to give my body the rest, resources and care that it needs. Slowly but surely I am getting better, and I have become less and less afraid.
So that’s why I am optimistic about the future and our ability to heal. Personal experience and Star Trek tells me so.