On planet Turaset, droughts ravage farmlands, cyclones rip through coastal cities, and with every barrel of oil the combustion industry pumps from the ground, the climate worsens. Alphonse has just refused a council seat because taking it means serving that rapacious industry. He leaves the city to seek solace in the wilderness, and there, a power to live the past awakens within him. Alphonse walks the steps of his distant ancestors on long-dead Earth, soon growing plagued with memories of its collapse, and he’s left with a troubling certainty: He must infiltrate the combustion industry to secure proof of its treachery, or Turaset will be next to fall.
Alphonse finds an ally in Myrta, a farmgirl who sees air, every molecule in every pulse of breath or blast of exhaust. With her talent, she can evade the patrols on the industry’s grounds. Together, Alphonse and Myrta can prove the industry lies about emissions. They can convince the councils to shut down fossil fuel use permanently.
But people in the industry have grown wise to Myrta’s power—and now she’s marked for death.
Targeted Age Group:: Young Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
What would it be like to actually see carbon dioxide emissions? If we could see that pollution coming from smokestacks and tailpipes, would we be quicker to shift to a more sustainable way of life? This was the question that led me to write about Myrta, a girl on another world who can see CO2, and the carbon industry (fossil fuel industry) on her world, who wants to kill her for it.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Myrta, who has the genetic ability to see carbon dioxide, came to me from the frustration I feel that we aren't moving to sustainable technology quickly enough. She is all things simple and pure–a farm girl who does as she's told, who tries to be good, who is kindhearted and sweet and despite all this the fossil fuel industry wants her dead. Simply because she can see the filth they spew, and they want that hidden.
A second character, Alphonse, came to me as an expression of the beauty of Earth. I wondered what it would be to identify as an entire world. I decided to write a character who slowly experiences the life of a planet, and through so doing feels that planet's pain as its cycles are thrown out of whack by greed and pollution.
Alphonse stood next to his grandfather on a windy cliff overlooking a surging and violent landscape.
“Our history, Alphonse. Back to the very beginning, recorded in rock and code.”
“I won’t remember this, Grandfather.”
“Don’t worry. The day will come when you hold all of history in a thought. Mark my words.”
The molten sea below him churned. Alphonse grew warm. Then hot—unbearably so.
“We stretch back to the beginning of time, atoms cycling into structure. Then formlessness, then structure again. Complexity and dissolution, Alphonse, pulsing and breathing like the landscape below.”
Fireballs crashed from above. Radiation seared the planet’s surface.
Alphonse gasped and fell to his knees. His shins burned and dissolved. His legs, his torso, his entire self. He melted into the Hadean Sea.
“The story is a gift from the founders.”
“I don’t want it,” Alphonse tried to scream, but not a sound escaped as he melted into nothingness.
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