HOW I WROTE
‘IN THE TIME
OF THE BREAKING’
A falling moon. A hidden city.
And one of you is under attack, an attack
that must lead to terminal personality disintegration.
In your deep subconscious are a thousand predecessor implants,
and implants within those implants. Only one of them
knows the reason for the attack... and how it
can be stopped...
NEW DIRECTIONS IN SCIENTIFICTION
Thomas Hardy wrote the poem “In The Time Of The Breaking Of Nations” about the First World War. I adapted and abbreviated the title for my novel. When it was accepted for publication by Alien Buddha Press I switched the copyright date over to 2019. Had it emerged in December, it would already be last year’s book. As it is, it will be shiny new for all twelve months of the year.
I’ve always loved tales of lost cities, hidden valleys and secret civilisations, all the way from Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’ (1912) through Edgar Rice Burroughs’ penchant for stumbling across forgotten realms everywhere from the dead Martian sea-bottoms to the African rainforest. When I made my first professional fiction sale to the New English Library ‘Stopwatch’ anthology in 1974 (with “When The Music’s Over”), editor George Hay pointed out that ‘Andrew Darlington takes one of the oldest themes in the SF canon – the lost city, and uses it to hit out at the stale and the dead: a nice juxtaposition.’ So I guess there’s some unconscious continuity at work there. The ‘Phantom City’ which holds out the hope of refuge to fugitive Culak is sometimes there, and sometimes not. So it qualifies.
|My early - and subsequently abandoned, cover design|
Some people have already been confused – and attracted, in about equal measure, by the use of the word ‘Scientifiction’ on the cover strapline. Even suggesting that it’s a misprint. But when Jules Verne and HG Wells were writing their groundbreaking speculations, there was no such genre as Science Fiction. At the time of publication, their books were described as ‘Scientific Romances’. It was not until April 1926 that Luxembourg-born naturalised-American Hugo Gernsback launched ‘Amazing Stories’, what is now recognised as the Big Bang genesis-moment for magazine SF, and it was he who devised the term Scientifiction as a neat contraction of the words Scientific and Fiction, to describe the type of material he intended to specialise in. It was not until later that his inspired invention was adapted into Science Fiction, SF or Sci-Fi. But I always retained an affection, not only for his term, but for the mind-stretching wide-open sense-of-wonder that those early decades of weird tales gleefully rampage through. I love that unpredictable strangeness.
The name I use for my protagonist – Culak, goes all the way back to an adolescent schoolboy novel I wrote. I was caned for tearing pages out of my exercise books to write it on. It also involved a quest for a lost city, but there the resemblance ends. By the time I got to writing ‘In The Time Of Breaking’ in came in spurts and spasms across a number of years, abandoned as each new more urgent project reared to consume my time. More recently, motivated by positive responses to my short-story collection ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’ (Parallel Universe Publications, 2016), I began gathering the various aborted sections together, editing it down drastically and sharpening the text, lopping off pages of purple prose and detailed description. But the wandering world with its dangerous companion-moon, and the resource-scarce tribes who eternally travel its aridity is a constant. Is it far-future Earth? Possibly. But I suspect not.
IN THE TIME OF THE BREAKING
Review by Trevor R Fairbanks
5.0 out of 5 stars
A totally new direction in scientifiction
‘A really great book and fun read. I’ve never encountered anything like this before, and I’ve read a LOT of science fiction. Darlington doesn’t just tell you a story. He inserts YOU into the story. The story doesn't unravel – it pulls YOU along. This isn’t just some clever style of writing. It suits the characters in the story who are always climbing or crawling or stumbling to survive a very dangerous planet – and you are right there with them. ‘In The Time Of The Breaking’ is a true achievement in the field of scientifiction (and I dig that he’s trying to bring that word back – old school cool)’
A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS
Fourteen Stories of Fantasy, Warped Sci-Fi and Perverse Horror