I started a writing project a little while ago with the idea of re-imaging folk/fairy tales using a science fiction twist. Though the lessons the old stories teach are still relevant to a modern world, they can get lost in archaic language and setting or prettied up to the point where they no longer have much meaning. I was hoping that by updating them, they might be more engaging without being the same old Disney-themed thing everybody’s heard a million times.
“Mermaid” was the first of those. “Heart of Joy” (out today for Daily Science Fiction subscribers and available for one and all on their website on April 19th) is the latest. Admittedly, I wandered a bit off track with “Godmother Death” and it ended up being fantasy instead of science fiction. Oops. 🙂 Frankly, all of them have been fun to write.
“Heart of Joy” started with Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale.” It has always been one of my favorites. At its heart, it is a story about learning to see one another and to appreciate the ways in which relationships make us stretch. The themes weren’t hard to fit into a science fiction world, though the story itself wasn’t easy to get on paper. It went through three of the most radically different drafts I’ve ever written. Exactly one scene from the first draft made it into the final.
Old fairy tales generally carry heavy messages. They often speak to the darkness in the world as well as to the perseverance, luck, and faith it takes to overcome life’s trials. To my mind “Happily Ever After” is what happens when the character has come through the hardest thing they could ever have to live through and nothing in life will be that much of a big deal again.