Posted by Leo Tarvi
I can’t seem to remember how I wound up browsing Surly Amy’s Etsy store yesterday. Probably someone dropped a link on a blog and I middle-clicked then kept reading, so that by the time I looked at the link I’d lost the association.
Anyway, while I was looking through the wearable ceramic art, I saw this “Space Day of the Dead Skull”
which is pretty neat all by itself, but it reminded me of this Freefall comic in which the colonists celebrate “Arrival Day”, also known as the “Day of the Dead”. This would be the perfect accessory to wear during that festival.
In Freefall Arrival Day is the anniversary of the day the colony ship arrived at the planet. Because the hibernation technology they use to sleep away the long space voyage isn’t perfect, not all the colonists survived the trip, hence the Day of the Dead. It’s a chilling thought to imagine waking up and wondering who didn’t make it.
I like the line “I thought spirits could follow helium trails through interstellar space”. A superstition Florence Ambrose takes for granted which is not universally accepted on the colony world, where one of the purposes of the Day of the Dead festival is to serve as a beacon to call home the souls of those who died in the deep silence between stars. It’s a very human thing, finding ways to comfort ourselves and each other in the face of sorrow and loss.
And it’s interesting to ponder what sort of superstitions might gain hold in the public consciousness in the future. We’re living in a time of change, our technology is rapidly advancing and bringing together the various cultures of the world like never before. There’s really no way to tell what myths and legends might emerge from that fusion of ideas, but it’s fun to speculate and I wish more science fiction would do so.
It’s not only a fun creative exercise, but it leads to richer, more human feeling fictional cultures, even when those cultures are made up of robots and aliens. It permeates the tone and language of the setting, giving it a unique identity. I like that in my fiction.
I suppose that’s all I have to say for the moment, so until next time may the Force be with you.