This log is filed under our #SciFiMonth archive. SFM is a month-long celebration of the wonders of Science Fiction, a blog event combining the love of the genre with the connective power of book blogging.
For more info on Sci-Fi Month, check out the introductory post on Imiryl’s blog and join us in this mission to read and rebel! I really recommend you follow the event’s Twitter as well, to stay on track with everybody’s posts.
Without further ado, I’m happy to introduce the first Sci-Fi Month guest on the blog: Sarah Mazza!
If you played the game on my original Sci-Fi Month announcement post, and guessed ID tag 005 belonged to Sarah, then congrats, Sherlock 😉
Sarah will be discussing her latest novel, I Dream in Color in a guest post that delves into the emotional ties she explores in her soft sci-fi, dystopian story.
I reviewed I Dream in Color on the blog yesterday, so make sure to check out my review if you want to know my thoughts on this thought-provoking, heart-aching character journey that discusses mental health, hope, and the future of humanity.
One of the things about I Dream in Color that fascinated me was Sarah’s deep, dark exploration of the human psyche. Alex’s first-person POV allows us to dig into his mind and experience his conflicted existence. I asked Sarah to develop that thesis and she was kind enough to write a beautifully-written post for blog that evokes her wonderful prose in I Dream in Color, and that I absolutely loved reading.
Scroll down to read what the author has to say about The Future of Hope and Human Connection: I Dream in Color!
Meet Sarah Mazza
I am a Melbourne based author of fantasy, historical fiction and sci-fi novels. As a passionate booklover, I enjoy stories across most genres.
I grew up on Lord of the Rings and Gone with the Wind. The rawness and romance of mythology has always struck a chord within me.George RR Martin’s A song of Fire and Ice shaped the kind of author I am today. I loved the outrageous plot twists, the gut wrenching, action filled narrative and the sheer imagination, all weaved together. Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles inspired me to write my first book. I put down the Sending, after its cliff hanger ending, and thought to myself: I have so many ideas of where she could go with this. I could write the next book…I could write a book.
For me, reading is as essential as eating. It is food for the mind. It allows me to take my imagination out of the cage that everyday monotony builds around it.
The Future of Hope and Human Connection: I Dream in Color
Imagine a world where a gas planet, swept in hues of blush, hangs large in the pink haze of the afternoon sky. Where lantern fish swim through the air in condensed hoards, their jelly-like bodies expanding and compressing and emitting blue light. City buildings are covered in living mosses and vines, the roots of these green power cells feed into energy harvesters, so humans can harness the energy they draw from the sun to power their electronics. Imagine a world where the trees sing in a voice of pheromones, these chemicals lighting up the night sky in a vast rainbow of illumination.
Now imagine that its people are in pain; the natives and those who colonized this moon. That despite the beauty and color around them, they are ripping each other apart.
In many ways I Dream in Color is a psychological thriller, an exploration of the darker side of humanity. The narrative dissects social issues of addiction, loneliness, human connection and self-destruction.
It is told from the perspective of a single man, who struggles with the demons in his head: depression and addiction. They claw at him and consume his strength, until he has nothing left to engage with the outside world; to function in the way society demands, to take care of himself.
Alex dreams of peace, within his soul, within the world around him, but too often that power rests in the hands those who chose to inflict pain. Within the sway of a stranger, who cannot understand how the ripples of their actions affect so many people.
Social order is crumbling. People riot within streets that have never before seen a protest. Activists rise-up in a society where people are prosecuted for less, where they are pulled out of their beds at night and arrested for less. They rush to their noble cause, to free their people from conscription to the never-ending war, and instead bring the violence and trauma home, to all their people.
One of the most striking aspects of I Dream in Color is the raw, emotional ride, through a character in the perpetual state of mental breakdown. It turns the spotlight on the darkness that lurks within our souls, that bubbles up when we are vulnerable. It asks many questions. Why do we hurt each other? Are we all so different from each other, or is it experience that separates us? What would you have done in my shoes?
This novel is an exploration into addiction and the underlaying mental pain that is so often paired with it. A world that was foreign to the author, that very suddenly became apart of her reality, looking in from the outside, unable to reach those within. This work was an attempt to understand.
The turmoil of emotion came from the author’s own confrontation with the baser side of humanity, and the resulting grief and trauma. The themes in this novel reach out, to others experiencing pain and suggests they are not as alone as they feel. It seeks to understand and to be understood. Mostly, this narrative was written for the author, to process and shed the things that weigh us down.
On Loneliness and the Human Connection.
There is little more isolating than mental illness. Within us all are voids of varying depths, filled with pain, longing, emptiness, insecurities, anxieties. Each person battles to stay afloat within our own oceans of turmoil, looking for that fix, that distraction, something that might fill that hole. Fast fashion. The latest technology. A prestigious job. The next promotion, then the next.
Our lives are too fast paced. We as a society are so busy chasing the things we are told we need, absorbed in our own struggles, that we forget what is most important on a fundamental level: human connection. To love. To be loved. To nurture and raise each other up, in a society bent on tearing others down, to make ourselves feel that little bit more important. We forget to check in on friends, to prioritize human life satisfaction as a community, over chasing individual ideals of success. Instead of asking: what can I achieve? What can I take or earn? We should ask: what can I give?
We are all very alone inside our awareness and perspective. No one can completely understand another person’s existence. Perhaps this is what makes it beautiful when someone tries. When a person puts aside their own battles and reaches out. When someone cares.
I Dream in Color explores the theme of loneliness, of disconnection from other people, and the harm it can do to the psyche. How being alienated, fitting into a condemned minority, can tear at the mental health of a person who is already vulnerable. It shows that tenderness and compassion can come from unexpected places, or just those we underestimated. How broken people can carry each other up. Mutual affection, intimacy, kindness, it is all a salve for the burning soul. I Dream in Color is as much a story of love as it is of pain: love lost for one’s-self, love offered timidly to others, questioning of whether we are deserving of it at all.
If existence is suffering, then happiness is the moments of light that extends out between the darkness, the shared love that doesn’t need to be spoken, the peace threaded among the anxiety. It is all the more precious for it. There are few things in life as valuable as the connection between two people; friendship, familial affection, romance, lust, a shared smile with a stranger.
Self-realization. Self-destruction. The Future.
All things end. We live in a universe that spirals towards chaos, entropy and heat death, the final fate. Humans have a nature of self-destruction: evolved to fight for limited resources, to constantly look for threats, to find enemies when we should be looking for allies. We are suspended in a natural system where all creatures are designed to die. Our DNA is coded to age and unravel, with regions of telomeres that act as built in timers, to ensure we demise. We live, we die, our ways are forgotten over time. Titians rise and fall, and so do civilizations.
On this backdrop, on this very broad picture of life, it is hard to say which moments in time are important, which picture of the future really matters. With every ending comes a new beginning. One thing is certain, this snapshot of time, this fleeting moment and way of life we know and value will not last. Maybe it will fizzle away into something that is less, maybe it will grow, compound and transition into something that is both more and alien to us right now.
Our lifestyle is not sustainable. Its toll, on the planet and on all the small people it crushes, is too great. This age of convenience and consumables cannot last. Like the collapse of many civilizations over history, it will end by humanity’s own hand. Will we make the hard choices to change and improve? Will we fall to our own greed and sloth? Who knows what will come out of the ashes of our time?
The fate of humanity, the contemplations of our people falling victim to our own vices, is explored in I Dream in Color, alongside with the idea of whether we deserve a second or third or hundredth chance. These ideas form the basis of the sequel to this novel, My Dream of Hope.
The Human Capacity to Hope
Life will get better. We will be better. Next time, our choices will be better. Even in the most trying of times, even when it is difficult to see a clear way out, we hold onto this hope. Onto this yearning for what may be, and the need to believe it could be. This has never been more relevant than now.
The theme of hope and striving for better times is central to I Dream in Color. Alex struggles through addiction, through withdrawals, and is ever searching for the place he belongs in, the people he belongs with. He dares to hope, in the face of all the adversity he sees. It is a thing that can be lost and found again, time after time.
The title, I Dream in Color, signifies the fact that even though Alex is depressed, an addict written off by society as a liability, he still has hope. He still has complex thoughts, vivid emotions and desires. Alex has dreams, and they are painted with these colors. These themes aim to humanize people like Alex, with the hope that the masses can start to understand.
Mostly, I Dream in Color shares the message that it is okay to not be okay. That maybe, the next act of kindness we will experience could come from the next stranger that we meet. It is okay to be vulnerable, to open ourselves to others, because they might just take some of our pain and frustration away. That we might just ease some of theirs.
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