The Birth of the Archives of Varok
Writing Realistic Speculative Fiction Dealing with Current Social Issues in an Alternate 21st Century Solar System
The Archives of Varok sprouted roots in the seminal environmental movement of the 1960’ and 70’s with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. It included concern over the stress of excessive human numbers, with Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb. In those years Herman Daly began work revising economic theory, hoping that rational solutions – not simplistic faux social theory and its equations – would drive human business interactions.
My personal frustration with the loss of human rationality in the face of environmental disaster exploded in my alien character Conn’s voice, and Charles Scribner’s Sons published A Place Beyond Man in 1975, with extensive help from editor Harris Dientsfrey.
I felt our quality of life threatened in the loss of my dad’s access to matched Rosewood for the xylophone he was building and in his inability to get pine 2 by 4’s free of knots for studs required in house framing. Depression set in.
I continued writing without the guidance I needed, and the other four books of The Archives of Varok (plus some others) filled my file cabinets. Every ten years I unearthed the manuscripts, found the characters attractive, revised their story, and sent them to self-appointed agents, who did nothing with them.
As my children grew up, and Lester R. Brown’s World Watch Institute published worsening pollution statistics, I realized that my belief in ultimate human failure and economic disaster was contributing to the problem—I was part of a nasty self-fulfilling prophecy.
Reluctantly, I took up the study of ecological economics. Friends in the League of Women Voters pushed me into doing a workshop on Herman Daly’s continuing work, and we taught Sustainable Solutions at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.
To my amazement, I learned that Herman Daly was alive, two years younger than me, and still writing on steadystate.org about the errors in classical economics and the need to recognize resource limits for the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE). I joined CASSE and got out The Archives of Varok books to updated them with their rightful focus.
Then, in 2011, Penscript Publishing House requested the Archives’ books, and they are now being published. The Webs of Varok, editor Shawne Workman’s first project, won a Nautilus Silver Award for YA and was a 2012 ForeWord Finalist for adult scifi. To my delight, excellent non-fiction books have appeared at the same time. All of us are focusing on basic solutions needed to correct political action and economic theory in order to secure the future for life on Earth.
The Archives of Varok are stories dramatizing the realistic effects of resource depletion, harm to the natural world, and human overpopulation stress. They present to readers who enjoy fiction a realistic view of Earth’s 21st century problems, their solutions, and the barriers human society has erected to abort those solutions. They also explore philosophical impacts, and how we should relate to beings very similar but alien to us.
The fiction in the books lies in their characters and also setting. Even then, the alternate 21st century solar system and its aliens are as realistic as possible. Today’s humans discover that we have savvy, attractive, well-informed, friendly alien neighbors who inhabit undiscovered places too close to ignore. They want nothing more than to help us out of our self-made quicksand.
How would we react to such life-affirming neighbors, really? Maybe not so defensively now; for in our real 21st century, we are learning to interact more humanely with our genetic cousins--the animals of Earth. Behaviorists are learning that they are more like us in intellectual and emotional ways than we could have imagined in the past.