“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”
“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”
This poem, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, pretty well describes my status, as I approach my seventh decade.
So I thought I’d start a blog to promote my book, get in touch with the roughly 2 billion people on the internet, and save me the trouble of explaining individually to those 2 billion why I don’t eat sugar. Mostly. Of course that leaves another 4 billion or so, but that’s life.
My book is Get on Board Little Children, by Victoria Randall, and it’s a futuristic thriller that begins in Seattle.
The title comes from the African-American spiritual of the same name celebrating the Underground Railway, which in the nineteenth century helped slaves escape from slavery to freedom in the northern states. I’m proud to say that my alma mater, Oberlin College, was a way station on the underground railway.
I got the idea from reading our local newspaper, and noticing that every time an article appeared about child abuse or neglect, many people posted “We should have to get a license to reproduce!” A lot of people seem to feel that would be a good thing, and indeed, it does seem reasonable. After all we need a license to marry, to drive a car, a motorcycle, or an airplane, to practice as a physician or dentist, even to sell hotdogs at the stadium. If a license were required to have a child, it seems reasonable that only dedicated parent-types would apply for it, and the amount of child neglect would decrease.
Of course the state would be involved, since the license would have a price, and the state could set any price it deemed fit, in fact even a price so high that only wealthy or really devoted would-be parents would apply for it. And a psychological exam of course would be included, to make sure only stable people were licensed.
You would of course ensure that accidental pregnancy was very rare, by implanting a mandatory birth control device in every teenage girl. Although such devices are not 100 % foolproof.
Then you would have to figure out what to do in case people flouted the law and went ahead to get pregnant without a license. Would there be fines? Jail terms? Confiscation of the child?
All this led, not through a rational process mind you, but sort of one-thing-after-another, to my dystopia. I only later realized I had created a dystopia.
I wondered what would happen if an average middle class young woman and her husband found themselves in that situation. What kind of lifestyles might evolve in such a state- would there be an underground group raising their children in secret, without social security numbers or public schooling? If the state confiscated illegally born children, what would become of them? And would organizations develop to help pregnant women escape the consequences of their criminal status?
We don’t think it can happen here in America. But then who would have thought 24 ounce sodas would be banned in New York? (I hate soda – they’re terribly bad for your health. But still . . .)
I only touch on some of these questions lightly. But they are there, as Sophie and Josh try to deal with their problems in a world characterized by a high living standard, high-tech surveillance, full surround virtual reality entertainment, but shadowed by the dark underbelly of loss and despair on which it is founded.
It is not yet available on Amazon, but I hope to have it there soon.
Looking forward to talking with you again.