Author Feature: Symphony Of Destruction by Ken Goudsward

An extract from Symphony Of Destruction by Ken Goudsward

Hannah has finally adjusted to life on board the Ventas-341, when a series of strangely catastrophic hull breaches and a devastating viral outbreak decimates the crew. Now she finds herself stranded in the shadows of the asteroid belt. Together with the only other surviving crew-members, Colin, and the robotic Brother Anderson, she must somehow overcome their chaotic relationships if they are to have any chance of escaping the doomed ship.

Hannah stared at a small dark spot on the grey wall. Perhaps dark was not really the right word though. It was a bit dark-ish. But certainly not dark. Not dark like the dead space through which she sailed. Not dark like the blackness eating a hole in her soul. Hardly dark at all, really.

Hannah barely noticed anymore. She barely noticed the constant whine that pummeled her eardrums. She barely noticed the glaring red emergency lighting. She barely noticed the dozens of corpses surrounding her, coated in clear spray epoxy. More accurately, it should be said that she barely noticed the clear epoxy, body-shaped shells, nearly empty now, save for what appeared to be a few handfuls of dirt, and, judging by the slight bulges of the shells, some pressurized gases whose identity she could only speculate at, having never had any inkling to study the sciences. Probably carbon dioxide though, she surmised. Wasn’t that the fate of all things? Being gradually overtaken by carbon dioxide? But what did she know?

The passage of time was one thing though that had gone far beyond barely noticing. Hannah was acutely aware that she had, in fact, ceased to be capable of sensing time in any way. This was natural I suppose, given that days and years had been abandoned along with earth, and given that the computer systems were mostly non-functioning and her access had been denied long long ago, and given that anyone who ever gave a shit about what time it was was also long gone. There was, of course, the shit itself. And the piss. These had become the most reliable markers for time. But that was a very dubious level indeed. And besides, what did it matter anymore. Time was a meaningless vestige of the past. How ironic. A past with people and lives, and planets, and suns. A past with mothers singing sweet little homemade lullabies to their young daughters. “Little babe, blessed babe, there’s nothing to fear, so sleep my dear.” But there were, she knew now, many things to fear.

A Bite of… Ken Goudsward

Question 1: Facing your demons? How much of what you write could be classed as therapy?

Yes. Life is therapy. Life is also trauma. Hopefully, the life that comes after trauma can be informed by that trauma, and both can become healing. For me, poetry has been important in slowly learning how to allow myself to BE. Switching over to fiction in the last couple of years has allowed me more space to explore some of these same concepts, in a less explicit way, which I feel has been very important. Somehow, there is a certain power that can be accessed only indirectly. You can’t attack it head-on. It refuses to be grasped intellectually. In story and in character we have additional degrees of freedom to move within these conceptual frameworks. To explore without the demands of understanding. We don’t expect our characters to be perfect. Perhaps some of us expect ourselves to attain, or at least strive for, some unreal level of some perceived perfection. We are ridiculous. We have to teach ourselves to unlearn. By becoming our own characters, we may fragment our own internal conflicts into more pure representations of our own self parts. This can be healthy in that it allows one to face these parts realistically and respectfully, setting aside judgement of the non-perfection. Plus, it’s sci-fi, so we get to blow some shit up!

Question 2: Is it important to include all shades of belief and sexual orientation in a book?

It’s important to love each other and respect each person’s right to make their own choices and follow whatever cultural norms they choose to embrace. It’s important to learn to overcome our own assumptions and limitations. It’s important to learn to write from a wide variety of character perspectives. But is it actually possible to include literally all shades of belief and orientation, whether that be sexual, philosophical, political, religious, or whatever, into any book? Is it a good idea to try? It seems to me that would take a nearly infinite number of characters, causing the story to be unreadably convoluted. Aside from that, it would take an essentially omniscient author to understand and write from every possible perspective. As authors, we like to pretend we have an omniscient perspective, but no human ever has. Perhaps it is more important to concede that whatever we think we know is really a very limited and incomplete model of reality.

Question 3: What is worse, ignorance or stupidity?

We are all stupid in some regard. Nothing wrong with that. Well, maybe it’s annoying. We are also incredibly ignorant. We have to ignore so much just to survive. But we can also grow, by shrinking our own ignorance. The thing that is the worst, is the rut that people fall into of refusal to grow, refusal to reject ignorance. I guess that is true stupidity.

Ken is an author, poet, musician, programmer, ontographer and game designer. He loves windy days and rainy nights, and dreams of vast deserts, ruined spaceships, and bubbles with lines in between them. You can find him on Twitter.

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