Librarian Tools by S.A. Gibson contains eight short stories. All these stories are set after the collapse of modern technical society. Most of these stories are set in an alternate future about 100 years in the future, where people use horses, spinning wheels, bows and arrows. This future primitive fiction is set in a time that does not have technology advanced beyond use of wooden tools, equipment, and structures. Some are set in the Southwestern United States. Other stories are set in India, Egypt, and one in Korea. In this future world, librarians have access to information in old books. Librarians have seized much of the political power.
“Bow before his Royal Highness Myeongbo,” Lord Pak intoned. “King of Unified Korea and Defender of all people of Korea.” Giving a deep bow, Chizuko held the pose for beats before rising to her full height. Yet casting her eyes down at the base of the throne.
“Why have you entered the kingdom of Korea, as a spy?”
Such a dangerous designation. Feeling no fear should be the daily practice for any samurai, but here was a different situation. Out of her element, she forced her hands not to stray to check on her weapon. Chizuko vowed to think again when asked to mix working undercover and plying her tradecraft in foreign locales.
Answering in Korean, as Pak had, Chizuko offered a bow and began, “I traveled openly, from my Library, at the request for some historical research and consultation. Our kingdom was informed, by your envoys—”
“—You lie!” Pak cut her off. “You’ve dressed like a Korean royal servant. That is a crime you will be punished for. Do you deny it was only in our country that you learned of the recent deadly act that occurred last week?”
“My lord, I apologize for mistakenly taking local dress, it was but my own modesty—”
“Stop!” The King’s voice rang out for the first time. “Your Korean is atrocious. Speak in your own barbaric tongue. I am well educated in all things of the world, and can converse, even in Japanese.”
Giving another bow, Chizuko began again, lowering her tone, if that was what would placate this King. “Your royal majesty. I humbly ask forgiveness.” Her eyes strayed to the regally dressed lady beside him. Chizuko remembered the murder as described in the Imperial Library’s meeting room: the young girl attending the Queen, the only two, aside from the assassin, in the room, that fatal hour.
“My only goal aside from consultation, is perhaps to help; as a librarian—to understand what happened last week, and to report to my emperor. Such royal—demises—might be a precursor to war…”
Lord Pak again whispered into the king’s ear. But King Myeongbo thundered his words out, “If there is to be war. We do not fear that!”
“Your Highness.” Chizuko risked a look up to the king. Then a quick scan of the ranks of lords and ladies in the room. “One person here is not to be trusted.”
That lie got the reaction Chizuko’d hoped for. Pak revealed a startled expression before speaking again to the king. Chizuko stood awaiting a verdict. She’d done her best with that distraction. There seemed no flaw in her cover. Now it was no longer in her hands.
Pak pulled himself to his full height and addressed Chizuko directly. “What knowledge do you have, spy?”
That word again.
A bite of S.A. Gibson
Having created a fictional world for your novels, is there any moment in the process where you actually find your brain inhabiting that place?
Almost all my stories are set in the same world. A world of the future that has lost all advanced technology. I sometimes wish I could live in that world. It is ironic because I’m a computer nerd. I’ve done computer consulting and built computers as a hobbyist. I’ve made a decent living from writing computer software. But all my writing is marked by the absence of tech like that. Maybe, mentally I’m ready for a break and take vacations in my mind. Also, I perhaps idealize the romantic notion of a simpler world which allows me to visualize different solutions and challenges.
Have you ever written somebody you know into a book? A lover? A friend? An enemy?
I often write people I know into stories. It often begins by searching for a character name. Then after I steal the name of an acquaintance for a character, I find that character subtly changing to mirror the actual person I know. It starts out by accident, but then I embrace it. Another example was a cover model for some of my books. After using a photograph of the real friend, I started writing the character to reflect what I knew of that person. I try to inform people when I use their name. I especially think it’s important when I use their name for a villain. I assure them that the evil character is not at all how I think of them. No really!
Do you think your political beliefs inform your writing in any way?
I must confess that my beliefs creep into my writing. I sometimes resist it. But my beliefs are so strong, I can’t help myself. I love to write about action and violence. But, I strenuously object to the level of violence we humans seem prone to, presently and in history. I want people to live together in peace. Even though I think that might be too boring for readers. So I slip in references to methods and tools I hope people would use in my fictional stories to reduce violence and conflict. I believe listening is a powerful activity that can enable us to live together more peacefully. We should also try to mentally walk in the shoes of other folks to appreciate some of why they do the things they do, and why they might disagree with our opinions. So, in my writing, I do sometimes express my deepest, darkest, and sometimes lightest beliefs and wishes.
S.A. Gibson is a Ph.D. in the field of education and has studied communication and computer science. Gibson lives in Southern California, publishing articles and book chapters relating to computer science, artificial intelligence, mediated intelligence and human communication. To keep in touch you can use Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Bookbub, YouTube and Worpress.