Friday, December 30, 2022

Julie E. Czerneda's "To Each This World"

Having written twenty-three novels (and counting) published by her beloved DAW Books and Hugo-winning editor Sheila E. Gilbert, as well as numerous short stories, and editing several anthologies over the past 25 years, Julie E. Czerneda was inducted in the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2022. Czerneda’s works combine her training and love of biology with a boundless curiosity and optimism. The recently released Imaginings is her first short story collection.

Here Czerneda dreamcasts an adaptation of her new standalone science fiction novel, To Each This World:
To Each This World is a story I approached from the start with film in mind. Not in the sense of “here’s my book, it’d make a great movie” (Though that would be lovely and if you think so please contact my agent.), but by paying attention to what I enjoyed on film and television. The grit and reality of in The Expanse. The pacing and heart of Free Guy. The intensity of I am Mother.

Of course, thinking that way got me in trouble because I decided to start writing in the midst of a giant action scene with a crash landing in a dangerous alien jungle, and—it wasn’t me. I like to set up the world and characters before things get big and boom. Show where they came from before they go places. That beginning is now a chapter near the end, to show you how skewed blockbuster thinking got me. Phew! (Though if a movie maker likes that beginning I’d understand.)

Each is a big concept, far future, what if we reconnected with long-lost settlements on other worlds story, with a race against time to save everyone from a mysterious alien threat—or close neighbour, misunderstanding being another theme. Because the canvas is huge and sweeping, in time and space, I chose to tell it through three intimate viewpoints: Killian, the Human pilot of the alien Portal; Beth, a Human explorer on one of those lost settled worlds; and Henry, New Earth’s Arbiter and person in charge, who travels with the aliens and Killian to save everyone—if he can.

Casting those three? I came up with suggestions for Paul Semel’s interview earlier this year and can’t say I’ve changed my mind. For Killian: Gina Torres, who played Zoë in Firefly. Bold, capable, complex. Her physicality. For Henry: Robert Aramayo. His Elrond (Rings of Power) is a negotiator and I’m enjoying his deft little touches in every scene. Jodie Foster as Beth: She clearly can do anything, but I especially love the roles where she’s incredibly tough, and smart, while showing wonder and curiosity—and that’s Beth.

But…I do have a confession to make and it’s the first time I’ve told anyone but my partner Roger this, although Henry wearing a suit and sandals is me giving a deliberate clue.

Before writing Each, I rewatched The Mentalist. Simon Baker played Patrick Jane, a character I realized had a great deal in common with Henry. Not the tragic past—Henry didn’t go through anything worse than arguing with politicians on occasion—but Jane’s cleverness and creativity. His ability to manipulate situations based on his understanding of people. The anguish Baker portrayed powerfully when he had no good choices. Those helped me refine Henry.

Would I cast Simon Baker in my movie? It may surprise you, but no. I’m afraid that would blur Henry into Jane and they aren’t the same character. It does make me happy to finally reveal one of my sources of inspiration. My thanks to the actor and the show’s writers for seasons of enjoyment. You just never know who’s watching, do you?
Visit Julie E. Czerneda's website.

Q&A with Julie E. Czerneda.

The Page 69 Test: To Each This World.

--Marshal Zeringue