When rumors of plague swept through the country, pregnant mothers were sent to the island of ghosts, left to give birth and die alone. Not all of their babies perished, however. Nusht, one of the forgotten survivors, discovers something on the beach that could break the pattern in which she believes the women and children are trapped. Meanwhile, on the mainland, Fairka awaits her fate at the hands of the Ninety-Nine Divines, ideals to which the country’s priests pay homage. Soon her life will be entwined with Nusht’s in ways neither of them could have imagined.
From the Author: About Fingerbones
Fingerbones is my plague novella. Plague is a catalyst. What the story is really about is the conflict between science and religion, or in this case, magic. In this story we meet Nusht and Fairka, two very different young women with two very different goals. One of them is dying. One of them discovers what it means to live. The official blurb reads like this:
I mapped out the world in which it takes place visually. That was a lot of fun and made me consider things I wouldn’t have otherwise. Here is the map. (Click for full size):
You can read about my adventures in world-building in this post here. In that post, I said “while it’s based on our world, it’s an alternative world” which in hindsight might be a little misleading. I did not create an alternate earth with an alternate earthling history. Neither did I want to rewrite the laws of physics and biology. People breathe oxygen. They live on a planet where familiar things grow, like trees and grasses and oranges. Gravity works the way we know it does. People don’t fly.
I did, however, imagine what it might be like if we, the people of earth, had developed different technologies. What if, instead of using fossil fuels or clear-cutting forests, we had put our efforts into finding ways to progress without destroying our planet? So while I took questions like this into consideration, this story does not take place on an alternate earth. This world is pure fantasy, and science fiction (with an emphasis on fiction).
The other thing I wanted to explore was the divide between people who adhere to science to the exclusion of things like faith, religion, and magic, and people who adhere to those things to the exclusion of science. What might happen when either of those two types of people are thrown into the middle ground — the ground where both, or none, might be true? What happens when science takes on the trappings of religion? What happens when the religion is science? Those are big questions, and I certainly can’t answer them in any way except through fiction, where there are no answers, only speculation.