Riding the Wave
Exploring the origins of the "Tide of Shadows"
by Aidan Moher
Tide of Shadows and Other Stories, is enough to tell you that "Tide of Shadows" is the keystone for the entire book. Each story I write is dear to me for one reason or another, and I could have been convinced to name the collection after any of its tales, but "Tide of Shadows," a punchy military science fiction story about a group of genocide survivors travelling halfway across a galaxy for vengeance, was the immediate and obvious choice. Why? It was one of the most challenging writing exercises I've faced, and, as a result, is my favourite short story I've ever written.
"Tide of Shadows" was inspired by a short fiction collection edited by Jaym Gates and my friend Andrew Liptak called War Stories—as you can imagine, it's a collection military science fiction tales. I wanted to take that theme and run with it, but there was a major catch: I didn't read, or write, much military science fiction. If writing a story's a journey, I treat this predicament as one of two scenarios: 1) a washed out bridge, or 2) a detour through the backcountry. One would stop be in my tracks, the other was an adventure.
I don't have a lot of knowledge of military organizations/culture, and not much interest in writing about modern military combat scenarios, so I decided to approach the idea of military science fiction from an angle that fit me better as a writer. "Tide of Shadows" is about a soldier, Sligh, on board the Spirit of a Sudden Wind, an interstellar space vessel on a years-long journey returning to the lost world of Uwe’hhieyth, stolen from them during the Tide of Shadows. It's about Sligh's relationship with his fellow soldier, and the emotions that change people when they're thrust into a hopeless situation. It's about his mother, a hero to his people.
What are soldiers thinking about on their long journey to the front lines? What motivates people to militarize and act out violently against an external threat? How do you find comfort when you know you’re being dropped into a combat situation that will most likely be your last? These are all questions I asked my characters as I wrote “Tide of Shadows.”
All I learned, though, is that there are no definitive answers. If a thousand people are fighting, there are a thousand different reasons why. Sligh, Tsetse, Rummage, and all the other people of Uwe’hhieyth have their own reasons, and even now, some of those reasons remain mysterious to me.
I hope readers will ponder those same questions, will—in the brief moments of Sligh's life exposed in the story—come to understand some of the things that drive him towards his home planet, and how those differ from the other men and women aboard the Spirit of a Sudden Wind.
You can read "Tide of Shadows" for free, and Tide of Shadows and Other Stories is available on Amazon for $2.99. You can find me at A Dribble of Ink or on Twitter (@adribbleofink).
About the Author
Aidan Moher is the Hugo Award-winning editor of A Dribble of Ink, a blog about science fiction and fantasy. He lives on an island in British Columbia with his wife and daughter.
About the Book
“A Night for Spirits and Snowflakes” is the story of a young man reliving the last moments of his fellow soldiers’ lives; “The Girl with Wings of Iron and Down” tells the tale of a broken family and a girl with mechanical wings; “Of Parnassus and Princes, Damsels and Dragons” introduces a typical prince, princess, and dragon—and a not-so-typical love triangle; “The Colour of the Sky on the Day the World Ended” follows a girl and her ghost dog as they search for a bright light in the darkness; and “Tide of Shadows” is about a soldier and his lover, a mother, and planetwide genocide.
The cover illustration is by Kuldar Leement. Design and layout is by Aidan Moher.
Be sure to check back this afternoon for my review!