Admittedly, as a citizen of the UK, I don’t know much about why 4th July (July 4th?) is celebrated so much in the United States.
The limit of my knowledge comes, as it does with many things in life, from watching the movie of the events that took place. I’m lazy that way. Why read the book when Hollywood has made a movie? I have to admit, the events took me by surprise. I’m not sure how I missed such a huge event as an alien invasion… But then, I have to admit, I tend to sleep a lot and don’t really keep tabs on the news.
Still, who knew that the Fresh Prince and BrundleFly would team up to save us all? Kudos to them!
Look at them. *sigh*
Anyway, for this week’s blog, I thought I’d do a bit more research on that fateful few days of American history.
Well, I can tell you with confidence that my mind was well and truly blown. The movie bears no resemblance to what it is actually all about.
According to the experts (okay, I skim-read Wikipedia), the actual holiday is celebrated for a very different reason. One that has nothing to do with extra-terrestrials. In fact, it was all about the American Revolution (not a theme park ride, disappointingly) and the legal separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain in 1776.
They set out into the stars and formed the new colonies and a colonial fleet, but it all went wrong when the Cylons rebelled and…
…I may have gotten a little confused with Battlestar Galactica at that point.
Anyway, the legal separation actually occurred on 2nd July, but apparently Congress were busy debating and revising the words of the Declaration for two days before finally approving it on 4th July. Was this truly what they were doing?
Or were they all really having a big celebratory piss up and then sleeping off the inevitable hang over?
Either way, doesn’t matter. It was the 4th July that became the day of celebration…and the fact that the aliens chose that day to invade can’t be a coincidence. I mean, they KNEW that the US would be distracted with fireworks, BBQs, parades, carnivals, family dinners, and the whole shebang. What better time to stage an invasion?
We were just really, really lucky that Dr. Malcolm and Agent J weren’t asleep on the job. Phew!
I’m fairly sure that the Neuralizer effect is why not many of us remember what happened that day…
Anyway, I digress.
Fortunately, even though fiery mayhem reigned down on the cities of the US (kudos on rebuilding all those monuments and buildings so quickly, by the way!) the Declaration of Independence was safe and sound. It is an important and irreplaceable document, not just because there’s a treasure map on the back…
…but also because it gives us this fantastic gem of wisdom that seems to have a resonance in today’s troubled times:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
Allow me to get serious for a moment…and dare I say it, a little teensy bit political.
I love Science Fiction.
I want our world to be a better, more enlightened place to live in, and I fervently believe that in the future it will be. I’m a realist, and I realize that society has rules that we all have to live by. WE have economies that we need to keep ticking over, so that means jobs and paying taxes and all the trimmings that come with a modern civilisation.
But none of that means that we can’t pursue that statement pulled from the Declaration, and it doesn’t mean that we can’t be supportive of those that do.
All people ARE created equal.
I hold that to be a self-evident truth.
The current pandemic has taught us that much. While highly paid sports stars and movie stars have been sitting on their asses in their fancy pads, the people that kept our world ticking over were those key workers. The ones providing the services our society needs to function day to day.
The virus doesn’t discriminate between race or identified gender, either.
Now, I’m also emphatically not a religious person, so the whole ‘creator’ bit in the Declaration statement doesn’t work for me, but I do agree that we all have ‘certain unalienable Rights’.
That we all should pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness.
So this is where I link back to my writing, because this is what I’m trying to do.
I don’t live in America, but I’m doing what I can to pursue my happiness through my writing.
It took me a while to find out what made me happy, but now that I have, I’m committed to it. I love writing and, if at all possible, I would love to make it the route to my being able to make a living on my own terms. Whether I succeed at that or not…who knows? But I’m going to try.
It’s also important to me that my books reflect this ethos.
The ‘Ballad of the Songbird’ saga will be a globetrotting affair.
Book 1 – ‘Hunters’ starts small, but the scope will spread over the seven planned books.
It’s important to me that the characters in the book have their own voices, regardless of gender, colour or race. Anyone in the book can be a hero or a villain. Having a relationship doesn’t define the character, nor does their sexuality. I have always approached the writing of my characters from the point of view of what they would do regardless of those things.
I plan to tackle all kinds of characters in the book, from all over the world. There will be characters of different races, different cultural backgrounds and even different species! (I mean I am throwing Vampires, Werewolves and a host of other myths and legends into the mix!) The books will move from the UK and the US, to Europe, Russia, Japan, China, South America…all over the place! And you’ll find characters that identify as different genders and have different sexual preferences.
It’s why the logo for the saga has the rainbow beneath it.
I don’t personally identify as LBGTQ, but I wholeheartedly support it
Take Allyson Knightley.
She is a gay woman, but that is not what defines her in the book. It just happens to be what she is. She has a job as a Security Chief, which she’s good at, and is a sister and a daughter.
More than anything, she’s a strong independent woman.
I feel it is really important to try and represent where I think society will be in the future.
Some of this is to do with my personal feelings…
Okay, it is heavily influenced by my personal feelings.
The Songbird saga is set in the year 2045, but it is a future influenced by a twist in the timeline in 2016. Back then I truly thought the world was on the cusp of something wonderful. We seemed to be heading into a more enlightened period, where gender equality and racism would soon be things of the past.
Then it seemed like the world started to backslide into intolerance again.
I hated it.
I’m not going to wander into the heavily political here. We can all see how the world is shifting at the moment. You’d have to be blind not to see the tidal wave of change sweeping across the globe. It saddens me that such tragedy had to happen to motivate such a change rather than us being able to get there without the bloodshed and tears…
But maybe that’s how big, systematic societal changes happen.
Maybe it does require something huge to trigger a change on this scale.
Songbird has such a catastrophic event. In the book they call it ‘The Rising’ and it changed EVERYTHING.
There’s a section in ‘Hunters’ which I’m going to copy in below. I wrote it a few years ago, but in hindsight it explains what I’m trying to say. Enjoy the sneak peek…
Sadness tinged his voice. Ally often forgot that her father remembered a time before the age of gods and monsters.
“Do you miss it?” she asked softly. “The before.”
He took a moment to collect his thoughts on the matter before looking at her with a twinkle in his eye.
“It was, in some respects, a simpler time. But also, one very much complicated by politics.”
“More complex than all this?” Ally gestured around the room.
Her father chuckled lightly.
“Oh, heavens, yes. Many more countries all with their own interests. Terrorism and petty wars over religion and territory. Governments came and went, changing policies and unpicking each other’s work. There were constant struggles with things we take for granted today. Climate change, gender equality…as a gay woman, you’d have found the world back then a very different – more difficult – place. We’d seemingly swing from walking a path of cultural enlightenment to regressing to the Dark Ages every few years.
“Yet, for all the horror the world saw almost thirty years ago, for all the death and destruction…we came out of it all in an oddly better place.”
“Really?” Ally felt a little taken aback at her father’s admission.
“Humanity is more united now,” he looked at Serlia and smiled. “The Fae united us as faction states rather than individual countries. While politics will always be politics, the ground we stand on doesn’t tend to shift as much these days.”
For her father, the term ‘united’ in reference to the Fae had a more personal emphasis. After all, he married a Fae with whom he had three daughters.
“I’ve never been a great believer in the Gaia philosophy, but it does seem like the planet is healing itself,” he continued thoughtfully. “The regrettable culling of humanity is allowing mother nature to repair the damage that we did. Scientists say that the environment has never been healthier, the ozone layer is well on its way to recovery and…”
Ally grinned in amusement. Her father the diplomat, she knew well. Her father the philosopher was something new. He suddenly noticed her expression.
“I’m so sorry. I was rambling, wasn’t I?”
Allyson shrugged, “No, it’s nice…”
Which brings us back full circle to the theme of Independence Day.
In 1776, the United States threw out the United Kingdom and started anew. A country that was to be defined by the ability to allow choices to their citizens.
Citizens who were all to be Equal.
To be equally capable to pursue Liberty.
To live their lives the way they saw fit.
Back then, it was a restricted world view, but the sentiment is correct. The word ‘Man‘ in that statement should be changed to ‘People‘. And I’d probably strikethrough the ‘Creator’ bit, to make sure it applies to all people’s belief structures…
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
There? Is that a little better now?
In today’s climate, these things are more true than they’ve perhaps EVER been before. I hope that 2020 goes down as being one of those years where, despite the trauma and the tragedy that we’ve been through collectively, we all emerge out of the other side as a better society.
I am ever the optimist. ?
So, to everyone out there… Happy Independence Day.
Love and Books