Dreams of the Dark Sky (The Legacy of the Heavens #2)
by Tina LeCount Myers
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Release Date: February 5th 2019
Growing old ain’t easy. At least that’s what my grandmother always said. As a kid, I wasn’t really sure what she meant. I’d always thought my birthdays were easy enough. There was a cake, candles, and presents. I couldn’t wait for my next birthday.
Now, as an adult, I get it. To live a long life takes work. And not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well.
When I started writing The Legacy of the Heavens series, I wanted to write about the evolutionary possibility of elves, without ever using the word elf. Instead, I chose to call them Jápmemeahttun (pronounced YAP-meh-meh-ah-toon), the Northern Saami word for immortal. But these folks I’m writing about aren’t really immortal, they’ve just evolved to have a much longer lifespan than humans in their world. Instead of living 50-60 seasons of snow like the humans, my elves can live hundreds of years.
What interested me in examining this kind of longevity were the possible challenges and advantages of living this long. I began by imagining what living to be 200 years old might feel like. Of course, I heard my grandmother’s complaint about how hard it was to get older. It’s one thing to be young forever (a whole other topic) but what happens when the physical body is in decline over a much longer period of time? Does it become less significant because of the duration? Meaning you’d just get used to the decline or forget what it was like to ever be young? Or would it be that much harder? I wondered about boredom. Toward the end of her life, my grandmother’s days varied little. Days were marked by what television show she’d be watching.
But I also wondered about the advantages of a really long life: The possibility to take things slowly, instead of feeling rushed. The potential to live a variety of experiences, because maybe you wanted to be a warrior and a healer, but maybe not all at once. I took this concept of diverse experiences and purposefully expanded upon it by having my elves live as both biological sexes in their lifetime. My elves are born female. They spend the first third to half of their lives as female. Then they give birth and become male. This order was determined in part by looking at existing fertility models, where men, in general, have a longer reproductive window than women. But I was also curious to see how the opportunity to experience both genders in one life might affect the individual’s and the group’s outlook. Could we be—as Tolkien had imagined elves—wiser, more insightful, less prone to seek conflict, and more altruistic? It remains to be seen.
As humans get closer to the type of longevity that our forebearers might consider immortality, it’s important that we imagine and discuss both sides of the potential. A longer life may be both a blessing and a curse. After exploring the concept of immortality for my elf characters in the Legacy of the Heavens series, I’m left with the belief that my grandmother, as usual, had it right. Growing old ain’t easy.
Tina LeCount Myers is a writer, artist, independent historian, and surfer. Born in Mexico to expat-bohemian parents, she grew up on Southern California tennis courts with a prophecy hanging over her head; her parents hoped she’d one day be an author. The Song of All is her debut novel. To find out more visit www.tinalecountmyers.com