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Why Not Earth? Thoughts about Earth Day.

It’s Earth Day. I don’t celebrate Earth Day. Earth is not mentioned in my books. Why the heck not?

Science Fiction author Bert-Oliver Boehmer muses about Earth Day.

Now, let me be clear: I don’t mind Earth Day and its related celebrations and activities at all!It’s a day that just doesn’t have a very special meaning for me. The funniest explanation I heard what Earth Day is comes from comedian Lewis Black who said “When I was in school […] we were doing a lot of drugs. So we came up with Earth Day so we’d have one day every year that would remind us what planet we were living on.” I was born in the Sixties, but too late for being part of hippie culture, so I missed out on any potential nostalgic connection to Earth Day.

But—Earth is my home. Why don’t I feel a deeper connection to its holiday, and why do I ignore it in my writing? Well, if one is looking for literature using Earth as its setting, that reader is well taken care of. Pretty much anything written that is non-science fiction is set on Earth. A large percentage of science fiction is also set on Earth, around Earth, featuring humans who were born on Earth or are at least acquainted with it as the cradle of their kind.

Creatively, I left Earth behind in my writing the same way a young adult might leave their childhood small town behind, venturing out to the big city, the far-away coast, the project in the rain forest. Driven by a strong “I gotta get out of this place”, go to other places, greener pastures, (perceived or real).

When I started drafting the concept for the Galacticide universe, I knew I wanted an enormous blank canvas, a setting with near-endless possibilities and very few restrictions, traditions, and a clean-slate history. Not empty, but for me to fill in the traditions and history, not having a pre-set framework to adhere to. If you write a crime thriller set in Seattle, you don’t have to world-built Seattle or explain what a police force does. If your Jedi Order is headquartered on Coruscant, you’ll have a lot more work to do to set the stage: What’s a Jedi? How is the order organized? What does a planet-sized city look like? It’s more work, but it’s also more creative freedom.

Science Fiction author Bert-Oliver Boehmer's novel do not use Earth as part of the setting. In this blog post he explains why.

That creative freedom I wanted to max out. Delete the known and take my characters, and the readers along with them, into the unknown. Using the Milky Way galaxy as the living space for a distant-future humanity was one of the few concessions (as in ‘this place actually exists’) and it made sense for the storyline, as our local group of galaxies turned out to contain dangers even a hyper-tech civilization could not deal with.

Earth is not mentioned in my books. My humans don’t know about their origins, even theorize they have independently evolved in several places and converged into their (familiar to us) human form. The Galacticide trilogy has only a single sentence mentioning a cultural connection to us humans here and today. I wanted to establish that the people in my books are human indeed, but that’s where the connection ends.

Why? Two reasons.

First: I wanted space for my ideas. My ‘stories & concepts’ folder bursts with wacky stuff and unless I join my fictional immortals of the Assembly, I won’t live long enough to write all my story drafts into novel format.

Second: While an exotic setting requires more world-building, it also allows for highlighting interesting aspects of the human condition—dealing with adversity, loyalty, connections we forge with others on our path through spacetime. Even in a few millennia, we will still be ape-descended life forms with digital watches, as Douglas Adams would call us. We will still be us. The absence of Earth in the narrative does not subtract from the humanity of the characters, it polishes and highlights it.

Back on Earth, I write this blog in my home, in my home city, on my home planet. For us pre-interstellar-travel humans, an entire planet might be too large to feel homey. It doesn’t feel like a singular place, more like the sum of all places we have ever truly known. But—Earth is my home. It’s yours, too.

Oh well then, Happy Earth Day, human!


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