Monday, March 17, 2003

Press release: Science Fiction Novel Relates to Real Life

Even while science fiction fans enjoy the latest Star Trek and Star Wars projects, some of them are looking for a work of science fiction that more closely reflects their internal discord over the realities of modern life on Earth.

Many websites have started adding information about just such a work: Duane Simolke’s novel, Degranon. While incorporating familiar scifi concepts like time travel and space travel, this fast-paced adventure also explores many of the issues that Simolke’s readers face.

The character Taldra, for example, struggles with the fact that she must conceal her ability to see in color on Valchondria, a planet where most people only see in black and white. She can’t understand why oppressive laws force her to hide her differences or lie about her true nature. Gays and people of color can easily relate to Taldra’s situation, especially in a novel where all the characters are people of color, and some of them are gay.

However, anyone can relate to the book’s multi-angled exploration of religious themes. While one extremist group (the Maintainers) oppresses religious expression and other forms of individuality, the invading extremist group (the Degrans) wants to oppress in the name of God. Worse yet, factions within the planet Degranon slaughter each other over differing scriptural interpretations. Still, two of the novel’s most likable and heroic characters are devout priests.

Simolke hopes that this novel, like his books The Acorn Stories and Holding Me Together: Essays and Poems, will spark important discussions about individuality, faith, violence, oppression, and understanding. However, he mostly hopes that readers will enjoy his work.

Simolke also wrote the critical study New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio; wrote the preface to Ronald L. Donaghe’s best-selling gay novel Lance; and edited and co-wrote a fund-raiser for cancer research (The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer). StoneWall Society honored Simolke with two 2002 Pride in the Arts Awards. He is now co-writing a fantasy novel, The Return of Innocence, with fan fiction author Toni Davis.