This guest essay is part of the 10,000 Dawns Finale, which you can find all of and download at this link: http://www.jameswylder.com/home/10000-dawns-the-finale
by Tyler Lipa
Theoretically mankind is aware that a multiverse of possibility exist. Each decision that is made by us individually and by those around us creates an entirely new universe where any possible outcome could be selected. If you are reading this right now it is because the decisions that we made and were made for us has led us to this specific point in time. This is the world that has been created by James Wylder, the writer, and Annie Zhu, the illustrator, in the world of 10,000 Dawns. The main focus of this story is to illuminate what it means to transition from the person you were as a child to the adult version of yourself that must face the limitations of being human in a world that is constantly changing.
10,000 Dawns features the lives of seventeen year old Graelyn Scythes and cyborg Archimedes “Arch” von Ahnerabe as they stumble through the multiverses of their lives. Graelyn is a brilliant, mildly sociopathic, pansexual demiromantic, intern. Arch is a heavily armed, emotionally troubled, genderfluid cyborg. Through the help of Director John Aril of their universe they find themselves thrown into a time and a place where they exist, but in completely different fashions. Scythes and Arch must come to grips with who they are, and how they became this way in the first place.
Graelyn is a character who lives in the far future, but is representational of the modern world that the reader exists in. She is a perfect representation of the reader themselves. Graelyn wants to be different and thinks very highly of herself. For example. despite living in a future that offers a wide array of technological and surgical remedies for poor vision, she chooses to wear glasses. Graelyn thinks very highly of her biological self, and is representative of a “pure” human in a post-human environment. Her normality is what sets her apart from the world she exists in.
Arch is a character who is the exact opposite of Graelyn. Arch is an altered human being that was meant to transcend the trappings of normal humans such as Graelyn. He only has one eye, and his body is encased in armor plating. Arch also has complete control of the biochemical makeup of his body. Arch is the culmination of man and machine and is on one hand alien to the reader because of his modifications, but familiar in the fact that those who read science fiction are interested in attaining an ideal of human civilization.
Ideal is far from the reality that Graelyn and Arch exist in. The universe they inhabit is defined by corporate greed and cultural decline. The world governments have been replaced by a powerful corporate overlord known as Centro Systems. The only holdover from the present is the military. The time that Graelyn and Arch exist in is described as the end of a Golden Era. Humanity has once again begun to rest on its laurels in regards to discovery and knowledge. This is reflective of the current frustration that is felt by many young people with the state of politics and the economy. Debt and a growing service industry are failing to add fulfillment to the lives of 20 and 30 year olds who are learning what it means to be an active part of the economy. Instead of finding a sense of importance there only seems to be low paying jobs and endless financial instability.
Pondering what life could have been if other decisions had been made haunts people who are leaving a time when they were filled with youthful potential, and now must face the realistic life decisions. This is where Wylder’s concept of the multiverse is exactly what readers are searching for.This zeitgeist theory gives a hope that somewhere out there there is a version of us that has either made better decisions than us and are living a wonderful life, or there is a version of us living in much worse circumstances. Graelyn and arch are able to see this first hand. Graelyn is able to meet a version of herself that is extremely successful, but is one of the most hated women in the world. Arch finds that he is only an idea in another world, and a simple interaction between his creator and a business woman decided his entire existence. This is just one of an infinite number of possible universes that exist.
Graelyn is a troubling character because of her long list of flaws that stem from her character’s talents.. She is an amalgam of some of the worst character flaws of our time. She is burdened with the need to become an adult at a young age from an abusive mother which has imbued her with a false sense of maturity. Graelyn also has difficulty connecting with those around her, and in every universe that she visits she finds that even in the case of being an owl in one universe she is more interested in questioning others than thinking about herself. This lack of self awareness is excellent for her career growth, but makes it difficult to identify with her. She is always unique in every situation which can make her seem inhuman. Graelyn is crafted in the same mold as Ender in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. She is a very unique and intelligent character with a greater purpose than even she is aware of. Without her the future of mankind is uncertain, but it feels as if she is not part of the humanity that she hopes to save.
For example, when she meet an alien creature from the race know as the Pantheon she is able to deduce that the alien is communicating to her via mental electrical impulses. These aliens entrap humans and use them as slaves for a galactic empire. The alien comments that she is more astute than the average human which implies that she is in some way special or more advanced than the rest of humanity. This exceptionalism is a source of great contention for generations that have preceded the Millennial Generation. Characters like Graelyn as viewed from those outside of the target audience might be seen as pretentious and self absorbed rather than thoughtful and worldly. This does not mean that she is a poorly crafted character, but when viewed as a person that is not the reader she takes on a much different interpretation.
10,000 Dawns is a story of the world as it known today viewed through the lens of the far future. It captures the frustration and jadedness that can lead to apathy in the modern world. Graelyn and Arch are two characters who have an opportunity to see what is backstage to the world that they exist in. This view changes them and shows them that truth and meaning is dependent on the reality they inhabit. Unlike the readers who must find meaning from those around them Graelyn and Arch have the opportunity to discuss the darkest fears and uncertainties of being sentient with other versions of themselves. This concept of self discovery resonates strongly with the target audience because there are currently far less answers than questions. Despite the false confidence of youth there is a deep psychological need to find one’s place in the world and to feel accepted. 10,000 Dawns evokes these strong emotions, and Wylder does an excellent job in drawing the reader down and building them back up to believe that they, like Graelyn and Arch, can find a reason to exist in their own respective words.
Revolution, corruption, hope, and fear. These are the key ingredients that make 10,000 Dawns such a compelling story. Wylder has created a world that can be inhabited by the emotions and desires of those who read it. All great stories have one thing in common. The reader must discover something that lay hidden deep inside themselves. 10,000 Dawns accomplishes this by creating a world that is just an intensification of the world as the Millennial Generation perceives it today. Wylder has created a challenge to look at our own reality and accept that we are part of it. This is accomplished through the use of a character who represents some of the worst aspects of the Millennial Generation. Instead of embracing these flaws the world that Wylder creates questions these character flaws and seeks to remedy them through hope and humility. Readers will find that they are looking at a reflection of themselves as they journey with Graelyn and Arch on this epic of self discovery.
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.