Author's Commentary: "Darkness"
I wasn’t familiar with the “Dark Forest” theory as a formal idea, so I had to look it up. I’ll be relying on Isaac’s video for more in-depth analysis after I publish this story. The Dark Forest is an interesting way of conceptualizing a galaxy of competitive societies in a neat image. The theory itself is really every scary alien movie, though. Mysterious unknown creatures in the black of space, probably more technologically advanced than us, and we probably don’t want to meet them, so keep quiet.
*Update: So after watching Isaac's Dark Forest video (linked above), I clearly had a lot to learn 😊, not least of which is that this is a formal academic discussion (as well as a sci-fi novel) of the Fermi Paradox. Math and Physics geek, I am not, so I don't have much of a take on that aspect of it. I guess I'm left with the question of whether it would benefit a real civilization (not talking fiction here) to keep quiet if they discovered another civilization, like my character does. Maybe the motivation isn't to not be killed but to be part of a tacit understanding--we'll do us, you do you? *
My take goes back to the “Failsafe” stories. Humans, far in the future, living under the control of their AI offspring in comfortable ignorance of the goings-on in what they believe to be a quiet galaxy. My character this week (and his dog) are out exploring and find themselves in a dark forest. I though it would be fitting to have a dog out there in the forest with my hunter, because that’s how we humans roll.
Depending on the topic, the story, and the week, I find myself adhering to the theme some weeks much more than others. This week, I tried to stay real close. Initially, I’d thought of a two-person crew so they could argue about which course to take, and narratively speaking, that would add conflict/tension and build a pathway for a more complete arc if they come to a resolution about the shared experience of spotting aliens for the first time. Ultimately, I decided against it for practical reasons related to the theme. If humans do send out recon flights, would they really send teams instead of individual pilots? That seemed unlikely to my mind. In their storyworld, just getting one pilot seemed tough enough, doubling them up seemed a waste of resources. But, you need help staying sane in space, and I didn’t even think of our best friends when I wrote a story on that topic a few months back: “The Numbers Between 9 & 8.” So the main suspense cues here are danger, mystery, and possibly death, and I tried to channel the vibe of a Cold War submarine story, which, it sort of is.
Thanks for reading and listening!