Destroyer of Light author Jennifer Marie Brissett on Myth and Science Fiction
Science fiction has a rich tradition of mixing mythology and speculation, creating whole new worlds and planets based on stories passed down through time with aspects shared between different cultures. Author Jennifer Marie Brissett is the latest author to follow in these footsteps as her novel Destroyer of Light chronicles the Greek myth of Hades’ kidnapping of Persephone – but places years in the future on a whole new world and splits into three multiple perspectives.
The story takes place on the planet Eleusis, where the human refugees who had to flee Earth when aliens known as krestge invaded and destroyed the planet, must now live alongside the aliens responsible for their plight. The krestge has followed the remnants of mankind with the promise of peace, and while some humans have accepted this sort of truce, others view them with suspicion. It depends in part on the sector of Eleusis where a person lives, because half of the planet remains stuck in perpetual day and the other half in perpetual night. There are habitable areas between day and night – aptly named Dawn and Dusk – where humans and krestge peacefully coexist.
The first of the book’s three storylines follows that of a woman named Deidra as she searches for her daughter Cora, who was taken by the rebel army of warlord Dr Aidoneus Okoni due to her special gift. Readers familiar with the original myth might recognize them as versions of Demeter, his daughter Persephone, and Hades himself. Brissett tells SYFY WIRE that she was drawn to the mother-daughter relationship in the myth, but the inspiration really struck when she realized that Octavia’s Butler’s Parable of the Sower was a retelling of the same myth.
âI started to notice that parts of this myth sounded oddly familiar to me and I couldn’t really situate where I could know the complexity of the myth,â says Brissett. âIt was such an inspiration to read this work and see that underneath it all lay this myth. [And that made me think,] âMaybe I can do something like that too, but my way. I have a story to tell. ‘ It just started to really work and adapt.
Cora’s story continues in another story, in which she is now called Stefonie and (unfortunately) married to Okoni. However, when she is finally released, she finally has the choice of deciding her own future: either to carry out Okoni’s plan or to return to her mother and her old life. But unlike other accounts in the myth that might romanticize the relationship between Persephone and Hades, Brissett wanted to be clear that what is happening to Cora, and other young girls like her in Okoni’s army, is a sexual assault.
“Part of the danger of this particular story is that people idealize what is essentially the rape story,” says Brissett, who made sure to include trigger warnings for the book because there are so many depictions. graphics of sexual assault throughout the novel. âI really wanted to do my best to make sure it wasn’t romantic and that there was little confusion. When Cora is growing up and she’s with Okoni, she’s a little confused. She thinks that. she’s in love. But is she? If she had a choice, would she choose this relationship? I wanted a lot of gray in that sense.
As part of her research for this part of Cora’s story in Destroyer of Light, Brissett researched the experiences of child soldiers, especially women, and what she found only agrees. more with his take on this particular myth. the world. Children are drawn into these really brutal wars and forced to do things. What happens to them next? How do they come out on the other side? said Brissett. âThis is what attracted me to the story of Persephone. At the end of the poem, everyone is afraid of her. This is what happens to these children, because some people are afraid.
As brutal as some of the events in Cora’s life may be, Brissett has also been careful to make her story that of a survivor, though that in itself presents challenges. âBeing a survivor is a very lonely place, not being able to really express all the things that have happened to you, because you want to survive in this world. But people are afraid of you when they hear these stories and that’s the hard part of life, âBrissett explains of his approach to Cora’s script. “The story of Persephone is a story that unfortunately many women go through, of having been abused in their childhood, and somehow integrating it into our lives and getting out of it. on the other hand, hopefully stronger and more powerful for that. “
While Destroyer of the Light isn’t a straightforward and easy read, some of the most promising moments come from the third and final storyline, which follows genetically engineered (and psychic) ââtwin detectives Jown and Pietyr as they investigate the abduction of a child. human and krestge parents, who are not entirely outspoken. While the characters themselves come from an earlier work by Brissett, they still fit into the larger myth, in a way that sums up the author’s approach perfectly. âAs I was working on the book, I said, ‘You know, wouldn’t it be interesting to make the Eleusinian mysteries a real mystery? “, Said Brissett, referring to the secret rites connected with the myth of Demeter and Persephone, in particular, the separation and eventual reunion of mother and daughter. “Well, if you’ve got a ‘mystery’ you need inspectors. “
Brissett isn’t shy about difficult subjects as she weaves the storylines into the center of the novel, overlapping and impacting them in various ways. While racism may not exist in the traditional sense – most people on the planet are brown in skin – there are still systems of inequity that people try to navigate. Like people with colored eyes (a sign that they have powers, which makes them fearful), trying to camouflage them so that they can “pass” among the rest of the population. For Brissett, this is where the power of genre storytelling, be it sci-fi or fantasy, lies: the ability to provide readers with something that is both familiar enough that they recognize it, and stranger enough that they know it’s not real.
âSome actually very dark things that happen in The Lord of the Rings! But you’re able to absorb them because of that kind of alien connection. It’s far from you, but it’s [also] here, she said. âThe PTSD in The Lord of the Rings is real. These guys are really damaged at the end of this story. But you can accept it because of these cute little guys and this little comfort zone it creates. Hobbiton is like a comfort zone.
Myths and tales serve a similar purpose, according to Brissett, who sees them more as landmarks or a map of how the world works.
âThese are old stories that are repeated over and over again, even in the past when they were never really new,â she says. âBut they are not even Western in themselves. Similar things happened in the Mahabharata this also happened in Homer’s stories. There was a cross connection between East and West and everyone kind of told fragments of the same story in different ways. So we are all connected and these myths are underneath. That’s why we keep updating them. Because the little details may be different, but the underlying stories have a truth that we all somehow recognize. Maybe that’s why we are drawn to them. “
The Light Destroyer is available for Order now.