Insomnium took me by surprise. In 2012, I decided once and for all to
write the novel series that had been rumbling around my mind since high
school, Voyage. I drafted out the five books in the series, got to
work on the first one, Embarkation, and by the end of 2013, it had
gone to publication. The second book in the series, Windbound, did not
go as smoothly. I had made the mistake of drawing perhaps too deeply on
a trauma of my own for the novel’s primary conflict.
Right around the time Embarkation was being published in its final
form, I set Windbound aside and decided to start writing something
new. That project became my second published novel, Insomnium.
In a sense, Insomnium is also a successor to Voyage Embarkation.
Although it is set a century before Kal’s journey, I used worlds he had
visited in its creation. That the thematic core of the novel is about
discovering self-knowledge, about learning to forgive oneself for past
faults, is also unsurprising, as Windbound set such concerns front and
center in my mind.
Another element of the novel that I remain proud of, is that it
represents the full potential of my imaginative energy unleashed. In
constructing its “dream world” of numerous apparent contradictions of
physical laws of the universe, I was responding to a form of critique
that even in 2014 had begun to severely grate on me.
To this day, I refuse to label my work as either “hard SF” or “soft SF.”
The term “soft” is used by certain individuals in a derogatory sense, no
matter how much others may try to redeem it. What I began to notice
about so-called “hard SF enthusiasts” was that they didn’t so much care
about “science” in and of itself, but rather, they had a very particular
ideas about what scientific developments would occur at what intervals
in the future, and anyone who suggested that technology was taking us on
a different path (e.g. complete ecological destruction) was deemed
“not intelligent enough” to have comprehended the “actual” way
technology would develop in the future.
After months of being beaten over the head with the hard SF dogma with
all the parts of Voyage Embarkation that were “wrong,” I decided with
Insomnium to craft a universe that was intentionally impossible. I
still enjoy the vivid imagery every time I return to it.
Zhivko Zhelev’s cover captures the novel’s oddity and is a unique,
striking addition to the 2020 line up. Those of you who already have the
ebook will find the updated cover on your Kindle shortly. The new
paperback edition should be live within the next twenty-four hours.