I’ve been watching HBO’s new sci-fi show, Westworld, loosely based on a screenplay by Michael Crichton. I like Crichton, and even though he’s usually too left-brained for me, this series brings some surprising nuances. It’s like Jurassic Park…but with human robots called hosts. Have a look:
Westworld defines what constitutes humanity. This is extremely important, particularly when this election’s dialogues and fallout have proven capable of eliminating what makes us human. Thandie Newton, a star of Westworld, not only epitomizes this in an interview, her character in Westworld demonstrates the dangers of taking out the elements of humanity when she, as a host, is tired of being treated like a robot.
I love that Thandie Newton talks about empathy and compassion, because it epitomizes how writers can make a difference. All books and their stories reveal the colors of humanity in different ways. It’s probably why people who read literary fiction have been shown to have more empathy than those who don’t.
But I’d also argue that people who read in general tend to have more empathy too. And, as writers, going forward, it is up to us to show humanity in all its forms, especially when others insist on denying its nuances.
There are books I’m reading right now that are doing this. Here are some excerpts of a few that are taking words to unseen levels.
SNOWBIRDS by Crissa-Jean Chappell
Crissa-Jean Chappell’s book about a Mennonite girl searching for truth is filled with layers of description that breathe life into her story. Chappell is also known for her book NARC, which received critical acclaim.
“I can’t listen to Alice anymore. Her head is full of dreams. I’ve got big dreams too. I want to go to college and learn about the ocean. Swim with dolphins and sharks. Watch loggerhead turtles lay eggs under the full moon. The world is a living thing that changes and grows.”
A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir
This is the sequel to AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, which completely blew me away when I read it. Laia is trying to make sense of where she stands in a broken world, and Tahir’s descriptions are nothing short of breathtaking.
“She wears tattered clothing. Her hand is pressed to a leaking wound in her side. She has the fine features of a Scholar, but when I try to see her eyes, she drops her head, dark hair falling into her face. Poor thing. Tears mark a path down her dirt-streaked cheeks.”
WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore
I first fell in love with Anna-Marie McLemore’s words in her beautiful book, THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a magical realism story that put me in mind of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. Her new book is gorgeous in its illumination of both love and identity.
“They’d touched each other every day since they were small. She’d put her palm to his forehead when she thought he had a fever. He’d set tiny gold star stickers on her skin on summer days, and at night had peeled them off, leaving pale constellations on her sun-darkened body.”
Overall, try to find your humanity today, if you can. Lean toward what makes you thrive, even if other people are telling you not to.