Though the EMPATHY series ultimately revolves around its namesake technology, science fiction is but one genre beneath the broader umbrella category of speculative fiction, a sort of catch-all explained well by literary agents Laura Zats and Erik Hane in this episode of the Print Run Podcast.
Given that this particular series takes place on a relatively near future, alternate timeline in which the United States, Canada, and Mexico have come together to form the North American Union, there are a great deal of social, political, and financial avenues to explore in this speculative world, including the intersections of the aforementioned and beyond.
One of the topics it felt most prudent to address in the series was that of journalism, not only to examine the pivotal role it plays in society, but also what happens when journalists find themselves between the rock that is entrenched corporate or government interests and the hard place that is the truth.
One need look no further than the news itself to read that journalists and journalism are under threat around the globe. This is alarming, of course, as any reasonable person would agree that a threat to those who seek the truth is a threat to the truth itself. And what of those who want the truth buried, concealed, erased? What threat might the truth pose to them that they would go to such lengths to see it quashed?
Needless to say, EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn and its sequels are far from the first to count the relationship between journalism and the truth among their themes. In David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, the journalist Luisa Rey finds herself in mortal peril after she uncovers a major cover-up of the dangers posed by an all-too-powerful energy conglomerate, and HBO’s The Newsroom is a show entirely centered around, well, a newsroom. Then of course there’s Ann Dayleview’s Ashes, an urban fantasy manuscript that was recently taken on by Charley Visco at Standing Stones Literary Agency. This manuscript, too, critically examines highly relevant topics in journalism today.
With so much attention already being paid to these matters, is more really necessary? Why add another drum to the unrelenting drumline of percussionists so interested in the truth? Because the truth is more important now than ever, and that drumline will need to be as persistent as it’s ever been if the truth is to prevail.
It’s for this reason and so many others that I included the character of Meredith Maxwell in EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn. Through Meredith, readers explore the complicated relationship between the truth and journalistic integrity, particularly when maintaining one’s integrity poses a threat to one’s very existence. Along the way, she has to confront both an editor who long ago sacrificed her own integrity to keep their paper afloat, and government types whose own quest for the truth could lead to widespread ruin were Meredith to discover it for them.
Over the course of the series, Meredith is far from the only character who must grapple with these and similar themes, but she’s our first portal into the importance of them in the world of EMPATHY, and, in turn, our own as well.
To know how Meredith’s struggle plays out, you’ll have to wait until January 2019. Until then, you can keep your eyes on this blog, my Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as my newsletter. There’s sure to be plenty more to come.
Thanks for reading.