Ah. What a week! Apologies for being a little absent from the blogging. I had a three day short story Masterclass this week in Brisbane - part of the prize for the 2009 One Book Many Brisbanes short story competition. The Masterclass was excellent, and exhausting!
Everybody has had past lives of some sort. For example, I had a past life as a pizza cook, but unfortunately used to burn way too many garlic breads. At one time I was a Shift Chemist in a sugar mill (I could not get out of town fast enough). Then I had various stints of Engineering with quite a few years spent running a Speech Pathology practice in the middle.
But there is the other type of past life. The one that many believe predates the current one. It’s a completely fascinating idea. I mean so much of what we are – and the meaning we ascribe to our lives – comes out of the examination of our past. Writer’s particularly, being very comfortable in their own headspace, often pore obsessively over the relics and flotsam of their own experience.
The idea of a past life – a prior incarnation – means that we have this whole other resource there – a whole other lifetime (or lifetimes) of experiences to draw on to put our own existence into perspective, to give it meaning, or divine some sort of path to the future. In fiction it gives a whole other dimension to the plot and the characterization. I guess in theory if you had time travel and past lives as possibilities, the very same person (or at least their ‘soul’) could be the prime mover, adversary and bystander in the story at the same time. Now that’s pretty interesting.
It seems like such a rich resource for a speculative fiction setting, but I could not for the life of me remember one story that featured it.
What are some examples of past lives in speculative fiction that really caught your interest? Who has done it best? Were you really a grasshopper in your past life or were you Napoleon? Or Cleopatra?