Sunday, November 1, 2015
Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs - a poignant society allegory
A new time. A new planet. A new world. New technologies. Two new humanoid species. A new war. The two species separate, but in the removal, some of the best are left behind among the worst. Captured and held as slaves, they are treated cruelly for entertainment. Torture. Pain. Annabel, endures a year of such cruelty, kept alive only by way of syringes which, while healing, cause a greater agony. She discovers a secret held by their leader, and decides to help her own kind by escaping–even if it means a final death, preferable to the life she has endured. Her escape succeeds, and she joins her own kind at the other end of the planet. Among her new friends she meets many who help her adjust to their happier life. Will Annabel find romance? Or will another war break her down?
Black Wings is a poignant allegory of societal evolution. There have been so many attempts to "purify" humanity, to purge it of corruption, to dramatically reform various religious and political structures. And the result is usually far from encouraging - very often we go from Bad to Worse. Basically, every time you try to start anew, you end up making the same mistakes. The scientific premise behind Black Wings is fairly straightforward. Our planet is dying (a distinct possibility) and a group of scientist is trying to jump start a new civilization on another planet. The same corruption takes hold of the new home. Very quickly, the new residents revert to the old ways. A schism occurs, giving rise to two races - Varkins and Anlights. It's not hard to figure out from the sound of the names who are the bad guys. Within each race, there is a hierarchy. Equality and peace are against human nature. Both races in Black Wings are humanoid, so their collective psyche and morality have human roots. And whenever you have two races, you are bound to encounter cross-racial relationships. This novel is universal, because the premise applies to any ethnic, religious or political conflict.
The narration style itself is very straightforward and clean "once upon a time", without any pretentious tools. When you are dealing with universal ideas, allegories and alternative universes, it's important to keep the narration clean.
One of the interesting and impressive things about this novel is the fact that the author is not a native English speaker. I think it adds a charming, exotic touch to her diction, perfectly appropriate for the genre. The author is clearly very in tune with the forces that rule the universe, with collective fears and ambitions that human beings experience. She makes astute observations and draws allegoric parallels.
All in all, I'd like to see it adapted as a graphic novel. I would love to see the creatures that the author crafted so meticulously depicted by a graphic artist.