Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Theses that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

English

Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

January 2008

Month Degree Awarded

September

Keywords

fiction, science fiction, romance, theology

Abstract

This story began with a question and grew in the answering, as did I, until it became a story more interested in the quest and the asking of the question than in the resolution or answer. That is not to say that this novel does not have a fairly standard beginning, middle and end. Instead, the uniqueness, if there is such a thing, emerges in the content of these parts, in the genres I used, and in the consistent voice of the central character that continually returns to the question.

I wondered, (to use a phrase often times overused by Jenson, the main character in the most recent version of this story), why I was here. More precisely, I wondered what a person propelled by this question and the failure to find an answer, or at least an answer that provided any semblance of hope or self-confidence, would do when put into extraordinary circumstances. At what point would he abandon the question, or in this story, at what point would Jenson ultimately give up on his quest? Also, as a writer acutely aware that I write for a reader and not just for myself, I wondered at what point a reader would abandon a character like Jenson or a quest that didn’t have a clear end. These two themes—the questioning quest and the constant slipping away of answers—as well as my desire to create a character and world that were both familiar and yet epic in scale, forced me to write this story. What emerged has been a labor of love and obsession that shows the first person story of a character’s struggle to find his “belong’in place in the world.” This familiar motivation is overshadowed, though, by a more pressing goal—the first person account of a, possibly, unreliable narrator, failed parent and husband who must team up with his estranged wife to save his son. As Tolkien once said, “an author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence inadequate and ambiguous.” What I can say, though, with absolute certainty is that this latest version of the story is a result of maturity and constant curiosity. As I have grown older the central character in the story has changed from a teenage boy fighting ogres and saving damsels in distress to a middle-aged man with phobias and faults battling some of the everyday problems we all encounter—how to deal with fear and feelings of inadequacy and how to rekindle love or talk with a girl. Of course, he still has to battle a strange being from a different dimension and figure out how to fix a secret, illegal scientific experiment so that he can save his son, who has been put into a coma because he has volunteered for an experiment that sent him to a different dimension. But the science and mystery and extraordinary circumstances don’t, or at least don’t always, overshadow the heart of the story. This is a man on a quest to find answers that may not exist, and the questioning quest will, undoubtedly, take him to the next dimension where he will have to find his son, figure out how to come back home, and perhaps…battle God.

First Advisor

Sabina Murray

Second Advisor

Chris Bachelder

Share

COinS