The Marq'ssan Cycle

L. Timmel Duchamp writes about the Marq'ssan Cycle:

My political imagination in the early 1980s could fairly be said to have
been primed by feminist sf of the 1970s. But although representations of
feminist revolution and utopia excited me, after a time they began to
frustrate me, too. How, I wondered, could we get to "there"—i.e., a
desirable situation in which to live, boasting a viable, vibrant polity and
a minimum of hardship and suffering for the many rather than the few— from
"here," viz., our current political reality of plutocracy and a savagely
exploitative capitalism that ensures widespread misery, deprivation, and
constriction of people's lives? The question haunted me. Feminist sf
offered me a few stories about revolution, many stories about fairly good
places, and a lot of stories about really bad places. But like the bad
places, those good places existed chiefly to offer us a lesson in what was
wrong with our world, combined, maybe, with a little indulgence in
wish-fulfillment. And images of revolution tended to skip the long hard
process of collective change that sustained creation of a different world
must in reality entail. History, after all, has repeatedly shown that
neither regime-change nor even form-of-government change alone will remake
the world.

I wanted a more direct, explicit vision of how it might be possible to
change human thinking as well as social and political interactions; I
needed to believe that a world in which the thriving of human life in every
case supersedes the profit motive is theoretically not only possible but
also achievable—without having first to start from a post-holocaust
slate wiped clean of recent human history. I decided that I would begin
from a dystopian baseline to keep my experiment from becoming an easy
fantasy of wish-fulfillment (and also because three and a half years of the
Reagan Administration had made me pessimistic about future life in the
US). And so in October 1984, I sat down and began writing the Marq'ssan
Cycle, a series of five novels totaling roughly one million words: first
Alanya to Alanya (October—November 1984); then Renegade
(December 1984—April 1985);
Tsunami (June—September 1985); Blood in the Fruit (October
1985—February 1986); and finally Stretto (March—July 1986).

During the composition of the third and fourth books (Tsunami and
Blood in the Fruit), I worried that the difficulties of imagining
the creation of lasting, desirable change might be insuperable. Still, I
had noticed early on that each book in succession had radically altered my
understanding the previous books. In the course of writing
the final book, Stretto, forced to stop and reflect at length on this
pattern of continual re-visioning, I grasped that I simply hadn't realized
that the desired change was a process already at work in the series, one
that could only become visible through this other process of constant
re-visioning. When I finally finished writing the fifth book, I found that
my first reader, Kathryn Wilham, had independently come to understand this,
too. She told me that she could see where, if I had decided to write a
sixth book, it would have had to go. The series, she said, is finished. You
can trust that any reader who has been able to read through to the end will
have "gotten" it. In other words, the experiment did not only require that
I, the author, envision and depict the process of change, but it also
required that the series' readers' very activity of constantly revising
their understanding of what had gone before be the vehicle for their being
able to imagine and comprehend the process themselves.

    —from the Afterword to Alanya to Alanya

(read more at aqueductpress.com)
Publication Date: 
2008