I recently came across M.P. “Matt” Gunderson’s new science fiction novel The Ajnir, which is scheduled to be released in August 2012 by Turning Stone Press. Although I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, I thought it looked interesting and was curious about what inspired the story. So, I asked, and Matt responded with the following answer:
M. P. Gunderson:
The first inspiration for the book came to me in 2002, when I was having a glass of whiskey in front of a movie (I can’t recall the movie actually, but I don’t think it had any relation to what I was imagining for the book). I was thinking of a guru from India I had been reading about by the name of Satya Sai Baba, when this idea formed in my head about a planet that had split in half thousands of years ago. That’s not to say the book arises out of some sort of divine revelation. But I happen to be a firm believer in Blake’s view that creative art is not invented but rather received, perhaps from another reality other than our own.
The book draws its substantive roots from the the esoteric wisdom of the east, including astrology — mainly the idea that higher beings or gods or goddesses inhabit a planet — and the concept (or lack of concept, you might say) of a Bodhisattva. But the style of the book is almost purely Western fantasy and science fiction. I was reading David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus when I wrote the last half of the book, a very strange, haunting esoteric masterpiece, which influenced some of the later parts of the book, though not entirely. Philip Pullman was another major influence, though I don’t really think the book in its entirety is remotely like either novel.
Thematically, I wanted to explore the idea of how societal divisions emanate sometimes from limited idealogies about one’s being and self. High class, low class, Islamic or Christian — these are idealogies which often separate and divide rather than connect. I’m not saying that these cultural concepts for one’s self have to be rejected. They just have to be undergirded by an awareness of awareness. I think of it from a Hindu or Buddhist perspective. You might have been a black person or a woman in your last life. In this life, you may be a white person or a male. So the cards of one’s identity are always shuffling in the cosmic deck. Your identity keeps shifting over many lives, though your awareness, some essential aspect of you, remains unchanged. Some people may not buy into reincarnation, but it’s nevertheless an interesting way to look at cultural identity and what it means.
Yep. Sounds interesting to me. Here’s the official book blurb:
The Ajnir: means secret worker in the language of Ganir; one who has been “awakened” and is directly in contact with the Inkiri, a higher dimension of reality. In The Ajnir, Gunderson introduces us to a civilization trying to unravel a mystery that could help them heal from a rift that took place thousands of years ago. Urshan Dai is a resourcestarved planet in another galaxy that inexplicably split in half millennia ago. Following the baffling riddles of a strange apparition known as a uriel, Nadan and his friends, Naria and Ranum, journey across Urshan Dai, on a quest to uncover the mystery behind the other half of their planet’s disappearance. With a cast of characters as fully realized as those in many beloved science fiction novels, Gunderson takes us on an interdimensional travel adventure, many galaxies away. Blending science fiction and fantasy, his novel explores themes of magic and metaphysics, and the divisiveness inherent in society. The Ajnir is the first book in a trilogy.
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