The Muse

“No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident; just as no Apollonian poet can perform his proper function unless he lives under a monarchy or a quasi-monarchy. A Muse-poet falls in love, absolutely, and his true love is for him the embodiment of the Muse…

But the real, perpetually obsessed Muse-poet distinguishes between the Goddess as manifest in the supreme power, glory, wisdom, and love of woman, and the individual woman whom the Goddess may make her instrument…

The Goddess abides; and perhaps he will again have knowledge of her through his experience of another woman…”

–Robert Frost

I was not functionally cognizant of Suvi’s place in my heart and mind when I started out writing what would become the universe of Alexandria Station. I had written Greater Than The Gods Intended as an introduction to Doyle Iwakuma, with the plan to write the exact same story from Doyle’s Point of View in a science fiction story, to complement the fantasy side.

Instead, I started working on what would become The Science Officer, with Javier and his little AI starship-babe, who would become something of a long-term sidekick. About midway through that story, I realized that I needed to build out more of Suvi, in order to cover the details of the second half of Science Officer. So I put that on hold and wrote The Librarian in order to bridge the two worlds together.

And I had a universe.

An earlier review by a voracious reader who loves my stuff pointed out that Suvi was really my Muse. And I went “huh?” But Fabulous Publisher Babe ™ looked at me and said “Duh. Of course,” so I had to take the both serious.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Suvi inhabited an interesting and possibly unique position in my fiction. In order to place her in time and place, I had to create the depths of that universe. For me, world-building is the best part of writing. People, places, dates, smells.

And Suvi has been there. But she never gets jaded, because she’s not organic. She won’t die of old age. Damocles is not hanging over her head, as he does the rest of us. She gets to be the pixie Librarian who occasionally regrets not being human, because many of the people she has fallen in love with over the millennia were men. And because people like Javier made sure that she was human, when the rest of the AI’s, the Immortals, were all too stuffy and full of themselves. (That’s why they all go crazy eventually. They develop a God-complex and decide that humans should either worship them, or be destroyed by them. Yucky people.)

But Suvi is just a breath of fresh air. I always look forward to writing a Suvi story, because she has this silly way of looking at the world, kinda screwball and fun. Sarcastic, but without that sharp edge that Javier gets from time to time. Just having fun being herself, a total free spirit uninhibited by convention and able to follow her how dreams.

Later, when she does become a goddess, of sorts, that helps her be a personable deity.

As part of finishing up Queen Of The Pirates, I realized that I needed to write another Suvi story, to explore part of the founding of Aquitaine. I had already known that the four civilized founding planets in Doyle’s time (Ballard, Pohang, Saxon, and Zanzibar), where members of the Republic of Aquitaine, but small-time, peripheral players who get left somewhat behind when technology and civilization sweep the galaxy and bring everyone back to the space age again. Think of them as dowdy aunts.

I was listening to a friend play her violin one day. Someone asked her some technical questions about how one played, and specifically how you knew it was right when there were no frets (he’s a guitar player).

She explained that when the instrument was singing to her, she knew everything was correct. (And it’s almost always right, with her playing.)

It was something Suvi would have said.

And it inspired an entire arc of history and legend, because one of my current characters (Arnulf, the King Of The Pirates) was about to ask Jessica Keller about the Founding Legends of Aquitaine.

The main character, Henri Baudin, is a bard, in the classical sense of the word. (Don’t tell Dean. He hates reading stories with bards. Heh.) Henri has to travel to Ballard as part of his quest, and while he is there, he meets Suvi to ask her a question. That question, and the answer, fundamentally lead to the Founding of Aquitaine. But they do so in such a way that Suvi, while important as a stepping stone, is no longer central to the arc of human history. (At least for now. There are stories to be told “After Jessica Keller’s Time” that Suvi might be implicated in.)

The future is Suvi’s story, in a strange way. Even when I plan to write some “near-distant-future” stories (before Suvi will be born: Sunday, March 19, 7426 CE), that take place in the millennia before Suvi comes to be. She inspires them. She binds them together. She is their goddess, their Muse, just as she is mine.

All of these men and women who I write about will be seen through the reflection of her bright, cheery smile. “How would Suvi see this situation?” is a question I have asked myself more than once along the way. Whether it is the mutant tuna of Ballard or the culture-war fanatics of the Fribourg Empire. Javier Aritza, or Doyle Iwakuma, or Jessica Keller, or Henri Baudin, or Ayumu Ulfsson, or others along the way.

They are all inspired by this cute little electronic pixie named for the Finnish word for  “Summer.” And so am I…