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Two centuries after the collapse of human civilization and Earth's environmental break-down, what remains of humanity lives in a string of satellites that orbit the globe. The survivors are committed to return the earth to what it was before industrialization, and only a few people are allowed to live on the planet. Among them are deconstruction gangs which grind into dust the monuments, roads, cities and suburbs, cleanse areas of toxic contamination, restore old weather cycles, and struggle to return the earth to its ‘Native State’. But someone, or something, is murdering the deconstruction workers. It's up to Ranger Boone Clegg and Planetary Police Officer Kael Kaslov to find out who or what, and a greater mystery, why.

Native State


The genesis of Native State was a simple question: What if we're not alone? This is a question often asked about the universe, or our galaxy, or even of our nearer neighboring stars -- is there intelligent life somewhere out there? -- but it is not a question I've heard asked here. Yes, there are other intelligent species on this planet, dolphins certainly, other higher primates possibly, but what if evolution was the engine for another species to rise to our level? How would we deal with that?

When I turned to writing Native State I'd just finished EnCrypt, my spec screenplay that became a SciFi Original Movie produced by Universal. I was jazzed about science fiction, and I wasn't done with the subject broached in that script. Native State, then, is a kind of sequel to EnCrypt (even though it shares none of the characters or identifiable institutions) that takes place several hundred years later. It is the opposite bookend, the other shoe dropping. EnCrypt dealt with the immediate events following a planetary ecological disaster and the efforts of one person to break into a secret facility to try to find a remedy, and hence inward-looking, Native State is the opposite, a tale whose canvas is the entire planet and what it becomes as human beings attempt to return the earth to its pristine native state.

Writing Native State allowed me to explore a number of fun ideas. What if the Earth was a wilderness once more policed by rangers who travel about in boxy flying campers? (Necessary, you know, as there are no Holiday Inns still operating.) What if the easiest way for rangers to get to the ground was by winch, dropped straight down into a forest so large it occupied much of the planet? What if the immediate aftermath of a global disaster prepared the ground, so to speak, for a new world religion based not on ancient covenants or sacrificial acts, but on ecology? Would that religion eventually betray its reason to exist?

I also had fun with the concept that people constrained to live in boxes circling the planet would find returning to open sky on the planet below scary and disorienting (visited first by Isaac Asimov, at least in my reading experience, in his novel Caves of Steel). I really loved the idea of ozone skimmers, monitoring vessels drifting across vast forests at tree-top level. The imagery is just as cogent now as it was when I wrote about it. I can almost smell the trees, the sweet odor of the breeze carrying the scent of reborn plant life up into the sky as the skimmer drifts by overhead. There was once a frontier where everything was new, green and wonderful; that frontier was recreated for Native State.

I had a lot of fun writing Native State. I hope you find it half as agreeable.

-- Richard Taylor, Cambria, California, July 2010


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