I recently listened to a great (really, they’re all great) episode of my favorite podcast, Throughline, called “A Story of Us?“. The conversation and interview with Tamim Ansary, author of The Invention of Yesterday, ranges across a variety of interesting topics, but the general takeaway is summarized in the episode description:
With a world seemingly more connected than ever and still volatile with a constant sense of fracturing identities, Tamim contends that our shared history is a story we must invent. And the future of our species depends on our ability to develop a story we can all see ourselves in.
I actually listened to the interview twice, re-parsing every phrase. I think it resonated with me so deeply because many of the topics Ansary touched on (and the philosophy with which he does so) mirror, to a great degree, what I love about history and what I try to put into worldbuilding. It also speaks directly to the heart of the fierce cultural and political divides that the country (and really, the world at large) are experiencing right now.
The idea of humanity trying to tell a unified story about itself is a central theme of my short story Anpo: The Dawn, which I published earlier this year with an original cover by Patricia Revolinksy. The story started with me asking myself the question, “Could humanity ever unify around anything besides an external threat?”. I don’t think I ever actually answered that question, but the story did come out as an exploration of that struggle at the individual and societal level.
I highly recommend a listen to this Throughline episode! (And, I suppose, my story as well… if you find parallels, please feel free to comment on this post or reach out.) I’ll probably also be trying to track down Ansary’s book to add to my nonfiction to-read list…