Today, March 13, 2017, is the two-year anniversary of a disaster that never happened. My science fiction novel The Valley of Forever, published last December, opens with these words: “On the afternoon of Friday, March 13, 2015, the cruise ship Crowne of the Sovereign Ocean caught fire and burned while at anchor in the Bahamas.” This is probably my all-time favorite opening line of any book I’ve written, but you have to read the book to understand why. The fire described at the beginning of The Valley of Forever bookends a very unusual story about time, time travel, doomed love and memory, and the motif of ships on fire recurs numerous times throughout the story. If you’ve read this blog for a while you may have noticed that I have a particular interest in ship fires, over the years having done articles like this one, this one, this one and this one.
To commemorate the imaginary victims of this nonexistent disaster–and to promote the book–I’m running a giveaway program on Goodreads that will deliver a free copy of The Valley of Forever, signed by me, to 10 lucky winners determined randomly by Goodreads. Click that link to go to the giveaway–you must be a Goodreads member, but it’s easy (and free) to sign up. You can register for the giveaway from today, March 13, until one month from now, April 13. You don’t have to buy anything, this is totally free, one of the many great promotional programs that Goodreads has come up with. And while you’re at it, go ahead and add me as a friend.
The Valley of Forever is, I think, one of my best books. I labored for several years to write it, trying to capture the complicated essence of what I wanted to say about a subject that’s always fascinated me: the nature of time. Here is the plot summary, but keep in mind, as it’s a non-linear narrative, it’s a little hard to sum up:
Trapped aboard a burning cruise ship, Jerusha King makes a fatal leap into the sea with a baby in her arms. But what seems like the end of her story is only the beginning. Five minutes before the fire begins, Jerusha’s lover Dale tells her that the disaster that’s about to occur happened once before, decades ago, and somehow she was there too. Between these two bookends of time lies an elusive truth that Jerusha feels compelled to pursue. It has something to do with the first time she met Dale, 24 years ago in Mexico, though her memories of their ill-fated love affair keep changing. It has also to do with the madman who sets the fire, and with a time traveler sent 500 years back in time to witness it. At the heart of this truth about the nature of time is Dale’s own story, chronicled in a mysterious book called The Valley of Forever—the story of a hidden place that lies at the farthest limit of human consciousness, and, quite possibly, at the end of time itself.
Up until now The Valley of Forever hasn’t had much promotion, and thus far its readership has been pretty small–but, like my 2006 SF novel Life Without Giamotti, its supporters are pretty consistent in their praise for it. I’m doing this giveaway in part to increase the book’s visibility and reach and hopefully bring it to a wider audience. The more people who enter, the more who will have heard of the book!
Just to be clear, if you enter the giveaway and win, you’ll get an actual, physical paperback book, signed by me with a personal dedication (if you like). Goodreads chooses the winners, not me, but they do an excellent job of keeping things fair. It’s available to Goodreads users in the United States, Canada and UK. The odds of winning depend on how many enter, but even at this writing a lot of people have signed up.
About 40% of The Valley of Forever was written on my old 1948 Remington Rand manual typewriter. Click here for an article about why I did it that way, and what it means for the book.
If you sign up but don’t win, consider picking up a copy of The Valley of Forever yourself, on Kindle or in paperback. It really is a quite unusual book and, I think, one that will stick in your memory for a long time. And if you do enjoy it, please spread the word!
Not that it matters, but The Valley of Forever is a sequel (of sorts) to my 2011 short story The Antimeridian, which is free on Amazon Kindle. You need not have read The Antimeridian to understand The Valley of Forever.
In the meantime, let us observe a moment of silence for the 149 imaginary persons who lost their lives in the Crowne of the Sovereign Ocean disaster two years ago today. Fortunately there are no grieving survivors in our universe, but out there somewhere, in some reality that is imaginary to us but very real to the people who live there, atonement must still be paid…