Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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The Story Behind the Stories
  IGMS Authors Share How Their Stories Came to Be
September 2014

The Far Side of Extinction by K.C. Norton

The Far Side of Extinction started off as fantasy, with a unicorn and some dragons and an actual dog, and it was a mess.

Fortunately, my father - who works in genetic sequencing and bioinformatics - asked to read it. He told me, "I know that you're talking about thylacines, but other people might not get it. You should make that clearer."

"Of course I should," I told him, and immediately set off to research thylacines. I'd heard of the so-called Tasmanian tiger, driven to extinction in the 1930's. Its diet and territory conflicted with the interests of local farmers, and so - like so many species - it was hunted until there were only a few individuals left. The last of them died in captivity.

Those are the facts, sad but remote: a statistic. But then I stumbled across a video, and that changed everything.

There are only a few minutes' worth of film showing thylacines in motion, but for me, they brought the animal to life. Their skeletons are virtually identical to those of dogs, but I've worked with dogs for years and I have never seen one that moves like a thylacine moves. Their jaws are massive, and their eyes are small but piercing. The film was accompanied by light honky-tonk music, but before it was half over I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

Of course, this meant the story had to change dramatically - because now I had to write about thylacines. Tale had to feel as protective of her specimen as I felt about the creatures in the film. The difference was, Tale could do something.

Fiction is a place where we can play out our fantasies, where we can bring our wishes to life. I wished for a way to save thylacines, if only for the length of time that readers spent in the story - but more than that, I wanted to make readers think about the species that still exist in our world, especially those that are in danger of crossing to the far side of extinction.

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