Issue 041 Author Interview: Victoria Feistner and “Ganymede Days”

Welcome to Tuesday, where we routinely sit and chat with an author of our current Quarterly. Today, meet Victoria Feistner, author of “Ganymede Days.”

LSQ: What drew you to set this story on Ganymede, our solar system’s largest moon? 
Victoria: The Ganymede series (currently a tryptich comprised of Ganymede Riots, Ganymede Nights and Ganymede Days), is based in part on a dream that I had about standing on the moon’s surface, staring up at the bulk of Jupiter. Staring eye-to-eye, so speak. As for being the system’s largest moon… I think that once humanity expands into the solar system that Ganymede will be a likely choice for a future colony, thanks to its location (close to the resources of the asteroid belt), and the fact that Ganymede has its own magnetic field, which should help to shield colonists and make their lives easier. So the setting decision was a combination of imagery and science.
LSQ: The narrator makes frequent reference to God. What is the significance of this, and also is this in contrast to how an Earthling may think of the same being? Why or why not? 
Victoria: Balancing against the science aspect of the story is the fact that the protagonist (left unnamed in the tryptich) refers to Jupiter as their “god’—despite, or perhaps because of, the view out the window. Even in the future I don’t think that humanity will ever shed its need to believe in something larger than itself, the supernatural in some form or another, even if atheism spreads to become the majority view. But perhaps new religions will pop up as humanity spreads, growing and changing. The main difference in belief in an earthly religion and Ganymede’s version is that the protagonist can see their god, can see that god looking down on them. And, after all, Jupiter the planet replies to prayers the same way that Jupiter the god did.
LSQ: Class systems, colonization, and the politics of a health care system—all huge issues that are deftly featured in this relatively short piece. What was the biggest challenge in writing this story and why? 
Victoria: Class systems, colonization, the politics of health care—these are all huge issues in the news of any given moment of any day (as I write this, COVID-19 spreads worldwide and the RCMP interferes with the Wet’suwet’e Nation on unconceded territory). It’s natural for those issues to come out in a story, even if I didn’t intend them when I sat down to write it. The greatest challenge in any short story but particularly SF is fitting the world-building into the narrative without breaking the line of the story, and if that happened with “Ganymede Days” then I am proud to have accomplished it.
LSQ: Unintended sacrifice is the narrator’s conclusion, but they seem to be accepting of their fate, as if nothing else is to be expected of their life on Ganymede. Can you speak to this? What does this say about the narrator?
Victoria: There are always people marked by society to give, whether they want to or not. After all, if society has a class structure, then someone has to be, by definition, on the bottom, and sacrifice and exploitation always flow upwards from the lower rungs. Struggle—whether class struggle or along any other axis that holds up patriarchy—is exhausting. And sometimes resignation is the result. It isn’t fair, and I wish I had more hope that humanity would outgrow this mode of thinking, but perhaps the hope comes from the fact that there are still people alive to be resigned, and living among the stars. In the meantime, we need to keep doing what we can here and now so that such a pessimistic view is, in the future, as unrealistic and dated as the Jetsons are to us.

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