by Claudia Gray
Where did DEFY THE STARS come from? Usually, my inspirations for various stories aren’t totally straightforward. In this, however, the origin is very clear: This book happened because I saw the movie “Prometheus.”
Note: “Prometheus” is not a very good movie. The scientists on board that ship may be the stupidest scientists in the history of movie science, and that is a hard trophy to win, my friends. A lot of plot lines go nowhere. People fail to run away from things that could be easily escaped by simply making a right turn, and so on. However, there were good elements in “Prometheus,” some of them extraordinarily interesting. I wound up going to see that movie four times, because I could just trace the outline of the good movie inside this bad one, struggling and failing to get out.
The good elements? The first was the character of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace. Dr. Shaw is on a search for the mysterious aliens who may have kick-started human evolution; for her, this is a reaffirmation of religious belief, a search for the interim creators that link her species closer to the origin of the universe, which she sees as God. Although Hollywood isn’t very good at writing religious character generally, Rapace’s performance nonetheless brought some very real intelligence and depth to the role. The second was the character of David 8, a robot, played by Michael Fassbender. Even critics who loathed “Prometheus” hailed Fassbender’s performance; he strolled right into the “Uncanny Valley” and made his character wholly dimensional and yet convincingly inhuman.
The excellence of Rapace and Fassbender’s work brought an extra spark to their scenes together. During those multiple viewings, I realized that I was yearning to see these characters tackle a question the film never delved into, despite the fact that it was much more interesting than the plot at hand: What would a profoundly religious person make of a robot with a soul?
Since “Prometheus” was content never to answer this question—or even ask it—I had to come up with a response of my own. In many ways, DEFY THE STARS is that response. Their world is very different than the one of the “Alien” universe (for instance, no facehuggers, for which I’m sure both Noemi and Abel are profoundly grateful). But that’s where the story began, for me.
The thing is, it’s often imperfect art that proves the most inspirational. When you watch/hear/read something utterly perfect, you’re left happy and maybe even awestruck. But it’s when you see a flaw and feel that overwhelming urge to fix it that the creative instinct kicks in. At least, that’s how it is for me.