Portland State University. Department of English
Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing
1 online resource (v, 321 pages)
A New World, At Last is set on a distant colony world, many thousands of years into the future.
The path there has not been direct or bloodless. The humans who colonized this New World are the descendants of an Earth that has suffered cataclysmic climate change, collapse, and a subsequent millennia-long reconstruction. They stand on the shoulders of giants, uncovering and exploiting the technology of the Old Earth in order to ensure that such a collapse, once discovered, can never happen again. These new people, Colonials, set about making the New World in the image of their own.
A scant hundred years after they settle the world, the Ecumene arrive.
The Ecumene are humans as well, our own descendants, refugees who packed onto massive, life-sustaining generation ships that left Old Earth, burning a slow and steady path towards distant, potentially habitable worlds. The journey for the Ecumene took nearly a thousand years; in this time, a cult of destiny and destination fomented aboard a ship they began to see as their ark. They follow The Path, the way to the promised land of the New World, known to their distant ancestors as their ultimate destination.
Due to the realities of space travel, time passed differently for the Ecumene than it did for the Colonials. What was a thousand year journey on the ship translates to a more than six thousand year period of time back on Earth. The massive gulf in time and experience makes for a difficult reunion between these two disparate relatives.
Tensions arise as the Colonial Administration attempts to process these sudden arrivals and to integrate them into their system to prevent a complete collapse of their nascent biome. They hold the revelatory memory of a world subjected to poor stewardship and shy away from continuing down that path again. They see themselves as outnumbered and unfairly burdened, the sudden caretakers of a vast population of the children of the humans who sent the Old Earth into a long, terrible dark age.
The bulk of A New World, At Last takes place thirty years after the arrival of the Ecumene ark, the Armstrong. A New World, At Last follows Edison Moss, the young son of a Colonial farmer ("agrineer"). Ed has recently discovered that he was adopted illegally; he is undocumented, from an unwanted class. In an act of rebellion, he leaves home on a quest of discovery, only to find that the answers he gets are not necessarily the answers to the questions he wanted to ask. His decade-long journey takes him from the heart of the colony to the frontier; along the way he befriends an agent of the Ecumene's more violent resistant group and becomes a participant in the movement.
A New World, At Last also follows the story of an artist contemporary with Ed's time. Victor James Custodio, famous sculptor and crafter of prosthetic bodies for the rulers of Earth, flees to the New World in a quest to outrun a fate that has been chasing him through all of his lives. Victor's story parallels Ed's in a sense as both are, ultimately, pilgrimages; attempts to ask and have answered that ultimate question: who am I, where do I belong, and what do I do about it?
Lopez, Miguel Anthony, "New World Massive" (2017). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3675.