My dark academia story, weighing in at 14,230 words, is finally out for both ebook and paperback readers! I’ve thought of it ever since last fall, but only in the past week or so have I gotten enough gumption to go write it! As the blurb says:
It is 1969 in a more advanced Earth, one where tablet computers, flying-wing jetliners, the Internet, and flights to Mars are already prevalent. In this world a young widow awakens to the spiritual substrate of the universe, changes her image from sunkissed tan to peaches and cream, and pursues her academic passion for philosophy at one of the newest, freest, and most elite colleges in America: Onigaminsing University, nestled on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Caressed by the chilly breezes of autumn and winter in the ten weeks of her first quarter, she’ll delve into her passions academic and artistic alike, awaken to her own sensuality like never before, and join a secret society headed by a masked benefactor, drawing her to possibilities far beyond a mere university.
I won’t spoil the story too much, but Menteith Reinhardt, Count von Gleichen, the same character who orchestrated The Hunt for Count Gleichen’s Treasure, makes an appearance in this tale, the first time since that novel (my first!) that I’ve been able to really use any of that bit of worldbuilding I’ve done, with regards to the Reinhardt family and their exploits.
This story explores a bit of the milieu of his origin, being set much earlier than any of my previous tales. Although the dating on some of them is vague, I believe the summer and autumn of 2020, when Count Gleichen has his treasure hunt, is the earliest story I’ve written in terms of the in-universe chronology. “Ten Weeks at Onigaminsing” takes place more than fifty years before that, the autumn of 1969 and the earliest part of the subsequent winter.
The technology level, however, is not too different from our own: an age of smartphones, where chartering space capsules to orbit is possible but only feasible if you’re rich. This is an alternate history, with a point of divergence around 1900. The World Wars never happened, technology advanced much faster, and there’s more enthusiasm to push the envelope and take risks amid a booming economy and a society confident in its own future.
In particular this story touches upon the zeitgeist of this timeline’s version of the spiritual Great Awakening of the 1960s, echoing our own but different in some crucial respects, and far more intense: the old-time religions and ways of doing things is to be swept away in an incipient revolutionary moment, as the space age really comes into its own, crypto-anarchy beckons as the Internet takes over, and the economy advances enough for mass financial independence and leisure-class lifestyle; all this happens simultaneously, a perfect storm for social change.
I also tried to work in some autumnal dark-academic preppy ambience to it, which I hope was successful. As far as novellas of college girls go it’s probably one of the more unusual offerings out there, so why not crack the book open and see it for yourself?