Fly Twice Backward
by David S. McCracken Genre: Alternate History, SciFi
You wake back in early adolescence, adult memories intact, including ones that could make you very wealthy now. Your birth family is here, alive again, but your later families are gone, perhaps forever. What has happened, what should you do about coming problems like violence, ignorance, pollution, and global warming? You realize one key connects most, the fundamentalist strains of the major religions disdaining science, equality, and social welfare. You see that there are some things you can change, some you can’t, and one you don’t dare to.
Fellow idealists help you spend your growing fortune well--such as an artistic Zoroastrian prince in the Iranian oil industry, a rising officer in the Soviet army working to find a way to destroy his corrupt government, a Bahai woman struggling against Islamic brutality, a Peruvian leader working for a liberal future, and a snake-handling Christian minister, grappling with doubts, sexuality, and destiny. They are supported by an ally who develops essential psychic powers. The group faces familiar-looking corrupt politicians, religious leaders, and corporate czars, but there is an ancient force in the background, promoting greed, violence, hate, and fear.
This exciting, emotional, thoughtful, humorous, and even romantic sci-fi novel weaves progressivism, music, movies, and literature into a struggle spanning the globe. Vivid characters propel the action back up through an alternative history toward an uncertain destination.
21. David: Unicorn? (Winchester, KY, Tu., 9/16/52)When she gets home from school, Mom surprises me with a borrowed newspaper, El Mundo: “I thought you might want to catch up on Latin American news. You can read this OK, can’t you?” Ah, a test.Thank goodness I’ve been brushing up scanning her upper-level texts. I take in her sly, wolfish grin, restrain one of my own, and say,” Oh, good here’s an article on the coming Venezuelan election, Mom. Have you read it?”
“Um, no, not yet.”
I proceed to summarize the article and mention that the junta had called the elections confident of solidifying their mandate. I go on to add they would lose—and turn power back over to the military. Who’d have thought that my Latin American studies focus would come in so handy, so long before I pursued it!
Mom slinks off to putter in the kitchen, but soon our doorbell rings. She seems to run to answer it.
“David, there’s a man here, Mr. Walker, I’d like you to talk with.” Looks like trouble.
“Oh, about what?” I ask.
“Well, just to get acquainted, for now,” Mom says. “Um, we’re thinking you might be able to use a special teacher.”
Walker is a serious-looking tall man of middle age, conservatively suited.
“Are you a math teacher? I’d love to learn advanced stuff, like algebra.”
“Oh, do you already know about it?”
“No, not past the name. Can you teach me algebra?”
Mom puts in, “Maybe history, David?”
“That’d be nice. I don’t know much, except some about the Second World War. I was amazed a friend of mine didn’t know who General Rommel was, though.”
“Mrs. McCracken, is there something in particular you have in mind?”
“Well, he says he came back from the future.”
“Mom, if I’d done that, I wouldn’t have been so surprised by this. You’re worrying me. You don’t want to do electroshock again, I know. You were really confused after the last time.”
“This is nonsense! I’ve never had electroshock.”
“Oh, Mom, are you back in that state? Don’t you remember? You denied it then, but . . . well, you know you wet your pants whenever you’d think about it. She was doing so well, Doctor . . . .”
David McCracken was born in Louisville, KY, in 1940. Raised mostly in Winchester, KY, he now lives in Northern Virginia, with his third and final wife. He has three children, two stepchildren, and six grandchildren.
After three years in the U.S. Navy following a lackluster academic start, he graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1963, in Diplomacy and International Commerce. He then worked as a Latin American country desk officer in the U.S. Department of Commerce until he returned to school to earn an M.A. in Elementary Education in 1970 from Murray State University, having always been intending to teach. Eventually realizing his children qualified for reduced-price lunches based on his own teaching salary, he studied computer programming at Northern Virginia Community College and worked as a programmer until shifting back into elementary teaching.
He began working on what became Fly Twice Backward in 1983 and finally finished it in 2019! At 79, David strongly doubts he'll be doing another novel of such scope and complexity, but is preparing to work on a children's science fiction novel with a progressive bent, being a devout progressive in politics and religion, as well as a lover of learning.
Why did I want to write about going back in time and living forward?
When I was a boy, my father read Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court to us, enjoying the story of a modern man who found himself far in the past, as much as my sister and I did. It wasn’t until I was writing this novel that I understood why Dad might particularly have enjoyed it, as I savored the idea of a second chance at doing something significant. I came to see this diary of my falling back to early adolescence and living forward as a perfect medium for bringing to life many things I care about. Ah, and my body was literally rejuvenated.
Why did I choose the diary format?
As I wrote, the novel transformed into a worldwide saga, with a sizeable cast needing to feel their lives, blending eventually into a great friendship, a noble undertaking. To keep track of them all, for me and readers, a blended diary let me economically identify the POV in each diary entry, along with the place and time. It also let me give immediacy their strands—a goal that also led me to write it always in the first person, present tense. I enjoyed, in the process, playing out some events from different points of view, like the son who had no idea why his mother broke off with the man he wanted as a step father….
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