Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on December 4, 2018
Welcome to the Children of Jubilee Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of The Children of Jubilee (Children of Exile #3) on December 4th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from author Margaret Peterson Haddix and 10 chances to win the complete trilogy!
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Above me, a giant ear was listening to the universe.
In front of me, a set of museum displays explained how that was possible.
My husband and I had convinced our kids and my parents that while we were visiting Puerto Rico together several years ago, we had to go see the Arecibo Observatory. It’s a gigantic dish that gathers radio waves from outer space (and the Earth’s atmosphere) for scientific study. In 1974, the observatory sent what is known as the Arecibo Message—a signal essentially saying, “Hello, extraterrestrial life! Anybody out there? In case you’re curious, here’s a scientific description of Earth and humans!”
(Scientists, rather than novelists, actually wrote the Arecibo Message, so it wasn’t literally that glib. It included brief info about DNA, a map of our solar system, and a sketchy graphic of the radio telescope.)
Given the distance to the cluster of stars where that message was sent, even if any extraterrestrial civilization wants to reply, the answer would likely take 50,000 years to reach Earth. So I’d like to claim that I wasn’t standing there at Arecibo thinking, “What if we hear from some alien civilization while my family is right here? How would everyone react?”
But of course I was.
The Arecibo Observatory museum isn’t large, and my dad and I reached the final set of displays ahead of everyone else. One of the last panels talked about what would happen if the observatory ever did receive a message that clearly came from some form of extraterrestrial life: Governments would work together to deal with the news and take any necessary action. And the general public would quickly be informed.
Reading that, my dad and I both started laughing at the same time. We might have even said in unison, “That’s not how it would happen! You know the authorities would try to keep the news secret! You know people would panic!”
Neither of us are that inclined to conspiracy theories, but we were both so certain that the discovery of alien life would be such a revelation that humans would not deal with it rationally.
I thought about that moment repeatedly while I was writing the Children of Exile series, which involves a few different alien species interacting with humans. In the first two books, Children of Exile and Children of Refuge, the aliens are largely mysterious and easy to misunderstand. But in the third and final book, Children of Jubilee, which came out December 4, the kids who are at the heart of the series have to interact much more directly with different types of aliens; they have to decide how to connect and relate.
Between movies and TV shows and books, we all have images in our heads about what aliens would look and act and sound like. My guess is that if we ever do encounter extraterrestrials, they will look nothing like our imagination, because our imagination is so Earth-centric, if not completely human-centric. Why do so many fictional alien species have two arms, two legs, and a head at the top of their body? Or, if we vary those details, why do our imagined aliens look so much like spiders, insects, or marine life?
(Having made up a couple different aliens species myself now, I know why: It’s almost as hard for human imagination to escape Earth’s pull as it is for a spaceship to escape Earth’s gravity. It’s also difficult to describe an alien creature without resorting to comparisons to known creatures. That’s what we have to work with.)
So often in works of fiction involving aliens, the aliens are symbols for societal anxieties and hopes. During the 1950s, Americans worried about alien invasions and body snatchers as a stand-in for anxieties over the Cold War. Some of the Star Trek episodes in the 1960s, during the civil rights era, were intended to calm fears about inter-racial issues. Shamefully, even today, some people are inclined to use the same word, “alien,” to describe both creatures from another planet and actual human beings who just seem foreign to them.
Most of our imagination regarding extraterrestrial life is actually about very down-to-earth issues.
I’ve never met an extraterrestrial (well, not that I know of) and I don’t necessarily expect to ever do so. But I’ve seen enough of human behavior to feel that humans would not suddenly become different creatures because of the exposure to extraterrestrials. They might over time, but it wouldn’t be an immediate reaction.
In the Children of Exile series, humans are not coping well with the discovery that the extraterrestrials have far more advanced technology. Humans are also not doing well taking suggestions that they need to change; they truly rebel when extraterrestrials try to take over.
But I also wanted to give my characters a sense of hope in the midst of their alien encounters. Humans are capable of saintliness and self-sacrifice as well as horrible evil; I want to believe that meeting aliens could bring out the good in human nature along with the desperation.
And is it too much to dare to hope that interacting with humans might bring out the good in aliens, too?
Kiandra has to use her wits and tech-savvy ways to help rescue Edwy, Enu, and the others from the clutches of the Enforcers in the thrilling final novel of the Children of Exile series from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.
Since the Enforcers raided Refuge City, Rosi, Edwy, and the others are captured and forced to work as slave labor on an alien planet, digging up strange pearls. Weak and hungry, none of them are certain they will make it out of this alive.
But Edwy’s tech-savvy sister, Kiandra, has always been the one with all the answers, and so they turn to her. But Kiandra realizes that she can’t find her way out of this one on her own, and they all might need to rely on young Cana and her alien friend if they are going to survive.
About the Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at HaddixBooks.com.
- One (1) winner will receive the complete Children of Exile trilogy: Children of Exile, Children of Refuge, and Children of Jubilee
- US/Canada only
Giveaway Ends 12.21.18 and open to all who can legally enter.
Open to anyone with a US or Canadian mailing address, sorry no PO Boxes
**Must be over 13 or have your parents permission to enter.
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