I’ve been describing Nantais as “an autistic novel that’s not about autism.” And folks wonder what the heck I mean by that.
1. It’s not “about” autism.
The word “autism” doesn’t appear in the book. None of the autistic characters ever refer to themselves (or are referred to) as autistic; odds are good none of them even know they’re autistic, specifically. Nobody navel-gazes on the “meaning” of autism or its “impact” on their lives. If you’re looking for a book that angsts yet again over Autistically Autistic Autism Autisticking Autistically With Autism, this ain’t it.
2. It’s autistic as heck.
Nantais is about autistic communication and autistic experiences. Liek whoa. There’s actually not a single moment in this book that isn’t about interfacing autistically with a fundamentally non-autistic world.
(There might be a moment in the sequels that isn’t about that. I haven’t decided yet.)
Underneath the fly-around-and-shoot-things-pirates-kidnapping-evil-slave-trading space opera action plot, and driving most of the tension between characters, are a whole lot of problems with communication. I don’t mean “autistic people have trouble communicating” problems with communication. I mean “okay but autistic people are not the ones with the problem, you weirdos” problems with communication.
If you’ve ever wanted a world where non-autistics were the ones suffering mind-altering self-consciousness over their own vague-meaning, innuendo-stuffing, that’s-not-what-I-said-except-that-is-the-words-I-used-no-you’re-the-one-with-the-problem approach to language, buckle up, ’cause I wrote you 70,000 words of it.
3. Play Spot the Autistic!
So it makes sense that a book whose internal tensions are almost entirely about autistic vs non-autistic communication is going to have some autistic characters. Nantais does. But they’re not labeled. For two reasons:
(a) It made no sense to me to give diagnostic labels to characters who rarely see doctors and who have been to a psychologist exactly long enough to be classified as fit for deep-space travel, especially since who the heck knows if the DSM will even exist by 2371,
(b) Labeling them would make it hecka easy for readers to separate themselves from these characters, and you’re not getting away that easy.
Seriously. My goal is to make non-autistic people see the communicative problems they’re blithely unaware of for most of their lives. I want my readers to empathize with us before they even realize they’re doing it.
What this means, however, is that y’all can also play Spot the Autistic! Drop your guesses as to who the autistic characters are in comments and let’s fite. (Hint: It’s not who you think of first.)
Grab a copy from Amazon or directly from the publisher starting Friday, Dec. 1. Also, subscribe to my Patreon for even more AUTISTIC SPACE ADVENTURES. (Seriously, the Patreon subscribers-only stuff is, like, super awesome, plus you get behind the scenes goodies and previews of Book 2 before we actually publish it.)