Themes and spoilers
A colleague once told me that I view everything from the perspective of a father. He was right. My worldview changed forever in 1988. My family is the best gift I’ve received on this Earth. When I interact with other people, it’s much easier for me to empathize and be patient with them, because all the while, I’m hoping that someone else is giving the same leeway to my sons, wherever they are at the moment.
“Flightsuit” is a story of adventure and discovery, but it’s also about a father’s second-chance. Ethan’s son is lost before we meet him. Everything that defines Ethan changed with the birth and the loss of his son. Writing the story, I’d long held feelings of loss and separation that every loving parent feels as their children grow up and make their own way. For our children, it’s natural and exciting. For us, it’s wrenching and bittersweet.
I’m probably no different from anyone else who has truly enjoyed their children. I wish I could go back and do it all again. I’ve said that I’d gladly and eagerly trade all the years ahead, to go back and live with my young family forever.
Ethan gets the second chance that I want.
Christian themes (warning: spoilers)
My original working title for “Flightsuit” was “Trinity”. I envisioned three characters all starting from different places, that I would track through the story, and we’d follow as they came together in the end. The three characters mirror the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Here are a few of the hints I left…
Ethan’s the Father, that’s relatively obvious already. The key hint to his nature is provided when Leo discovers the carved figures.
Leo, held the figure up, “What is it?” Leo asked.
“I don’t give them names,” Ethan told him. “I just create them. That one lifts things with its mind. It doesn’t need arms or hands. They are the highest life form on their rainy planet. They look gloomy, but they aren’t really. There’s something peaceful about them. They’re slow, so everything they do is deliberate and considered long beforehand.”
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
God created all the Earth’s creatures and then stepped back to let Adam name them. I imagine God standing back from Adam and smiling in pleasure, just as I did watching my sons explore the world and learn.
Equally apparent, Leo represents Jesus, the Son aspect of the Holy Trinity. My favorite hint to this is when the flightsuit takes control of Leo, climbs to the top of a rocky mountain clearing and stands on the cliff’s edge with its arms outstretched, presenting its maximum surface area for neutrino collection. This should call to mind the statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In “Flightsuit” the alien’s disembodied consciousness represents the spirit, although in this case, its not holy in any sense, but completely ambivalent to the survival of anything else.
One of my favorite Christian references in “Flightsuit” is Ethan’s assessment of Taylor’s ill-invested life.
All these plans, so careful, but once he delivered the alien to the suit, nothing. Your plans stop here. The alien was a good partner to you for years, giving you money and women, and it was only at the end that you must have realized that the plans benefitted him and not you. In the end, there was no future for you, and all you’d gathered for yourself was left behind for someone else.
In this context, I equate the alien with the Deceiver, who lures us into acquiring Earthly treasures that will ultimately be left behind.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.