Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Michelle Dussault

27: Michelle Dussault

Complete “The Oracle Hour,” a science fiction novel about evolution at the end of civilization

I have an MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Tennessee. My BA is in Cultural Anthropology and African Studies from Rhode Island College.

For over 10 years, I have been devoting my creative inquiry to writing eco-fantasy, science fiction that blends the speculative with the familiar, and incorporates the spiritual practices that are emerging during the age of data and climate emergency.

Project description

I have been circling my story, meeting characters in dreams, researching evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology, to prepare openings for my story to slip through. I’m envisioning THE ORACLE HOUR as a reverse Western that moves spatially from West to East, to defy rugged individualism with collective wisdom. My novel might begin in the aftermath. It may circumnavigate the middle. And as for the ending—it is nothing less than our fate—so total annihilation is on the table.

DAANXÎAA is a goddess or a monster who fell from the sky. I see her galloping towards the sunrise, on a stolen horse named Thunder, with East as her mantra. She will be encountered through psychedelic flashes, most of her story told through JETHRO who witnessed her tumble. JETHRO—who might be the actual protagonist—operates a pirate radio station out of a tear drop trailer on the vast open wasteland. Their relationship provides a built in narrative drive. The tension of whether or not they will meet again provides enough propulsion for me to write with spiraling abandon.

My cast of characters also includes a troop of “news-seekers” who travel in covered wagons with a Peruvian shaman, as well as BARAK and DELL, homesteading brothers liberated from capitalism, who clamor for my attention. RANGER WEST is obsessed with finding the rapture gene in DAANXÎAA’s DNA.

The phantasmagorical is an underpinning of my prose. In my eco-fantasy I blend the speculative with the familiar. I use psychedelic undertones to depict otherworldly sojourns and reveal supernatural elements. I am interested in telling stories in the age of data and climate despondency that hold a certain amount of shadow, but without resorting to overt violence. As I write, I ask myself, “What if in this story I had to leave behind breadcrumbs for a younger generation?”

Media Sample

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Acadia Klepeis August 17, 2023