A Shepherd of the Arisa

Descriptive Material to Entice the Reader

A Shepherd of the Arisa
A Cover for A Shepherd of the Arisa

Eric Stapleton, recruited from death to travel in time, must work with a bitter enemy, to alter the past to prevent a crippling disaster and, perhaps, erase his own existence as well.

Eric Stapleton, a man of the 20th Century, is rescued from a certain death in the North Atlantic of World War II to become a Shepherd of the Arisa in the 41st century. As a Shepherd, he is responsible for guiding and protecting the gentle people of the Arisa as they travel in time: observing history, collecting “lost” art, and, occasionally, altering the flow of time. When a disaster of astonishing scope and origin destroys the Arisa, Eric is thrown into the deep past with little more than the clothes on his back to “do what he can” to change the events in the past leading up to the disaster. It will take all of his experience, his willingness to work with an old and bitter enemy, and his devotion to his adopted world and people, “to change history for the better.”

Glowing Shepherd Final Cover
An Alternate Cover for A Shepherd of the Arisa

He must adjust in many ways to a world that is profoundly different from the world and time of his birth. The machines of the Arisa will give him anything material that he wants, but will not give him his privacy. The Archives of the Arisa will teach him everything, but not how to stop remembering the loved ones that he has lost. Eric Stapleton survives where other Shepherds die, mocks a world that disdains him, and thrives as a trusted agent of the Arisa.

Expository Information to Inform the Potential Reader

The story is about Eric Stapleton. Who he is. What he has done. And most importantly, what he is willing to do. It is a time travel story because I like time travel stories. The story creates a nice framework for the dilemma that Eric must ultimately face. And it creates a nice way to introduce the major themes that I am trying to explore in the book:

  • The implications of a society of total surveillance and zero privacy. My intention here is to have a whole series of little “grace notes” throughout the book that touch on this.
  • The implications of a society in which abundance rather than scarcity is the norm. What happens when the machines can produce almost everything? What does it do to work? What does it do to society? What does it do to the people? I do not mean to restrict this to material goods. This could be music or art or any other kind of intellectual property. Again my intention here is to have a whole series of little “grace notes” throughout the book that touch on this.
  • The fragility of a high-tech world that is balanced upon millions of little bits of technology that all have to work more or less perfectly to make the whole thing function.
  • The impact on the individual of losing anchors such as family, geographic location, body type, and the cultural/sociological framework of a particular point in the timeline. What is it that is left when all of those anchors are removed?

I am posting several chapters that are not so connected to the rest of the book that they would be incomprehensible, read in isolation. I will be updating this page as the various chapters are posted.

The back ground that you need to know is that Eric Stapleton was born in 1900 in Northern Minnesota and “died” in the North Atlantic as the merchant ship, where he was a member of the crew, was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. The word “died” is in quotes because he is recruited at the point of death to become a Shepherd for the Arisa. The Arisa have the technological capability to travel in time. What they do not have is the physical and mental toughness to actually set foot in the past. After a couple of millennia of manners and proper protocol, they, as a society, have lost the “edge” needed to survive in the “less well mannered” centuries and millennia upon which their society is built. They must recruit people like Eric Stapleton to watch over and protect Arisans during the visits to the past as a shepherd might watch over flocks of sheep in the rough pastures away from civilization.

You might ask, why, if they are so unsuited for travel to the past, do they continue to do so? The answer is quite simple. The Arisa are paranoid that someone else will discover how to travel back in time and make changes that will “disadvantage” the Arisa to the extent that the Arisa disappear from the timeline. With no other pressing issues to occupy them, keeping the advantage in time travel is the center of Arisan life.

The story is about Eric’s journey through this world. While that the journey is interesting in and of itself, there are side trips and observations about the nature of the world that the Arisa have constructed. That world is filled with machines that perform virtually every physical and administrative task imaginable, where abundance is the norm, where privacy has disappeared so long ago that few even understand the meaning of this now archaic word, and where humanity has long since forgotten how the machines were constructed or how to effectively control them. It is a beautiful world, filled with beautiful people, and balanced on a knife’s edge.  It is inevitable that the balance will be disrupted and that Eric will become an essential element in the attempts to restore Arisa to its fallen elegance.

Here are the available sample chapters:

Prologue: Escape, in Asymmetric Time — a look at the early days when Eric is being trained as a Shepard.

The Journals of Eric Stapleton — a series of “journal entries” that provides background for the story.

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