In order to properly explore the definition of humanness, TJ Klune wrote a book populated mostly with robots. And just like how humans appear often inherently contradictory, with resolution uncovered by effort and analysis, he also wrote a letter to help explain his thought process in asking this big, big question, and in answering it in his own way.
Enjoy : )
With The House in the Cerulean Sea, I wanted to explore what it meant to be a better human. In Under the Whispering Door, I asked what does it mean to be a good human?
With In the Lives of Puppets, I wanted to try and find the answer to something much more difficult: what does it mean to be human?
We are a bundle of contradictions. We laugh and create and hope for things that might not ever come true simply because we want them. And yet, in the same breath, we can be callous. Cruel. Destructive. That thing we hoped for? That thing we wanted? Sometimes, we will do whatever it takes to get it, even if it’s to our own detriment, or the detriment of others.
But there’s nothing like us, as far as we know. We are war, we are peace, a dichotomy that has been around for as long as we have. That’s the thing about humanity: we have hearts and lungs and blood pumping through our veins—each and every one of us—but we still find reason (illogic though it may be) to tear down, to ruin, to burn.
Why is that?
I don’t know. To say I do would be a lie.
Here is what I do know:
Whatever you believe in, wherever your faith lies, we—as a species—are unique, wonderful, and terrible in equal measure. I love people, even if they continually disappoint. I love our idiosyncratic ways, the way we splash in water even though we can’t hold our breath that long. If we see something or someone in distress, most of us would try and help. We can go to space! We fly. We say ow even if something didn’t hurt (just because we though it would). We put glittery things in our ears and noses and change the color of our hair. We hold hands and hug and get that feeling of unparalleled joy when we come home after a day away and find our dogs or cats or ferrets waiting for us.
Victor Lawson—the main character of In the Lives of Puppets—is human, the only one who can make such a claim in his family. He might, in fact, be the most human character I’ve ever written. He is everything I love about us, and a few of the things I don’t. He makes mistakes, tries to learn from them, and maybe will make the same mistake again.
But he is brave, he is just, and he’s going on a journey that will prove humanity—for all its faults—cannot be denied.
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