The Big Idea: Jennifer Brozek

We all know what it’s like to be human — you’re doing it right now. And having the knowledge could make it difficult to imagine what it’s like to become human — to view that humanity from the outside, as it were. That was the mission of the writers who contributed to the anthology Human For a Day. And for how these writers managed this mighty task, anthology co-editor Jennifer Brozek is here to give you an inside view, and her own thoughts on how what the writers accomplished was different from her own assumptions of how they would do it.


What does it mean to be human?

This was not the question I meant to ask when I set out to create the anthology, Human for a Day. But it is the question that was answered by my authors.

Originally, I had the thought “What if something wasn’t human became human for a single day—what would that be like?” My thought pales in comparison to the stories I received. I was not thinking about the concept of being human. I was thinking of the transition from one state to the other and back again.

Every story tells the tale of being human for a day, but every story brings with it so much more. Becoming human is more than a transition of biology and sentience. It is an emotional epiphany on the part of the fictional character and the reader.

What does it mean to be human?

Before a thing can become human, it has to be something else first. You must know where you are coming from to know where you are going. I invited fantasy, horror, and science fiction authors to tell me the story they wanted to tell about becoming human; to bring in the aspects of humanity they thought were important or undeniable.

I also wanted as many points of view as I could get: animals, supernatural creatures, inanimate objects, and the artificially intelligent. I received these and more; cities come to life, comic book characters, legends, and even a book. Each point of view became a different facet of life.

What does it mean to be human?

This anthology answers that question in sixteen different ways. Some of the answers are tragic. Others are humorous. All of them made me sit back and think. Laughing and crying, I thought about the different aspects of humanity. What makes life precious and painful and lovely and ugly and every other emotion out there?

What I came away with was a better sense of life bordered by death. By giving such a short timeline—one day—I required each author to tell a tale of birth, life, and death. Though the stories ranged from the far past to the far future and into worlds that never were but could have been, there was single thread of familiarity. There was a sense of wonder and emotion that was at the heart of it all.

In the end, I discovered that becoming human was an emotional thing rather than simply a biological one.

That is the big idea.


Human For a Day: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Powell’s

Visit Brozek’s Livejournal. Follow her on Twitter.

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