There are many elements in “Nails Jane” to tackle, but the biggest question I get is: What is Versinon?
Here’s a little background info for those who haven’t read the book: The story begins on Earth in the midst of a slow, quiet devastation that has overrun the planet. Most of the humans on Earth are no longer human. They’ve either been taken or “changed over” into what I called “Humanoids.” Humanoids are… robotic, though partially organic. Think of the Borg, but they have their own sense of self-identity.
What is to blow the readers mind is that this has been going on for centuries. That mankind’s history – our actual history – has been shaped by this entity called “Versinon.” Shaped by these false humans who have kept the real ones pinned.
It begs the reader to question things like, “Why didn’t we invent such-and-such at an earlier period of history?”
Or… “Why was this group of people so oppressed for so long? It doesn’t make sense now, why did it make sense then? Who had a hand in that?”
The Humanoids (Noe especially) put a face on the otherwise faceless Versinon. Versinon is everything and Versinon is absolutely nothing. I want the reader to concoct what Versinon truly means to him as he reads further in Nails Jane. The novel isn’t intended to be taken too literally. I would say it reads like a very long parable. The text is riddled with allusions to a greater message. I wanted it to be a personal message, unique to every reader.
The best metaphor for Versinon is The Nothing, from The Neverending Story. What is The Nothing? If you can remember from the film adaptation, here is a movie clip that perfectly explains The Nothing. This explanation can also be applied to Nails Jane’s Versinon:
“Maybe… it’s already everywhere.”
And that is what Versinon is. Theoretically, Versinon represents the core of Nihilism. Despair where there once was hope. Emptiness where there once fulfillment. Oppression where there once was freedom. Mindlessness where there once was creative thought.
Humanoids where there once were humans…
There is a chapter featuring the character of Eva, and she drones on and on about her workplace. Her work life. Her colleagues. How everyone seemed scripted and mechanical. How they never spoke of anything other than work – she never saw them anywhere but work. She was the first to leave work, while the rest stayed behind, numbly toiling away as if it were their only purpose in life.
What is going on there is a subtle, but significant, representation of Versinon and how its impact across the world affects even the most unlikely of characters. A woman at work. Her coworkers have become robotic – going through the motions. Slipping away from humanity. And the one human left in the office (Eva) instinctively picks up on it. She starts to notice…
Or to quote the text from Nails Jane:
Another day. I wanted to punch the alarm clock but I knew that wouldn’t do me any good. Robert was already awake and dressed. He was halfway out the door. How did he do it?
“Are you up, Eva?” he called from the living room.
“Y-yeah…” I replied, tossing my sheets to the side. I stretched and groaned as I rubbed my head.
I couldn’t stand those Monday through Friday schedules. I never understood them. I never understood the hours and I never understood how anyone could work them day in and day out. They were exhausting. The weekends were nothing more than a tease. You call that time off? A measly 48 hours? Man. It gave me just enough time to catch up on sleep. I rarely slept. I couldn’t force my body down at night.
I heard Robert leave. I thought he said “goodbye” over his shoulder, but I was so dazed that I wasn’t exactly sure what I heard. Hours later, when my brain finally decided to wake up, I found myself sitting at work, behind my desk. I realized I had been there for almost 8 hours. This job was nothing important, just a desk job. I did customer service. Pretty high-end stuff, am I right?
It was something to tide me over until I found something better. I had a Business degree, but did that matter? Nowadays a four year degree has about as much validity as a high school diploma. I was up a shit-creek without my MBA. Seemed like all the other “drones” out there earned one. They pounded it into our heads for years that you needed to earn a degree to be successful. They never mentioned the fact that school loans would be astronomical compared to the peanuts you’d end up working for.
My coworkers seemed delighted to be at work. They stayed after and toiled until late hours. They acted quite happy about it. How could they keep up that daily facade? Didn’t they ever have bad days? Didn’t they ever get tired, stressed, or sad? It never seemed like it.
I rarely spoke to them anymore. I was social at first, when I began the job. It was awkward. One woman, in particular, was the poster child for the socially inept. I’d mention a book or a movie and her response gave no opinion on the matter. She always brought the topic back to the workplace. Didn’t she have any other interests? Didn’t she go out on the weekends? Has she ever seen a play or visited a museum? Was this woman aware that books and films and other forms of creativity even existed?
“Gotta stay on task,” she would say. That was about all she said.
That was about all any of them talked about. Work. What they were doing at work, what they planned to do for work, how they wanted to improve their work, and how to stay on task.
I watched the clock impatiently, wishing I could spin the hands forward. Several grueling minutes later I found myself clocking out, rushing toward the door. I had to pee – but I didn’t go back. The workplace was a Black Hole. If I went back in – would I come back out?
I settled into my car. My little Escape Pod.
Now, some would argue that the commute was worse than work. On certain days, I’d have to agree. Imagine multiple cadavers lined up in a row, attempting to be somewhere. But wait, they are cadavers. How can they even move? Now imagine yourself pinned in the middle, pushed up against their stiff flesh. Paralyzed. That was the rush hour commute. The dead waited on the highway, staring blankly into the Abyss. Each corpse clung to its Humanity, begging the same thing:
I just want to go home…
However, I realized my commute possibly included others who refused to stay after hours. They were just like me. They tried to get out. They tried to break free. They were people I had never met, never had drinks with, and yet I longed for their company. They were kindred spirits. We all wanted to return home; to get back to reality, back to life, back to that human beneath the business suit; that little, hairless ape, flawed and playful in its design. Wasn’t that all we really were? We didn’t want to push papers. But long did we cower beneath that 9 to 5 pendulum…
I sat in my car, staring off, reflecting on an overwhelming sense of loneliness.
Maybe it was the Depression, as the doctors told me. Maybe it was the Paranoia attributed to everything else. Or maybe it was the events that took place that day. But, as of that day I saw the world in a light that suddenly flicked on.
Everything seemed mechanical.
Pay close attention to what she briefly mentions about “the doctors.” In Nails Jane, the reader must question everything. It truly is an adventure through paranoid delusions that may actually be… true.
– Are Eva’s doctors even human?
– Are they medicating her because they really believe she is ill or because they are covering something up? Which is it?
– Are the doctors human, but their superiors are not? Are they simply “Following Orders” to medicate people who exhibit “those” symptoms?
Think about real life. How many people are medicated on psychotropic drugs? How many children? Was it always that way? When did it surge? What thoughts do these adults and children have that warrant heavy medicating?
(It’s a lot to chew on. That’s what makes “Nails Jane” unique.)
The Backsliders are like Atreyu and his friends – trying to fight against Versinon (The Nothing) but it’s too abstract to grapple with. It even has an unstoppable monster called The Ruin that remains its obedient slave. It hunts planets and will kill anything that stands between Versinon and its claim on cosmic dominion. (If you can remember in The Neverending Story, there is the character of G’mork who takes on the form of a dark wolf. His primary mission is to kill Atreyu.)
And each moment that passes, Versinon gains evil allies to help in its claim of not only Earth – but the entire Universe. Our heroine, Ati, watches, just as Bastian watches. She wants to fight. She wants to help. But she can’t. She is not on Earth anymore – and has been sent away by her enemies. The same enemies that have allowed Versinon to spread. She has to find a different way to salvage the Universe. She has to cross over into another realm – again just like Bastian. Ati must speak with a Guardian – just as Bastian speaks with the Childlike Empress.
A giant, white Luckdragon aids Atreyu. A giant, white wolf aids Ati. (Ati is a culmination of heroes.) There are many similarities between the two stories. Comparisons are easily made. Though, don’t get me wrong. Nails Jane is its own story altogether. My fans and readers know that for certain. It is unique in every way.
But to both those who have read it and those who are considering it – keep in mind these comparisons. Keep in mind topics such as Nihilism, Anthroposophy, and the abstract (fantasy) allusions to the tangible realities that we face. Our true history – in real life.
I heard someone tell me the other day, in the midst of explaining a minor extortion they had encountered with a bank:
“Trista – this is Versinon. It really is true.”
I told you so.