What’s the Secret of Secrets?
an initiation document for Brims green to the 32nd Century
T. Van Santana
The Secret of Secrets is my series of New Wave-y sci-fi books beginning with Everything Fails. It is, in a sense, one very long book. But it’s a lot more than that because each book is a complete novel in its own right, with its own themes and ambitions. Plus, the series is metafictional, so the books themselves are discussed in the books themselves, if that makes any sense. There are a few completely fictional books within the series: the Book of Life, the Book of the Dead, and the Secret of Secrets.
Now when I say completely fictional …
There’s a medieval treatise called Secretum Secretorum, which means—more or less—the secret of secrets. So there’s that. You can research that if you’re into that sort of thing.
There are Judeo-Christian documents known as the Book of Life and the Book of The Dead.
Right? So the books in my books are not those books. They just have the same name. If you think there may be some other connection … welllll …
Me, myself, I, that is Teresa Van Santana, your humble narrator. I split my time between the 21st and 32nd Centuries, working in the future as a private secretist and in what you call the present as, well, a writer. I do other things, too, but they’re secret, so sorry but I can’t tell you.
Lila Juno. She’s my wife and the mother of our so far only child, Mason. Lila’s a filmmaker by trade, which is one of those dead but revitalized artisan niche occupations in the 32nd Century. You know the kind.
My son Mason is 3½ but is about the size of a 5 year old. He’s curious and talkative and loves stories, just like his parents. He loves cats, too.
We have two cats—Hamlet and Laertes. That’s a coincidence—their names, I mean. I know that’s hard to swallow coming from a writer, but I swear it’s true. We adopted Larry when he was a kitten, then many years later rescued Hamlet, who was already so named. They’re the same age, too, another coincidence.
Horace Délasser is my best friend since childhood—my brother, really. He’s married first to Ada, then later to Dole. He and Ada have two kids that I call Crow and Weasel. Horace is a major in The Ministry of Planets Armed Response, Aerospace Division. He’s also a spy. But you don’t know that, right?
My Friend on the Inside. So, hey, I’m sorry but some of the characters in my books don’t really have names at first. I know, I know. This requires a little more effort on your part—as the reader, I mean—because you have to sit there and wonder who the hell this person is with only a description like “my friend on the inside.” So who is it? Well, they are Brim, like I was. They also give me clues to their identity as the series goes along. If you really want to know who they are, that gets revealed in book 6, Love Is What You Have. They give me a codename for them in book 5, We Can Never Go Back, and that’s when I start trying to guess who they might be. But, yeah, that’s books 1, 2, 3 & 4 of not knowing who they are. Which is rough, I’ll grant you that. But, hey! It’ll make the pay off interesting, right?
Klava. Oh, jeez. Let’s see. How to describe Klava. Well, she’s an assassin. She’s from another place, like another reality altogether. I access this reality through a series of sites where the boundary between the two worlds is weak. You’ve heard of stuff like before, right? Of course you have. Anyhoo, Klava’s very reliable and we have kind of a thing, but she’s also very violent—you know, like you might expect an assassin to be—and usually takes odd forms of payment. Like body parts. She’s introduced in book 2, These Are The Things I Know, and is in most books thereafter.
Cobie. That’s my nickname for Maria Luisa Jacobi. She’s my personal physician, a role she never really signed up for but sort of fell into. She’s an ophthalmologist, but I kind of go to her for whatever I need medically. Oh and we used to date. So there’s that. I don’t ever say it explicitly in the books, but she’s also a little Aspy.
Condé Groesbeek. The mysterious galactic restaurateur who buys the shitty coffee shop next to my place of work and turns it into a decent café. We become friends but … it’s complicated. Our relationship is detailed in book 3, The Grand Story of Not, book 4, The Thieves Of All That You Are, and book 5, We Can Never Go Back.
Knot. Well, let’s see. Knot is not from my present but my future. They know a lot about me and my life. They can read not only body language as I can but actual thoughts. They are the Master Secretist who teaches me the secret of secrets. They claim to have been with me throughout various difficult points in my life—such as the Blast, Down In The Underground and stuff like that—but I really have no idea who they are. Yeah, yeah. They showed me their face once, so I actually know now, okay? But I’m not telling. I think there’s a lot of clues, though, so you can piece it together if you want.
Dwizaal. I usually just call him D. His nature and identity is one of the central mysteries of the series, so I don’t want to say too much about him. I’ll lay it out as clearly and non-spoiler-y as I can. Whatever he is, he’s tied to the Jungle Planet where I grew up—that’d be Meezed-Zedbee II. Some people on the Jung can see him other than me, but no one on other planets seem to be able to see him. (Well, other than Knot.) Most of the myth surrounding him on the Jung is that he’s a demon. Like, the possessing sort of demon. But at other times he’s said to me that he’s something more like a displaced soul. And he’s got a grudge against me. Why? Well, that’s part of the mystery, y’all.