Roake attracts bad luck like half-buried coins attract magpies. Roake is as clever and hard to kill as a weasel. Whenever his bad luck gets the better of him—whether it’s when his father sells him to the army or when the pirates capture him as a ship slave—Roake finds a way to survive the situation. Sometimes, that means running. Sometimes, that means staying put and playing the odds. Always it means taking a calculated risk.
In CARGO, Roake tells his own story. Roake tells us what he’s done and what’s been done to him to make sense of his life. Like every young man, he wants his choices to matter. He wants his friendships to endure. He wants to leave a mark. Telling his own story is how Roake does it.
Cargo has had a winding road from my fingers to the published page. The lead character of Cargo–Jarthen Roake–was originated by my partner, Jon, in a completely different form for a completely different story. He was the basis for an altogether different incarnation of the A Tale of Rebellion books. The secondary world of Aerdh, in which Cargo and A Tale of Rebellion are both set (along with my debut novel Resistance and my forthcoming novel Ariah) is still known as the Jarthenverse in my house in reference to young Mr. Roake. And yet, in the rewrites of A Tale of Rebellion, he wound up on the proverbial cutting room floor. This novella was written to let Jarthen have his moment, finally, in the spotlight.
It’s fitting, also, that Cargo is released on May Day. Labor, and the exploitation of it, is a central theme of Cargo. Over and over again Jarthen is commodified–he is treated not as a human being with dreams and desires and a mind, but a thing to be traded and bartered and used. He is treated as capital, and reduced to a sum in a ledger book, first by his own father, then by those he does not know, then, finally by people he has come to trust.