The other night a friend asked me how I came up with the title A Thousand Suns. Here’s the background: The title is not taken from the Linkin Park album ‘A Thousand Suns.’ And it’s not from the Iron Maiden song ‘Brighter than a Thousand Suns.’ Both of those musical creations got the phrase from a statement by Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the Manhattan project, who, after seeing the first atom bomb go off at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 15, 1945, said that it reminded him of these words from the Bhagavad-Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky that would be like the splendor of the Mighty one…”
And then a minute later when he saw the mushroom cloud rise high above the earth, he said it made him think of the rest of that poem: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of Worlds.”
But this is how it came to be in my book. Just as they were ready to fall asleep, Yohaba asked Rulon how much did his enemies hate him. This is the rest of the scene:
Half asleep, without opening his eyes, Rulon mumbled, “Oh…I’d say with the heat of a thousand suns. Yeah, that sounds about right…”
After a few minutes, Yohaba propped herself up on one elbow and looked at Rulon sleeping like a baby. Moonlight breaking through the clouds streamed in the window and made moving shadows on Rulon’s face. Her love for him stirred and her heart gave a leap. She looked around the room and up at the ceiling trying to focus on something, anything, to keep from crying. She managed all right except for a single tear that ran down her face into the corner of her mouth.
The salty tear mixed with the lingering feel of Rulon’s lips acted like an Oracle’s potion. It set her mind to racing and conjuring up memories of their life together, the love and violence they had shared so far in equal doses, as if a cosmic scale needed to stay in balance. Yohaba gasped, suddenly overwhelmed with a portent of the future – this will not end well. She knew it without a doubt: There will be blood.
The moment of realization quickly passed and was replaced with a terrible calm. Looking down at Rulon’s kindly face, she whispered into his ear, “What a coincidence. A thousand suns. That’s exactly how much I love you, Cowboy.” She rolled over onto her side away from Rulon and now the moon shadows spilled across her face. “But mine burn hotter,” she said into the night.