First off, thanks to Rosianna for contextualizing the quote for me in a way that made me want to use it as a title in the first place.
So there’s this moment in the play Julius Caesar where one Roman nobleman says to another, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” And in the context of the play, that quotation makes perfect sense—these two guys did not suffer some unjust destiny; they made decisions that led them to their fates.
However, that quote has since been decontextualized over and over and used universally as a way of saying that the fault is not in the stars (i.e., fate/luck/whatever) but in individual people.
Well, that’s of course ridiculous. There is plenty of fault in our stars. The world is a profoundly unjust place in which suffering is unfairly distributed, and in all of my novels but especially this one, I am trying to find ways to live honestly and hopefully in the world without ignoring/denying the universe’s cold and painful indifference to us.*
The whole problem of reconciling ourselves to the fault in our stars seems like a really big problem to me—and not just an abstract, philosophical problem but a problem that has to be solved in order for us to get up every day and get dressed and brush our teeth and try to live full, productive lives.
* Well, I can’t say categorically that the universe is indifferent to us. But I think the way the universe looks and the way it would look if it were totally indifferent to us are disconcertingly similar, if that makes any sense.