As I was writing along in the first chapter of The Unknown Scourge yesterday, I realized something interesting. The story was originally conceived as a science fiction revolution type of story, heavily inspired by Final Fantasy VII, which I was playing heavily at the time I thought of the story. It was a tale about corruption in government, about the tragedy that can occur when we try to play gods and bastardize the potentials of science, and about the consequences of economic ruin and losing touch with the earth from which we sprang. Very typical post-apocalyptic sci fi themes. But I realized that underneath all that techno-sciencey-destruction babble, the story is really about family, especially brothers and sisters.
Spare with me for a little bit as I spend a post talking about characters you don’t know about yet (well, those of you who have read Bowlful of Bunnies might recognize a couple of these names). However, hopefully, this will make you want to know them.
So we have a lot of sets of siblings in The Unknown Scourge, both actual and from circumstance, and the first chapter actually has Tobias Gainswellow (you may know him from “Swing”) ruminating about how the relationship between twins Wolfe and Silver MacKlout (there’s another familiar one) reminds him of his brother, Trevor. Then I realized John Jacksonox was in that scene, too, and John also has a brother, but his relationship with Robb is estranged, and the two are actually working against each other. The next chapter introduces us to Maria, though we don’t discover that she’s the little sister of Vice President Redd Scarlett (she still hates me for that name) until a few chapters on, and theirs is another complex relationship between siblings.
And then there’s the more unconventional relationships: Adah (who is actually Wolfe and Silver’s sister) finding sisterhood with Aelah (the name thing was not intentional); Phantalia and the other creations of Dr. Yetomini’s laboratory, and the main focus around four individuals who wind up being genetically tied together and not even realizing it until a big secret is revealed. The more I thought about all these intricacies and relationships (especially when you start getting into how these groups interact with each other in a great big messy web), it really kind of blew my mind.
Maybe this was that key I was searching for to finally unlock the struggle between this book and myself since 1997, when I first started to develop it. Perhaps the sibling relationship, the idea of brothers and sisters and families, is that one theme that I’ve been waiting to realize to elevate beyond just a complex story about technology and science.
It should definitely be interesting to see if this really sparks things, having this new anchor of an angle to explore. Thanks for letting me muse.