Numerous challenges with this chapter.
- How much to show of Tarn’s powers.
- What ARE Tarn’s new powers?
- How far should he go at the end?
While important elements of this chapter, all three of them are also big pivot points for the rest of the book (and even what’s come before). Anything I establish in this chapter, with regards to his powers or his behaviour, has to stick.
The secret to all of that, really, is in the very pointed chapter title: ‘Sufficiently advanced technology’. The powers that have been slowly introduced over the last arc-and-a-bit haven’t been explicitly explained but they do have rules and limits. What I don’t want is for ‘magic’ to take over the book – I’d rather it remain in the background, as a threat, with its potential being more present than big shows of fancy powers.
This chapter is about demonstrating that receiving a huge amount of power, without any training and without having much time to absorb and consider it, is rarely a good thing. Tarn is overwhelmed by his powers and it does him no real good here: he’s a loaded weapon in the hands of a child. The book so far has had a background theme of power generally not being a positive thing, and I didn’t want Tarn having immense power to suddenly be shown to be something ‘cool’.
Much of the tone here and what happens is influenced by Kieron Gillen’s UBER, which never shies away from exploring the inevitable side effects of extreme power, both on those who wield it and those they use it against.
Returning to the questions at the start of my notes, the hard thing with this chapter was figuring out how far to take Tarn’s actions, not least because we’re getting into the climax of this story and introducing a challenging new character beat is a risky move. Basically: will there be enough space to explore and resolve this new character element? Then again, it’s not entirely new: Tarn has always had a tendency towards extreme violence, so the differentiating factor here is that he now has Aera’s powers. So from that perspective, to NOT explore this would actually be the mistake, and irresponsible. Given what we’ve seen of Tarn previously, to receive these powers and then be generally OK with them wouldn’t be true to the character or the themes of the book.
I guess we’ll see if it was the right call in the next couple of months. 🙂
What gives me some confidence is that this move actually chimes with the core ideas I’ve been iterating on for the actual ending of the book, so hopefully it’ll all dovetail nicely….