Friday, November 15, 2013

Story Notes: Things Unsaid

Notes to: Things Unsaid

To start with, the scriptural quotes, whether used straight or adapted, come from the American King James Version. Being a reader of the old timey version that's the one that I used in the first couple of drafts but someone mentioned that the occasional shift from modern English to King James was jarring. Luckily somebody else already went ahead and made an updated version so I didn't have to sacrifice either consistent tone or quoting from an actual translation of the Bible.

There are a lot of references in Things Unsaid. A lot of names dropped. Astronomers, Damocles, Zeno, the Fourth Estate, the precariat, peregrines, and more. Death of the author and all, yeah, but the best way to read it is as employing a Gene Wolf-style translation. Were you to speak with Damocles you would not hear of Babylon or the precariat, and you would learn that his name was not actually Damocles. But each word has a meaning behind it and simply giving the real thing wouldn't convey that meaning half as successfully. Things Unsaid is given its subtitle because it is a medley of concepts, disparate words brought together in order to pull on the reader's thoughts and feelings in certain ways. "Damocles" immediately summons up an image of the sword of Damocles, hanging over Babylon. "Precariat" tells more about that class of people than a whole paragraph of info-dumping could.

Posting the world of Babylonian Medley is an eventual possibility but for now, while there are still stories left there, I want to keep the landscape unfixed. I know where the connections are but leaving them in the dark gives me the freedom to redraw those connections if need be.

It all began with a quote by C. S. Lewis. I was writing stories for my other blog, little parables, and I wanted to do something with the quote that ends this story. I took it and weaved something from it, and added the horror and despair of it. Here is the man who knows that it was all for nothing. Here are his final moments.

I wanted to emphasize, too, that whether the objective Second Coming happens for a given person in his or her lifetime there is a Second Coming that happens for that person and only for person. Everyone dies. Or is lost. Always, always there is a point of no return. The protagonist of the story, whose name is John, you should know, has bloody hands that can't be cleaned. In one sense the Second Coming is already here, and John knows it. Knows that everything was for nothing, it was all a waste, everyone dead and all for the dream of three old fools. But in another way, for one thing at least, the Second Coming is only imminent. It cannot make up for the other damage done but maybe, just maybe, John can fix just one thing and heal just one hurt.

John is proved to be a coward. A hero, if heroes are defined by greatness rather than goodness. A determinator. A dreamer. But a coward, too. Able to stand the horrors of Letois but powerless to delve into one memory, pursue one conversation to its bitter conclusion and unveil just one truth. The difference between Letois and Zeno is that one hurt John, and the other doesn't just cause pain but is pain. There are different kinds of agony, and John could only stand it so long as the agony didn't cut in just the right way.

John may be a girl, by the way. "Zeno" is a boy's name but she's a she in this story, so don't be misled by the usual sex of people named John. John is whatever you are. You are John and John is you, and in the twisted allegory-world of Babylonian Medley John is who you could have been, had circumstances been different here, there, and everywhere. And the things that John fails to say are the very things that you fail to say.

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