Thursday, 21 October 2010

"We Are Not Your Lords in a Mirror."

Finished the chapter of the Langdalehead uprising in Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland. Man, this draft is rough. There's one stand-out visionary scene that sank like hot nickel-iron towards the centre, where I discovered what Fiery Younger Sister is really all about, and what is going to happen with her at the arc's climax. The rest has been writhing like a handful of squid as I write it: bluff and manoeuvre everywhere, and a phoney war which nonetheless is genuinely capable of swallowing all concerned down into the grave if anything about it goes wrong. Of course, the nature of war being what it is... can everything go right? Yeah, sure!

Curiously for such a mediaevaloid setting, the single resource I've found most useful in planning Luke's strategy is something the US Marines went and told me.

I suspect that the diplomatic side - which will take centre stage in the severely tricky chapter to follow, where all my knots draw to their tightest - is going to require a lot of polishing of these shenanigans on the second pass. I am not yet convinced that the form in which the Cunning Plan leaves this chapter is going to convince anybody but me. There's been a lot of... improvisation... as my heroes dodge obstacles and seize opportunities I've only just noticed. Won't know most of what must stay or go until the Rising's done and dusted, the first time around.

The fundamental issue that's been riding me more and more with this chapter is one of the old themes of this whole story. It's about a profoundly necessary revolution, sponsored by somebody with no least illusions about the disastrous nature of that particular enterprise. It's reconciling the need to run a 'good' revolution against a full-on, no-quotes evil aristocratic regime, with the brute fact that the oppressed peasants are pretty well as systemically evil - or otherwise - as their 'class oppressors'. If I wanted to be really mean to my Fairfields good-guys, I could accuse them of trying to wage War for Peace, or on Terror, or one of those jobs like that. Granted they mostly don't suffer either the screaming hubris or bloody-handed cynicism that usually goes with such crusades, they surely have the same contradiction between means and ends. And they've a very real, very personal sort of devil rustling her wings together in the shadows, knowing she's due to collect her house percentage whether they flare or gutter.

Their true and secret game is to beat the dealer. From a distance, this looked like a violent and convoluted, but ultimately solid scam. Up close - Solid? Hah!

I so, so don't want this to end up as either the old story where the good guys are okay by fiat, nor yet the depressing would-be modern kind where everything gets sucked down into one flat grey moral quicksand. My chief characters were, I thought, pretty much proof against both faults all by themselves. It now turns out that there is a lot more devil in the detail than was evident before I started getting my own hands dirty in earnest.

And out of said detail, I can hear her laughing at me.

But as the Kateverse's maker, I still reckon I'm qualified to laugh later and louder. Since I'm only its maker, though, and nothing more inhumanly exalted...

...the last hands are still to play...

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