Our Writers’ Journey from Popcorn Space Opera to Twilight Zone
As I mentioned in concluding Part 1 of this series, Evan and I were confronted with several narrative challenges to completing The Tinker and The Fold trilogy due mainly to the evolution of his sci-fi interests between ages nine and fifteen. Of course, this is natural, and to be expected, as what is considered interesting and important to a pre-teen is quite different from that which engages a teen.
The younger we are, the more black and white the world appears to be. There are good guys and bad guys and everyone else in the story falls neatly beneath these opposite extremes. The protagonist has his or her team stacked squarely against the forces of the antagonist and its gang of evil doers. Yet, as adults, we come to understand that the world is far more nuanced, and it isn’t always clear who the good and bad guys are. As Evan matured, he began questioning the motivations of The Fold and created a counterpoint to their stated mission in the meddlesome Traveler.
For fans of the series, The Fold is introduced as a force of good charged with keeping peace in our galaxy and beyond, yet the ambiguous finale of The Problem with Solaris 3 (spoiler alert!) leaves the reader questioning this assumption. Initially, this ambiguity was vaguely explored in the first edition of the sequel, which was written during Evan’s Marvel/DC Comics phase, but never fully examined. Rather, our emphasis in Part 2 was on action and quick story pacing which resulted in a loose narrative where Jett, the protagonist, is granted a set of “powers” through an unfortunate accident where he spends an extended period of time in Quantum Entanglement. He then uses those ‘superpowers’ to complete a quest and further grow as a character, blah, blah, blah.
Upon revisiting The Rise of The Boe in light of the work we had completed on The Javelin Divide, it became abundantly clear that we had lost our way and fallen into the traps of multiple clichés that might very well end with our protagonist waking up in Kansas and wondering if it was ‘all just a dream’.
Popcorn space operas and superhero movies will get you only so far and engage your readers only so much, and, we must admit, are way overdone. While good and evil are very much alive and well in both fiction and reality, most of the universe we live in is overwhelmingly gray, muddy, and complex. As a freshly minted teen, Evan had come to realize this, and wanted to delve deeper into these vast murky gray regions – enter The Traveler.
The Traveler happened quite by accident. His appearance, in keeping with the genesis of the Tinkerverse, was inspired by Rogue One. Evan, on his own, began work in earnest on a book (yet to be completed) that he simply called ‘Two and a Half’. He wanted to answer the question of what happened to Jett after (spoiler alert) he and Hazbog disappeared into the bloodmist at the end of part 2.
Evan saw ‘Two and a Half’ as a prequel to the yet to be completed Part 3 since he was having a difficult time reconciling the storyline in his own mind. The result, as you will discover in Part 3 of this series, The Javelin Divide, is a meshing of his interceding narrative and the influence of Black Mirror, the culmination of which resulted in a dramatic departure from the early Star Wars space western plot devices that we had come to depend on early in the series.