Where The Hell Are We?

There’s good and bad to starting with just a couple of characters and a very basic idea about tone and message.  The good is flexibility: I’ve been able to craft everything to fit the needs of what I want to accomplish.  That bad is…well, I’ve had to craft everything.

That being said, one of the most fun pieces to work on has been the setting…

The key for me was to set this in an industrial, working port.  I very much wanted the feeling—and all the inherent problems and complexities—of such a city.  In the back of my mind I had places like Marseilles, Boston, New York, etc…  I wanted a place that was gritty and corrupt–and definitely no stranger to poverty and suffering–but also a place with an upper-crust whose wealth and power were almost totally disconnected from the docks and the rest of their ‘society’.

This story does exist in a wider universe (from a couple of previous stories), but is pretty much totally disconnected from those stories, characters and settings {Note – Fadi is the one point of crossover as I wanted a character just as broken and fucked-up as Connor and Oz…plus, with him, I get to explore (a very little bit) combat-related PTSD}.  The star I chose for this is intentionally out of the way and isolated—no one goes to Groombridge if they don’t have to.  It is very much the ass-end of the Universe, a complete dead-end and about the last place you would want to visit.  There is, however, money to be made there…and where there’s money, there’s corruption and crime.

I spent a while on the backstory and prep material for the system, as well as Port Oblivion itself, and there actually is a functioning and viable economy based on mining and resource processing.  My narrator, however, is a 17-year-old junkie: how much does/could he know about commodity pricing and shipping lines?  What he does know, what he sees every single day of his life, is crime, dirt, noise and crowding.  In short: a slum.  More precisely a ghetto: the rich and powerful on the Station want nothing to do with the lower classes of dockside, and they very much have created virtual walls through distance, expense and bureaucracy to ensure as little ‘contamination’ as possible.

I grew up in and around Los Angeles.  Even as a kid the complete disconnect between rich and poor neighborhoods that were only blocks—sometimes only yards—apart was always striking to me.  You can walk from the rich, private and very, very privileged world of USC to one of the poorest slums in LA in a handful of minutes.  I wanted that in this story; I wanted that disconnection, that incongruity.  Everybody living at Port Oblivion, whether docksider or takie, is a victim of self-delusion and imaginary walls in one sense or another.

These different worlds not only give me the vastly different characters I need and want, they give me the option to explore cultures and worldviews in some pretty fun ways.  That will be a post for the future: exploring the basis of those cultures, and how I want them–and their prejudices and expectations–to play off one another.

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