Metaquandary

If you’ve read my recent short story series about Alphon Quince, then you know I have an abiding interest in exploring the effects of the changes underway in our global climate. I’d started writing about such things when I began planning my first novel, ‘The Shoals of Time‘, back in the ’80s, and have written about it sporadically since then. But the coals of that interest were fanned into Alphon Quince’s story series by reading Doc Snow’s posts over at HubPages. I’ve had discussions with Doc in the hub comments, and those on his most recent post on climate change turned into an exploration of what other sorts of stories I could craft within that context.

The seed that forms the core of the new series I’m planning is the idea of a character who is committed to doing something that is both beneficial and harmful at the same time, though the character is initially unaware of that harm. I didn’t know where and when it would take place, nor whether it shared the world-building I’d engaged in for the earlier series, so I set about exploring the sea level rise maps that are available on the Internet.

Early on, I had a mental glimpse of a possible opening shot. The focus character, who I haven’t met as of this writing, is looking out the window of a city building at an approaching delivery drone. As it zeroes in on the location and elevation of its destination, the craft wobbles, becomes unstable, and falls to the ground some stories below. When our character leans closer to follow it down, we see that the street is flooded, and that a window pane had been removed to permit delivery.

The place I settled on to site this event turned out to be lower Manhattan, because eight feet of sea level rise is enough to make that happen. Long before that, it will have engulfed both La Guardia and JFK airports, making life in New York City a questionable risk.

But that opening doesn’t require continuity with the earlier series, hence my quandary about the quandary I will set before my character. It was that wobble which turned the tide for me. In the world that Alphon learned about when he reached Louisiana, the sea had become contaminated with bacteria that ate the resin which was used to build a great many things. Here in New York, those same bacteria would attack the drones which served as a lifeline for the scattering of people who have squatted in the abandoned office buildings at the fringe of what had once been the financial center of the world.

So this new series takes place somewhat after the social upheaval that ended the earlier series, which adds flavor to the tale, and pursues other ends than the first one did. Stay tuned for the first part of the second arc in the larger story. And if you haven’t already read the series that begins with ‘Bait’, scroll back up and follow Alphon on his adventure.

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