Friday, June 6, 2014
The Mother Hen
Warning: this post may contain spoilers for Millennium Crash (though hopefully not for future books in the series) and I recommend reading the book first.
Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing the book, which some of you may not want to know about.
Having found the three main POV characters who would be telling three different but connected stories, I then needed to discover exactly what those stories were. The easiest to figure out was Anya’s tale, because her story was largely defined by the main challenge created at the start of the book. Not the professor’s death, per se, but her problem is the shambles their research expedition is in because of his death, his destroyed watch, and the way the time-travelers have been separated. As the professor’s right-hand woman and the senior-most team leader, she assumes responsibility for the entire project.
As a former nurse, Anya not only has a level head in a crisis, but a practical turn of mind and a habit of taking charge. She also needs to help people, and those most in need at the start are the other members of the expedition, so she starts trying to round everyone up and deal with what they should be doing next without having to talk herself into it.
Her first task is to find her own charges. And it’s no accident that the two research assistants who would appear to require the most supervision are the ones Anya had been made responsible for. And she’s able to demonstrate the competence which put her in a leadership position by finding her two helpers right away.
As she presses on to accomplish the mission she’s set herself – to reunite the rest of her fellow time-travelers and reorganize the research project – she’s thwarted again and again by events beyond her control. And that reveals her essentially pragmatic nature. Instead of dwelling on what she can’t really do anything about, she focuses on what can be done.
With more problems arising all the time, pursuing the larger goal of rescuing the original mission gives way to triage – dealing with the most immediate and pressing challenges facing her and the other travelers she’s managed to gather together. Which means her story is more and more defined by her reactions to unexpected events than her own actions.
She has to rely more and more on other people’s help, and ends up being the one who needs rescuing. Even then, she continues to demonstrate the quick thinking and steadiness required by the situation. Though it does tend to undermine her authority.
Although she’s very good at what she does, Anya struggles to maintain her leadership role throughout the story, and the questions arise – can she regain her position of authority or isn’t she meant to be the person in charge that she believes she needs to be? Is an overall leader of the research expedition a required, or even relevant, role anymore?
Next: Part 6 – The White Knight