Sunday, June 21, 2015
The Gravity Bug
Warning: this post contains spoilers for the first 3 Slowpocalypse stories, and I recommend reading those novels 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.
As I’d developed the idea for this book, it had become clear that the brain parasite and its effects would be present in all the different plot threads, tying everything together. The Gravity Bug even provided an explanation for why some things had happened they way they had in the previous Slowpocalypse stories. And as I’d already known while writing Threat Multiplication that the infection was spreading slowly through the community, I was able to plant seeds in that book that would bear fruit in Compromised Inside.
For example, understanding that the reason the parasite wasn’t infecting people at a faster rate was because the FURC water supply hadn’t been tainted and the bug could only be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated bodily fluids, I was able to see an already infected Sgt. Carruthers spreading it to David, as well as Kat picking up the parasite from the Aryans she fought. And those two being at risk helped precipitate the initial events that would drive this story.
The Gravity Bug exacerbated a person’s negative traits, so aside from the increased violence it would create in the community, that would also be revealed in the behavior of some people, including David and Kat. While those two have their flaws though, there was very little in their personalities to be exploited to show the effects of the infection. We’d see some unpleasant thoughts from David in his first chapter, but he could mostly restrain himself from speaking them out loud. There would be even less opportunity to see the symptoms in Kat, though the infection’s influence would come out in her confrontation with Tony.
But because of the secretive way the administration was dealing with the disease, it would remain unknown whether some people had the parasite prompting their bad behavior during the course of this story. Neither would we know how much of the violence was the result of protesters’ anger being fueled by the bug and how much was deliberate destruction by those trying to take over the compound. Though surely most of the ‘drunk and disorderly’ throughout the series would’ve actually been due to the parasite’s poisonous effect.
So while David and Dr. Harker worked on the medical angle and Kat and Tony and Caroline dealt with the rising tensions in the community, the Gravity Bug would be building bigger problems in the background. There would be hints of the coming coup attempt, but the reality of what was happening would appear suddenly at the end.
With Security stretched to the limit by the flu and the protests and the election, everything came to a head quickly as the story reached its climax and resolved in the last two chapters, split between the action at the clinic and the Community Hall. And all the main characters got their chance to shine. And in the epilogue, I had the opportunity to sprinkle some clues concerning the next Slowpocalypse story as I tied up a few loose ends.
Next: The Story Behind the Story of Durable Impressions