It’s not the story of a con, but there’s one going on. I touched on this aspect when I posted my ‘Behind the Story’ series, but now I’d like to dig a little deeper into it.
Unlike a ‘con’ story, which concentrates on the people pulling off the plan, Certain Hypothetical revolves around two characters who don’t even know at first what’s supposedly happening. It’s only at the end of the book that they discover the truth (or at least a part of it.) Actually, there are two different cons going on at the same time…
BEWARE, SPOILERS AHEAD.
The first con would be the one Governor Roberts is trying to pull on the people running the FURC, using the threat of an assault by the National Guard to distract them from his real ploy – an attempt to capture the compound from the inside.
His using military force to take over the FURC is problematic for two reasons. First, the governor’s goal is to get their facilities for himself, and an all-out assault could damage them and defeat his purpose. Second, he has more urgent need of the National Guard to maintain martial law elsewhere, and potentially to protect himself from the federal forces that remain and might oppose him. But it’s still a real threat he hopes will effectively distract Director Miles from the plan to take possession of the FURC through subterfuge, using agents already in place inside the compound to facilitate an invasion with minimal violence. And it’s also a club the governor could pummel them with as a last resort.
The director knows the dangers imperiling the FURC from within and without, so he has to thread the needle between both hazards with a complicated con of his own.
In the beginning, both Kat and David believe the obvious threat is the main menace, but they each, separately, come to realize the more immediate risk to their community. What they don’t discover until the end is that others have already been executing a plan to thwart the governor. Which Kat, and especially David, almost mess up with their own efforts to defend the compound.
Because I chose to write this book from the points-of-view of people who don’t have a clue at the start, the story puts the reader lost at sea as well. Which meant I needed to give this novel a very specific sort of structure.
There’s a teasing prologue, to show you just enough of the bigger picture so you can see that Kat and David don’t understand what’s really happening. But while that first scene contains some clues, it’s purpose is to set up a mystery. It’s also meant to misdirect.
As with any con, it should seem like Kat and David are figuring out what’s going on as the story progresses. But because there are key pieces of the puzzle they don’t have, neither of them can see the real picture, and they act according to an illusion that’s drawn by the competing cons going on. It’s only in the last couple chapters that they pick up a few vital clues which reveal the true nature of what’s been happening. At that point, the entire story should take on a whole new meaning. At least as far as this first book goes.
The epilogue exists so you can see that the larger story of the series is only just beginning, and that there’s more mystery involved than what’s just been solved. It’s called the Slowpocalypse because the collapse of civilization has been so gradual, most people hadn’t even realized what had been happening. Not until the events of this book, when everyone starts waking up to what’s really been going on. But some had known all along.
That goes to the deeper plot, the underlying plan and purpose behind the FURC project in the first place. But this book barely begins that bigger story. And each novel has its own individual tale to tell, only a small part of the ongoing saga of this era of future history. So I started as I meant to go on, and I hope you’ll have the patience to stick with me to the end.