1 Jun 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 8 - Commentary

As always, please read the chapter first.

Welcome to one of the most involved chapters I've ever written.  There are representatives from ten corporate or government entities, plus their retinues.  Stage management became traffic management.  This scene could not happen if I hadn't know what was happening behind the scenes.  Still, I need to refer to a cast list as I wrote to make sure I kept bodyguards with the right rep.

To help, here's a list of who's who:
- Federated-Boeing, a AA-level corporation, with Numbers, Charles, Treehugger, and Oswald.
- Evo, a AAA-level corporation, with Skater, Laughing Tusk, and the Storm Sisters.
- Knight-Errant, owned by AAA-level Ares, with an internal team.
- Saeder-Krupp, a AAA-level corporation wholy owned by a dragon, with an internal team.
- Pueblo Corporate Council, one of the Native American Nations, with an internal team.
- DocWagon, a A-level corporation specializing in emergency health care, with Slamm-O, Nabi, Firebane, and Shakur.
- Lone Star, a A-level corporation specializing in security services, with a Fast Response Team led by Sam Quinn.
- Telestrian Industries, a A-level corporation run and staffed by elves, with an internal team.
- Mitsuhama Computer Technologies, a AAA-level corporation, with an internal team.
- Pacific Rim, a AAA-level corporation, with an internal team.

At this point, I want to bring up diversity.  Diversity is becoming a watch word in writing, especially in science fiction and fantasy.  The standard of the white man defeating the alien menace doesn't allow for the changes in our society over the past fifty years.  The move to embrace a broader base for lead characters is a plus.  It also means I need to start making an effort to have my characters be more than just white.  Adding to the complexity is the range of humanity in Shadowrun, from elves to dwarves, trolls to orks.  Shake well.

Helping me is a lack of description of what everyone looks like.  Numbers has had the most description.  Readers can assume that Treehugger has fair skin, but there's nothing in an allergy to sunlight that leads to her being paler than snow.  Oswald and Charles could be of any ethnic background.  It's more what the readers believe.

As I mentioned in previous commentaries, even some of the minor characters have a background.  When it comes to shadowrunners, I needed the background to figure out their street names.  Makes for a perfect time to show diversity in the population, at the bare minimum.

Slamm-O is a canon character, showing up in various sourcebooks commenting on events and details.  His description is out of my hands.  His teammate Nabi, though, is my own creation.  She's Korean, with her name translating as "Butterfly".  Firebane is an ork shaman from the Salish tribe.  Shakur is a dwarf street samurai, taking his name from Tupac Shakur.

Evo's team features Skater, an elf hacker who was the first character I created back in the first edition of Shadowrun.  She was based on the illustration of the Elf Hacker archetype.  Laughing Tusk is an ork street samurai, possibly with Native American blood.  The Storm Sisters are aspected mages, spellcasters limited in their school.  Meanwhile, Ms Evo herself is a dwarf.

Sergeant Sam Quinn of Lone Star was somewhat unexpected.  An ork, he's the head of a Fast Response Team, which is similar to a SWAT team, but Lone Star has those, too.  Lone Star's a complicated company and had its own sourcebook released.  Sam, though, wasn't originally planned to have more than a quick speaking part just to let me show what's going on outside.  He wound up being the reason why Oswald mentioned his past with NYPD Inc, the police services company that the New York Police Department's union started to complete for contracts in Manhattan.

The chapter covers the high level discussions among the ten corporations.  Their goal is to figure out who is behind a series of not quite random, over ten entities that have nothing in common.  Some of the cross-talk is meant to be confusing.  Some of it is me trying to figure out who is behind it, even after creating an outline.  And some of it is deliberate misdirection by a participant.  The information also is meant to set up future stories.  There is more going on; the crew, though, doesn't have the broad information needed to see what's happening.

To end, and to try to provoke discussion, how do you, the reader, picture the core crew, Numbers, Charles, Oswald, and Treehugger?

Coming Thursday, the commentary for chapter 9, back on schedule.

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