Thursday, 17 January 2013

Day Seventeen: The Snitch

Now that I’ve really worked on him as a character, it feels kind of wrong to call the guy who goes by “Smith” a snitch. There’s not really a better name for him than the role that he plays in the narrative, though, and we’ll probably see him crop up a couple of times to Goldblum at Dow and Bessette.

Smith (and I’ve decided that I don’t really want to know his actual name, which is kind of weird for me) is a savant-like Environmental Systems Engineer working for one of the major orbital-supply corporations (knowing which company would also give Dow a way of finding out his real name, and I’m not saying that Dow will know if I do…but sometimes you don’t want to know more than your characters do, because it’s nice for there to be some mysteries in play), who was granted permanent residence at McMurdo-Lunar in exchange for servicing the company’s systems and components.

With the help of his live-in boyfriend, Kenneth, Smith has managed to tap into most of McMurdo’s major monitoring systems, recording as much data from the equipment as possible and saving hard-copies. He spends most of his day reviewing the stored data with an obsessive, documentarian’s eye, and uses findings and emergent patterns to create improvements and preemptive fixes for his company’s products. This is technically an illegal seizure of UN data, but Bessette lets it slide because the man’s conscience prevents him from doing anything unseemly with it, and he has a long history of alerting her to anything illegal that he picks up on from observing patterns in the feed.

Dude’s tall—about 6’2” in low-grav—and broad and well built. He’s smart and observant enough that he needs something else to do while he’s reviewing his feeds, so he spends a lot of time on the treadmill or working out. Native Dubliner, red hair, brown eyes. Lots of tattoos (I’m thinking technical stuff: big, complicated swirls of binary code wrapping up and down his arms, and circuit-board patterns done in luminescent inks). Very much enjoys his work and his life, but doesn’t recognize how obsessive he actually is. Probably doesn’t leave his apartment that much.

So, this is the guy who our detectives are going to go to when they hit a wall and they need someone to look at the colony and the case with…well…unconventional eyes. He’s not really a snitch in the traditional sense, though, or at least I hope he isn’t. As I was considering the character, I realized that there’s not a whole lot of room for that sort of person in this world. There would naturally be a criminal element in McMurdo—if only because it’s full of human beings—but in a place that small and isolated and focused, it’d be primarily contraband smuggling and gambling, and maybe even a little light prostitution. There’s not really room for anything bigger, because in an imperfect, unnatural system like that everyone pretty much has a full-time job already, and—because the system’s continued existence relies on them all doing their jobs—everyone is going to more or less be the very best at what they do. I can’t have the traditional, full-time rat, so I had to adapt some.

I can only hope that it works on the page.



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