This is the “Behind The Scenes” post for the latest story, “Underground Supporters“. If you haven’t read the original story yet, I advise you to do so as this post is more spoiler-laden than usual…
First off, an apology for this instalment of “Behind The Scenes” being a day later than usual. That’s simply because the release of the podcast yesterday meant I either tagged it onto this post, or delayed it for a day. Since I never really even committed to writing one of these every week (even though that’s what I am doing), I decided that it would be a good idea to delay this a day, so my apologies if you’ve been waiting for this post since then.
“Underground Supporters” was an attempt to write a story set in a not-too-distant, and plausibly wretched, future. Having watched both “Where The Wild Things Are”, as well the qualifying for the Monaco GP, in the days before writing this one the name Max was stuck in my head so I used it for the protagonist. The name Max is pretty well associated with dystopian futures, of course, not only Mad Max, of course, Max Headroom, and (my favourite) Max Damage from the brilliantly bonkers Carmageddon series (although avoid TDR 2000 if you enjoy staying awake).
I had the idea for the story for a day or so, and by the time I sat down to write it, most of the work left to do was to follow the story, so this one was actually a lot easier to write than some of the others, at least from the point of view of not panicking over exactly what I was going to write and how much time I had left to write it.
One of the things I wanted to establish early on was that not only was almost everything a “smart” gadget (such as the door), but that everyday surveillance wasn’t just happening, but pretty much accepted as a given: Max isn’t upset that they dinged him for something he said in a bar, but that what he said is pretty innocuous. (Also, the future is run by extremists who aren’t very friendly to LGBT people, which is always a bad sign, as far as I’m concerned – they tend to start with easier targets and work to turning society to confirm to their picture of how they think life ought to work…). I copied the idea of being rated from China – I actually didn’t point out the implications, but the Chinese “social credit” scoring system actually specifies whether you can get into business class on trains, whether you can buy tickets for domestic flights, whether you can apply for higher education, being banned from management jobs and what speed Internet access you get (well, for the bits of the Internet the Chinese are allowed to see, anyway.)
Another thing I wanted to establish is that this is in the future, although maybe not by much. Obviously, whichever country this is (dollars are used in many countries, not just the US – Canada, Australia and New Zealand spring to mind) has had quite a bit of inflation, if three hundred dollars is paid in coins.
The anarchists I tried to make rather disparate – as though their lack of conformity meant they didn’t conform even to each other. Instead of conforming, they appear to simply live their own lives the way that they want. Of course, whether that indicates that they’re actual anarchists or undercover police you can decide for yourself…
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