Guest Blogger: John Wheeler
Both of my co-authors, one of my most loyal readers recently, some part of my mind that pays attention to what other authors are doing—all have asked me some variant of the question, “What is Alain Harper’s ‘Kryptonite’?”
(Actually, one of my co-authors—devious fellow that he is—has invented some pretty clever Kryptonites all on his own. The fun part on my end has been outmaneuvering them, sometimes to my co-author’s considerable surprise. In that area I’m Bugs Bunny to his Wile E. Coyote. But I digress.)
Well, that’s one question I’ve not really wanted to face. First, Alain heretofore hasn’t been your classic dramatic hero. Like Christopher Robin in the Pooh Books, who operates on a simpler level in this matter, Alain has been meant to be the teacher of heroes, not truly the hero himself. Making him suffer and overcome some fundamental conflict hasn’t been the point with his narrative. He comes from a time and space where he’s already been there and done that. Now he’s a catalyst enabling others to do likewise—or so I’ve wanted to make him.
But second, given what Alain is in truth, he can’t help but be heroic and be seen as such in the reader’s mind—even super-heroic. There’s just too much wrong in the Metacosmos and he’s just too willing and too able “At Need” to do something about it. That loyal reader I mention above thinks I should follow that instinct where it leads. If part of me wants to make Alain the dramatic hero, she believes, then I should let him be—but that I also should be willing to pay the price of giving him a weakness to match his strength.
And that brings me to the third point. I loathe the one thing which makes fictional drama work: making your chief protagonist suffer, giving him vulnerability he must fight, giving him an obstacle he must overcome both internally and externally. It’s not because I find the concept itself appalling—far from it. It’s because deciding to do this to my hero, my alter ego as he really is symbolically, means deciding to open myself up, vulnerabilities and all, to a readership in a larger world. And frankly, that prospect scares me, both in the experience of opening up and with regard to how the result will be perceived.
Still, as co-author of Realmwalkers and by allusion in the “Embers” trilogy for The Cross and the Cosmos, I did give Alain some formidable Kryptonite—and at this writing I’m giving it even more power than it had before and seeing where that leads in my mind. Let me explain first what is in many respects Alain’s “secret weapon”, for “Alain’s Kryptonite” is specifically designed to counter it…
On the left is the Catalyst’s Glyph on Alain’s Locus’ Ring, which he wears on the fourth finger of his right hand. The original illustration comes from an out-of-print book called People of the Aurora: a glyph the author drew to illustrate to his African friends “the spirit or genius of the European”. (They agreed, with no little awe, that the glyph did just that in their own artistic terms.) On the right is the Glyph of Functions, which is a two-dimensional view of a tesseract (the four-dimensional analog of a cube).
(The Wikipedia article on this geometric form gave me something unexpected: a complete symbolic paradigm which the Illusionists, wielders of the Glyph of Functions, could use in numerous creative, artistic and mathematically rich ways to employ their peculiar “mind magic” against Alain and his allies. I’ve been looking for such an integrated symbol set for a long time, and the Glyph of Functions would be but a part of it.)
In my earlier writings, the Glyph of Functions is the one thing that can counter the “Cartoon Physics”-like amplification by the Catalyst’s Glyph of the White Hand—that is, Alain’s divinely granted power. Even then, the Glyph of Functions can’t counter the ultimate source of his power, the Gift of Light which comes from the Hooded Man. Or it hasn’t in my earlier writings, which meant I had to employ additional tricks which, when combined with the Glyph, almost took Alain out of the Metacosmic picture permanently.
So what if I up the ante on what the Glyph of Functions can do? What if its employ by an adversary, as when Samson gets a haircut, completely nullifies Alain’s ability to use the White Hand and thus makes him like any other human—leaving aside the one thing no created being can take from him, his immortality in the Hooded Man? And remember, in that vulnerable state he’d be facing a superhuman adversary, for it takes superhuman power to wield the Glyph of Functions in the first place.
John Wheeler (who writes on the Web as Johanan Rakkav) is a very busy Ne’fi (ENFP on the Myers-Briggs grid). Besides being a consultant in Christian apologetics, he is the editor and co-publisher of the book THE MUSIC OF THE BIBLE REVEALED by the late Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura (rakkav.com/biblemusic), a singer-songwriter who plays the piano, synthesizer, Celtic harp and ten-stringed Hebrew lyre (kinnor), a lifelong lover of the natural sciences (especially astronomy) and of speculative fiction, an enthusiast of personality type models, and (writing with E.V. Medina as Jack Shepherd) the co-author of the medieval fantasy/allegorical SF book REALMWALKERS (tiaera.blogspot.com). His fictional Metacosmos is now featured at undyingsinger.wordpress.com and rakkav.blogspot.com, as well as at the page TALES OF THE UNDYING SINGER on Facebook.