Author's Commentary: "The First Man"
First, this story got a little darker than I aim for with this series. It’s not my intention to write anything graphic for the sake of shock value or to put more negative content into the world carelessly. There’s enough negativity out there already. The topic of super soldiers was the primary driver for me to adopt a war narrative in the first place, and as I imagined the prospect of facing a group of these future super soldiers, I tried to envision how “normal” soldiers might feel and what they might be faced with when encountering a contingent of real-life engineered badasses whose entire business was killing. So it got dark. Fiction sometimes takes the writer where the story goes as much as the writer steering the story to the outcome. It’s a bit like riding an elephant in that way (I would imagine). The elephant in this story, obviously, was Transom, and when he took over, he took over. I am not going to write a lot of dark stories like these, and if I truly regretted the way the story ended, I wouldn’t upload it. I did, because I think there’s a deeper, important message about war here. Not to get too political, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that war is hideous, and we need to remember that. So it’s up. I hope it makes an impact in a meaningful way, but elephants also go where they want, and it’s very difficult for an author to know how people will react to a story.
This is the first time I’ve felt compelled to combine topics. Today’s topic was “Hycean and Ice Worlds,” and given that I’m not well versed enough in Astrophysics to know what a “Hycean” world was before looking it up, I went with “Ice Worlds.” But somehow, I just thought the upcoming “Supersoldier” topic was meant for an ice world. That worked out well in the real world, as during “The First Man’s” composition, just a few miles from me on Saturday night, America’s coldest ever windchill was being recorded: -109 degrees F, which for everyone on C, is pretty much the same because C and F pretty much merge after negative 40 or so if I remember correctly. It was cold. Ungodly cold. Adding danger to the mix was the fact that the wind was steady between 40-60 mph, luckily the power stayed on. I did take advantage of the timely weather to take a hike—late-afternoon, mind you, when it was only -22—and it helped me to get into the mindset of soldiers all geared up for the weather, as I was. There was a solid ice crust on the top of the snow, and it was extremely difficult to walk, punching though the ice with each step, the wind cutting through my coat, and my goggles fogging up over time. I think that’s what inspired me to add exoskeletons to each soldier, because I wanted one.
Thankfully, I made it back home and kept writing. And out came “The First Man,” which, to give a sense of just what I mean by the story going where it wants to, was tentatively titled “Codename Transome” until the very end. I didn’t have that ending in mind at the outset, just a resolution that they find a way to kill the Trasp supersoldiers (it’s always a clue when the character narrator is…you know, narrating 😉). What happened in the crashed ship happened because Transom was there and acted according to his idiom. I was as surprised as anyone.
May you not be uploaded anytime soon, I bet that would feel a little weird.
Next week’s story will be lighter, promise.
Thanks for reading!