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Apr 01 2015

April Thing: The Mad Scientist Perspective

I’ve always identified with the archetype of the mad scientist, from Emmett Brown to Dr. Horrible. I admire the dedication of someone who’s not going to let anything deter them from what they want to make happen with the world, because they know they can rely on science.

I don’t have any robot armies or death rays on my to do list, but like a mad scientist, I develop my projects with the blind conviction that whatever weird and complex thing I’m working on will turn into something interesting by the time it’s done. I mostly work alone, tinkering with the details of my creation until the time is right to unleash it on the world.

This month’s work is an adaptation of a short play I wrote a couple years ago, which had a performance at the time as part of SF Theater Pub. Video of that version is embedded on the movies page.

The process of changing it from a play into prose let me have fun with the order I reveal things. In the live performance, the audience could see everyone there when the lights came up. In prose, readers can become aware of things only as the main character does, if I want.

I use the feeling of coming out of surgery and slowly becoming aware of what’s around him to build his worldview piece by piece. I get to linger on his excitement at the innovation he’s made, his wonder at discovering each new facet of his own work in the real world, before taking things darker by the end.

By easing into the perspective of the mad scientist, I got to hold back just how mad he is until the end. I’ve always wanted to write something with the structure of The Tell-Tale Heart, and I like that the final insanity here comes out as part of his attempts to rationalize himself.

I have something big I hope to have ready by next month, the first story in what has become a series about the superheroes that keep the balance in Brain City.