Updated: Apr 19, 2021
"So Iain, what genuinely… on the most primitive level, scares the hell out of you? At least, as a reader." (Anna of Kilkenny, Ireland)
Frankly, that list is long. If I get to the core of it, it’s simple.
SCALE or the quantitative relation of my existence to everything else.
In all of my story-worlds, the characters are going to face the ‘ant and the elephant scenario.’ With the Oortian Wars, it’s easy. Little-bitty starships. Their steel or layered-poly hulls are all that stands between their occupants and a quick and brutal death in the vastness of the Void or from what hides behind the smoky-wall of the Darkness. SCALE. In the world of the Spartan Chronicles, the fortified island nation of the Skye Stone sits alone in a sea where rogue waves, enemies and creatures of the deep can attack from any side, at any time.
In my worlds, most of the tension comes from the ominous scale of what lurks below, above, behind… even within. Also, my good fortune of a life lived in large cities and wilderness. You see up close what makes 'things' uncomfortable/scared, and how they move, watch and deal with knowing a large predatory force is (could be) near–and then you realize you are part of that equation. Brown bears (Alaska), mountain lions and an extended stay inside a canvas tent in Zimbabwe wildlife reserves comes to mind.
The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall, Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered construction of the Great Wall, the Sumerians’ built the Amorite Wall, the Berlin Wall, Aran Islands, and on and on it goes.
What does Skye Stone and the Oortians have in common with every other civilization that built walls (camouflaging field) to keep out enemies?
Eventually, they fail.
Tension in scale.