The WIPs Just Keep Coming

A new story idea popped up out of nowhere today. Of course, it wasn’t really out of nowhere. The original inspiration came many years ago when I read John Brunner’s Shockwave Rider for the first time, and it’s been brooding on the back shelf, waiting its time. In Brunner’s SF novel, a television program pits children against deadly challenges as a kind of gruesome contest. Yes, children. So books like The Hunger Games aren’t all that original. My idea isn’t that original, either, since it borrows a small element from Ender’s Game, as well as being inspired by Shockwave Rider.

What I hope will be different about it is that it’s less about the actual “games,” than it is about the foreknowledge of having to participate, and what it does to the children involved. Long before the games actually take place, every aspect of their lives is changed — their relationships with friends and family, their hopes for the future, how they carry out the routines of their daily lives when possible death is waiting for them up the road.

I haven’t worked everything out yet, and I imagine that will take at least a few months, but I’ve made a beginning.


I’m going to be fourteen in just three more months and I still can’t make up my mind. I’m pretty sure that no matter what I decide I’m going to die. And if I can’t make up my mind and they choose for me, it’s even more likely that I’ll die.

I wanted to be a poet, even when I was almost too young to really understand what that meant. I loved words — the sound and the meaning of words, the way they felt and looked when they were put together the right way. They could sing or march or yell, and I wanted to be someone who could make them do those things. Even when the grownups began to talk about the games, when I turned eleven, I still wanted to be a poet. By the time I was twelve, I understood that I might never have a chance to become a poet — or anything else.

So here I am, living in the training quarters with all the other thirteen-year-olds who shouldn’t have been born at all. Thirds. In a world that can’t afford Thirds. We were all born to parents who should have known better. It’s something I’ve never understood about the grownups. That they can make themselves believe it will all turn out okay. That they haven’t condemned one of their children to die before they’ve really had a chance to live. Or maybe they just believe that their child is different, that their child will be too strong, too skillful, too full of life to be defeated. Maybe the whole thing just isn’t real for them.

 But it’s real for us. And we’re all terrfied.



6 thoughts on “The WIPs Just Keep Coming

  1. I like it. I especially like the idea of “thirds”… and will be interested in how you deal with the public perception that the children take the punishment for their parents’ “issue”. I would guess there would be strong proponents on both sides, but I would also wonder why the parents aren’t made to suffer even more than the children. ))

    Good start.

    1. I haven’t really started thinking all that through, yet, but one possibility is that interfering with people’s procreative instincts has never worked in the past, so the only way to keep the population down is to eliminate as many of the “third” children as possible. And there’s the problem of “fourths,” so that’s another one to figure out. Also, the games have proven profitable and popular, just as in Shockwave Rider and The Hunger Games, so it makes sense for the children to take all the burden.

      The “thirds” is the steal from Ender’s Game. Ender was a third.

    1. Thanks, Danielle. It’s probably going to be a long short story, around 16,000 words, so it’s going to have to be pretty tight. After writing Within the Silence and The Darkest Prison, I find that I really like the challenge of the shorter form. I’m even beginning to think that one full-length novel a year is plenty. That’s a big change of focus for me.

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