Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Genre Character of the Week: Mark

Last month I turned 35, and as was demanded in some local by-law (I’m pretty sure), it required me to take a good look at my own mortality. Here’s the thing, at 35 I’m somewhere between a third and halfway through my expected life span (The guys in my family tend to die of natural causes somewhere between age 56 to their late 70s), and even considering the fact that I don’t drink or smoke, It is pretty safe to state that I’m either nearing the top of the roller coaster or beginning to head down the other side (which is, after all the really fun part).

Last weekend I finished reading the 1977 novel Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm, and I’ve got to say the book is pretty cool. The premise is pretty simple – as the end of the world begins to become apparent to a well situated family, they decide the way to ride out the coming storm is through cloning. The novel follows (mild spoilers) the human creators, their first batch of clones, a later batch of clones and eventually, this week’s genre character, Mark.

Yesterday I spend some time thinking over how best to describe what appealed about the character – he comes generations after the first protagonist has died, and in his own way, may be the savior of a future human race. He is an outcast in a society of clones (his parents created him the old fashioned way), and although he has a lot of loneliness and anger to deal with, he really loves the people who he shares his world with.

I know that in the long view, I have put my faith in my kids to live a good life, hopefully telling their kids and grandkids a little about old Great-Grandpa Bookmonkey, and maybe, just maybe, leave their world a little better than it will be when they first show up.

In the end, that's all I'm hoping for myself.

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