Suddenly, everyone's an antagonist

So you know how it goes. Most stories have the same generic setup: there's a good guy and a bad guy. Often, there's the victim (singular or collective) waiting patiently for the good guy to do what he always does and win.

It's fair enough. There's not a great deal of wriggle room actually. It would be depressing if Voldemort won.

My last book considered you have different heroes: the swashbuckling prince, the stoic leader, and the everyman hero.

Book 3, well, not so much.

Let's take an example from the news. Now for legal reasons there are a whole lot of allegedlies needed and whatnot so let's change names to protect the villains, and me from being sued. And add that this is one interpretation of events.

Imagine there's a naughty head of a political group, let's call them Elect Exit. This chap would like to undermine democracy to save democracy. He wants sovereignty so he can have his own way. He wants, basically, to act very naughtily to tip an apparently free vote to suit his ends, by whatever means necessary.

Imagine he employs a company. Let's call them Oxford Analytics. Are they victim? No, they want to pillage your data in return for exorbitant sums. It's not really a moral question at all, it's a democratic win for the highest-paying dictator.

Imagine they use social media. Let's call the website Bookface. Have they been betrayed? No, they're greedy enough to sell every minutiae they possess to every advertiser with a widget or app capable of receiving it. Mr Bookerburg, CEO, is not silly. He's very rich, very clever, knows what you had for lunch and will tell anyone who asks.

So it's you, oh bleeder of data, who is the victim. Except you lied about reading the terms and conditions, lied about understanding the privacy policy, humblebragged about every detail and spent your waking hours spewing your facts onto maximum feeds because it gave you a self absorbed, self important, self-centred satisfaction to pretend some other humblebragger might read it and give a hoot. (Spoiler: they didn't care).

Now, this is all just supposition that they're all out for their own ends. Maybe it was innocent and the humblebraggers thought everyone would be genuinely gutted not to see their makeup artistry, Bookface accidentally left the data tap running because they got distracted feeding starving orphans, Oxford Analytics planned to use the data to cure cancer by finding a common denominator that wasn't smoking or obesity, and Elect Exit misread the question as "Please name anyone who deserves a happy hug".

Maybe the human condition is mind bogglingly complex. Or maybe people are just out for themselves.

Book 3 has what I hope you will think is a gripping and twist-filled story, but more than that it has some of my deepest character explorations ever. And no, I'm still not telling you the name yet.

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