The Big Idea: Dwain Worrell
ANDRONE | ən-drōn |
- a remote piloted bipedal machine made to mimic the functionality of the human body.
Imagine we were at war, millions of casualties, protesters on the White House lawn, and a wartime debt of trillions, but in this war no one, neither civilian nor military, knows who the fuck we are fighting.
Do you mind if I curse?
In the novel it’s called the “Enigma Campaign” or “World War Who.” Ten years before the opening of the novel, every major military instillation worldwide was attacked by something, but we don’t know what. What we do know is that it’s none of the usual suspects. It’s neither aliens nor AI, no foreign country or ourselves. This antagonistic force, in a word, is (spoiler). And as the attacks become more frequent, more brazen, it will unwittingly destroy both us and itself in the process.
That spoiler is the big idea, and the protagonist of the story was created with specific attributes that thematically and structurally reflect that idea.
Sergeant Paxton Arés is an androne pilot from Oakland, California, and a soon-to-be father. He leaves his grandfather, girlfriend and unborn child to report for duty at Nellis Base in Nevada. Paxton is a bit of jarhead, not the type to speak up or get promoted. He operates one of the lower-tier andrones, a Spartan series, out in some foreign desert from a cockpit a thousand miles away. Every day he waits for an enemy that never shows up.
But Paxton quickly discovers that something is off about the base. As he scratches away at the facade on the surface, he discovers what they are actually at war with and that changes everything—from what he though was humanly possible to his own loyalties with the military.
“The strongest and oldest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” —HP Lovecraft.
I didn’t know the answer to the central question in Androne, “who are we fighting?” I started writing without it. But that idea, a war without an enemy, was the center of gravity, a blackhole for me, the characters, the plotting, everything revolved around it. And for Androne to work, the answer to that question couldn’t be aliens or AI or ghosts or monsters or anything I had read before, that would have been a letdown. It had to be something different to leave an impact on the reader and myself. I haven’t read a novel that has used (spoiler) as an antagonistic devise before, though there are no new ideas. And it’s probably be out there somewhere in the unknown.
Androne is a debut novel. And everything here is unknown. Working with editors, publishers, and new terminology like ARC, never heard that before (Advanced Reader Copy, btw). I traveled into the “literary” unknown, so it’s only fitting that Paxton and his companions journey into the “literal” unknown.
And do you mind if I pun?
Niels Arden Oplev, director of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, described Androne as “a high-end videogame on steroids with a destiny of Shakespearean magnitude.”
And I’ll leave it at that.