In this Meandering, I'd like to introduce you to Rat's Law of Literary
Coincidence, which can be summed up as follows:
"No matter what kind of story you write, very shortly after you finish it,
you'll discover that another story that you've never previously laid eyes on, by another
author, who also, naturally, has never laid eyes on your story,
contains one or more minor but frustrating similarities to your
We'll talk about Rat's Law of Run-on Sentences (or Extraneous Commas)
some other time. For now, let's stick with the subject at hand.
What brought this on, I hear you ask? Well, I'd been suspecting the Law's existence
for a long time, but what finally convinced me that there had to be some truth
to it was Stephen Kenson's Technobabel.
Great book. I enjoyed it immensely. Steve Kenson is a far better writer
than I'll ever be, that's for sure. I picked it up last week and read it the
same day. I recommend that you all go out and buy it immediately, because
it's a good read. Buy it so FASA will let him write more books.
So what's the minor but frustrating similarity?
I own most of the Shadowrun novels, and all but a couple of the
sourcebooks. I've read almost every word FASA has ever written about
Shadowrun. Not once, in the entire history of the Shadowrun universe
did I ever encounter a character with violet eyes (unless maybe they were
cyber--hell, you can have plaid eyes if they're cyber, and nobody looks
twice at you.)
As some of you may or may not know, I'm running a new serial novel
called Crossfire. I wrote it early this year, without ever having seen anything
more about Technobabel than the blurb that's been posted on FASA's
website since time immemorial. I started posting Crossfire four weeks ago.
This week I'm introducing a new character. He has absolutely nothing in
common with Michael Bishop from Technobabel.
Except that they both have very noticeable, naturally violet-colored eyes.
Yeah, I know. It's a piddly-squit thing. I'm being overly sensitive.
But think about it: what are the odds that I would discover this little
fact the very week I'm posting the installment that introduces the new
character? With all the Shadowrun books out there, the odds are just
staggering. There must be some force at work here. Kind of like the
one that guarantees that if you only watch a TV show twice in your
life, both episodes you see will be the same one. Or the one that
makes toast land butter-side-down.
I know I'm not alone. I've talked to other writers who've had the
same experience. There's absolutely no way that it could be anything
but coincidence, but yet somehow it happens. I'm firmly convinced that
if I were to write a story about a nearsighted cybered wallaby named Higginbottom
who wears armored polka-dot underwear and has a pierced tooth, then God or
karma or Fate or the Force or whatever would immediately steer me in the direction
of another story (of which I wasn't even aware of its existence) that featured
a farsighted cybered kangaroo named Higgins who wore plaid undies and
has a pierced nose. It just works like that.
I'm tempted to try it, but I'm afraid of what might happen. There are
some forces you just shouldn't tamper with lightly.
Oh, and if Higginbottom turns up somewhere, don't tell me. I
don't want to know about it. I'd rather remain in blissful ignorance.