[ Main ] [ Magespace ] [ Updates ] [ Fiction ] [ Character ] [ Campaign ] [ Commentary ]

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 own story."

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?

Violet eyes.

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.