Someone asked me in a PM a very important thing today:
What am I trying to achieve with my stories? What is my goal, and what are the messages I want people to take away from my writing?
I think that’s a question that very few fan fiction writers end up having to ask themselves, more the thing that people who write original fiction end up having to think about. But as I have stated elsewhere, I had very concrete goals for this work from the start.
At its very essence, the goal is simple: to completely re-write the entire Mass Effect universe — the backstory, the enviroment, the setting, the events of the games themselves, the conclusion, and the follow on — to correct what I see as systemic failures in setting out a cohesive choice of message and theme from the start, and to close crippling plot holes.
That isn’t to say I’m a better writer than Bioware. That isn’t to say my work is superior to theirs. It is to say, however, that given how talented I know Bioware writers can be, that the story we were given — not just the ending, but all of it — was not compelling.
It fell flat in places, and it made no sense in others. My vision in that regard is just one of 30,000 other visions of writers on this site and elsewhere, but I intend mine to be the most fully realized.
The messages I am sending are a bit more varied. Some common themes repeatedly show up — the condemnation of the pursuit of money or power for the sake of obtaining such with no higher goals; the dislike of extremist positions; the hard and ugly truth that morality that doesn’t take a backseat to survival only gets you killed but that going to far kills your soul.
But if there are two real messages I wanted OSABC to send, in the end, it would be these.
We are all very small in the larger sense of the universe. All our squabbles, our joys, fears and pains — all our goals and nations, even the galaxy itself — these are but as nothing compared to the reality that the universe itself is endless, and might be one of endless realities.
No matter what the morality of the culture, the only universal and true evil can be despair and the only universal crime apathy. If more people — in real life, in games, in fiction — actually cared about others, the world would be a better place. And when despair robs us of the ability to care about the Other, then evil flourishes.
Every other theme in my writings is merely corollary to the above. For every rant Maxwell gives against naked capitalism, there will be one from Barla Von about how it lifts up all boats, and one from an amused asari matriarch who equates is to sex.
For every disgusted diatribe by those offended by the immoral acts of the people in power, there will be a whispered regretful memory of when they crossed the line and realized there was no turning back, that simply wanting things to be brighter can’t happen if people aren’t willing to sacrifice and compromise.
Many people dislike the nihilism, suffering, and jaded disregard for life in my works, the sadism, the plotting, and the cruelty. I suspect most of those people are sitting in comfortable homes or nice apartments, with no worries about having their home destroyed or dying of starvation.
Perspective is everything. There are places on this earth, right now, that wouldn’t even compare favorably to the goddamned SA with all its mind-raped Commissars and citizenship tiers. There are people worse than any Broker in the halls of governments; monsters more vile than any slaver sitting in positions of influence.
When the world forces you to face the myriad ugliness it displays, you stop asking yourself stupid things like ‘why don’t people act with decency’. Decency will not feed you, or clothe you. Decency requires reciprocity or it is simply vulnerability at the end of the day.
That may sound defeatist or negative, but to me , it’s just life.