A blog post by Alex Hughes
I was a history major in college, and one of the things that struck me most about history was that nothing was ever truly the beginning of the story. When you study a historical event, you always have to start just before, in the lead-up to it, so that you understood how and why the people involved acted like they did. When I sat down to write Clean, I took this same idea to build in layers of backstory to affect the present-day.
The big, overarching world even that affects Clean happened a few decades ago, just long enough that the elders remember it firsthand, but long enough ago that the younger generations are starting to forget. Back in the day, the world was shaken by a near-apocalyptic event called the Tech Wars. A madman – and his many followers – turned the technology of the day against the people.
The peoples’ smart houses turned against them, locking them in without food, water or air until they literally rotted in their own homes. Smart cars went rogue, went off-course, stopped suddenly, or worse, ran into each other deliberately. And smart phones dumped all the financial information of everyone into the accounts of a few – many of whom didn’t even know what was going on. Riots began in the streets. And that was just the first few months of a war that lasted years.
Into the war and chaos at the end stepped the organized group of telepaths, teleporters, and kinetics that would later become the Guild. They – in concert with the remaining military – stopped the wars cold. They defeated and killed the madman and his followers and made the factions stop fighting. But to do it, they had to get scary. Real scary. And regular people died in large numbers along the way.
In the wake of the wars, the leaders of the normals and the leader of the telepaths sat down and made the Koshna Accords. The Guild was entitled to stand alone, to govern itself and punish its own people, and in exchange, it would leave the normals to their own lives. But the normals would never forget.
A few decades later, one particular telepath begins to work with the normal police to solve crimes in the world these events have left. Computer chips are still widely feared. Telepaths are still treated with suspicion. And the rest of the world goes on.
But, though the police don’t know it yet, the new killer in town is a telepath. And he’s killing normals.