Escaping certain death


I’ve been having fun with the Space Opera elements of The search for Kalid. Ever since the escape of Odysseus from certain death at the hands of Polyphemus, unlikely escapes have been a grand tradition in adventure stories. I’m now in need of a “great escape” for The search for Kalid.

Before I was old enough to read about getting Polyphemus drunk and poking his eye out, I learned about unlikely escapes from death by watching television. Lost in Space was ahead of Star Trek by a year and ahead in Space Opera theatrics by a light-year. The waving arms of the Model B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot of the Jupiter 2 were a surer sign of immanent danger than the appearance of a new red-shirted crewman on the Enterprise.

A supernova explosion is over a billion times stronger than a nova. Similarly, there is a big difference between 1) showing a character’s impossibly narrow escape from death and 2) making the reader think that a character died, only to later say, “fooled you, that character did not really die!” It is this category of super-deception that I’m dealing with. I’ve never enjoyed it when other story tellers pull this Dirty Trick on me, so I’m searching for an acceptable way to “bring back to life” an apparently dead character. Actually, it is a package deal…two characters have to be returned from the “not quite dead”.

A major part of The search for Kalid is its mystery elements. As the story unfolds, the reader learns about the science of “T-particles”, the basis of telepathy. I want the reader to start out by adopting the assumption that telepaths can be tracked down and killed because of their emission of “T-particles”. But eventually it is revealed that some telepaths can control their production of “T-particles” and escape detection. I want to find a way to let the reader suspect that a particular telepath escapes detection and is not dead, even if Kalid himself can’t figure it out. Would the reader, by feeling superior to Master Kalid, not feel so cheated by the Dirty Trick?

Image: Polyphemus takes one in the eye. GFDL.

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