Plots, loops, and coincidence.

13 Jan

After deciding on a steampunk opera,  i had the small issue of coming up with a plot.

A friend was visiting from the states and together we went to Belgrade for a few days. While there i saw a book in a bookstore, which stood out not only because it was one of the only things in English in the entire place, and not only because i was blindingly hung over and could only focus on a narrow slice of the world to being with, but because of it’s title. Escher Loops.

I don’t know the book, have never read it, but i was fascinated by the idea that the plot for the Steampunk Opera could be a narrative escher loop:

Escher stairs

The piece would have 4 Acts, each relating to the other in ironic situations and motifs, and the end of the entire piece ends up in some way back at the beginning.

I was delighted by this idea and tried to think about it further, but good Lord that hangover…

The next day, after seeing my friend off at the airport, i began the 3 hour drive back to Soko Banja, and it was on the car ride that the story unfolded.

It did not quite adhere to the Escher Loop idea so firmly, but it does in some ways loosely hold to it.

Now since i clearly can’t just give the plot away point blank, i will say this: the opera takes place in a fictional city, at the moment, New Camden.  Probably early 20th century. The world it inhabits is one of alternative history. For the sake of the opera, the actual world history is irrelevant, however, i’m building it anyway just for the sake of immersive world building. I’ll post the alt history in a later post. But i do know that the American Revolution was roundly squashed by the British and there is no United States. New Camden may be one of the Northern American industrial cities, which is of course British.

The opera has 4 acts, about 20 minutes apiece.  Each act follows a different generation of a particular family line. The singers/actors in one generation are different characters in the next, although that how their interactions change and switch and situations between them turn, can be quite interesting. There is a narrator and her songs are a mix of dark cabaret and tango music. The opera opens with Annabel McAlastaire, a brilliant but slightly emotionally off kilter scientist, attempting to bring the dead man she was in love with back to the land of the living.

One thing that occured to me while working out the plot: i like irony in my plot. There’ll be a bunch of it (hopefully not too contrived), but in reflecting on coincidences and stories, i realized that if one is told a tale which has all sorts of fortunate coincidences, the audience will dislike it,  more strongly the more synchronicities it has. But tell a tale in which all manner of UNfortunate coincidences occur, ones which serve to screw the protagonist in more and more clever and ironic ways, and the audience will enjoy the hell out of it and find it endlessly amusing.

Go figure.

(My plot is neither of these. I’m just saying.)

1 Comment

Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Uncategorized


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One response to “Plots, loops, and coincidence.

  1. giulas41

    January 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I loved the concept of using Escher as a narrative structure!!! Are you actually doing this?? Sounds great!


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