Protagonist as Antagonist

The stars of An Unsubstantiated Chamber, Book One of the Rail Legacy, is Professor Flag Banner Epsom. A crotchety, sarcastic cuss full of knowledge he rarely displays, the middle-aged coot is used to solve cases for the stumped (and lazy) police/military. Oh, and he’s a Victorian cyborg before such a word existed. That makes him a, what? Half automaton? Halfaton? Man-machine? Anyway…

Flag isn’t the most likeable protagonist, but that was my point (also with his partner Aretha). Why make unlikable characters?

For me it started in 1993 with the advent of the Rail as an RPG. I wanted an era free of heroes, to showcase how ‘average’, selfish folk deal with great adversity. This is easier when a cadre of superheroic folk are around to take the challenge up normals can’t or won’t. But what if they’re gone. I wanted the Rail to mirror life and comics, part of that is history. Read any era of human history and you find heroes, villains and forgotten, misrepresented people. I want the Rail to be the same way. It changes. Some heroes rise and risr. Others rise and fall. Same with bad guys. Each generation has its own issues while being influenced by what came before. That’s life.

This era gives readers a world where heroes are a recent memory. Great. But the world needs more. Who wants to go from Jpe Schmo to hero? Answer…no one.

Flag has to find his way, and so will those he allues with over time. This era is perhaps the darkest one in the Rail’s history, and the stakes no less than freedom.

Can the old crank find a fire inside to rise above the tide of blood and bad press?

Well, there’s the rub, and what makes me love writing this character. For all his experience, Flag is just getting started. I’m writing him from the ground up.

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