Hour of the Wolf is a big deal, I get that. Speculation was running high prior to the book’s release. I got bombarded with them constantly – every crazed idea ow concept conceived in fan-fictional delusion. Even when I said “Hell no!” to some fan idea, they thought I was misdirecting them from the truth.
Most of these were wishful thinking…if you put it out there enough on the web, it might happen…your favorite faction will rise to power. Some of these are clearly the products of heavy drug use or deep-seated mental problems. Please people, see your doctors, take your meds. This is the voice of experience telling you this (I suffer from depression and am medicated for it.)
In writing, you have to be careful about using a deus ex machina intervention. As I have come to learn, there is a difference between suspense and surprise. Suspense is knowing that the Dragoons and Anastasia Kerensky are on Terra, and you wondering when they are going to join the fight. Surprise is when suddenly, without any build up, you drop in some faction or hero to resolve a problem in the story. Suspense is good. Surprise must be done well, and in HotW, it wouldn’t have played out well. You can’t drop a lot of big surprise moments – and we saved ours for the last chapter.
I thought it might be fun to take a look at the theories I encountered. Sit back, put on your foil-hats…it’s about to get bumpy.
The Wolverines will sweep in and become the ilClan. We had a huge build-up to HotW in terms of fiction. Things were on the table. Only once was Clan Wolverine referenced…and then just in passing in Children of Kerensky. Regardless, the die-hard Wolverineeies swore this mysterious force was going to jump in on Terra and save the day. It would have been a pure deus ex machina move, and would have been horrible writing. “Surprise – some group you have not had a connection with in ages is now in charge!” Ugh! It is bad storytelling to drop a bomb like that without some hint of it coming. As much as I protested it, fans still believed it was going to happen. Yeah, I know, 9-11 was fake too…blah, blah, blah, you guys crack me up. Some pointed to the Kickstarter fiction piece a wrote, Redemption and Malice as ‘ironclad evidence’ that the Wolverines were going to show up in HotW. The piece never directly mentions the Wolverines at all. It was hardly a prelude to something this big. Geez!
The Ghost Bears would become the ilClan. Granted, we saw actual Ghost Bears in the fiction leading up to this, but never once got an inkling that they were going to save the Republic’s ass or seize the Star League throne for themselves. People make big mistakes about the Clans. They assume everyone in a Clan thinks, acts, and believes exactly the same things. As much as we showed division in both Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon, everyone just presumes that all of the Ghost Bears would be hot-to-trot to get to Terra. My friends, if you believed this, you know NOTHING about Clan Ghost Bear. We hammered this out carefully and methodically in the writer’s summit. This isn’t just a Blaine-thing, it is a “So say we all,” thing.
But I did give you a cool Ghost Bear turned Wolf character in the War Bear. So technically, I may have inadvertently planted the seed on this theory. My bad!
The Smoke Jaguars would become the ilClan. I won’t lie and say I didn’t mull over this one, despite the fact that the Wolves were preordained to be the ilClan. After all, we had a lot of buildup of the Jags. Having them be the ilClan made zero sense however. This was not their destiny – as was stated in Children of Kerensky. Still, the Jag-fan-bois clung to that forlorn hope. I think we are going to get better stories out of that Clan based on how they are positioned now. They are on their way back – and that makes them interesting and fertile for great storytelling to come.
The Republic was going to survive in some form. From the moment I was brought in on this at GenCon 2017 I maintained one thing – for the Dark Ages to die, the Republic had to go. I never wavered from that, nor did CGL. The Republic represented the Dark Ages. Alaric would not allow them to exist. It would have been out of character for him to do so. Yes, it is rare that a faction is truly gone in BattleTech but this was needed for the emotional and symbolic break with an era.
I would bring back the Word of Blake and somehow they would factor into the new era. People, I have never been that drunk and I have consumed a lot of alcohol over the years.
Stone is actually Arthur Steiner-Davion. Don’t you think that Victor might have noticed that? If you harbored this thought it is time for you to pee in a cup and get a test. And, if memory serves, Arthur’s fate has already been covered in sourcebook material.
The Cameron line would be restored. Corollary theory: Stone is a Cameron and will rule the new Star League. In 1992 I wrote the ComStar Sourcebook and referenced the Tripitz affair. In Shrapnel, a fiction piece was written around a conspiracy theory (here’s your first clue that this isn’t going to pan out) about a surviving pair of Cameron’s, leveraging the 1992 piece as its basis. I feel pretty secure in saying that if we were going down that path, Shrapnel would probably not been the launching point. I’m not saying it’s not a cool idea, but there would need to be a hell of a lot of build-up for something like this.
Also, if Stone was a Cameron, why would he have kept that a secret? Do you know the man’s ego? He would have played that card every chance he got. It’s like a pickup line at a bar. “Hey babe, wanna hook up with a Cameron-heir?”
Clan Jade Falcon for the win! Hold it right there cowboy! I’m not your Huckleberry on this one. A case can be made that if the Falcons won, we would get some fascinating stories out of it as everyone in the Inner Sphere rallied against them. I keep thinking of last week’s Wandavision episode with a twist, “It was Malvina all along!” When you write fiction like this, a spine novel, you want to lay the foundation for good stories. We needed to get away from characters that were cut-and-dry good or bad. Malvina winning would have been scary, but won’t give us the depth we can get from the Wolves being the ilClan. Besides, the Jade Falcons have the potential of being the coolist of the Clans going forward.
Stone and Alaric would battle for control of Terra in some sort of trial and end up jointly ruling Terra. I guess this came from that infamous Ben Rome document floating out in dark corners of the web. I didn’t track down that document until long after the book was written. Thank God we didn’t follow that outline. I tried to write up Stone and Alaric fighting it out in the first draft, but in all honesty, it sucked. As far as ideas went, the thought that Stone would beat Alaric in a Trial was borderline unbelievable from the start. He’s an antique and Alaric is in his prime. Stone hadn’t piloted a ‘Mech in a LONG time.
Wolves Dragoons might take Terra and become the ilClan. Okay, I like this one because it was possible-ish, under the right circumstances. Its only weakness is that it destroys the cool factor of the Dragoons; that they are mercenaries. While it could have been entertaining, can you image the people’s reaction who believe that the Dragoons are already Mary Sue’s? “Oh sure, now they control Terra! WTF?”
The Wolves in Exile would be the ilClan. Um, how? With one galaxy of force, how could they have possibly pulled that off? No, that was not an invitation for you to explain your theory in-depth to me.
Clan Snow Raven for the win! Really? This story was one that was built up in a series of novellas and books prior to the big show. At no point was there a hint of the Snow Ravens plotting to come in, yet a handful of dedicated fans entrenched with this theory. I did give the Snow Ravens their best character in a long time in Haake though.
The Homeworld Clans would sweep in and take Terra. Let’s talk logistics. It is a LONG way to Clan Space. They have no idea what is going on in the Inner Sphere. In fact, they pretty much nuked themselves back to the Stone Age during the Wars of Reaving. We saw no hint of them in the prelude work – but some fans swore they were going to come charging in.
So, did I miss any?