I love slow starts.
I don’t want to be rushed, especially when I like a book. I want to be gently ushered into the world of the main characters. I want to spend time with them, I want to get to know them. And that means watching them in their natural environment. When things change for them, as is the purpose of any story, then I’ll notice. I’ll care about them more if I know them. If I’ve invested time, I’ll have skin in the game.
I don’t like to be hurried. I don’t like to be parachuted into a world of frenzy and chaos. I don’t want the story to take off and leave me behind at the airport clutching my straw donkey and overlarge Toblerone. I want to savour it. I want to relish in the slow turn and twist. I want to feel the cold kiss of steel as the knife slides in.
Three stories with thankfully slow builds:
Blade Runner 2049
The long car journey, the drone deployment, the crunch of gravel on arrival at the protein farm. The box under the tree, the return to the police station, the AI stability assessment (interlinked). All this sensuous detail is a luxury spoiled only by a quick fight with Dave Bautista – but then that’s practically obligatory in any film these days.
The Lord of the Rings
Imagine if within the opening scene, the Nazgul stormed into Hobbiton looking for the ring and slaughtered every Baggins and Underhill, and all the Proudfoots (sorry, Proudfeet) before we even got to know Bilbo, Frodo and Sam.
Mind you, if we encountered without context, little hairy-toed fat people, folk-dancing, drinking and stuffing their faces, we’d probably side with the dark riders.
Haruki’s breakdown lasts quite a long time. During which he makes lunch, paints, digs holes and mopes around, but not necessarily in that order. Watching him unravel in almost slow motion shows us who he is and what he wants, without the need for telling. When the shit hits the fan, we know what setting Haruki has it switched to.
And there’s another reason for this slow build. Haruki’s life in London is a smaller fractal, a self referential piece of the whole. Who he is in these moments is also who he is in the grand plan as the plot expands. Mope, dig, paint, repeat. Haruki’s life is a repeatable, scalable, part of the bigger picture.
Haruki himself is a recursion.
Recursion by David J Harrison is available here.