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The Lure of Crime

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My present video game addiction is Grand Theft Auto IV. I am not a fan of the cop-killing, which is integral to missions required to move the plot forward, but have come to grips with it. I really like the story revealed so far (I’m about half-way through as I understand it) of Niko Bellic, the Balkan main character. He is the kind of character I would write about in my sword noir fiction: a skilled and dangerous criminal working within a strong moral framework in a very immoral world. Like Drust and Brude from my story “A Pound of Dead Flesh,” he’s a soldier who has no war left to fight. The game’s plot very much hooks the player with the lure of crime, but for me – at least – it’s not the crimes themselves that are the lure, but the character.

Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV

Given that my preferred choice of expression – sword noir fiction – focuses on anti-heroes at best and outright criminals at worst, I am obviously susceptible to the lure of crime.

To me, these character represent the outsider. Not only are my characters at a distance from the “civilian” community, they also do not entirely belong in the underworld. Their moral codes set them at odds with their amoral or gleefully immoral colleagues. Some of my characters – like Caspan Trey from “For Simple Coin” – are respected and possibly feared. Their skills are known. They have made a place for themselves. Others – like Calum in “Flotsam Jewel” or Brude and Drust – live completely outside of all communal frameworks.

My audience for this blog (all four of you) are likely geeks and nerds who strongly identify with the outsider. That’s me too. I had a close circle of friends in high school, but most of them actually attended a different school and I “belonged” to none of the cliques at mine. I had people with whom I hung out, and they were mostly the “alternative” or “new wave” crowd (this was back when alternative was cuneiform instead of pictograms).

It’s very understandable to me why I identify with the outsider – the person apart. We’ve all felt like this, even the most socially accepted of us. That’s what happens when one is a teenager, right? The outsider is also free of restraints, except for the restraints which the character independently accepts. The character is an outsider because that character has rejected enforced or expected restraints.

Who among us would not wish to live without enforced restraints? Then again, who among us has the honour and moral fortitude to live that way and not become the villain of the piece?

You can find out more about Grand Theft Auto IV here.

Both “For Simple Coin” and “Flotsam Jewel” are available in the collection For Simple Coin available here and here.