So… now you have a rough idea of the forces in play, let’s start looking at the characters who will be driving the narrative in this story. For the web-series, we’re very much focused on world-building, so our characters are leaders, decision makers and major thinkers. To whit, I give you:
- Mike Sherwood – Premier of South Australia at the moment that the Factor 46 outbreak took off. Mike is a member of the normally conservative Liberal Party, but like many South Australians from that party, is considered by pundits to be a comparatively “small-L” Liberal leader. He has rolled back some of the more ridiculous extremes from privatization, and has promote government-to-enterprise partnerships to strong economic effect. One of the key drivers of his success has been his early and continued support for Braithwaite Biomed – a medical nanotechnology company that was founded in Adelaide on the back of state government grants to Braithwaite Biomed (BBm) specifically, and for the establishment of a Cooperative Research Centre in the state for the commercialization of nanotechnology. Sherwood is a shrewd operator, but is renowned for his blunt honesty, independent thinking, willingness to engage good advice early and often, and persistence in working for the interests of South Australians above the daily political needs of his party.
Sherwood has a wife his own age, but no children. He was a successful equities trader for a Merchant Bank early in his career, but has since cashed in his share portfolio and expanded his personal wealth through direct investment in small-to-medium tech start-ups. While he doesn’t directly own any shares in Braithwaite Biomed, his investment foundation does. To avoid any question of conflict of interest, the investment foundation reinvests dividends and share splits from BBm into grants to fund rehabilitation/training programs for people recovering from workplace injuries, and small business start-ups being run by people who are trying to raise themselves above the institutionalized poverty which has been an issue for South Australia – one of the worst affected “Rust Belt” states. The one chink in Sherwood’s armour is his zealous protection of intellectual property rights. He is a firm believer in the value of IPR to new and upcoming enterprises, and has strengthened South Australia’s legislation in the IP domain considerably.
Wildly popular in his home state -and seen as somewhat of a maverick by his colleagues on the national stage – Sherwood is the political leader I want for South Australia.
- In the wake of the Australian Labor Party’s ongoing problems with “faceless men” and the perceived bully-boy tactics employed by those individuals, seeds of change have been planted by individuals like <Name TBA – dependent on whether I cast a woman or a man in the role>. Their tenacity in sticking up for the rights of working class South Australian has not diminished, but the need for it has. With BBm’s huge licensing incomes for their Asclepius product creating improved conditions across the state’s economy as a whole, and Sherwood’s pragmatic grass-roots capitalism helping people to rise above the need for welfare safety nets, the state’s working population is happy with their lot. The need for trade unionism and profession-based worker advocacy has dwindled significantly, and the ALP are only just starting to find ways to be relevant again.
Their leader is an outspoken proponent for globalizing the benefits our own state is receiving on one hand, while also warning of the dangers inherent in having all of our eggs in the BBm basket. As Factor 46 strikes, and the roots of the contagion are traced back to early prototypes thought destroyed by BBm, the new ALP leader is to be proven right. Once Factor 46 breaks out, it is this leader who talks Sherwood around on the idea that when information is the difference between death and survival, that information should be freely available to all. The establishment of the South Australian hive of the Tome is a joint effort that combines Sherwood’s brilliant leadership and negotiation skills, with the humanist ideology and level-headed diplomacy of the opposition leader.
- Orville Braithwaite is a brilliant young bio-engineer with graduate degrees in computer science and molecular chemistry. He rose to prominence with the patronage of Mike Sherwood who provided initial venture capital to his nanotechnology firm, Braithwaite Biomed. With Orville at the help, BBm is recognized as a world leader in nanotechnology. Their Asclepius product is the first nanotechnology system which can be tasked to perform multiple tasks while in the human body. With some initial (highly) encrypted input from an operator, Asclepius fixes whatever ailment it’s instructed to target, even down to the repair of genetic material in patients’ cells as a preventative measure for congenital diseases. It does so via a range of biochemical “armatures” which are kept a tightly guarded secret by Orville and his team. They have had first-hand experience with what can happen when such secrets get out (another story to be told another day). As such, Orville is distrustful of the Tome initiative, and becomes one of the first examples of a Lorebinder. After being in business for 8 years, Orville’s company is now worth about US$78 billion, and has retained its independence partially though the strength of South Australia’s new IPR laws, and partly because Orville and his friends are paranoid to the point of delusion where their trade secrets are concerned.
- Orville’s beautiful wife Melanie has born him two children, and sits on the board of BBm as their communications director. It is rumoured that she was involved in the incident in which BBm’s security was breached 3 years ago and fell for Orville when he saved her from the nefarious designs of a multi-billionaire media mogul. Little is know of her background. She is rarely seen in person outside the board room, but she has Orville’s ear, and is rumored to be a key asset in his efforts to foil his competitors’ attempts at corporate espionage. She is known to be Mercurial, hard to pin to an opinion, and hopelessly loyal to Orville.
- Associate Professor Bronwyn Gallagher is a senior research scientist at BBm who also lectures at the University of Adelaide. She leads the team that analyzes the Factor 46 nanovirus and its devolutionary payload. She is a biochemist, first and foremost. Despite understanding Orville’s drive to keep BBm scientific information private towards the good of the public, she was a card-carrying member of the scientific community well before he was born. As such, her ideals are informed by those of the Tome – i.e. that knowledge should be shared, if only so it can be reviewed by peers with similar qualifications and that sometimes their insights in turn lead to refinements in the knowledge originally shared. While Orville prefers that such reviews should only ever be internal, Gallagher still has friends outside the company and will occasionally sneak a carefully isolated snippet of information out for an external opinion. While Orville knows that this happens, he turns a blind eye to it – knowing that Gallagher does her best to prevent a single scientist getting access to enough information to reverse engineer knowledge currently being protected by BBm. Gallagher has a grown daughter – Abigail -and is grandmother to a talented and precocious child named Allison – although everyone calls her Ally. In some respects, Gallagher’s arc through the web-series will be one of the more dramatic. She will be driven to extreme measures at a personal level in order to save her daughter and grand-daughter.
This it for this installation. Find out about more Tomekeepers characters next time!