Paul Carlsson [the protagonist in Prophet of Bones] is using science as a benign tool to reveal Truth. On the other hand, there is the wealthy but brilliant scientist Martial Johansson who figures darkly in the story in several ways I don't want to reveal here -- in too much detail, at least. But through Martial you pose another ages-old question, that being: How do ethics and morality define how far science should go? Martial's experiments deal with attempts to interbreed humans with apes via genetic manipulation. Some of these attempts turn out horrifically, creating sentient monsters. In the creationist worldview of the novel, Martial would pose just as big a threat as Paul, wouldn't he, if he showed that God had created something so close to a human that, with a bit of tinkering, they could interbreed? Do Martial Johansson's "Dr. Moreau-ish" experiments justify his claim that science has a right to go where it will for the ultimate advancement of mankind, and why is Johansson one of those trying to thwart Paul's revelation about the bones of Flores, when one might think, at least superficially and if for no other reason, they would take the heat off of himself and his clandestine scientific laboratory complex? Why did you decide, when plotting the book, to add a character like Johansson; what role did you envision him playing and why?Learn more about the book and author at Ted Kosmatka's website.
Martial does pose his own substantial threat to the status quo, and his experiments have made things very complicated and dangerous for the political interests that fund him. But to some extent, he's the devil you know. Part of the reason he still has so much power is because it would be so difficult to get rid of him. What do you do with a mad dog on a leash? You can't let him off the leash, but you sure don't want him close to you. Martial is deeply ensconced in the socio-political intrigues, so there is no easy solution to the problem he presents. Paul, however, is much more easily dealt with.
The whole situation is balanced on a knife edge, and these new fossils could be just the push that will take things past the tipping point. Martial's motivation for going after Paul lies in his own desire to maintain his safe little bubble of autonomy. By silencing Paul, Martial keeps his political benefactors happy, and by keeping them happy he's able to ensure they turn a blind eye on the questionable experiments he's been running. In a lot of ways, Martial is meant to be a counterpoint to Paul. They are opposites, and yet they are searching for an answer to the same question: how do you decide what...[read on]
Writers Read: Ted Kosmatka (March 2012).
The Page 69 Test: The Games.
My Book, the Movie: The Games.
My Book, the Movie: Prophet of Bones.
Writers Read: Ted Kosmatka (April 2013).
The Page 69 Test: Prophet of Bones.