As I ramp up to blast through a rough, rough, lets-call-it-like-it-is, raw draft of "Sparks in the Void" there is one element I've been debating back and forth. Since the first draft of "Pocket in the Sea," I've been aware of the fact that as Mother(Clase) and Father(Lillenthal) age and the paranormal population in Albion grows, Ippy will be forced to rely more on rules and regulations than the honor system. While paranormals are rare, and paranormals with any ability to warp their reality to suit them are rarer still, the truth is that that a well-placed telepath with bad intent could do a great deal of damage in a very short period of time. A dishonest seer, psionic or healer could do the same. Clearly there need to be regulations and laws that apply to paranormals to prevent them from getting away with using their abilities to engage in debauched behavior. In fact, they may very well need their own legal system for a myriad of reason, the least of which is the fact that even weak telepaths can sway minds that are unprotected from basic compulsion, such as a common man would be..
This problem is one I've been intent on illustrating in 'Sparks.' The question still in my mind is how to present it. Part of me thinks that it should be a constant underlying theme, perhaps brought up as the paranormal contingency of the crew speaks among themselves, and as Lulu has his many debtates with Father. That it should simply be an element in the narrative like Diane was in "Pocket." If the reader is interested, then they will pick up on the implications and the importance of this element. If the reader is uninterested, then this is just so much more scenery to give the world depth and character.
The greater part of me thinks that treating it as simply a world-building element like that is a completely chickenshit approach to a very important topic. That writing this plot as an element that is totally removed from the major characters regulates this to a sneeze-and-you'll-miss-it detail which will have it none of the punch the conclusion (The Paranormal Bill of Rights) should have. It's important, in this world. It's a major political event, perhaps on par with universal suffrage I feel like sweeping that into the scenery says that all of our political upheveal at this time, in the real world, is just 'whatever' and 'unimportant' compared to everything else going on. And that is not how I feel, or what I'd want someone to take away from my writing. The Paranormal Bill of Rights is necessarily going to create a class of people that do not have the same rights or responsibilities as other people in a country that is based on a model (however flawed it might be) of equality.
I don't think, however big this may be to the characters once they are back in the land of the living, that the characters would worry about it terribly much while they are underway. When you are fighting for your life, when you are on a mission of grave importance, I doubt that your rights or lackthereof are something that looms large in the mental landscape. Perhaps more importantly, none of the characters save Lillenthal have really been characterized as politically savvy. I'm not sure Aaron or Lulu would understand the enormity of the law until after they had sufficient time to suffer beneath it.
And maybe the most damning concern of handling this issue of paranormal rights so lightly is that I don't know that the majority of readers would instinctively understand the need for these laws and regulations the way I do. I've spent untold hours on world building -- they maybe spend three or four hours sucking it in. I don't expect everything that's been made obvious to me to be immediately obvious to reader. All I've introduced the reader to is more or less morally correct, more or less likable characters using their paranormal abilities for the greater good or, at the very worst, a quick and harmless giggle. To find these characters suddenly subject to harsher laws could seem like sudden preachiness, a random (and pointless) plot twist, or a hanging thread in the plot (even worse, it could be mistaken as the remains of a side plot that was amateurishly removed.) It might even appear as me pointlessly griefing the characters for 'angst value.' All of these are things I want to avoid because I personally don't enjoy reading them. At the same time, a major side-plot involving a corrupt paranormal could seem like a massive plot tumor with ALL of the above problems. If I engage one of the main characters in scandal, it could really go badly.
It's really quite the dilemma for me. How would you prefer this plot element, which I see as vital to the story I'm telling, be handled. Would you prefer that it be a subtle detail that receives only a tiny bit of screen time? Would you prefer that it be a less subtle detail that is perhaps the subject of a humorous argument between Father and Lulu? Would you prefer that instead of pussy-footin' around I go in with my guns blazing and give it a full side- plot? Or would you prefer a plot-twist of epic scale that ties it into the main plot and the main characters?