Andrei Pechalin’s story “Heritage” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 18 December 2020.
I grew up in a family with quite a few high achievers: actors, journalists, engineers, etc. That puts some pressure on you to be something – you want to be successful as quickly as possible, almost so you can tick that off and move on. It can lead to bad decision-making, and I made some mistakes in my late teens and early 20s (although none as drastic as the protagonist’s, I hasten to add!). So I guess that’s where the core idea – how do you choose to live your life in light of your heritage? – came from.
I’ve written a few stories that are perhaps too obsessed with world-building detail and that introduce too many characters, so I wanted to do something more stripped down and focused on what makes those characters work. That’s how I ended up with just the protagonist and her mother. After a while I realised I didn’t have to name them, which for me underscores that this is about them as people. It also shows, I hope, that it’s possible to tell a story with strong female leads without ever mentioning their names.
The idea of the Shiftspace is really just the old trope of parallel dimensions, but I’ve given it some odd properties to make it weird and a bit dark. This works better with the overall mood of the story and the ending. I actually introduced the Shiftspace in an earlier story, ‘Jurisdiction’, where it’s used for extraordinary rendition, but I had to expand the lore significantly here.
I also play a lot of video games and there have been an increasing number of stories focused on parent-child relationships (maybe the medium is maturing, or maybe game developers are just getting older). It’s difficult to ignore The Last of Us and the last God of War, for example. I didn’t consciously reference these, but perhaps they shaped some of the overall direction subconsciously.
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