Confidence Game - Author Notes

By Laurie Tom
Sep 16, 2019 · 466 words · 2 minutes


From the author: Thoughts and inspiration regarding "Confidence Game," this week's science fiction heist story for my subscribers.


When Mike Resnick invited me to write an entry in Galaxy's Edge's Sargasso setting, I thought it would be fun, but I didn't realize by how much. Shared worlds are generally pulpier than stories accepted by most other short fiction venues, which would allow me to write more a more action-oriented plot that would be difficult to sell elsewhere.

I read through the preexisting Sargasso stories in preparation and by the time I finished I knew exactly what I wanted.

I wanted to write a stage magician in space, because it's an occupation we seldom see in a science fiction setting. So I ended up with "Confidence Game," a story about an ex-con artist turned magician who gets dragged back into his old line of work in exchange for clearing his criminal record. There are a lot of stories about a criminal hired for one last job before he retires, but Daryl Yagami thought he was already done when his past catches up with him.

Daryl was super fun to write, especially as I built out his backstory so he would be capable of performing the tasks necessary for the plot, and of course, like any good stage magician, he has an assistant in the form of a Translator alien named Kappa. Though I was not able to work it into the story itself since it was rather extraneous, Kappa got his human name from Daryl, who named him after the Japanese kappa from folklore, since Translators look like tortoises (or turtles, which Daryl figures are close enough).

Probably one of the most entertaining things about writing a magician is that Daryl is allowed to pull off some crazy sleight of hand that might be questioned if another character was doing it, but it's no more outrageous than we might see a live magician perform on stage. Just because the story is set in the future doesn't mean that old art forms have disappeared!

Also, having Kappa in the story not only provides Daryl with a friend who is (mostly) in the know, but it gives him someone to play off of. I don't think "Confidence Game" would work as well without him, as Daryl spends so much time lying left and right about who he really is and what he's really doing. Kappa serves as the anchor for the audience that makes Daryl sympathetic, and my beta readers loved him.

I would have liked a chance to write another Daryl story.  He uses two names in this story and I actually had a third prepared for him if the Sargasso setting lasted long enough for him to make a return, but so far as I know, mine ended up being the last contracted for the series.

Most of this post originally appeared on my personal blog: The Rat's Den


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Laurie Tom

Laurie Tom is a Chinese American author living in southern California. She likes books, video games, and anime.