|As I drove home, I wondered how my wife would take the news. On the face of it, my lobbying mission had been a success, keeping us in business: I'd persuaded the Government to water down its draft legislation against genetic engineering. But in return, I'd had to commit us to a project. And Harriet viewed herself as an artist, a free spirit — she never liked being told what to do.|
This novelette is a sequel to my previous stories "Ormonde and Chase" and "The Language of Flowers". The series is about a husband-and-wife team who make and sell exotic plants. Harriet Ormonde is a genetic engineer who views herself as an artist working in the medium of botany to create weird and wonderful plants. Her partner Travis Chase is the business manager who must make Harriet's creations commercially viable, while fending off protestors and politicians who object to genetic engineering and want to shut them down.
Each story in the sequence focuses on a different aspect of plants: the first story is about how they look, the second is about how they smell, and the third is about how they taste. I hope to write further stories focusing on other senses.
The main difference between "Super Sprouts" and its predecessors is that this piece is considerably longer, for two reasons. The pragmatic reason is that writing several stories about the same characters means I might eventually be able to turn them into a fixup novel (a practice with a long history in the SF genre). However, because each story focuses on a different sense, and there are conventionally only a few senses, I envisage around five or six stories in total. As the first two stories were just 5,300 and 6,800 words long, subsequent instalments obviously need to be longer than those, in order to make enough material for a novel.
The artistic reason is that I wanted to explore Travis and Harriet's relationship in greater depth than I'd done in the previous stories, so that the sequence as a whole showed the characters evolving over time. In "Super Sprouts", I decided that the time had come for Travis and Harriet to discuss having children. This is clearly a major crux in any couple's relationship, but it becomes even more significant when their business is genetic engineering....