My mother, a recently retired teacher of High School English, has been reading my stories and asked me some interesting questions about the main character in the first novella Exodus: Mike’s Thread.

She was interested in the parallels between Mike Duff and Shakespeare’s Macduff.

There is a link, although not entirely a conscious one. I studied Macbeth as part of my O Grade English back in the mid 1980s. Mike Duff’s surname does in fact come from the Macduff clan, but indirectly through a two decade long role-playing wargame where one of the notable military clans is the Mack-Duffs.

Naming Mike Duff

The universe I wrote the stories in is an extrapolation of our current world, as is the one we’ve been playing our games in, although that is about 400 years further forward than the events in the Exodus series. So I decided as a homage to our gaming to make my central US Military character a chap called Duff, who could perhaps be the ancestor of half of the Mack-Duff clan if he survives long enough.

His first name, Mike, is a more direct lift from the generic name that US Forces give to the commemorative statues of servicemen around the place “Iron Mike“. So my guy is just another flesh and blood soldier, so I dropped the ‘Iron’ part.

Comparing Mike Duff with Macduff

That said there are reasonable parallels that can be drawn between Macduff and Mike Duff.

  • Both stand up to what they perceive to be an usurper of authority and bring down the usurper.
  • Both flee from their homeland (Macduff from Scotland to England to gather an army, Mike Duff into orbit with his troops).
  • Both are manipulated by others to ensure that they act appropriately (i.e. in replacing the usurper by the correct person)

Leave me a comment if you can see any other similarities, or if you disagree with the comparison.

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