Category Archives: characters
this is teh first of many studies for the graphic novel part of my story. jim yarbrough is the artist, and the illustrations will be up to him, with me acting as art director.
here jim is exploring the characters of the boy and snake. the boy is fond of all things military, and ends up in somewhat the role of tsar nicholas. the two people to his right are unknowns at this point; jim often does this. the monk is rasputin, whose illustrious career jim is exploring to enlighten snake’s character. the three women to his left are hangers-on, part of snake’s charm i guess. the building in the background is inspired by the works of piranesi. even the backgrounds will have character arcs in this story.
from an article about facebook. sounds like the m.o. of at least one of my characters, either the boy or snake.
It’s tempting, then to view Facebook’s world picture as expressing the mindset of a sociopath–or even a con man.
The driving force of both is that their world is the only one that matters. Their own personal joy lies in dragging everyone else into their vortex and watching as everyone stares rapt in an excitement they can’t quite define. There’s a lot of fun in that.
Is there some ultimate meaning and spiritual uplift in the proceedings? Not so much. Rather, it’s the power of the game and the protagonist’s power in the game that matter.
The gullible–that would be us–play along because the game seems to offer something that we will enjoy: success or approbation, perhaps.
But, in the end, it’s rather hard to believe that every move Facebook makes is the move of a benevolent association or a social revolutionary, instead of a move by an advertising company.
Who might suspect, in their private hearts, that privacy is not something that enjoys too much philosophical debate at Facebook HQ? Rather, it’s simply something that stands in the way of selling more adverts. It’s an inconvenience that gets in the way of economic progress.
Because economic progress is far more important than any individual’s right to keep herself to herself. That’s not Facebook’s fault, some might say. That’s just the world we live in. We’ve all come to believe that economic progress matters more than anything.
an unconscious person believes ads and news reports, thinks what everybody knows must be true, gets caught up in their emotions and becomes intensely egotistic (panic about the overwhelming urgency of my needs in this moment).
a conscious person avoids histrionics and strong emotions because they cloud the mind, sees the twist involved in understanding the background truth, the boy and girl are more conscious now; calmer and more insightful, more rational. but in a quantum way, because we’re not talking about regular newtonian rationality.
these are my first thoughts. what does it say on the internet?
The unconscious is driven by guttural and primitive needs and can be unpredictable. The unconscious is extremely smart. It is also keenly perceptive even if the conscious person is not. It uses various hooks to let you know there are problems. If the problems are small, the behaviors are not usually serious. If they are more pronounced, it usually means there are more serious issues. The unconscious isn’t bad. It just makes life unpleasant when you shove issues on it. Or, when someone else triggers issues. When you are in balance with your needs and internal issues, the unconscious is a very powerful ally to your mental and physical health. You can actually get in touch with your unconscious and “read” it so you know when things aren’t right so you can do something about it. Most “normal” people have a balance between their unconscious and conscious self. When the conscious and unconscious are both aware of the issues, threats and conflicts, there is a kind of balance. The unconscious doesn’t need to raise flags by arresting conscious behavior. The truth is we are all a little imbalanced so even normal people can suddenly exhibit unconscious behavior. Understanding this behavior can give the salesperson remarkable insight into a person’s motivation.
The unconscious person is immensely and clearly perceptive and can be more so than the conscious person. People who are unperceptive as a conscious person can be razor sharp in their clarity of unconscious perception. No matter how unperceptive you think someone is, you can bet their unconscious is reading everything with crystal clarity. I am convinced, based on what I have observed, that no matter how imperceptive a conscious person is, their unconscious is still razor sharp. This means that your unconscious will “see through” almost anything but the conscious self may not. Because of the separation between the two, the conscious you may never perceive something your unconscious sees. For example, if someone is trying to manipulate you or fool you, your unconscious will clearly see the strategy. If the person who is trying to manipulate you is very good at it, you may not consciously be aware of it. Your unconscious will be. If you are in touch with your unconscious, you will feel uncomfortable about what is happening and realize something is wrong. Your gut is a good unconscious indicator. If you are out of touch with your unconscious, you won’t be able to connect the warning signals that something is wrong. People who aren’t in touch with their unconscious go through life unaware about some of their conscious behavior. If the problems are severe enough, their quality of life can be very poor.
Your feelings are a good indication of what your unconscious is telling you. Have you ever been sad or had feelings you couldn’t understand why you experienced them? If you are more connected with your unconscious, you know why you feel a certain way. If you aren’t, you can feel a certain way but not understand why you do. Also, you may be aware of feelings you have but not aware of how you are behaving. This disconnection between the conscious and unconscious can be small or large. It all depends on how many deep issues a person has. These “issues” can be unresolved problems such as being really mad at your parents (unconsciously – so you aren’t aware of being mad), for something they never did for you.
Don’t think only the unintelligent can be out of touch with their unconscious. Very smart people can be out of touch. This is because smart people can be very good at denial. In fact, the smarter you get, the more sophisticated you become at denial. They can be so good at it that they can make most any bad feeling go away. This is why some really smart people seem to do very dumb things. The dumb things are usually unconscious issues surfacing. This is how conflict with the unconscious begins to escalate and manifest itself with behavior the person is unaware of. What is funny is that other people observing a person in denial can read them very clearly. A person in denial can have serious issues and may behave in detrimental ways and not be aware of it. This is important to know when you are dealing with someone with these issues. They simply can’t see them.
The unconscious can be an unfair judge of people and their motivations. It has its own way of interpreting the world and it’s out of a person’s conscious control. An unconscious person can be vengeful and full of rage. Problems in childhood can shape how the adult unconscious person interprets the world around them. When the unconscious person is out of balance with the conscious person there are personality issues. A troubled, unconscious person can be a problem. When you couple this type of unconscious personality to its ability to clearly perceive the outside world’s intentions, you get a paranoid thinking that can be extremely suspicious and judgmental.
The best way is to work around unconscious behavior is to avoid direct confrontation. If you confront a person about what is their unconscious behavior, you will cause the person to become defensive (not good) and you may run the risk of becoming a target of their unconscious. So a good rule to follow is; if you are going to address someone about a particular behavior, make sure you know whether it’s conscious or unconscious.
but many people have a gut feel that something isn’t right with this person. Managers usually understand this behavior when a subordinate is doing it and may use indirect methods to contain them if they get too much out of line. If you are in the crosshairs of an unconscious attack, you cannot deal with it directly. You need to have other people (your peers or manager) be aware of this behavior so you don’t get screwed. The rule is avoid it as much as possible, but if you have to deal with it, you need to build a consensus that this person is a problem. You don’t discuss your problem directly with people, but you make sure there is an audience when this behavior occurs. Even if the unconscious behavior is subtle, most people will see it. If this person is attacking you, they are probably attacking others.
If you are convinced someone is unconsciously trying to attack you there may be little you can do. Understanding the root of their problem will help you deal with it. If a peer is behaving this way with you, this may be their way of competing. Withholding information is another way of exerting power when the person is unconsciously insecure. If your manager is doing unconscious things to you they may not like something about you. Usually it is a way of keeping more power for themselves when they are insecure. You may be a type of person they have trouble dealing with. You may want to try to understand that more and find out what their issue is. In some cases, you can do something about it. You can’t deal directly with their unconscious but you might try to gain more trust from them. If your manager has a problem with your personality, you might want to adjust to make it easier to deal with you. Don’t expect people with unconscious behavior to articulate what they’re doing or cooperate. Because the behavior is unconscious they are unaware of it. You have to deal with it indirectly. If your boss is having problems with you, it is you who have to develop a plan to (1) identify the root of the behavior problem and (2) do something that will make them feel easier about you. Depending on how deeply rooted and problematic the issue is, you may or may not be able to do anything about it.
Don’t forget that you might be the person with the unconscious behavior and are blaming everybody else for your problems. You may have similar unconscious issues with a person who is doing something to you, (see Transference And Counter-Transference ). If you are very much in touch with your behavior, you might be able to discover your unconscious issues. This is very hard to do. People who have good self-analytic skills can do this. Consult with friends or therapists, mentors, anybody you can trust can help give you feedback. Just tell them the story about your manager or peer. If they throw something back in your face that you do that stuff too, you may be guilty or even the initiator. (You may unconsciously choose to ignore sage advice which may be a problem with you – see The Personality Disorder & The Neurotic ). Unfortunately, people understand so little about unconscious behavior many don’t even know it when it’s right under their nose.
if you can get in touch with your unconscious, it can help you read people very well. Most salespeople who are good at their job already have some sensitivity to their unconscious. Unknowingly, they are using their unconscious that has the ability to instantly read people. They are able to ‘read’ it’s subtle messaging and see through to someone else’s unconscious. This is a very powerful tool to help you understand and read people. If you can refine it, your ability to read people and understand their motivations will be greatly enhanced. I guess the next question is how do you do this? Well, it has to do with how well you are connected to your unconscious. For starters, if you understand how to read your feelings and can guess the root of why you have those feelings, you are doing pretty well. For those who can’t yet articulate why you have certain feelings, or maybe can’t recognize you are having feelings, need to get in touch more with your unconscious. To do this, you need to first be able to know when you are having subtle feelings communicated to you. This takes some real perceptive reasoning. You need to know that one thing may mean another. Also note these feelings can be at a very low level. You need to train yourself to recognize they’re there then try to figure out what they mean.
more from this guy
Challenging a belief structure is like shaking the foundation of how we interpret reality. As a salesperson you may inadvertently discover a flaw in someone else’s belief structure. Be careful as to how you move forward. Presenting them with the ‘truth’ may cause them a lot of anxiety. If they can handle it, you may choose to expose them to the truth. If you think they may not handle it well, you might back off. If you really care about the person, then you should help them understand it. You should be with them through the ordeal of relearning all they thought was the way of the world.
Some people exploit destroying people’s belief structures. These people are insecure and are smart enough to have sophisticated perceptions about other people and sense when they are vulnerable. More than likely, these people have a personality disorder because they are insecure and it makes them feel superior to hurt people. People that do this are cruel and have no idea what they do to others. If the opportunity presents itself, you may want to intervene if someone is trying to destroy someone’s belief structure. It all depends on the situation.
and here’s a great definition from him that i can use to fill out my characters
there are two types of people, the personality disorder and the neurotic. The neurotic says “it’s my fault.” The personality disorder says “it’s your fault.” One takes responsibility for their behavior and the other doesn’t. The neurotic will take responsibility for a problem and can try to fix it. The personality disorder will unconsciously or consciously blame others for their predicaments and wish the world would stop screwing them. In business, the neurotic will work with you, admit mistakes and may try to fix problems. The personality disorder will blame others in their organization for their misfortunes and can hold grudges.
and this is completely different, from a dictionary of philosophy. apparently consciousness is THE hot topic today. this is a very thorough study i should read. hell, i should study them all, but i don’t have time to become more than a tyro.
The two broad, traditional and competing theories of mind are dualism and materialism (or physicalism). While there are many versions of each, the former generally holds that the conscious mind or a conscious mental state is non-physical in some sense, whereas the latter holds that, to put it crudely, the mind is the brain, or is caused by neural activity. It is against this general backdrop that many answers to the above questions are formulated and developed. There are also many familiar objections to both materialism and dualism. For example, it is often said that materialism cannot truly explain just how or why some brain states are conscious, and that there is an important “explanatory gap” between mind and matter. On the other hand, dualism faces the problem of explaining how a non-physical substance or mental state can causally interact with the physical body.
Some philosophers attempt to explain consciousness directly in neurophysiological or physical terms, while others offer cognitive theories of consciousness whereby conscious mental states are reduced to some kind of representational relation between mental states and the world. There are a number of such representational theories of consciousness currently on the market, including higher-order theories which hold that what makes a mental state conscious is that the subject is aware of it in some sense. The relationship between consciousness and science is also central in much current theorizing on this topic: How does the brain “bind together” various sensory inputs to produce a unified subjective experience? What are the neural correlates of consciousness? What can be learned from abnormal psychology which might help us to understand normal consciousness? To what extent are animal minds different from human minds? Could an appropriately programmed machine be conscious?
i’ve just figured out a strange story arc involving the boy and snake. quantum consciousness becomes a religion of sorts in the game, partly by choice when the boy and girl are designing the game. they don’t see how they’re going to get around it, so they allow for religion in the game.
in the isles ring of the antarctica game, the religion or philosophy is animism, where even the rocks and wind have souls and intelligence. the boy is talented, but no gardener.
in the mountains, the goddess rules. the boy tires of this and runs off to be a pirate with other lost boys.
in the lowlands, it’s like early christianity, only it’s quantumanity, and snake is an apostle with a growing church. the boy transitions from pirate to governor, when snake tries to make a deal with him – you join my church, and i’ll make you emperator with my fanatical minions. we’ll conquer the world.
into the wilderness, the boy runs from snake’s offer, and wanders alone, like the buddha, an ascetic recluse monk. he rediscovers quantum consciousness and remembers his mission. he gathers the wandering tribes for an assault on the citystates of the hinterlands, to spread the new way.
in the hinterlands, he spreads quantum consciousness like a prophet, performing many miracles and making many converts. snake’s church, now the state religion, finds him upsetting to the status quo, because the church controls the quantum things. as a great military leader he organizes all the citystates, which takes more control from the church, who benefited from mediating between the quarreling citystates.
in hell, snake is the pope, and uses the inquisition to persecute snake for his so-called miracles. he’s on trial for heresy, but the rulers of hell make a deal – help stamp out quantum insurgency and we’ll make you ceo.
in the gamburtsevs, he walks away from the bargain and faces the consequences of his actions.
jim asked me for a character sketch, and i’ve done one before, probably several, but this time i was a lot more specific.
physical description of the main characters
the girl – lisbeth salander meets anjelica huston
she’s 23. little: 5’3” with big black eyes and dark hair cut pixie short and flyaway (anime-like without being too much so). she weighs nothing and looks bird-frail, but she’s lithe rather than fragile, graceful but quick. when she’s tired she gets dark rings around her eyes. she is endlessly patient and gives generously of her time and energy, but when she hits her limit she snaps at people and be’s a bitch. she tries to hold in her observations, but her enthusiasm gets the better of her and she blurts things out. so she is tactless especially under stress. she thinks quickly but is never sure of her conclusions, and she often finds out what she thinks on a topic when she hears it come out of her mouth. she likes the boy for his warmth and his supportive qualities, and she appreciates the comfort and the things he does for her. but she’s not the helpless thing he likes to think, and finds some of his attention cloying and restrictive. plus he’s not as smart or quick as she is, and this annoys her.
the boy – donald sutherland meets gandalf
he’s 27. tall: 6’3” and dark and handsome-ugly. he’s gangly and his movements are awkward and exaggerated. he hides this with languid, slow-moving graceful gestures and long pauses. he used to have a stutter. he likes to be the man, to be looked up to. he has a sense of honor and tribal loyalty that extends to his woman and his friends. he likes the girl because she’s small and vulnerable and needs him, but he wishes she weren’t so stubborn and just a teeny bit nicer.
kurt – greggie meets brando
he’s 45. medium: 5’9” and his long ratty ponytail is graying on the top. his face is pudgy, he wears granny glasses, he shaves fitfully and incompletely, resulting in long gray stubble and strange bare patches. he smokes cigarettes, and there are many long burn marks on the carpet around his chair from his nodding off and dropping lit cigarettes. everyone urges him to switch to e-cigarettes, but they’re idiots. he looks apologetic, but he acts arrogant and dismissive. his health is atrocious – 50 lbs overweight, high blood pressure, diabetic, with early congestive heart trouble. he makes noises when he breathes. he snores loudly enough to shake his van. he sweats easily and his hair becomes lanky and falls in his eyes, but the graceful toss of the head is a gesture unavailable to him, and he swipes his hair out of his eyes like a tangled mop with his pudgy hand. when he smokes, he starts coughing and can’t stop, getting red and swollen, and drooling as his tongue protrudes and his eyes pop. he only eats junkfood but usually just has an energy drink, and then looks fevered and acts distracted. when he’s not actively engaged in something, he stares into the distance and his mouth hangs open, his lower lip pouching out.
snake – davie meets randall (steve buscemi) / minio
he’s 33. medium: 5’11” thin and bony, with short nondescript hair and a pinched face, older than his years, tense and nervous, quick moving and darting. he mumbles a lot and rambles on, but answers with a question so he has time to think. he’s always ready with a believable story, and seems to tell people everything, but nobody knows much about him or what he’s doing with his time. he is shifty looking and has a good salesman’s patter, and people check their wallets after he passes. he is addicted to coke or meth, and is fidgety and always scratching himself.
fairy – miss piggy meets lorie / mom
she’s 37. short: 5’3” and blowsy, with long red frizzy hair, as round as she is tall, with a shelf of an ass and a tiny little waist. and she’s sweet. overbearingly so. the southern kind of sweet that stabs you in the back with the smile still on her face. she likes pink frilly things that make her look like gift wrapping, and has the fashion sense of a burlesque queen, so she looks like a fat hooker and acts like mae west. she’s very angry under this sweet exterior, and gives evil looks and says vicious things behind peoples’ backs. she wants everyone to do things her way, and is hypercritical of others while blameless in her own behavior, even tho a lot of things go wrong because she loses and forgets things. she’s making up for some long ago abuse by being nice, but still wants to get back at anyone who offends her.
i’ve gone thru the chapter headings and noted what scenes occur in that chapter. and these are most of them.
dragoncon settings are the public spaces at dragoncon, the panels, inside hotel rooms, the food court, the gaming hall, the art and comic book ballrooms, the roof and stairwell, the pool, dragoncon tv.
realworld quantum effects…the sun’s radiance pulsates, clouds form in a clear sky and look like kurt, birds flock resembling kurt’s head, 2+2 stops =ing 4, etc. (photosynthesis uses quantum effects to turn light into energy). it’s hard to come up with ‘what-if’ macro effects…
boy/girl computer is when the boy or girl is sitting at their computer, at home or in a cafe or wherever, working either on the game or surfing the net or in communication with someone else on fb, twitter, email, chat.
boy/girl head is all the internal thinking and feeling. also when they act as the observer.
in the game is their character and its actions, also their thoughts and feelings and their observations as people in character.
the gaming community is the whole community of videogamers especially those who are involved in the quantum game, sometimes as a group, sometimes as individuals.
dreams and visions are vivid out of body experiences, especially to do with playing the game.
neutral settings for discussion can be the food court at dragoncon, a bar, a room or suite where play-testing occurs, whatever passes for a game development office (which won’t be fancy, and probably not even paid, perhaps a squat with illegal heat, water, electricity, and internet. a foreclosed house whose owners just walked away.)
the girl’s apartment is in little more than a slum; a cheap and filthy half-house in a bad neighborhood, shared by three girls who are trying to pay off student loans with minimum wage jobs. it’s neat, but the furnishings are out of dumpsters and there are always loser boyfriends on the couch, throwing empties at the trashcan in the kitchen.
the boy’s mom’s basement is moldy, and the furniture is all old and battered, it’s full of things the family hasn’t used for years, and the boy made a nest in one room and tunnels to the bathroom and the basement stairs.
the boy’s new man cave is an ultrahip designer loft in a warehouse with music and video studios and cutting edge programming teams, where he pretends the game was written.
the strip club is where the boy hangs out once he’s a star, with drug dealer friends and rock-star hangers-on. he throws money around and the girls vie for his attention because he’s hit the big time.
the girl’s work is as a salesclerk at the gap store at the local mall. she hates it, even tho she’s good at it and they’ve been grooming her for management. it’s loud with annoying music, her coworkers are shallow losers or insanely driven winners, and the manager keeps hitting on her.
kurt’s van is full of food wrappers and printer paper and well-thumbed manuals, as well as a gun under the seat and many pharmaceutical bottles in the glove compartment, with all kinds of tools and electronic equipment stowed in cubbies down the length of the van, and one wall turned into a mobile computer lab.
inside the kernel it’s all light, the brighter the point of light, the more consciousness; strings and bundles of light are thoughts or actions and kurt is an eggshape that resembles kurt in movement as much as feature. it’s a brighter version of the cloud levels in the game.
the droid in the street (the observer who sees the realworld quantum effects) is a whole community of strangers going about their ordinary business in the realworld and happen to notice when the game’s quantum effects change things.
snake’s head is thinking/feeling/observing from a user’s point of view (48 laws)
fairy’s head is thinking/feeling/observing from altruistic newager’s point of view (course in miracles)
the tech in the basement security room is just a pair of eyes and a hand on a mouse in front of a monitor screen. we’re not in his head.
security hq is a big gray building in an urban perk setting with many floors. the situation room is large, filled with monitors on the walls, and rows of desks and monitor stations, dark with hushed voices and glowing screens. there’s a glass-walled conference room on a deck behind the screens (wargames) where all the yelling goes on. other floors have cubes of analysts. there is also a lecture hall, a canteen and a locker room where swat teams dress. things are scarily orderly and disinfected. there’s no sign of the slave mentality; the workers consider themselves elite warriors and don’t mind privation for the greater good, so there’s no disgruntlement allowed, and when the grumbling starts it is ruthlessly dealt with, but this causes more grumbling…in the head of a main security person who is responsible for dealing with the quantum insurgency.
the media is a tv studio seen in peoples’ living rooms, on the set, and in the newsroom. the set is corporate black glass and metal, the newsroom is filthy and crowded with old and broken equipment, the managing editor’s office is a wreck, reporters do their work in their phones and submit it by email. the owner’s office is pristine and he’s never there anyway. since this is a realworld corporation, it should show wage slavery at work. there are the usual mouthpieces of corporate news, but there is a courageous people-minded reporter who gets driven out after offending tptb. we can use the egyptian press as an example, the head of the tv who kept trying to backpedal. in the head of a main media person who reports, there may be others.
government offices are echoing marble halls in 1930s monumental style with creaky old fashioned heaters and massive desks, grimy enormous windows, real paneling and parquet. people are faceless bureaucrats for a living; the appointed bosses are wealthy and powerful dealmakers. smoke filled back rooms. congressional offices, white house offices, departmental offices, pentagon offices, bosses of the security forces at hq. in the head of at least one government official.
back in the real world, the game hits and people love it. tho it has no corporate backing, it goes viral. music and fashions change and a distinctive culture grows up right away. as the game grows, so do the boy’s ambitions. he is both pope and king of this new quantum universe. funny quantum things start happening in the real world. the press picks up on it. the right picks up on it. there is an outcry. quantum physics is demonized. laws are passed, or brushed off and creatively applied. demonstrations happen. there is police brutality. more people gather. the boy feels dissed when the dominant culture brands him a devil. the girl is focused on seeing the game to a position of self-sufficiency (critical mass) and doesn’t care, but the boy is looking to the future, and decides that he needs to take control of everything because of the threat from the dominant culture.
inside the game, lots of players are learning social movement and resistance skills, and more players are working their way to level ! and going off to create their own worlds and recruit their own players. the outcry grows shriller and more frantic. the repressions grow more brutal. the crowds grow and grow. quantum effects become more frequent. more laws, more crowds, more riots, more disappearances.
the boy is approached by the other side and decides they can be used for his own ends, and cuts them in. people use the skills they have been learning playing the game to change the standing of the people. the dominant culture falls back in confusion, but come back with more force and repression, isolating the rebels and cutting off vital supply chains.
they start to dictate policy, the boy changes things in the game, altering rules and missions, twisting the lessons, identifying and capturing certain types of players. he discovers the sabotage the replacement programmer inserted into the game and confronts him. they join forces, blame the engine programmer for the sabotage and call into question the intent and purpose of the quantum kernel.
the girl stands up to him and throws him out, but she is too weak and disorganized, and he returns with backup, leading the call for the kernel’s confiscation because of its vast power, only to try and steal it himself, and in a struggle over a decoherence bomb, sets it off and destroys the original kernel.
the dominant culture is poised to deal the final blow to the resistance, cutting off all outlets, all communications, all supplies, all power, so there is no more game except on individual computers running on batteries or solar, because the internet itself has been shut down.
then a miracle happens. the quantum effects keep happening in the real world. the game’s internal communications structures are still intact, and people are still using the quantum skills they’ve developed, and still coming out in force. but the perception of the masses has changed, and the powers of the dominant culture suddenly shatter because they’re emperor’s new clothes. so the remains of the dominant culture squeeze itself into their gated communities and fight among themselves for limited resources while the new dominant culture enshrines the new institutions it has developed in response to the repression of the old order., and people quietly create the world they want to live in house by house.
and the story closes by letting the reader choose the ending.
whenever i think about a pirate story, i think about maps. old maps, drawn with ink on parchment, with unknown places illustrated fancifully. a map is necessary for many kinds of stories, and this story is rapidly approaching the fantasy genre, which would in fact require a map.
but not a regular historical map. i want a fantastic caribbean, something in between what sailors knew about the waters they sailed in in the 16th and 17th centuries, and what we know now with google earth and disney animation.
so i was reading michael crichton’s posthumous novel about pirates, and it has a nice map of the caribbean in the endpaper. i was thinking about drawing the negative space of the map, that is, drawing the water, and doing strange things with the features of the area, like number and placement of islands. my mind began to work, and for several days i’ve been obsessed with the caribbean, even to the point of looking at real estate in the tropics. i also admit to a certain fascination with google earth, and have been spending a lot of time cruising around looking at shorelines and natural ports (and never mind the cities that have grown up around every one).
the sargasso sea, where since the middle ages there’ve been tales of ships lost and ghost ships. yes, way before the same region became knows as the bermuda triangle. gotta have that, just thought i’d put it in while i was thinking about it.
this is an early map (early 1500s) showing the caribbean islands all out of proportion to their actual size, but reflecting the importance to the early explorers. they knew of rich lands to the south of the islands (quick thinking on the part of the natives) and to the west, but at this point they still thought china was just over the horizon.
i like this map because it doesn’t show anything beyond the coast of south america. hispaniola is the center of this area, and altho they’ve got the coast of venezuela, colombia, panama, and on up into the gulf and then up the eastern seaboard, these are all sketchy details, as if the islands were the important feature of this particular universe.
this one also shows huge islands and tiny continents. look, you can see both right and left coasts of the u.s.
and these days, who can do without google earth? even movies are using it, the news, the weather, kids’ films. yay. wish i’d bought google stock back in the day. so i’m like sitting on google earth looking at my caribbean, where my pirate novel will be set. and i’m thinking that the caribbean that’s sticking in my mind, my dream caribbean, if you will, the caribbean i would go hang out in while dreaming at night. my caribbean is more like the old maps, where you don’t care what’s past the coast, and all you’re really interested in is the island chain, and the places you can get to by boat.
now, i’ve got to say i’ve always been interested in antarctica, too. i wanted to go on the nsf artist and writer’s residency, boy oh boy, but because i’m totally unknown as an artist, and because i’ve had cancer, they wouldn’t want to approve my application, so i just haven’t bothered. but that doesn’t mean i haven’t spent a great deal of time fantasizing about it. i blame kim stanley robinson.
i’ve always been interested in questions of extremity. for example, what if all the ice were to melt off of the continent of antarctica? what if there were a physical polar shift, such that antarctica was now in the tropics? and what would be the new poles? turns out the new poles would be anywhere i wanted them to be (i mean, anywhere they ended up), because i can set antarctica
(and thus the north pole (here’s what greenland would look like without ice. it’d be ferociously fertile; make a great jungle in fact))
at the equator and spin the google planet around on its axis running thru loads of other-than-traditional pairs of points. like, i could make the north pole run thru the northeastern part of the united states. i could make the middle east the south pole. politically, that would tend to stifle the energies of these rather warlike countries. as would putting europe flat on the equator stifle their energies. cultures do better, speaking economically, industrially, when they’re in the mid latitudes, around 40-60 degrees. so in order to have anything much happen to antarctica, you’d have to physically move it into at least the temperate zones. i’m just saying.
when you strip off all the ice, you get a nice little group of islands, rather than a continent.
the northwestern arm is the antarctic peninsula, and adjoins the tip of south america. look at those adorable bays and those fierce mountains. wouldn’t this make a great map for a fantasy novel? and when you add the islands that lie outside the antarctic landmass(es), you get a nice bunch of really great islands that absolutely nobody lives on now except for a few shepherds and a military outpost or two.
the south shetlands are so near to the antarctic peninsula as to be part of it, so of course nobody lives there. at the moment it’s cold and stormy most of the time. penguins and climatologists.
i like the idea of putting antarctica in the tropics. there’s this cool archipelago between the antarctic peninsula and the tip of south america, called the scotia sea. it curves out and around, and makes a nice basin, fringed with islands.
cool islands. the south sandwich islands
and this is the scotia sea basin. you can see the falkland islands plainly, the south orkneys are the white slash to the east, at the beginning of the curve south. the south sandwich islands are along the easternmost curve of the chain, and running along the southern edge to the west are the south shetlands. altogether a lovely bunch of islands.
and in case you missed my point, i find these two areas to be quite similar. so, what would happen if a comet hit the earth and put the scotia sea at about 20 north latitude, and what if it dried up alot of the oceans’ water, whereupon the landmass south of the scotia sea would rise up and become continental, and the landbridge between south america and antarctica would emerge. you wouldn’t believe how much like the pacific northwest the pacific southwest looks.
there. a bunch of islands, wonderful places for piracy. and it would be awhile before civilization got to that point, and with similar scientific and technical advances. what a great idea for a book. copyright 2010.
when she was little, she had a pirate flag hung over her bed. a real pirate flag, from a famous pirate’s ship (calico jack, perhaps), fresh as the day it was struck from the mast. the sight of it over her bed always gave her a little thrill. later, the sight of anything vaguely resembling her flag (a plate of chicken bones, crossed anything on black) made her edgy and adventurous.
what was it like growing up in a theme park? the parents with their arcane interests and boring meetings, making a mockery of their glorious past in order to shill the tourists, while the kids her age were the only ones who took their pirate heritage seriously, layering real skullduggery with the cute fuzzy costumes they had to wear to charm the babies.
sometimes the only one she could talk to was Wallace the Talking Ape, a curiosity they’d picked up years ago after a storm. all sorts of things washed up onto the island after a storm. strange things.
she was one of the older kids, she and another boy led all the explorations and practice raids, and all the younger kids turned to her. she still wasn’t sure what the adults were up to, but it was something odd and maybe dangerous, and she was determined to discover their secret.
they’re not sure if he’s wise because he wont talk around most people. but if you bug him he’ll tell you, ‘eat me’. they assume he’s wise, because he looks wise. it’s his eyes. wise eyes.
sorry. he’s inscrutable, like an old buddhist monk. so everyone takes his every gesture as meaningful. but are they just gullible?
our heroine knows his story. he came with her from the island and they’ve banded together. he’s actually from the future, where they’ve been messing around with primate dna and produced an ape who could talk. they enhanced certain other abilities, too, starting with his mental capacity. not sure why they did it, but it would dictate what they actually did. anyway, he got sucked into the bermuda triangle, too, washed up on the island, and found the cenote, and popped out in an age where they’d as soon as eat an ape as laugh at its idea of fashion sense. they shave him in order to disguise him. our heroine has to be a transvestite to operate in the 17th century; and so does our talking ape.
this is i suppose a direct ripoff of planet of the apes.
- i need to research planet of the apes
- apes vs gorillas to see which one i’m really talking about
- what it looks like when you shave an ape’s face
- the geography of the caribbean island
- the geography of the bermuda triangle
a word about my lead character. it’s a girl, and she’s a lot like suzie in my second unpublished novel, splat. she’s a 20-something punk girl who’s had her brush with trouble and is tired of it, but can’t seem to settle down, and finds herself being a modern day pirate of a sort. she comes from a long line of outlaws, bandits and pirates, and there’s a tradition she follows, a code she tries to uphold, family expectations she tries not to disappoint.
and then she or someone very like her appears in caribbean history as a notorious female pirate, with a posse of dedicated buccaneers, and leaves a trail of glory and adventure.
* * *
or else, if i could pull it off, i’d want to do a dynasty, starting with grace o’malley, and going down thru the 150 years of piracy on the spanish main, and then down to this day, where a tribe of pirates carries on the ancient traditions in the 21st century. a dynasty of pirate queens.
that’s just what i’ve had come to consciousness in the few weeks i’ve been thinking about this story. there will be much more, and in little bits and pieces. but i already know her character at the start of the story.
i was sleeping this morning, dreaming of a bunch of animals sitting around in a small room, talking. an ape or gorilla, dogs, cats, a rat, smartass birds.
watching this dream, i began to think of my characters as animals, as an animated story. but as i came more awake i started to think about just having a couple of animal characters on board?
the ape would be really handy in the rigging. and you might as well recruit the rats who live onboard all ships.
so how do we come by an ape? captured by slavers on the east coast of africa and shipped over as a slave. currently working for the spanish as a diver. dresses, acts just like the men, nobody ever tries to get a word out of him. they call him tarzan once he comes aboard the pirate ship.
but how come they talk? is this like an animated cartoon in that all the characters talk, and to each other? are we supposed to blink once when the animals have something to say, and then accept it as normal? or is some magic required, a spell perhaps? feh. how about some futuristic device for giving animals speech? some universal translator, something like the dog collars in up. eck.
it seems every wrinkle i think up is doomed to obscurity. but that’s because i’m only starting to think up characters.
when i get them all together, then it’ll really be ridiculous. a female buccaneer, a modern girl transported back, an ape. that’s a good start.