Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

So I had a half day-dream/dream last night about a (medicore cliched and generic) plot for a book. I was idly considering actually fleshing it out but realised why bother, I might be lucky to get 2 people to read it and the only comments I'd probably get is "oh so it's a Ghost in the Shell fanfic?". None-the-less, here goes.




First off is an as yet undecided intro. Intros are important, both as giving a firm beginning to a story, in setting the tone, and giving a good first impression.

Next we have the protagonist meandering around at night in some gaudy neon lit techno chinatown, basically something straight out of William Gibson's Sprawl series, or maybe Blade Runner (the movie version, not Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep's post-apocalyptic radiation tainted one). Amongst the seemingly endless panoply of little makeshift stalls hawking everything and anything, he finds one selling the particular model of prosthetic arm he's been looking for. He inspects the wares, haggles over the price, has it wrapped up and takes it home, as it begins to rain.

Our protag arrives home to his dingy little apartment flat in a building teeming and overrunning with tenants. (No too much like Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room, but worth considering). He finds his (fill in the blank) on the balcony, laying on her back, in the rain, staring up at the sky. He puts the prosthetic down and quietly saunters over to her, to which she softly asks him where the moon is.

There's some flashy display of the current level of technology in the setting as he immediately tells her that the moon will only rise at so-and-so time which isn't for another so many hours. She then asks him what he'd have done if he couldn't just look things up like that on the internet. He replies that he'd have made a show of leaning over the balcony to get a little better view, before shrugging and saying he doesn't know where the moon is, adding that he'd hope that the rackety balcony wouldn't cave in leading both of them to plummet to their death. She slowly tilts her head to face him and asks him why he's being so morbid, while she herself is lying soaked to the bone, hair plastered to her face with rainwater.

Scene change and he goes to fetch her towels to dry off with. You get a cute montage (wait that's not the right word) of her sitting on a chair gazing out at the still-open balcony doors while he combs her hair and tangles out the knots. All the while Sleepthief's You Did a Good Thing plays in the background (maybe a remix with strings. More strings are always good.) Next scene change and she's lying down on her stomach on the bed, as he uses some fancy tool to detach her current prosthetic arm, and then proceeds to attach the new one.

This part I completely forgot, but it was some important and serious dialogue. There's a bit of build up since she arrives on screen alluding to the fact that she's unhappy living in the current days and times with technology everywhere, and that not just her arm, but her entire body is prosthetic. She wonders aloud what it would be live like a "real" person, maybe emigrate to some third world country where the hustle and bustle of technology hasn't taken a hold yet. Protag points out to her that her view is all rose tinted and those places aren't all pretty pastorial scenes full of happy old school goodness and transplanted nostalagia. Then she asks him why he hasn't replaced his flesh body with a prosthetic one. At some point around here she breaks down emotionally and he just holds her as they both fall asleep. Phildel's Afraid of the Dark plays in the background.

Scene change, protag wakes up, goes to close the balcony door, puts on some coffee and begins mopping up. He gets a videocall and answers. On the screen your generic typical looking nerfarious character tells him to see him, he has a job. Protag looks wistfully at his coffee. Bad guy tells him it's okay, he'll have a warm cup for him when he pitches up.

Protag marches through the rain and wind and makes his way to the next place. He takes off his raincoat, then seats himself next to some timid looking stranger who is fidgetting in one of the stages of panic. Turns out that he had some important research prototype item of nondescript nature stolen, and needs it both stolen back, and the thief (and any one else who knows to much), taken care of. They talk for a bit to get more facts, then protag goes off.

What follows is the usual action scene stuff. Protag tracks the thief down to some fence masquerading as a pawn shop, shoots both the thief and the fence's prosthetic, then uses another fascinating technological implement to move the prosthetic body, bullet hole in its head and all, up the stairs, tripping all the booby traps. Walking behind it, protag then finds the fence's real body crawling out of one of the rooms and shoots him. He goes back downstairs, picks up the stolen item, and heads back.

There's a scene as he gets confronted by a bunch of mafia-esque goons whose curiosity was picqued by the fence's traps' gunshots, but they let him go when they found out who he's working for.

He makes his way back to the gentlemen of negotiable morality and returns the stolen artefact. When the owner expresses concern that the fence's prosthetic body/head might have seen and recorded something, the protag hands over a second bag with the severed prosthetic head in it, ready for one of the stolen item owner's corpsediggers gravediggers (I had a better name for them at the time) to peruse through the remnants of the memory as to what it saw and who it might have told. Anyhow the boss gives him a nod and the protag leaves.

On the way back he stops to get food at some street-side stall and there's a bit of a scene with a delinquent causing trouble as an excuse for a bit more action and to show that the protag is a kind of a nice guy maybe.

He eventually gets back and this time she's sitting right in front of the balcony door, wrapped in a blanket, but barefoot with feet sticking out, and this time the door is closed, and she's watching the raindrops trickle down on the glass. He sits next to her wordlessly and eats.

He wakes up, ears ringing with static noise as everything slowly blurs into focus (word note: hypnagogia). Again another montage of his day-to-day life, doing the generic action pew pew violence thing. At some point it's revealed that he's making all this money to pay off her prosthetics. While most people are remote controlling the surrogate bodies from terminals, it's revealed that something happened to her real body and so she's on some fancy and expensive life support system that he's helping struggle to pay off.

After an appropriate amount of faffing around, a new day (night, since the entire thing seems to be set at night and in the rain) begins. He wakes up, makes some breakfast, and she's sitting on the side of the bed, listless, eyes glazed over and staring at the ground, but still talktative. He goes out to run some errands and returns many hours later. I think there was something missing here that buffs the plot holes up from swiss cheese to sink holes, but anyway.

He gets home, dramatic music starts playing. Walks in to the bedroom, sees her body slumped onto the floor on its knees. In front of it, broken glass, wires, shattered medical equipment, remnants of a life support system, a lifeless brain. He falls to his knees. Screen fades to black.

A silent montage to fitting music (I spent like an hour scratching my head, closest I got was The Gathering - A Life All Mine, or maybe something by Sarah McLachlan). Anyhow, protag goes through all the grief and suffering, has both her human remains and prosthetic remains cremated, before proceeding to bury himself in work to take his mind off things. It's mentioned that if he had just sold the prosthetics instead of having it destroyed for sentimental reasons, he wouldn't have had to pay it off, but he keeps doing his job because it's all he knows and he doesn't know any other life.

Eventually after some more action to mix things up a bit, he gets a videocall for a job. He cleans himself up, dresses up all neatly, and goes off to meet the next client.

Next client is an immacuately groomed man who seems like the kind of rich and powerful person in charge of a powerful corporation but needs something taken care of on the side, and it's important enough that he does it himself. Unlike the previous jobs, this one is a retrieval (aka, theft), but he's the only one of the calibre that can do it, so he accepts. Also mention is made of the fact that even though he can afford to use surrogates, he does all his jobs in person. Foreshadowing yay!

Protag finds his way to the destination of his next job, which at the time I dubbed with the codename of Sakata Industries due to me plagiarising Square (Enix?)'s Front Mission 1. He makes his way inside discreetly, taking care of the guards without killing anyone, finds what he was looking for, and begins making his way back, when suddenly, a large group of angry looking people with guns show up. Surprise! It was a setup! In the face of overwhelming force with no option, he gives up without a fight.

He's taken for interrogation, there's some drama and suspense stuff as is fitting in these cases. Then, due to the fact that he doesn't routinely use surrogates (i.e. isn't plugged into them 24/7) they decide to use him in testing. Apparently the reason they needed someone to go in person to steal whatever was being stolen was because the facility was developing some sort of jamming device that forcefully disconnects people from the surrogates they're operating, at risk of causing potential catastrophic brain injury. They wire the protag up to a terminal, connect him to a surrogate, and drop the guillotine...

...protag of course, survives (otherwise we wouldn't have much of a story would we?) He's still kept in confinement as they try to find out why he survived and other test subjects didn't. While being kept strapped to the hospital bed, he starts getting auditory hallucinations. They keep getting worse and worse. Dramatic music! (well not really)

It turns out the voices in his head are one of the former test subjects. After sufficient dramatic suspense and stuff, it's revealed that when the guillotine dropped while the previous test subject was connected, his consciousness was trapped in the surrogate. When the protag connected and they were about to drop the guillotine, the consciousness of the previous subject rushed back into the protag's body, knocking his own consciouscness with it, leaving both of them safe in his mind.

With this revelation, the protag realises that when she committed suicide earlier by destroying her life support system, she wasn't actually dead: the life support system was devoid of consciousness because it had retreated into her prosthetic body/surrogate. Which implies that when he had her prosthetic body cremated, it was he who murdered her.

And at that point I didn't know what to do with the rest of the story. Protag eventually retreats into himself, leaving the conscious mind of his body free for the previous test subject to take over. The test subject then effectively is in control of the first human surrogate.

---

In the precursor to this story, many many iterartions prior, the story was much simpler. Male and female protag were living together, she was complaining about an aching arm and wanting to see a doctor. What the guy knew and she didn't know (or want to accept) was that her body was artificial, and the arm was mechanically defective. So one night he goes to buy a replacement, and replaces it while she's asleep. Her arm is tattooed though, so he stays up the whole night redoing the tattoo.

The next morning she wakes up and is cheerful that her arm is no longer in pain, but while eating breakfast stares at it, subtly knowing that something might be different. Similar to the scene in Inception where Mal returns from a dream and isn't sure if she's back in reality or still in a dream: female protag can't decide if she's remebering wrong or if her arm really is different.

I'm not sure what I'm doing with this story. Neuromancer had the whole artificial intelligences as the plot. I think the story I was going for was closer to Do Androids Dream with the whole "Am I human or an android?" question. In here the female lead knows her body is artificial, but not necessarily (in the beginning) where her mind and soul truly resides. Through the whole story she quietly demonstrates her disatisfaction with living in an age where humans are becoming more and more machine-like and losing their humanity.

Then the second half goes more along the lines of generic scifi plot like Front Mission where it turns out that the big evil corporation is harvesting human brains to turn into super powerful computers.

So yeah. This took a lot longer than I thought to get written down haha.