In Other News – Prepping for Archfiend Rewrite

I’m going to be revisiting the novel I was working on in 2007-2008, Archfiend. I’m starting small, with a book jacket synopsis. This is my first draft of it.

~ * ~

Biochemistry student Mia is experiencing the worst day of her life. Still reeling from a brutal argument with her sister Kate a week before, her car breaks down in the middle of the mountains the day before her best friend’s wedding. When she finally gets a ride to meet up with her boyfriend at the hotel, she is informed by the local psychic she needs to go back to New York immediately – because her sister has disappeared, and without Mia’s help the rest of the family will be next.

As her family confirms Kate’s disappearance and adds more strange details to the story, Mia has to untangle the clues she is finding. Why was the psychic so insistent, and how does he know all these personal details about her boyfriend? Why is her best friend’s husband so critical of her efforts to find Kate, when his brother insists on following her to New York to help? Who are these European-sounding friends of Kate’s, and why won’t they tell Mia more?

One of those friends will snag Mia’s interest and take Mia down a bizarre rabbit hole that taxes all of her skills. It will take Mia more than her courage and her friends to figure out the whole story… before she follows in Kate’s footsteps.

TV’s Game of Thrones might be better than A Song Of Ice And Fire

Though after the 1st season, I never thought I’d say that. And until last night, I would still have held up the books as a better entertainment experience.

TRIGGER WARNING: I’m talking a lot about the sexual violence in the story and in the show.

I’m writing this after spending a lot of time thinking about the episode two weeks ago, in which a main female character endures a violating wedding night… and we get to witness it through another character’s eyes. And for a while, I was wondering “where’s my outrage? As a survivor, where’s my intolerance for this moment in the story?”

I realized very soon that my outrage had been used up in a few things:

  • I’d already started calling GRRM’s ASOIAF “A Tale of Rape and Food” long before the TV show. Seriously, the man can wax lyrical about the menu at a buffet or the body horror in a scene. I always wondered why he had to spend SO much time with the stuffed swans and the… well, I’ll leave that language out.
  • I was already insanely furious at the TV series episode in which Daenerys marries Khal Drogo, where their wedding night goes exactly opposite what the book says. In the show, we have the intense misfortune to actually witness it. In the book, Daenerys and Khal Drogo have a beautiful, extraordinary exchange which is short, but really encapsulates how she can quickly envision a life in which people are given choices, starkly (pun not intended) different from how her brother and his cronies had treated her. Khal Drogo treats her like a person, with her own opinions and preferences, and it’s a new experience for her. It is INSTRUMENTAL for her character. And we’re denied it, why? And we’re given what we’re given, why? What does it do for either character? NOTHING.

I stopped watching the show for two years after that episode. I didn’t want to know; I didn’t care. It was stupid, lazy storytelling. Where GRRM was “A Tale of Rape and Food,” GoT became “The Rape and Food Show.”

Then I read a news item that Emilia Clarke insisted she wouldn’t do nudity in the show anymore. And some time after that, I heard that the show was catching up to the books. That some storylines would be trimmed.

At this point, I had been waiting for Tyrion and Daenerys to meet as equals for ten years.

Yeah, ten years. That’s a long time to wait for two cherished characters to meet in a series. In the books, I always felt their arcs were very similar – unfortunate children finally given love and respect from an unexpected place, and that love taken away too soon. When I could see in Storm of Swords that the meeting was coming, I was on tenterhooks. I was incredibly disappointed when they weren’t in Feast for Crows. And after waiting 6 years? Soooo many “almost…ALMOST…nope!” teases in Dance with Dragons. The last scene in Daenerys’ arc in DwD was so infurating that I threw the book across the room. Tyrion’s scenes were, at best, a struggle to read. I wasn’t looking forward to whatever would happen in Winds of Winter.

Yet I still cared, a LOT, about these characters. That alone indicates how successful GRRM is in his writing, and before last night, I’d give him tribute for the world he built and the storylines he crafted in the 1st three books, despite still calling it a Tale of Rape and Food.

So when I heard the TV series was catching up to the books, I caved. I went back, with my spouse, to start watching season 4.

OH did I love Dinklage’s Tyrion.

And much to my surprise, I found both Cersei and Sansa (and Stannis and Tommen) easier to care about in the TV series.

I have also appreciated the streamlining, and Brienne sticking around, and I could deal with the issues of Daenerys a bit better.

But, and here’s the third factor:

  • There’s some sexualizing bullshit nearly every episode. I mean, prior to the wedding night violation in the same episode, there’s a scene in which a peripheral character is naked through the whole scene, and the important supporting character supposedly has sex with her on camera, but she is obviously VERY uncomfortable, and she’s in no position to withhold consent due to their history, his violent character and his place in a royal house.

That, my friends, is also a sexual violation, and I found THAT more uncomfortable because there was no easy way to distinguish between lack of consent and providing consent in a scene where the female character is visibly not happy with the situation. (see also: Cersei and Jaime.) It also wasn’t important to the motivation of either character at ALL; it was a scene like the one with Viserys in the bathtub, many moons back. It’s like the horrific Joffrey scene. It’s like all the body horror we’d seen so far. It’s like events in so many other episode when I wince and look away and think “Jesus fuck what was THAT for!?”

(Don’t get me started on how many times children are threatened with particularly nasty sexual violence. With weapons.)

With that in mind, not SEEING the event was a relief to me. I was like “fucking finally it’s behind the camera.”

I didn’t have any illusions that it was supposed to be a crux moment for the character who DID witness it. I didn’t think it was instrumental for anyone, and I knew that it was strictly done as a lazy-ass mechanism to escalate the “OH IT’S NOT JUST WORSE NOW IT’S DIFFERENT” moment of her story (hat tip to Chuck Wendig) and give her a supposed motivation to do something she didn’t want to do. Leading to more escalation and yadda yadda. Which of COURSE I agree was lazy and not important to anyone’s arc and could have been done a thousand times better and of course it was gross ….

but it’s grossness that the show has been slathered in for seasons upon seasons. It’s grossness the BOOK is dripping with. If you haven’t been noticing it, you’re ignoring the lesser supporting characters for the POV ones, and that’s another level of grossness in and of itself.

Given that, and given that I’d been so uncomfortable with the other scenes in this season – especially earlier in the episode, and given that I’d been uncomfortable with GRRM’s writings…and knowing that in a few episodes, I’d see the event I’d been waiting for for years? Yeah. No question I was going to wait it out.

Finally, after last night’s incredible ZOOM BANG of several storylines whipping along at breakneck speed? I am starting to wonder whether the abbreviated storylines have given us a better story experience with less overall sexual violence than the books. I’ll have to go back into the books and verify.

So, yeah. I think the show might be better than the books.

I reserve the right to change my mind if GRRM does something wonderful with Winds of Winter that allows me to ignore Dance of Dragons exists. ;)

Diving into that writing thing again

…because now that the computer is set up, I really have no excuse.

Okay, so, I could come UP with excuses (like, “dammit I need my puppy”) but they’re just shields I would use to protect myself from the Grand Awfulness of Brain Puke.

I will tell a story about that sometime. But now, it’s time to dig out the writing stuffies (specifically, this one) and get my ass – or, more precisely, my fingers – moving.

Pseudomorph – some work related to Skein

Old work, but still relevant.

 

Pseudomorph

Adenosine. Purio. Fewer than three. O2 here. Push nerve bundle into quiescense there.

Tander flew through the mods in Tania’s body – the sprites on the amygdala, the coursers in the heart tissue, the fiery in the left lung, the floaters in the blood, on and on. When Tania and Darren had provided Tander a trigger opening in their transes, accessible to her only at the moment their vitals went sour, she never knew it would feel like this. With the physical mind unconscious, she could partake in the body without restriction, without any controls from outside. It was both maddening and extraordinary: the freedom in the binding; the exultation between the walls of a single cell.

Tander raced like radiowaves through the nerve-slender polydiamond conductor channels in Tania’s bones, marveling once again at the strange intricacies of solid carbon sponge structure – walking coral reefs generating brutal age-old DNA strands, beautiful poisonous twining things swimming through the physical aether, random bombs ready to fire and either protect or destroy.

Enough.

She soared out of the bone and into the lymph, activating the nanetic toxin scrubbers to cancel the Juliet drug they’d given her. Time for consciousness to be restored.

O2 escalation. Breathe.

Outside of the body, her receptors could sense the clatterhoof of Darren’s horror and fear, the damp vibration of Dak’s tension and worry. She was beyond any experience of sympathy, but could still register the expression of unpleasant emotion and respond to it in kind. That is the contribution of Tania, Tander remembered – demonstrating the hormonal broadcast, the facial expressions, the muscle bunches. From Tania and Darren’s blood samples, stolen and stored tenderly by Tania over years of marriage to Darren, Tander had learned about the difference between male and female hormonal responses. Observing others interact with the two of them had given her a better breadth of knowledge. In addition, she had been monitoring three different corporations’ Analytics for ten years, and there was a great database about the different manifestations of illness in different bodies, depending on their skein. But even with all that training and preparation, being present within the body was a unpredictably gorgeous experience, one that was both alien and beautiful, and she found herself singing through Tania’s skin like this was an old home she’d left behind.

Tania’s skin shivered. She’s awake, Tander remarked to herself. I have to try it. I must know if this will work.

Are you there? Tander pushed the vibrations from Tania’s inner ear bones to her timpanic membrane so that Tania could understand them as words. Tania jolted for a second, then relaxed as Tander manually upped the dose of opioids. It’s just Tander, she vibrated, and I wanted to see if we could talk this way. If you understand me, turn your head to your left side.

A few skittering heartbeats, then Tander registered the muscle contractions that would have made Tania turn her head. The brace of the machines in Deep Analytics would prevent her from actually moving, but Tander wasn’t restricted to visual cues.

Good, Tander vibrated. Do you give me permission to continue communication in this manner?

Tania’s neck muscles bunched in an effort to nod yes.

Thank you. Please let me know if this is too loud or painful by clenching your jaw at any time.

Tania’s jaw relaxed.

Thank you. You are currently undergoing a great many damage control operations, but I am aware you will want to know what is happening to you. I do not think we can communicate two ways, unfortunately, but I will ask you questions and choose facial muscles for yes and no responses. Tander paused and vibrated more slowly. If you understood all of that, please turn your head to the left side. If you did not, please turn to the right.

Tania’s muscles pushed for left.

Tander turned away from the earbones, thrilling at her success. Oh we are going to have a marvelous time, Tander thought, and started to work, narrating her progress all the while.

~ * ~ * ~

Tania was reeling.

She can talk to me from inside me.

If she can talk to me this way, she can talk to Darren this way. And if we have a way to communicate like that, we never have to use our trans again. Completely secure communication. Completely unhackable.

This changes everything.

We have to put failsafes in, she thought wildly, to keep her out when we want her out. Or to boot her out in case something goes wrong and she goes rogue. History’s littered with stories of rogue AIs. But who cares, really? This is exactly what we were looking for. She felt her heart skip in glee as she realized how much power the three of them had.

We will get him, she thought. We’ll get Grodd.