28 Aug 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 21 - Commentary

As always, please read the chapter first before continuing.

Chapter 21 featured the great escape.  A car chase, allowing Treehugger to have her moment to shine.  The chase features three types of vehicles; the step van driven by Treehugger, the Chrysler-Nissan Patrol 1s driven by Evo's security, and the Harley Scorpion ridden by Charles.  Of the three, the Scorpion would have the best chance of escaping.  Too bad the package is in the van.

Car chases take some work in writing.  In a visual medium, like television or movies, it's enough to show the vehicles taking turns, their tires squealing as the coefficient of friction is almost overcome.  With the written word, the scene changes, becoming more about the reactions by the people involved instead of the adrenaline of a vehicle ramming another with chase music playing.  Adding to the complexity is Treehugger becoming one with the van.  While her body is still in the driver's seat, her consciousness is in the van's main computer.  Riggers are cybernetically enhanced to meld their reactions to a vehicle's system, from engine to steering to even the radio.  If the van takes a hit, Treehugger feels it as if it happened to her body.  Needless to say, this would get weird to write.  Fortunately, I also had Oz and Numbers, requiring me to place the "camera" inside the van instead of inside the van's computer.

Part of the planning for a car chase is figuring out where the chase is.  I had used placeholders at the time of writing, Wilshire and Smith.  When I wrote Crossover, a Subject 13 novel, I picked Washington and Main, hoping that they'd exist in Cleveland.  The hope worked out far better than I expected then; that very intersection was close enough to the main action that it made sense to keep it.  With Wilshire and Smith, though, I didn't have such luck.  First, having placed Evo in Renton, I had to rearrange the map.  Today, Renton, Washington, is a satellite city of Seattle, having its own industries, including an Boeing assembly plant and Wizards of the Coast.  It also acts as a bedroom community for people who commute to Seattle and back.  Naturally, I needed to raze that housing to drop Evo in somewhere.  The intersections mentioned do exist; they just don't have a corporate enclave or a red-light district office near them.

Numbers' crack about becoming the Chase of the Week comes from today's televised police chases.  It's a simple search on YouTube to find media footage of car chases in California.  It wouldn't be beyond the realm of conception that media outlets in the 2070s would feature the top five car chases of the week along the lines of today's sports channels showing the top five plays of the week.  In the future, the revolution won't be televised, but the top ten embarrassing mistakes by revolutionaries will be.

Chapter 21 was short.  The chase had to last long enough to provide a proper climax without boring the reader with minutiae, near-misses, and improbable stunts.  The point was made, Evo was not letting their rep be taken, and the crew got one last chance to show off.

Tomorrow, the delivery.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Lost in Translation's August news round up.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

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