6 Jul 2017

Boomers Like Me - Commentary 1 of 2

Last week, I posted the first of a two-part fanfic.  "Boomers Like Me" was one of three fan works I created that had me wondering why I didn't just do original work, the other two being an incomplete story based on Final Fantasy VIII and an incomplete alternate-future Sailor Moon story partially posted elsewhere.  That last one involved enough world building that I could have created an original work for the same effort.

I am not putting down fanfiction.  It's a great way for budding authors to learn the mechanics of writing while building confidence and finding their writing voice where the the stakes are low.  Experimenting is to be expected.  But when you start making wholesale changes to the setting and characters, it may be time to make the leap to original fiction, even if it's still inspired by fandom.  Again, everyone has to start somewhere.

The bulk of "Boomers Like Me" was written December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000.  I ended 1999 the way I spent most of the year - doing overtime.  The Y2K bug was more hype than effect, mainly because IT departments were working hard to make sure that critical systems didn't cause major time problems, such as rolling back a hundred years or jumping ahead 17 000*.  I was supposed to be scheduling test files to make sure that they triggered properly.  They did.  But in between the scheduling, which was easily done from a batch file, I typed up `Boomers Like Me".  It was a few weeks later when I finally had the time to sleep and wind down a bit from work when I realized that I wrote a story about an artificially intelligent robot having a homicidal break the night of the Y2K bug.

Lorelei's origin came from R. Talsorian's Bubblegum Crisis RPG as much as she did the direct-to-video anime series.  Granted, the game was based on the anime, and included all the elements from both Bubblegum Crisis and the follow-up/prequel series, AD Police.  The book was ideal for looking up little details after watching the series.  In the game, it was possible to be a boomer, the setting's name for a robot, but the suggestion was to keep the android character around the same power level as human PCs.  Thus, combat boomers were out, but the BU-33S, aka the sexaroid, was allowed.

Every bit of writing advice I'd heard included making sure that the story started with a hook that would keep readers wanting more.  The very short first paragraph, all of two words, was what I thought of - short, succinct, enough information to show what just happened without necessarily going through the actual murder itself.  The follow up paragraph went right into the main character's mindset with her immediate panic.  The entire first part was the escape, getting away from the scene of the crime, building towards the end.

During Lorelei's escape, I tossed in what would normally be mundane encounters.  Lorelei, though, is in full flight, running away and sees everything as a potential threat to her existence.  The annoying seatmate attracts attention from station security.  Customs follows up on obvious discrepancies, and this was before security theatre existed in airports.  At the same time, Lorelei is an artificial intelligence.  Her thoughts come from heuristics that include simulated emotions.  Her thinking shows how she invokes those emotions.

The idea of an android gaining sentience is an old one.  In film, renegade robots can trace back to the German film Metropolis.  Not all robots go mad when they gain sentience - Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is a perfect example.  Lorelei committed murder just before the story started, but it may have been justified.  So, temporary insanity or self-defense?

As mentioned in the disclaimer at the beginning of the chapter, "Boomers Like Me" won its category at Anime North's fanfic contest.  I wound up winning something for the contest's first five years, never getting the grand prize, but placing no lower than Honourable Mention, getting category wins four years out of five.  This is after slowly turning around my desire to write and not having confidence.  Apparently, I can write.  Go fig.

The fanfic contest had a 5000-word limit, which I may have slipped by or came close to exceeding with "Boomers Like Me".  This puts the work solidly into the short story range.  The skills needed to write a short story are just different enough from writing novel-length works, something I discovered in 2006 with Lethal Ladies.  Short stories reward conciseness and getting to the point quickly.  There really isn't much time for in depth development.  Everything needed has to be out there.  Yet, I didn't want to just state what everything was.  Details are there, but much of it is through inference, including the personality of Lorelei's owner.

Friday, the conclusion of "Boomers Like Me".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, St Trinian's.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Bond Project introduction.

* I was using Windows 3.1 running on top of DOS 6.22.  DOS handled the change from 1999 to 2000 with no problems. Windows 3.1 used the last two digits of the year, then added a `19`in front, leading to years being listed as 19100.  It still worked, mainly because Windows ran on top of DOS at the time, so files were dated correctly, just not displayed properly.

No comments:

Post a Comment