13 Jul 2017

Boomers Like Me - Commentary 2 of 2

A rogue robot has existential angst in the conclusion of "Boomers Like Me".

Lorelei has made her escape and has a new life as Erin.  The story picks up six months later.  A lot of the details I might have fleshed out more if I wasn't hampered by a word count limit.  The fanfic contest encouraged short stories, mainly for the ease of the judges.  I mentioned the difference last week, but it doesn't hurt to say it again here - writing short stories is a different enough skill from writing novels.  Short stories have to get to the point, so there's no time to get into details, like Lorelei meeting with the black marketer to get new identification.  It's worth trying both formats, especially if you're writing fan fiction = it lets you discover and expand your writing abilities.

Lorelei/Erin is now in Tokyo.  Why there?  That's where the Knight Sabres are, the main characters of Bubblegum Crisis.  My approach to fanfic is that the characters who appear in the original do need to make an appearance.  Otherwise, I'm just writing original fiction under someone else's title*.  And I have a rogue boomer, the main target for the Knight Sabres.  So, this chapter has a lot more name dropping than the first.  The AD Police - the unit responsible for fighting rogue boomers - also appear, mostly as cannon fodder.  Other names dropped - Hot Legs, the nightclub Priss performs in; Lady S633, home to Sylia Stingray, the head of the Knight Sabres; Silky Doll, Sylia's cover business, a lingerie story; the Member II pistol, a cut down rifle that Pris prefers to use.

Ariko, though, is my creation.  She's a fellow courier, though she rides a bicycle, and a way to show that Lorelei/Erin is fitting in with others.  Ariko doesn't suspect that her friend is a rogue boomer, and Erin isn't telling her, for good reasons.  Ariko's main purpose is to get Erin into Silky Doll.  However, she's also the reality anchor for the boomer.  As long as Ariko is there, Erin can fit in with humans.

The trip to Silky Doll does raise an odd question - what sort of underwear does a robot wear?  Most people want comfort, some want to feel sexy.  Given the purpose of Lorelei's make and model, she's going to have touch sensors.  But if she's buying for herself, instead of being supplied by an owner, then the question is just hanging there.  I figured Erin would go with inexpensive underwear - something that can last under normal wear and tear but without the issues that arise from digestion and reproduction.  She's not dating; there's no need for anything fancy, and her programming lets her feel sexy no matter what she wears.  Naturally, I only think about this question now instead of while writing - the answer was so obvious then, but without the thought processes that led to the conclusion.

The above is something to think about no matter the character, really.  What sort of clothes - underwear or outerwear - would the character wear?  Sometimes personality dictates the answer.  Autumn in Unruly has a drawer full of lacy underclothes while Skye has a number of sports bras along with fancier underwear for special occasions.  Nasty from Subject 13 wears comfortable underwear, often mismatched because she doesn't care about that sort of thing most of the time.  Although, she would have made the effort to make sure panties and bra matched in Crossover.

The main thrust of Part II was to have robot existential angst.  Erin is well aware of who and what she is.  If she was merely a runaway robot, she'd be returned after a memory wipe.  However, she killed her owner.  Anyone hunting her isn't going to stop to consider what happened to cause her to kill, just that she killed and is dangerous.  Erin is well aware of that, too, thanks to news reports about the AD Police.  Renegade boomers get shut down, usually in a violent way.

There was a Part III written, but dropped for the fanfic contest.  It's been lost over the course of several hard drive changes, but I still have some of the feedback.  The last part was the last recording Erin made, ending with two words - "I am."  I really wish I could remember what I had there.

I also had ideas for a part in between Part II and the lost Part III..  It would have involved Wagner's youngest daughter, mentioned in Part I, tracking down Lorelei and using Ariko as a pawn.  Keep in mind that Lorelei considers the daughter to be much like her father.  Erin would have had to reveal her secret to Ariko during the chapter.  The events would force Erin to decide which was more important to her, Ariko's life or her own.  It wouldn't have been an easy choice, either.  I have a start to it, from Ariko's point of view.  However, "Boomers Like Me" was one of three fanfics that got me wondering why I wasn't creating an original work, considering how little of the main Bubblegum Crisis cast appear in the story.

I don't normally write in the first person.  I prefer ensemble casts, even when I have a solo lead - see also Subject 13 and The Soul Blade.  With a first person perspective, the only events that are shown are those that the main character is around to participate in or, at least, witness.  The fight between the AD Police and the rogue boomer - taken from the first episode of the OAV - had Erin hiding.  I kept the fight short - the purpose was to propel Erin into her angst, not make her a participant.  The hardest part of writing in the first person was keeping the tenses straight.  The first draft had tense problems all the way through.  I naturally tried to use past tense, which is how most stories are told.  Except, the opening sentence - "He is dead" - doesn't hit as hard in the past tense.  One sentence determined the nature of the writing that followed.

First person also meant trying to figure out how to get key details out to the reader.  Look at this commentary - I use "I" when referring to myself, not my name.  Yet, I needed the name out there early enough so that it didn't look like I was hiding it.  Wagner's bodyguard used Lorelei's name more so that the reader knew who she was.  Likewise, getting a description of Lorelei in resulted in a scene where she changes her looks.  Apparently, you can get away with one mirror scene in a writing career to describe a character, and that was mine.

"Boomers Like Me" was my most serious fanfic.  I tended towards oddities and crossovers, or even odd crossovers.  The effort was about the same, though in 2000, I was still on the improvement curve.  The story let me stretch my abilities, which is always a good thing.  Without "Boomers Like Me", I might not have had the confidence for /Subject 13/, and that work was a gateway to longer efforts.

Friday, The Soul Blade epilogue.  Surprise!
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Bond Project introduction..
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, a hiatus week.  Things got weird for me this week.  Sorry.

* If you read last week's commentary, that's why I switched to original fiction - I was just using the setting, not the characters.  Note that there can be exceptions, mostly where the setting is large enough that original characters can explore without ever running into anyone from the main work.  Works that can support such approaches include the various Star Trek series and, arguably, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica (either version).


  1. Yeah, it's one of those situations where the original anime characters might as well make an appearance... you're already over the line of "using without permission" (as in your header for the stories), might as well take advantage of that fact. That's the reason why Mason will likely never return (except possibly as a cameo) in "Epsilon Project", and why I ultimately filed the serial numbers off of Alice's ties to Angel Investigations. If I'm using the time lord race, or the Buffy setting, I'm already opening myself up to the comparison... in fact, fanfic tends to read differently from original works there. It assumes a degree of knowledge. Incidentally, I feel your Part I by itself could read like it's own story with just a few edits as well.

    That's kind of fascinating, about the Part III and related details. You may be a bit like me there, in always seeing the possibilities for extending things, spooling out more details into plot points. The self/Ariko debate is an interesting one too.

    Regarding first person, the naming worked fine (at worst a necessary cheat) and changing one's appearance also gives leniency to a mirror scene. As to clothing, seems like a possible route to take upon getting stuck. Oh, noticed your little shout out to 'Generation Gap' in the prior week, nice to see they're still around online too. ;)

    1. There's a reason why this was one of the stories that spurred me into writing original works. :) Boomers was meant to be fanfic, but it came from an original character in the setting, so I was pushing the definition. And I thought it might be interesting to see the Knight Sabres from an outsider's view. Oh, right, yeah, that can muddy things a bit. I remember Mason and Kat from before Epsilon. I agree; a few additions to the last paragraph and the story could end there.

      Even the other works I've posted have room to continue. Lethal Ladies was intended as a series. By the Numbers has a few ideas for follow ups already. Unruly's premise means I have a full school year to finish. So, yeah, I keep an eye on what could happen beyond what's written. The debate was going to be self-preservation versus being human, a way to show how much Erin has progressed since her escape.

      I was worried more about timing. If I wait too long before mentioning a name, would it be noticeable? So, a quick mention early, even if it was a cheat, helped. The mirror scene did have a purpose beyond just describing Lorelei; she was changing her appearance to escape, a critical part of the narrative, so I may just get away with this and still have a mirror scene for later use. I should grab the files while they exist; it'd be handy to have a local copy again. ^_^;;