25 Sept 2015

Crossover - Chapter 6

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade

Natasha walked with purpose down the street.  She marvelled at the different feel the city had.  People didn't cower in the shadows; they didn't avoid looking at each other.  So innocent, so naive.  It will be a pleasure bringing this Cleveland under my heel.  She passed a group of teenagers around her age.  However, there are some charms here as well.  Natasha let her gaze linger on the passing young men.  There must be someplace where I can meet them.  She turned to watch them as they kept going down the road.  And it wouldn't hurt Tori to get laid.

Pulling her gaze away from the scenery, Natasha returned to her original mission.  The buildings around would have been suitable back on her side; but, on this side of the barrier, all of them had too many people who didn't know their proper place.  Natasha revised her requirements.  Comfort dropped in importance; being hidden had to be the priority.  Out of habit, she checked around for witnesses before disappearing into an alley.  The darkness of the side street made Natasha feel like she returned back through the dimensional gateway.  The building walls loomed menacingly, forbidding anyone from going further.

24 Sept 2015

Crossover Chapter 5 - Commentary

Nasty's back in the Peregrine costume, Vicki is confounded by overpriced chocolate, and the counterparts start violating the space-time continuum.  Welcome to the commentary for the third chapter.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

It's still Friday.  The story takes place over the weekend of the convention.  It's going to be a busy time.

If Nasty and Eric were older and more comfortable with being sexually active, they would jump on the idea of a bit of roleplaying in the bedroom using Peregrine's costume.  That's a big if, and Eric isn't likely to suggest it, fearing that Nasty would not just reject him but run away screaming, or worse.

Vicki's biggest foe this time around is the crowd at the luggage carousel in the airport.  She could zip through the crowd as her tiny self, but that would mean revealing who she is to strangers and her father.  The crowd wouldn't really know who she was, other than a really tiny girl, but someone would take a photo with a phone.  Secret IDs are both a staple in the comics and difficult to maintain.  Masks hide facial features, but that's not the only way to find out who someone is under the costume.  Other details, like body language, accents, and hair styles, can help reveal the person.  There are ways around these problems.  The 1966 Batman series had one possibility; Batgirl, played by the late Yvonne Craig, had a red wig sewn into the costume; Barbara Gordon was a brunette, like Craig herself.  It's a simple method, but effective.  DC's Black Canary has also used a wig to go from black hair to blonde in the past.

The exec of the CHC is loosely based on the SOAP exec* who put on AC Cubed in Ottawa.  And, by loosely, I mean, composition of the exec, with personalities being from elsewhere and not reflective of the real people involved.  Any similarity is unintentional.  The hotel, however, is real, and is close to the real Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Does the real manager know how to sneak people in and out of the hotel?  No idea, but given what the hotel is near, I imagine so.  The comments the exec have are based on personal experience.  Running a convention is like a duck swimming; on the surface, everything looks calm and peaceful while, underneath, the duck is paddling away furiously to keep going.  The goal of the exec is to keep the con running despite minor emergencies.  If the attendees notice something wrong, then either they know far more about how cons work or something at the con has broken down horribly.  Murphy's Law is in effect, and something will break down.  It's how staff handles the problem that makes or breaks a convention.

The con office, usually a meeting room away from the main floor of the convention, is where exec and staff can coordinate.  AC Cubed had a number of printers** for last minute printing, which always happened.  As it grew larger, some printing was outsourced to print shops, as it was more economical.  The problem in the dealer room is a typical issue, one that always gets discovered early.  It's an easy fix, but it needs to be dealt with when it comes up.  The dealers need to be kept happy, too, and they bring their own electronics, including cash registers and Interac debit machines.

Vicki has a nice issue to poke at, her desire to be recognized as Pixie.  She lives in New York City, a place that has more than its fair share of heroes, so even having the Youth Brigade recognized and known by name is a big deal to her.  Vicki is the one who wants the team to have proper costumes, yet her father name checks the other girls - Flashbulb and Kid Inscrutible - first.  Her idea of going in costume as herself isn't as bad as it sounds.  In 2013, Hugh Jackman and Bryan Cranston both cosplayed as characters they played, Wolverine and Heisenberg, without being recognized.  As long as Vicki doesn't shrink, no problem.

The arrival of Micki's counterpart shouldn't be a huge surprise, given the explanation in previous chapters of how close the two universes are.  Micheline works for Prototype Omega, though, and doesn't get along with her Natasha at all.  More details of their history will be coming up later in the story.  Meanwhile, the light show as the dimensional barrier is broken should be enough of a distraction.  If Crossover was done in a more visual medium, such as a graphic novel or film, this would be a major effect, with all sorts of lights and flashes happening.  Movie trailers would show the scene ad nauseum.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 6.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Watership Down.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, comments on NBC's Hart to Hart remake.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* I suppose I should point out here that I was part of the exec of SOAP (Society for Ottawa Anime Promotion) and thus AC Cubed.
** Office printers, typically seen networked, not the desktop stand-alone printers.  The investment paid off in the early years, going back to even the All-Night Anime showings.

18 Sept 2015

Crossover - Chapter 5

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade

Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, late morning
The Eagle Foundation's jet rolled to a stop on the tarmac.  Nasty unbuckled her seat belt and stood up.  Even after not wearing the Peregrine uniform for several months, it still felt familiar to her.  She adjusted the outfit, making sure the padding fell into the right spots.  "Hey, Eric, how does this look?"

17 Sept 2015

Crossover Chapter 4 - Commentary

Still getting people to Cleveland.  Welcome to the commentary for the third chapter.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

Changing from writing mainly short fiction to writing a novel is more than just increasing the word count by a factor of 10.  The pacing changes by necessity.  Crossover takes more time getting the main characters to Cleveland than Subject 13 did getting Nasty to Rochester.  I did try to keep the interest up using character conflicts.

Crossover, though, was never meant as a serial, so it gets awkward at times cutting it down.  It took me a few more years to work out how to split a story into proper chapters instead of just scenes.  It's a skill of its own.  Not helping is having read a number of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels.  Pratchett didn't believe in chapters.  I, though, do, at least now.  Doesn't make it easy to retro fit chapters.

As pointed out in the comments section of the last chapter, Vicki had a tech upgrade.  Originally, she had an iPod to listen to.  Her cell phone wasn't a smartphone; the iPhone was starting to come out and was overpriced, at least in Canada.*  They weren't ubiquitous yet, though Blackberries** pre-dated them.  With a minor change, Vicki now has a iPad, though, again, not fully charged.

Keith has a hardcopy of the CHC's schedule.  Electronic copies are good for early planning, but paper is far easier to mark up and pass around.  Most conventions start on Friday, typically Friday afternoon.  Opening ceremonies can be full of pomp and circumstance or they can be informal welcomes that last as long as needed and no more.  I tended to skip them, wanting to get to the events.  Keith is early.  Keith has a good point about being early.  Meredith is going to make him late.

Micki's explanation is good enough.  The "mirror" universe is closer to a complimentary universe, like complimentary angles adding to 180°.  The Foundation has researched the universe, having had to deal with incursions before.  The stories of what happened haven't been written; Eagle has been around long enough to have had several Peregrines before Nasty showed up.

Keith and Meredith's arrival at the hotel didn't go unnoticed.  The comparison to the Millennium Falcon isn't a bad one, and one that wasn't intended when I gave Keith the car.  Both Keith's Yugo and the Falcon have been heavily modified and look like they're ready to fall apart if someone sneezed at them.

The cosplayers are dressed as in-universe heroes.  Laser is a speedster, like the Flash and Quicksilver.  Q-Ball wears power armour, though with far more coverage than Meredith has.  He gets his code name from his real name, Quentin Q. Quinn.  Hey, it's comics; those names are allowed, even if they feel more Golden Age than Crossover deserves.  Sirocco manipulates the air and fires blasts of wind.  Why cosplay as real heroes?  For the costumes, of course!  Other cosplayers will be dressed as in-universe fictional heroes, which will be seen later.

The mirror universe's Canada is not a nice place.  No one trusts Canadians for they always have an ulterior motive.  They always have a sneer for others.  And their Beavertails?  Made from real beavers.  I had fun writing Omega's parts.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 5.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, emergency hiatus caused by technical issues.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Watership Down, for reals.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of /Lost in Translation/.

* Rogers had the exclusive on the iPhone and was the company that charged the most for it in the world.
** Blackberries were used mostly in government and larger corporations in 2008.  The phones weren't a consumer item until later, and RIM was slow to enter the consumer market.

11 Sept 2015

Crossover - Chapter 4

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade

LaGuardia Airport, New York City, later the same morning
Vicki strolled around the boarding gate, trying to find a way to pass the time.  Her sewing project sat somewhere in the bowels of the airport, waiting to be loaded on to her flight.  The "hurry up and wait" approach at the airport was getting on her nerves, not that she wanted to admit it.  The young teen glanced over at her father who sat and read a brick-sized airport fantasy.  More people trickled into the area to await the flight.

With a sigh, Vicki flopped into a plastic seat across from her father.  Not getting a reaction from him, she sighed louder.  Her father looked up from his novel.  Vicki gave him a bright smile.  Richard returned to his reading.  I should have charged my iPad overnight.  She started swinging her legs as she sang Lady Gaga's latest under her breath.  Before she reached the chorus, her cell phone chimed.  Vicki answered it with practiced speed.  "Hello?"

10 Sept 2015

Crossover Chapter 3 - Commentary

Everyone's on the road!  Welcome to the commentary for the third chapter.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

Crossover was my NaNoWriMo project in 2008.  My first, Lethal Ladies, was the first time I expanded from short stories to full-length novel and has two climaxes because it started to end halfway through.  My second, Digital Magic, was a failed attempt at writing romance; the romance never came through and the pacing was awkward.  The lessons learned were pacing and making sure that the plot could fill the word count.  Pacing is still a little off, though I did try to keep the action going as much as possible.

Maria is a practical mother.  She remembers what she was like at Nasty's age, which was pregnant with Tasha.  She isn't necessarily forcing Nasty to have sex with Eric or anyone else, but she wants her daughter to be prepared.  Nasty, however, isn't ready to entertain such thoughts.  She's keeping them buried deep.  This can only end well for her.

Vicki is a look at how a teenaged hero would have to be creative.  She doesn't have access to high-tech super-fabrics that change size when she does.  I handwaved that her Pixie dust can imbue the ability in her costume, but she needs to do that every time she does laundry.  Vicki is a contrast to Nasty, part of the reason for having her in the story.  She is far more typical a teen than Nasty, though that's a comparison of their backgrounds as well.  Nasty wound up becoming far more responsible at a younger age than Vicki, out of necessity.  Vicki had a more stable childhood with parents that weren't still maturing themselves.

The trip from Toronto to Cleveland is about ten hours, depending on traffic.  Highways aren't always busy; traffic is worse through a metropolitan area and tapers off the further out.  Keith having his Yugo on autopilot wasn't a problem, and he was there to make sure it didn't go off the road.  Prototype Alpha is a joint effort between Meredith and Keith.  Meredith is the one in the suit, but Keith has remote access to the controls and can advise over the radio.

I needed someone to explain how the physics of the two dimensions work and Natasha volunteered.  Tori asked the obvious question; why are their counterparts in Cleveland?  Other than, "plot", that is.  The closeness of the dimensions allow them to reflect each other.  Nasty goes to Rochester thus Natasha goes to Rochester, but for different reasons and not necessarily in the same building.  Neither are making the decision for the other; both have reasons to be there and both leave for their own reasons.  The timing doesn't have to be precise.  Natasha is driving to Cleveland from New York while Nasty's flying in.  Ultimately, they will both be in Cleveland.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 4.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the History of Adaptations continues with the Ninties.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Watership Down.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

4 Sept 2015

Crossover - Chapter 3

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade

Giuliano residence, Queens, early Friday morning
Nasty smacked her alarm clock as it blared.  She pushed herself up off her pillows to get a better look at the time.  "Ugh, too early."  Her head fell back down.  Before she returned to sleep, a knock hammered her door.

"Tasha, time to get up!" Maria called.

Nasty rolled over on to her back.  "It's summer!  I don't have school!"

3 Sept 2015

Crossover Chapter 2 - Commentary

Nasty is asked to be Peregrine again and a convention looms.  Welcome to the commentary for the first chapter.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

If the first chapter was all about introducing the characters, the second chapter sets up how they come together.  Vicki is the only one who had her tickets set up in advance.  Nasty gets recruited by the Eagle Foundation to be Peregrine once again and go as a guest.  Meredith decides at the last minute.  When I wrote Crossover in 2008, it was possible to decide at the last minute to go to a convention and still find a hotel room and get into the con.  Today?  Not so much, at least for the bigger cons.  Meredith has the luck of the narrative behind her.

Eric has appeared in Subject 13.  The relationship between he and Nasty is complicated because they make it that way.  Everyone else around them can see what's happening.  Nasty doesn't want to impose herself on Eric and Eric takes that concept and adds a touch of obliviousness to the deal.  They are good friends, with Eric helping Nasty with her homework.

We get to see Prototype Alpha in action this time around.  Keith constantly fiddles with the design, making small improvements as needed.  Meredith is the test pilot, a role she demanded.  There is some liberty being taken; few people can hit 90 km/h in downtown Toronto during the day, even on a Saturday.  Just too much traffic.  Takes a skilled hand on the wheel, really.  Or a lot of luck.

Keith has a Yugo.  I've tried to keep the jokes about the car to a minimum, but sometimes, they just slip in.  The Yugo is another test bed for Keith.  There are few parts from the original manufacturer left.  The choice of the car comes from budget; the Yugo made budget cars look luxury when it was released.  A used Yugo, if it's not been reduced to component metals, might go for the cost of getting rid of it.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 3.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, what happened to cheesy movies?
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, the History of Adaptations continues with the Nineties.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of /Lost in Translation/.