Saturday, July 28, 2007

Systematic Fiction: The Gods of the Story

The Gods of the Story (GOTS) are a group of all-powerful beings who can do anything. Absolutely anything. But instead of using their powers to amass a great fortune or have great worldly power, they use their powers to play with reality and set up interesting situations. The GOTS apply their power using six supertools: supersee, action on all, supermove, possess, possess all-but-one, and ER (degree change).

Supersee

Using supersee, the GOTS can see anything they choose, in any location around the world. If they want to supersee a person they can do so, and the GOTS see that person as though they were viewing the person from two metres away. Supersee can also be used to see groups of items: for example if the GOTS wanted to see all the world leaders then they could apply supersee to see all the leaders at once and, if they decided to do so, they could "zoom in" on any individual of the group. Supersee can also be used to see actions and events. For example, the GOTS may wish to supersee all the violent crimes occurring now.

The GOTS can use superlatives to refine their subject. For example, they could supersee: the ten cleverest people in the world.

Action on all

With action-on-all, the GOTS can choose something to receive an action and then they carry out an action that is received by every example of that thing. For example, they could choose "car headlights" as a subject and decide that they want to break all car headlights. They apply action-on-all and as a result all the car headlights in the world would be broken. As they are omnipotent, the GOTS could refine the subject -- they could break all the headlights on only extremely valuable cars, for example.

Supermove

With supermove, the GOTS pick a subject or subjects (perhaps using supersee) and they can then move it to any place they choose, instantly or gradually.

Possess

The GOTS can possess any individual or any number of people at once. That is, they occupy a chosen person's body and can then carry out actions as if they were that person at the scene.

Possess all-but-one

With posses-all-but-one the GOTS can possess all-but-one persons at a scene.

ER

With ER the GOTS can change the degree of any characteristic of any subject they choose. For example, they could choose a subject such as a dog, choose a characteristic - fierceness, for example - and then make the dog either more fierce or less fierce. The degree can be changed by extreme amounts: the dog could be made so fierce that it immediately attacks everything in sight, or so docile that it wouldn't respond to any amount of provocation.

Normal people and supertools

The GOTS can bestow the ability to use supertools on any individual. For example, if "bad guy" is attacking "good guy" and good-guy suddenly receives the ability to use supertools, then good- guy could simply supermove bad-guy to another place. Or goodie could "play with power" and perhaps supermove bad-guy to a horrible place. Or he could use ER to make bad guy ten centimetres tall and then effect his revenge using his new range of options that become available with the supertools.

See also: Supertools in use: The GOTS and middling.



Systematic Fiction Project: An Introduction

I've added an introduction to my systematic fiction project:

Introduction

This sums up my intentions and my progress so far. Feel free to add any comments, feedback or (yikes!) criticism.




Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New blog name: John's Systematic Fiction and Creativity

I've changed the name of the blog to reflect the fact that most of my creative efforts (currently) are focused on my systematic fiction project.

I'm still interested in real-world creativity and ideas, but I'm hoping that my fiction project will also yield ideas for the "real world". I'm toying with the idea of creating a kind of "fictional brainstorming" where a brainstorm is treated as a fictional concept, with the tangents and directions of thought within the brainstorm created by the techniques and tools I've created for the fiction project.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fiction Project: Some Idea Hooks

Here's some idea-hooks I've made up recently. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how these could develop or how they could be improved.

A man finds out how clones of himself would have fared in other times throughout history:

A psychology student believes that, by nature, he is a decent person with an innate sense of right and wrong. However, he meets a powerful being (an alien, a god, a time traveller, or whatever) who points out that nurturing (early environment, upbringing etc) has made him the person he is. The student argues that he would not be evil under any circumstances. To prove his point, the being surprises the student by telling him that he has cloned him several times and distributed the clones at several points in history. The student is mortified to find out that many of the clones have grown to be very evil indeed (perhaps one could be a prominent Nazi, etc.) However, there is a twist at the end: the being reveals that the student was not the original; the Nazi was the original and the student is a clone created by the being to prove to the Nazi that he could have matured to be a kind human being. The student is therefore terminated! (I think this could be made into a good short story.)

The Parallel Rush: alternative dimensions find a way to use "empty" dimensions to provide an unlimited energy source:

The people/beings of an alternative dimension find that they can create tiny portals to other dimensions. With infinite dimensions available, they opt to form portals to "empty" dimensions. The matter from their own dimension "rushes" into the empty dimension and this surge is used to power turbines to provide unlimited power.

(Some good What-If questions can be generated from this. What if they have found a way to make gravity "rush" into the empty dimension instead of matter? What if they accidentally open a portal to our dimension and endless amounts of their matter (perhaps a different form of matter) rushes into our dimension? What if humans access the technology somehow but accidentally make the portal too big and an unstoppable rush of our gravity or matter into the empty-dimension occurs? What if an individual from our dimension finds a way to create a Parallel Rush and uses it for something mundane such as rubbish disposal?)

A man wakes in the morning to "just another normal day" but has in fact been in cryonic suspension for a thousand years.

A man wakes and approaches his day in the normal manner: gets dressed, goes to work, sees the usual faces. Everything seems normal at first but gradually the man realises that things are a little strange and are getting stranger. In fact, the man died in his sleep and, unbeknown to him, his family had previously arranged for him to go into cryonic suspension with a view to his being revived in the future. When the man is revived in the future - a thousand years - the beings in the future have access to technology to ensure the man perceives everything as normal.

(Perhaps the future beings could "toy" with the man's life as a form of entertainment. You can see this is veering into a Truman Show kind of idea. This is what I meant in the previous post when I said that an idea-hook can be developed to generate a completely fresh idea for a new story.)

A stranger knocks on a man's door and tells him how his past actions have lead to misfortune and death for other people:

A man is relaxing on an ordinary day when he hears a knock on the door. When he opens the door he is greeted by a stranger who tells him that an insignificant action in the past - his falling from his bike - created a chain reaction of events that ultimately led to the death of ten people. Each week, the stranger calls and tells the man how a seemingly insignificant action or event in his past led to deaths and misfortune for others. Eventually the stranger comes to the man in dreams; the man fears sleep and cannot sleep properly, but however short the duration of sleep, he still experiences dreams that show him how his actions led to deaths. Eventually the stranger enters the man's conscious mind, and for every action the man is about to undertake he experiences a "premonition" showing how his action will lead to deaths - maybe even deaths tens or hundreds of years into the future. Eventually the man has to constantly apply careful consideration to decide which course of action will lead to the least psychological hardship for him and his "victims".

Scientists create the "movement box": a box that can control every movement of the person inside:

Having seen how magnetic technology can be used to make a frog "float", scientists (possibly malevolent ones) develop this technology and experience a quantum leap that leads them to create a two metre by two metre box/room that can control every movement of a person inside the box.

(This can generate some interesting What-If questions. What if the scientists (or another party) use the box to achieve contract-killings that look like suicide? They could put someone in the box with slipping pills and make the person take a lethal dose. What if the families of drug addicts could pay for an enforced spell of "cold turkey" for their relative in the box? What if someone without the will-power to diet could "take the plunge" and pay for an enforced spell in the box?)

The "time neutrals": beings in an independent dimension who can observe earth people and play with earth time:

The time-neutrals are beings in an independent dimension from where they can observe earth and its people. If they wish, they can rewind time to any point in the past and simply observe. The earth's occupants do not experience the rewinding of time because their memories are also rewound. The time neutrals can also fast-forward time by any amount and to any point in the future. As time "rushes" forwards for the time neutrals, the earth people perceive time to pass at a normal rate. One day, the time neutrals decide to interact with one person and invite them into their dimension...

(This is pretty much just a different spin on the concept of time travel.)

Nanobots infiltrate a man's brain:

At Christmas time in London, an office worker buys some chestnuts from a chestnut-vendor. The man immediately cuts his lip on a chestnut and spits it out. The chestnut-vendor declares ominously "It's too late now - the nanobots are already in your brain". For every brain cell in the man's head, the nanobots have created a clone. When the man sleeps, the clones take over and the man is "awake" for twenty four hours. The clones work to make an "evil antithesis" of the man. (Perhaps this could be worked into a modern form of Jekyll and Hyde.)

A failed musician finds out that he's bigger than Elvis in a parallel dimension:

A depressed failed musician finds out that all his mediocre musical output is perceived as brilliant in another dimension and that his music is more popular than Elvis's music. The dimension has, for years, had ways to view this dimension. The musician has a chance to visit the dimension where - with the dimension being very similar to this one - all his dreams can come true in an instant.

An artist asks a relaxing man if he can draw a picture of him. The man is shocked when the final picture shows a depiction of him in the form of a corpse:

A man relaxes in the park at lunchtime and a passing artist politely asks the man if he can draw a picture of him. The artist takes some time to draw the man and when the picture is finally shown the man is shocked to see the picture is a good likeness, but in the form of a corpse. The artist says "This is how you are now perceived by other people - others perceive you to be dead. To yourself you feel normal. Everything that happens to the corpse you will perceive as happening to you. You have many things to look forward to: one of them is the experiencing of a post mortem in a woken state".

A scientist attracts time travellers to the present so that they can apply future justice to the present world:

A scientist, disillusioned by the iniquities of the modern world, attracts time travellers to the present with a view to asking them to apply future crime-solving technology and justice to the current world. However, in the future there is virtually no serious crime and even the slightest, most insignificant aberration is viewed as a serious crime. The scientist commits the most minor of misdemeanours (perhaps something such as forgetting to thank the time traveller for opening a door) and is subjected to a future form of justice.

A tired commuter is approached by a mysterious stranger who asks for a large sum of money to arrange the "perfect date":

A tired commuter, tired of work and tired of commuting, is waiting for a tube at the underground. A stranger approaches, sits next to the man and declares "Give me £10,000 and I'll make you instantly happy. Ask any questions and I walk away. Refuse and I will walk away and you'll never see me again". The stranger has created an ingenious monitor that can tell when two people are attracted to each other. When strangers pass each other on the tube (perhaps on the escalator) the monitor zooms-in on the eyes of both parties to see if pupil dilation signals that there is physical attraction. When the monitor indicates mutual attraction, the man "goes in for the kill" and subsequently connects the parties if they pay the money.

(The idea of being approached by a stranger who asks for a significant amount of money for "instant happiness" could obviously develop in many other ways.)

A scientist finds a way to elicit future dreams:

A scientist discovers that every dream a person experiences throughout their lifetime is actually created in the brain before birth. Thus, a person's fate is decided before birth. The scientist develops a technique to trick the brain into revealing the dreams stored for the future. The scientist aims to use these dreams to predict the future.





Friday, July 20, 2007

Fiction Project: Idea Hooks

I've had some extra time recently to work on my fiction project. Here's where I am at the moment:

I think there will be two key stages to the development of a story. The first stage is the development of an idea-hook. The second stage is to make the idea-hook "malleable" so that it can be twisted, evolved, and - hopefully - developed to suggest fresh directions for the current story. I'm also hoping that each idea-hook can be developed to create completely new idea-hooks for new stories. Here's an example of what I mean by an idea-hook:

A couple of guys create a special chamber that time travellers can use to travel to the present:

A couple of young guys try to get time travellers (from the future) to travel to the present. They are aware of the problems of the time-travel paradox: that is, a time traveller could travel to the present and kill his grandmother thus posing the problem of how he could exist in the future to travel back to the present. They believe that even the slightest interaction with the present (even the disturbance of a few air molecules) could affect the future in such a way that the time traveller could not exist in the future, or problems could be caused for the people in the future. So they aim to create a chamber where a time traveller can arrive and then travel back to the future without interacting with any matter in any way. The chamber contains a vacuum and the guys vow not to tell anyone if their experiment is a success - they simply want to achieve the objective of meeting a time traveller for its own sake. They publish their intentions on the internet so that any future time traveller will - once the technology is established - be able to find out about the two guys and their vacuum chamber and then use the chamber as a destination.

I think this is a strong idea-hook. It can lead to some interesting "What - iffing":

What if a time traveller from the past arrives?
What if a time traveller arrives but a paradox, somehow, occurs anyway?
What if an alien lifeform from the present arrives in the chamber?
What if two time travellers arrive, but it's the two guys, and from the future?
What if a totally ordinary person from the future accidentally uses time-travel technology and is transported to the chamber?
What if the two guys have had a family member murdered? The two guys believe that no present punishment is fitting for the crime so they wish to bring someone from the future to dish out a punishment that fits the crime.

and with a view to developing a completely new story:

What if the time traveller arrives, escapes the chamber, murders the two guys and goes out in public to wreak havoc in some way? The story could start with ordinary people meeting someone who seems slightly strange and seemingly has special powers (achieved through the use of the future's technology).

I developed a system/strategy for the creating of idea-hooks, but, frustratingly, it stopped working after a while, so now I am looking into new ways to create idea-hooks. This could possible involve dialogue of some kind that explores a subject fully.

More idea-hooks