Meta For The Last Two Posts

The last two posts have been short stories (A Fantastic Account of Wanting To Change The World Through Literary Devices and The Long Term Plan).

They’re not the best written stories out there. But I still wanted to share some of the thought processes that went into writing the stories. Here are some trivia and notes about both:

A Fantastic Account of Wanting To Change The World Through Literary Devices

  • The original story I had in mind repeated many more times. By the time I was writing the third repeat, it felt too repetitive, so I stuck with two repeats, and engineered a minor change to allow for the info dump to happen
  • The idea for the story originally came to me as I was developing an idea into a product. The idea needed years of compliance testing, and the only way to spring into market is to do 20 odd years of compliance testing in secret. Hence the fantasy of going back in time and starting earlier.
  • Also, who in the startup world haven’t dreamed of cramming 3 or 4 years worth of R&D into one year? I certainly have
  • The character’s name was Ellen, because in the original story, she faced gender discrimination when going back in time, which led her to go through a sex change, and changing her name to Alan.
  • Chekhov’s (particle) Gun and Deusex Ventures originally played a much larger part to the resolution of the story. Originally Deusex Ventures was going to be founded by a much older sex-changed Ellen, who will repeatedly save Ellen’s startup in the last minutes. Chekhov’s Gun would be used to get Ellen out of the Plott Device. These were the two plot devices which I was unable to properly use because it adds too much to the complexity of the story.
  • Jim Plott’s exposition of the possible future is actually the original story I had in mind
  • Simone’s entire purpose is to indicate that she is working on lampshading. Also, Simone became Simon in an early version of the story after Ross became Rose.
  • The original ending I wrote didn’t feature Ellen finding the Plott Device in her bag when she was leaving Rose’s house. It was left rather vague if she was actually hallucinating or not. Part of the original theme was the fallibility of human memory. That was too bleak for me, so I changed it
  • Why is “Dolphin” a safeword? That’s for me to know and for you to never find out
  • The Novikov self consistency principle was originally invoked for the story as well.
  • The original title was 2407 (hence the post slug). There were 24070 iterations of Ellen/Alan that created the McGuffin over the span of 60 years but only 2407 would remember their experiences in the Plott Device.
  • I also envisioned a number of scenes where red fish would be seen swimming behind the agents who were giving the info-dump to Ellen (geddit? Red herring)
  • Thought the time travel device sounded familiar? Here’s why.
  • Ents might find the description of the vaporizing device sounding extremely familiar. Here’s what it was based off (didn’t want to name brands, so the functions are described a bit differently.

The Long Term Plan

  • The story originally came to me as I was cleaning the bathroom. I wondered if humans could have been an experiment gone wrong for a consciousness that arose from a network of bacteria. I mean, we know that amoebae are social creatures despite being single-celled organisms, farm for food. What if multicelullar life were a result of farming by other single cellular life?
  • In fact, I did reference Dictyostelium discoideum, the amoeba that were found to engage in “farming” activities – probably an anachronistic reference by Escher, but whatever pushes the story, I guess
  • The reason for the Network existing is because, well, individual bacterium do not have thought processes. I needed to give the bacteria a voice. Hence a vague description of a colony-wide Network. It’s to make it sound as if the species as a whole is one consciousness.
  • The way the Network communicated is the best approximation I could do with the way neurones communicate – by sending out pulses of electricity and neurotransmitters and retransmitting messages. I didn’t want to let on too much about chemical release, so I stuck with the vague word “energy”.
  • The original species of bacteria were Bacillus. That would have made sense, because the Bacillus genus is one of the oldest, stretching back to before multicellular organisms were there. But at the same time I wanted readers to be able to figure out on their own I was talking about bacteria. So Escherichia coli was chosen instead.
  • The cloning of Escher the Third was originally added to give a small The-Doctor’s-Daughter-esque twist about the time spent fighting the war. Originally the idea was to show that due to the clones having the same memories of events (but as you know, binary fission carries mutation as well), warping their perception that only a few years had past since, when in reality millions of years had past. That didn’t translate too well.
  • The “torus shaped” reference was originally there because I wanted to depict the bacteria as having a perception that has a built in understanding of homotopic equivalence – afterall, if you think about it, human beings are pretty much a donut: the two entrances are the mouth and the anus, and they’re connected. Two entrances with a connection between them makes a donut. The back story was the colony had originally cultivated a new kind of multicelular organism that was donut-shaped that eventually evolved into human beings.
  • I suck at describing binary fission

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