Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Why I wrote Invasive Thoughts:
A lot of Science Fiction deals with exploring what would happen if two species at technologically different levels were to meet. Most of it assumes that communication could be quickly established either through a universal translator like in Star Trek, or just assuming every one in the universe speaks English and has studied Shakespeare.
In reality human language has a biological basis we have evolved a full portion of our brains just for language, which is why computer translators are still only able to translate text into gibberish.
For humans to communicate with another species there would have to be a way to bridge that gap. The simplest way would be for one species to alter the language center of the other species brain.
That could be done with a retrovirus to change the other species cells. If an advanced civilization wanted to meet us they wouldn’t have to have their explorers come to release this virus, they could send it on ahead.
That got me thinking that if they are going to be bothered with “improving” our language skills they might want to improve other things about us while they’re at it. Of course the ones designing the virus would decide what to improve and what to keep.
Their engineers would face the task of redesigning interfaces so that humans could use them or just ask the genetic engineers to redesign humans to fit the interfaces. Naturally the engineers would feel the designs they’ve used for centuries are superior so us primitive humans would have to be redesigned.
After augmenting us, they’d need to be sure that we couldn’t use their superior technology against them so they would have to make sure we thought the same way they did, and get rid of individuality.
After they molded the Earth to be just like their homeworld it would be a great place to visit, just like the Western World has resorts in foreign countries that are designed to be just like any other place in the Western World.
After thinking up this powerful enemy, I had the hard part. Who could thwart this plan?
Then I realized that I would need an individual who could move among society without being part of it. I did some research and hit on people with extreme OCD. They can be productive, even super productive, members of society but still have to hide their disorder. Between having traits like touch sensitivity and the constant fear of being called out on their secret disorder, someone like that would be perfect to notice subtle changes as humanity changed in front of their eyes, things that a “normal” person would miss.
The real great thing about having a character who’s disability gives him an advantage, is it also works against him at times. It’s the kind of trade off everyone has to deal with on some level his is just more extreme.
It allowed him to be more determined than the average person, but more vulnerable at the same time making him someone the reader can truly care about.