Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Sleepwalkers, Chapter 5

Let's start with the most important topic: Shara's induction of Wizard. I know most of you saw it coming, and most of you thought the brown-skinned Peacekeeper that Wizard noticed on her first run to PP was Shara. She wasn't. That Peacekeeper was a Level Four; Shara was posing as a Level Five (and was, in fact, in the basement of PP at the time). I threw you a red herring. But just to be fair, I gave you a chance of catching it. In fact, I even told you, in my Peek on Chapter 4, that you might spot a typo that wasn't a typo.

By the time I wrote this chapter of Sleepwalkers, I was pushing myself a bit to come up with new ways to describe orgasm. Thus the post here (For the record, I patterned a later orgasm in "Sleepwalkers" on the "electricity" image at the top of that post). Flowers seem pretty incongruous in connection with Wizard, both as the free person she used to be and as the Level Two she is now, but that's why the image works for me. Sexuality is exotic to Wizard. She used the skein to masturbate, but she was a virgin and she had no idea how much better sex felt with another person. The experience was so overwhelming that even though it robbed her of her selfhood, she couldn't forget the glory of it.

In the comments section below Chapter 5 on this blog, Uzobono asked me how the different levels function. I'll let you read my whole response for yourself, if you wish (and I really do recommend reading the comments on all these chapters), but my frame of reference for Wizard as a Level Two was Asperger's Syndrome. She still knows what emotions are, but she doesn't get them. Her world has been reduced to black and white, correct and incorrect. It's all binary, computer-like. [Edit: I don't mean to imply that Wizard is now functioning exactly like an Aspie. Asperger's was just a jumping-off point for me in writing Wizard as a Level Two. It wasn't a template. Some of what she experiences now is not Aspie-ish at all. For instance, people with Asperger's feel emotions just like everyone else.]

I don't know what else to say about what happened to Wizard except that it was the third most painful scene in "Sleepwalkers" for me to write. The second most painful was Shara's induction, and the most painful of all hasn't been published yet. You'll know it when you read it - but I think you also know by now that "Sleepwalkers" doesn't follow the typical structure of an EMC story. It really is a novel, with all that that implies.

Now a couple of quick notes:

There are a few characters who pop up just once or twice in the story to deliver exposition or provide an alternate viewpoint. Valencia is one of those. I like her, and her current mental state is both sad and hot, but this is her only scene.

At some point during the polishing phase, after I'd finished the entire first draft of the story, I realized that I'd written Melora as a sort of non-magical Granny Weatherwax. Granny has long been my favorite character from the Discworld series. I was tickled to see how she'd snuck into my story. Of course, the "real" Granny Weatherwax would be pissed as hell for what I did to her.

(The painting at the top of this post is by Hajime Sorayama.)


Uzobono said...

A mention!

I do have a *bit* of an addendum to my musings about the story and that's Hawthorne.

I *really* dislike omnipotent villains for the most part, I feel that if they *are* omnipotent, they've earned that somehow.

At least from Hawthorne's brief scene and from *others* description of her, she seems like an opportunist at best but not at all someone *worthy* to be worshipped at all (well hence the mc then :p).

I guess what it boils down to for me is, I don't know her...soft spot or weakness, whether it's hubris or just plain ignorance (she *is* a soldier so definitely *not* smarter than Paul) hasn't been hinted at yet.

Also, it just dawned on me that Dreamer *isn't* the problem per se, it's the cause ya, but it seems that the chip in the sleepwalkers is the main culprit in all of this.

So the question being...who's putting these chips into people..?

thrall said...

1. Hawthorne puts on a good front, but she's definitely not omnipotent. ;-)

2. Chips were an existing technology before the Dreamer Project ever got started. By themselves, they're neither good nor bad; they just store data (which is why Paul and Shara had commercial-grade chips before they were ever captured). Chips aren't powerful enough to override a person's will, but Hawthorne can use them to control sleepwalkers because sleepwalkers have no wills. She and her more tech-oriented allies created chips that could serve as mental pacemakers, motivating catatonic sleepwalkers to serve...which actually raises an important plot point: can you program a sleepwalker to serve someone other than Hawthorne?

3. Don't forget what Hawthorne said in Chapter 1 about needing three ingredients to make a sleepwalker. There's Dreamer, plus the chip, plus and imprinter.

Uzobono said...

Thank you so much for the answer :).

Hate to bug :p but that's also *another* question, what exactly determines what level a sleepwalker becomes?

You mentioned a level 1 imprinting someone would make a level 2 (Shara to Wizard) *but* what goes on there?

There didn't seem to be *too* much of a contrast between Wizard and Shara's imprintings but I'm guessing it's in the interaction between the imprinter and the victim?

thrall said...

I know I've set up a pretty detailed system, so I don't mind laying it out in shorthand form; but you'll find full explanations of how the levels work in Chapters 1 and 2. Reread the opening scene with the Peacekeeper private, where I describe the meaning behind her tattoo; and reread the bits in Chapter 2 where Paolo muses about what will happen when he imprints Shara.

Anyway, here it is in a nutshell: the imprintee is always subservient to the imprinter. That's why Hawthorne, being free, turned Paolo into a Zero; why he turned Shara a One; and why she turned Wizard into a Two. It's not the interaction between imprinter and imprintee that makes the difference; rather it's the imprintee's subconscious understanding of how far down in the chain s/he is from the free person who started that chain. They sense the hierarchy.

Lygah said...

Long time reader, first time commenter.

I just had to say that for me Wizards imprinting blew Shara's out of the water for impact. With Shara I was intrigued at how far Paolo would go. With Wizard it was a sense of horror to read, even knowing Shara was controlled, I despised her for what she did.

I can not think of any "erotica" that has given me that feeling before, so I must thank you.

thrall said...

Thanks, Lygah! I'm always glad to see a lurker de-lurk, and I'm glad you appreciated that passage.

magic9mushroom said...

"but my frame of reference for Wizard as a Level Two was Asperger's Syndrome. She still knows what emotions are, but she doesn't get them. Her world has been reduced to black and white, correct and incorrect. It's all binary, computer-like."


Um. Well. How to put this. ...I have Asperger's, and you've missed the mark a little here. We do still get strong emotions, just not necessarily from the same things. What we don't "get" is other people's reasons for feeling those same emotions.

thrall said...

I hope I didn't offend you, and I'm sorry if I did. As a matter of fact, I have Asperger's too (This is the first time I've mentioned it to the EMC community), so I know Aspies can feel emotions just as strongly as neurotypicals.

What I meant in my blog entry was that I took Asperger's as a *starting point* for Wizard's state of mind. I didn't mean to imply that she's functioning exactly like an Aspie would. She has some of the symptoms, but some of her neurological changes are nothing like what Asperger's produces.

Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify that. I would never want anyone to feel like I was stereotyping or mischaracterizing them.