- Colbytraxion 001
- Colbytraxion 002
- Colbytraxion 003
- Colbytraxion 004
- Colbytraxion 005
- Colbytraxion 006
- Colbytraxion 007
- Colbytraxion 008
- Colbytraxion 009
- Colbytraxion 010
- Colbytraxion 011
- Colbytraxion 012
- Colbytraxion 013
- Colbytraxion 014
- Colbytraxion 015
- Colbytraxion 016
- Colbytraxion 017
- Colbytraxion 018
- Colbytraxion 019
- Colbytraxion 020
- Colbytraxion 021
- Colbytraxion 022
Wherein Colbytrax fills you in on what he's thinking in his dark little mind.
A bit of news, humor, or ranting, you be the judge
Firmware or What the hell is Colbytrax doing with that story?
I shouldn’t have to remind anyone of what Firmware is, but in honor of writing traditions set upon us in grade school, I will provide a quick recap.
Firmware is the meta-title of a series of books, five are planned, which take place in a meta-city sometime in the future and follows the misadventures of one Isaac Sarason in his attempt to find his way in the City.
Basically, it’s the plot around which a million cyberpunk games have been built. Hell, there are even similarities between it and the main character, Case, of William Gibson’s seminal cyberpunk novel, Neuromancer.
In Neuromancer, Case is a down on his luck hacker who has had his ability to netrun burned out of his skull through the use of a Russian mycotoxin. Case is cured of his problem by the enigmatic Armitage who then laces Case’s body with more poison as a way of keeping him in line.
In Firmware, Isaac is a talented programmer in the employ of British Telecom-Sprint (BTS) who suffers from headaches and light sensitivity, and which, according to one quack, is caused by his implants which he needs for work. Either way, they are men who find themselves at a breaking point.
But that is about as far as their coincidental resemblances go.
For, unlike Case, Isaac is a member of the ‘system’ who is scared of what his ‘system’ will do to him when he can no longer perform. He’s heard the stories about what happens to those who fail, and he doesn’t want to be a victim of the ‘system’ he used for so long to his advantage.
And there begins the hero’s journey.
Firmware’s beginnings were as a short story. Really, an exercise in exploring the City, and seeing what I could do with a setting which was close to me, and at the same time separated by time and space.
I hadn’t planned on doing NaNoWriMo, the infamous write a novel in a month event held every November, but in the end, I put down the first fifty thousand words of Firmware in a blaze of activity from the first week in November to the second week in December.
Trisha was doing NaNoWriMo officially and that story became From the Flames, though I do believe it is a bit longer than fifty thousand words, more like a hundred and sixty thousand words.
From my experience with various sizes of work and editing, I had come to realize that the largest size of work Trisha and I were capable of editing in one go was around the fifty thousand word point. With that in mind, I realized Firmware would work better as a series of fifty thousand word acts.
I would use a five act structure, with the action of each act remaining largely self-contained, while slowly adding to the complications of the later acts.
Firmware: Hijacked is the first act. Wherein our hero leaves the safety of his home and seeks out a new and dangerous future.
Firmware: Proxy, which I have just finished, wherein our hero [spoiler blocking app activated]. Which is all very exciting and wonderful for all involved.
Firmware: Keylogger is in the process of having its plot finalized before I start the long journey through it.
Firmware: Malware and Firmware: Jailbroke are in the ‘wouldn’t it be neat if….happened stage.’
But don’t fear, unlike some authors out there…(coughing sounds)…George R.R. Martin…(coughing sounds)…Robert Jordon…Gesundheit! I am so sorry about that. Let me grab a tissue.
Where was I?
Series actually ending.
Yep, there is an end coming. It will take me another three books, a hundred and fifty thousandish words, but I will finish it. I know the arc of each book to come, unlike a certain Mr. Lucas. I just haven’t got their final shape down.
What was that?
What possessed you to turn a short story into a five act monstrosity capable, if in print form, of killing a medium sized rat or giving a toddler a hernia?
The simple in answer is Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, a TED talk by Geoffrey West on The surprising math of cities and corporations, Bladerunner, Max Headroom, Neuromancer, Cities in Flight by James Blish, and a trip to the Boroughs, aka New York City.
Each of these works presented the city as a creature, a beast if you will, with the people living in it as an integral part of the whole. The City as a meta-being, with its architecture reflecting what is happening to its people.
Bladerunner was an urban blight of anonymous skyscrapers, monstrous advertising, and internal decay. This was reflected in the people morosely going through the motions of life, even the jaded rich seemed no happier than the lowest squatter eating off the back of a noodle truck.
In Transmetropolitan, the setting is a city of monstrous proportions, with a level of subtlety which most works aren’t capable of. The City is seen as a place where good things, bad things, horrible things, wonderful things all happen at once. In one neighborhood, the residents hunt rats for sport. While in another, down on their luck middle class office workers gather trash to fuel their makers. While in yet another neighborhood, machine fetishists undergo conversion from man to nano-colony in order to have the best sex of their lives, the singularity as a lifestyle choice.
The first world meets the second world meets the third world meets the lambda cubed world in a place as familiar as your own neighborhood, while at the same time as strange as a beauty pageant for gila monsters.
It was what I found when I went to New York City last fall. There, in the city that doesn’t sleep, I felt like I knew for the first time how people worked. Not in the medical sense, I still believe babies are belly gnomes and that leeches in moderation are good for what ails you.
No, what I saw in NYC was the interaction between shop and home, delivery and sales, manufacture and finance. Every action carried out in my home town happened within two miles of where I was standing at any moment. There wasn’t anything standing between where you lived and where you worked, but a walk of a few minutes.
There was poverty beyond my understanding happening within site of the most famous buildings in the world. There were beautiful people living lives of luxury over dry cleaner shops and pizza joints. There were people, who took the train in from the suburbs every day, who dressed as their grandparents dressed just so they could get you to have an authentic ethnic experience.
It was the best and worst of the world all in a space smaller than the county I live in (it’s true, I saw it on Wikipedia), and it made me think about the worlds of my favorite movies and books.
A close reading of Neuromancer by Gibson hints that there is a not so shitty world out there somewhere. A world where not only the rule of law, but also wealth, industry, and commerce occur on a daily basis is hinted at.
A world not as shitty as the one Case inhabits.
Just for instance, there is a Turing Authority in Neuromancer that is capable of shutting down any AI which achieves true sentience. This is an authority that even mega-corporations fear and abide by. Does this sound like a crap-sack world on the edge of ruin?
To me it sounded like the characters of Neuromancer suffered from a form of cognitive bias. For those not up on googling every new term, “cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations, leading to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.” [Wikipedia entry on Cognitive bias]
Basically, the world is shit for the characters because something happened to them to make them see the world as shit.
About a decade ago, I was serving as a substitute teacher for a roomful of emotionally disturbed high school students. A young lady from an abusive house said something to the effect of “All adults beat their children.” A teacher’s aide stepped forward and said, “No, they don’t. I’m an adult, and I’m a parent, and I don’t beat my children.” The girl turned to her with a straight face and said, “That’s because you are a good person. Most people are not like you. Your children are very lucky.”
That created a serious disconnect for me.
The abused child believes everyone abuses, because that is all she knows. She could not grasp the idea that her experiences weren’t the normal. I for one, hope the teacher’s aide’s experiences are the normal, and not the girls.
But it does illustrate a point. How many characters from books with shit-sack worlds are actually part of the majority and how many are part of the minority? How much of their problems are self-inflicted, caused by some flaw of their own which drives them from the safety of the mainstream into the seedy underbelly every city, state, country, and world has?
That is something I have begun thinking about when I approach a new work. Especially stories which take place in horrible dystopias and present the situation of the characters as somehow normal.
[Sudden change of topic]
One thing a bit off topic, but it is interesting, I promise you.
Another reason for creating the City was that I had just finished reading every Dark Horse Star Wars comic ever made, get this, in chronological order and realized that while they referred to places as planets, they might as well have been suburbs of the same city.
That’s right; the City is also the result of realizing that you didn’t need spaceships to visit different civilizations and cultures, you just needed a subway pass.
Well, I’ve droned on for way too long, and you probably want to get back to your regularly scheduled program.
Have a wonderful week, and don’t forget to have fun.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.