Tether Idea Creation v.1.0

"Did you guys see the new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer yet?"

C'mon, you're expecting that's all I'm going to say.  At least for now.  But wait...there's MORE!  I'll even embed the video:

Ok, glad I got that out of my system.  And speaking of which, I wanted to talk to you both about systems.  Mainly, how James Gunn is going about with world building in this particular film.  It might also be something that's been bouncing around in the back of my head ever since Daniel mentioned that this would likely, at some point, be a post that I'd need to make.  I think it also derives from many thoughts I've been bouncing around in my head, almost exclusively in the shower each day in the early morning and also in such a way that I can't write them down.

So what was it that caught my attention in this trailer? Beyond the less-than-subtle and yet so enticing usage of Blue Suede's "Hooked on a Feeling"? And the awesome anthropomorphic raccoon straddling the shoulder of a giant ent whilst blazing away with a rifle in the middle of a prison riot? I'd have to put my finger on the sets and the scenery.  This trailer seems to cover it all -- the oppressive and dreary grays and wet surfaces of one planet where Chris Pratt finds himself, as if Indiana Jones, looking for lost treasure; the skies above Xandar as a fleet wages war against a single ship (evoking The Last Starfighter, Serenity, and the new Ender's Game all at once); the interior of several spaceships and what I assume remains a singular prison with their almost Ridley Scott-esque claustrophobia.  It's this world building that I crave because it can, in accordance with what I've already written here, tip off so many quick emotions and sensations without needing words, extensive long shots, or other expected techniques that would otherwise lend them a far greater sense of grandeur.  

From this, I've been aiming to put together the beginning pieces of Tether, which I have more or less finally decided needs to begin as a series of chapters without an intended ending point.  But I think I finally have a beginning and a back-jacket origins that I can try to articulate here as a way of a initiating my pre-writing process.  And, to be perfectly honest, as a means to avoid preparing for my classes tomorrow.

Open on...did you guess it yet? Yup.  Tucson.  I figure, why not.  This place is already a wasteland, so I won't be forcing myself to conjure up the desert remains of Chicago, NYC, or LA.  I can do without that added burden.  I want my protagonist (name still undetermined) having climbed to the top one of the few remaining parking structures downtown as the sun begins to set, taking in the landscape and trying to decide on a path of least resistance to her camp set back between the hills in the distance.  Not an easy task, I'd imagine, thanks to the unbearable sun glare, but we'll let her browse nonetheless.  This is a world wrecked and abandoned because of the special powers our protagonist carries with her -- her innate ability to connect into the potential energy of any object -- organic, inorganic, living, inert, or what have you -- and thus draw on its strengths and abilities for her own.  She does this sparingly though, fearing that revealing her skills will mark her as one of those that brought about the fall of her world.  See, my thinking is that this chaos had to have come from somewhere -- the where being people scattered across that globe that developed early psionic abilities now known as tethering.  But instead of using them in the most logical way, these people often misunderstood and impulsively used their abilities out of emotional distress or dire circumstance.  The end result was their tethering to things outside of our own universe and bridging into other worlds, thus allowing their tethers to work as trans-dimensional portals.  In many instances, chunks of environment on other planets, other versions of Earth at times, or the black void of space were pulled into our reality where they had, as would be expected, negative effects.  Sometimes, they pulled through creatures and sentients, for better and more often for worse.  This, very quickly, led to worldwide destruction that I plan to address in the future, especially when a catalyst factor for causing this so rapidly and within a small window to enhance its level of devastation will be meditated on more.

Our protagonist, having finished rummaging through her goods, elects to pass through some of the nearest remaining structures with her last hour of daylight.  Below her lies the ruined, or as ruinous as they can be, remains of the Presidio museum.  She rummages through some things, finding a few old cook books (one of the guys back at camp is a foodie -- I imagine his plight to be hilarious during these all-but-end times), a few trinkets in the gift shop, and some bottles of water and snack bars.  As she moves to leave, she hears shuffling outside and ducks down.  Instead of employing her tethering abilities, she remains content to listen and watch.  What sounds like human footsteps are revealed to be the two illogically moving legs of a much larger creature.  Crab-like in appearance, it seems to whip things out of its path using what appear to be telekinetic abilities (but, as we learn later, are actually the resulting spatial interactions the creature has via its skin "coloring" -- this thing exists in more dimensions than we can perceive, so the fact that it has a whip-like tail remains lost on the casual observer).  It soon passes, and our protagonist begins her walk home.  As she proceeds, the same (or another that looks the same?) creature lunges out at her and results in her running for her life before being pinned inside the destroyed husk of a food truck.  She quickly decides that between the creature getting in and her fighting, the latter proves a better chance at survival.  By employing her tethering abilities, she is quickly able to take on the properties of the truck.  Before the creature can finish pulled the back doors off their hinges, our heroine bursts through the doors, have taken on a metallic and slightly dusty sheen.  She fights, using what little scrappy techniques she can, trying to land punches where the creature of great size seems most vulnerable.  Her strength does eventually begin to waiver and the creature pins her against a building for a killing blow.  

Seems like a solid cliffhanger of an ending.  Her  brother shows up in my next segment, saves the day, and does so by revealing his own unique spin on the tethering ability -- he works as a battery that supercharges and reinforces our heroine's tethering abilities.  And they head back to the camp.

The camp is what I've been thinking about the most -- my frame of reference remains those iconic moments, at least for myself, that in film established the life and movement of a place in seamless immediacy.  Mos Eisley, the Goblin and Troll Market, or more recently, Hong Kong's Shatterdome (yes, I referenced del Toro twice in there).  I've been thinking through the dynamics of the place -- adults running things, as is expected, the presence of a few teachers, the ability to cultivate some plants and raise chickens stolen from a nearby co-op (shout outs are likely to abound).  But there are a handful of other "skilled" people here, some with talents that remain unclear or hidden.  And my favorite part would be that no one knows of this.  When, in another few chapters, our heroine's brother disappears (likely kidnapped by the antagonist of our story or one of his "henchman"), she will be forced to reveal her powers and flee her new society out of fear, a castaway set adrift to begin her quest.

I know a lot of this isn't incredibly original, but this is my first time with something like this so I'm trying to keep the bar as low as could be reasonably expected.  This is far more of an idea dump than I've had yet, and I know I've still got about 50 others things to mention about this that I need to get into writing in the next week so I can begin the actual crafting of the project.  We'll see how that goes.  I can at least put a feather in my cap regarding the last hour I've spent writing this, which is something I haven't done in quite some time.

I think I might be, dare I say it, hooked on a feeling?  Ooga-Chaka.  Indeed.

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  1. I DID kind of figure you were going to say something about the "Guardians" trailer haha. And you're right, the majesty of good sci fi remains in the world building. And your del Toro references really fit with this concept, given how much work the background does in his films... perhaps even more work than the foreground, in such pieces like Pacific Rim.

    As for you, Joey. JOEY. I think you're following suit. I think you let your background affect your characters, as you've already implied because, well, THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENED ALREADY. These characters have already been affected by this concept of tethering (really cool, btw), especially in regards to others not knowing how to properly use it. And so, your seemingly meek yet smart protagonist feels spot on here. I like that she feels like she can't use her abilities for fear of the fallout. It's like a personal and cultural consciousness rolled into one. It's both her vs. nature and her vs. herself. And so, because of this, I'm torn about having a specific antagonist. I don't know if you need one, at least, a specific one or person. Don't get me wrong, plenty of books/movies have done the antagonist within the dystopia. Firestarter comes to mind right away, as it's a young girl and her father being chased by the government. And then there are things like The Matrix or Fahrenheit 451 or 1984 or Brave New World, and so many more. One thing all these titles have in common is that the antagonist, which is usually a large corporation manifesting itself into a single entity, not only has a stake in the protagonist, but has helped to build (or has built) the world in which they all function. Ready Player One works like this too, except it's a company trying to take over the dystopia/utopia. So yes, you could totally head that route: a company is trying to control the tethering ability and our protagonist is either knowingly or not standing in their way.

    BUUUUUT I'm not as compelled by that as by a person vs. herself or vs. nature, solely because it leaves you more room for layering lenses, and doing otherwise may undermine how important the state of the world is. I think that started to become an issue in Ready Player One, as the reader’s anger shifted drastically from the shittiness of the world, and how this affects Wade, to Wade having to run from IOI. There’s even an almost montage in the middle of the book that, despite me enjoying the book, made me roll my eyes. It’s bad storytelling.
    Also, a person vs. person plotline would seemingly undermine the state of the world, the background and set pieces that you so lovingly introduced your ideas with. And damn, you have plenty of details. So I say, let the world speak. I know that you want the brother to go missing in order to catalyze a change in her, but perhaps think of other ways this can occur, even other ways he can go missing. I’d even be fine with him dying halfway through (hello, devastated reader!). Perhaps even by way of them sharing their tethering abilities. That’s a concept you could definitely work more. I like it. It’s interesting, new, and makes a lot of sense given their situation and the fact that they are close siblings. And overall, it’s like a literal internalization of the background.

    That’s a good point. I’ll end there. And leave you with this Zizek clip about Cuaron’s Children of Men (and Y Tu Mama…), and the work the background does for Cuaron: