The Idea Mill #32

The articles are pouring in rapidly now. We had a drought of decent grist for the mill for months. This time I am holding five new articles. This post will address three of them, and I’m fairly sure the next Idea Mill won’t be long in coming.

For the new readers of these posts, I set a bunch of push feeds to send me articles that relate to my interests. Some of them get pretty repetitive, but some of them feed my Muse. These can lead to new stories, or morph into elements in those stories. I share them here in hopes of kicking your own Muse in the pants.

There is an added bonus of that small slice of reality. I like to base my speculative fiction in as much reality as possible. That way, when I ask for a leap of faith, it’s isn’t a death defying jump. Weaving a few of these things into a story helps set the stage for that leap.

Here we go. Our first article is a strange medical phenomenon. It seems a man became a father. A DNA test proved he was not the father, which is something that happens. What is weird is that his brother fathered the child. (Also been known to happen.) Where it goes completely off the rails is that he has no brother.

To make this even better, the baby was conceived in-vitro. This adds all kinds of intrigue and blame to a story. The poor woman was impregnated by someone else’s sperm. Except that isn’t the case here. It turns out the man is a human chimera. At one point, he was a twin. His twin brother was “absorbed” and fused with the remaining fetus. The father of the child is an amalgamation of two different people. The parts that father babies actually belonged to his secret brother.

The article gives hints of others in similar situations. It even gives some interesting possible physical indicators that can play right into character descriptions. Read the story here.

This alone would make for a great family drama. “You’re not my father,” takes on a whole new meaning from a bratty teen. Because of who I am, I would take it in a different direction, somewhere out near the Twilight Zone. Have the guy go through the stages of grieving. Let the brother assert himself in a split personality kind of way. Maybe the brother is a better man, a better provider, a better lover. Drive the poor guy into a deep hole. Find a way to let readers know the poor guy is being absorbed, just like his brother was.

What would you do with it?

Next we have The Radium Girls. The United States Radium Company was a highly successful business about a hundred years ago. They made clocks, watches, and gauges for aircraft. Their claim to fame was the fact that the numbers and pointers glowed in the dark. This was the result of radium based paint. The Radium Girls were factory workers who applied the paint.

I remember the old-timers in my family being deathly afraid of wristwatches that glowed in the dark. This is because radium is a deadly radioactive substance. The Radium Girls were told it was safe, and encouraged to lick their paintbrushes to obtain finer points for detailed work. The girls even played with the paint, applying it to dresses, fingernails, etc. I can just see one of them painting a radioactive seam up the back of her legs to simulate nylons of the day.

Of course, this didn’t end well. It led to a giant lawsuit, destruction of the company, and a whole lot of pain and suffering.

The fact that this happened, means the research material is out there somewhere. Here is the article, but it’s one of those clickbait style things. This builds a solid foundation for that leap of speculative faith we were just discussing. Want to write a superhero story in a dieselpunk environment? How about Radium Girl? She cleared the trenches in France, and cured trenchfoot all at the same time.

There have been some radioactive assassinations in fairly recent history too. Maybe you prefer more of a radioactive Unibomber type story. Radium could be a basis for that too. Glow in the dark chocolates anyone?

We’re going to wrap this up with the most dangerous object on Earth. It’s called the Elephant’s Foot, and it’s a blob of material from the Chernobyl meltdown. Spend 300 seconds around it, and you have two days to live. This thing is so hot it melts concrete and sand. Hey, it will get less dangerous over time. In 100,000 years maybe they can paint watch faces with it. Read the article here. I should mention the last two articles have some interesting photos.

This is like a gift to thriller writers. Someone making off with this thing, or even a piece of it, gives you an automatic maguffin for your super spy to chase after. You wouldn’t even have to sell the dangers very hard. You can start right out kicking ass and bedding babes on your way to preventing a nuclear ice cream truck from driving through the city. Spreading radioactive love as it drives past schools and call centers. (Okay, maybe park it overnight by the call center, and a timeshare office too.)

I’ve done my part for radioactive murder. Reference Practical Geology in my second Experimental Notebook. Maybe granules of this thing make a good catalyst to create lush green worlds out of distant space rocks. We fire them off today, and by the time colonists arrive it’s a garden of Eden. Maybe Radium Girl brings it to life and she and her blob save humanity from the terrorists. What would you do with the Elephant’s Foot?

Part of these posts involve me coming up with a shtick using all the stories. I’m thinking thriller today. Our hero’s mother was one of the original Radium Girls. This caused a problem with her pregnancy, and our hero has the pale markings of a human chimera. Maybe he has two different colored eyes too.

After a long military history, he settled down and started a family, only learning of his chimera status after his child was born. This leads him down a rat hole of self doubt and split personality issues. He’s recalled into service when terrorists get their hands on the Elephant’s Foot. He embarks on a global chase for the maguffin, all while battling with his internal brother, who turns out to be the extra manliness he needs to save the day.

What would you do with these snippets of history and news?


Filed under The Idea Mill

36 responses to “The Idea Mill #32

  1. When I was writing Type and Cross, I did a lot of DNA research, and the subject of the chimera came up. In fact, I added some of it to my idea file for a later story (although I haven’t done anything with it, yet). It’s a fascinating topic.

    All three of these are great fodder, actually. And I love your amalgam of them.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Have to admit that as soon as you said his brother was the father, I had a feeling it would be a chimera. First ran into the term outside of mythology during a CSI episode and it’s been a fascinating tidbit ever since. Keep waiting for a chance to use it in a story, but I need to sit down and figure out how it could work within my fantasy world. Thinking of making it that the person is a caster with two distinct auras to work with. Hard to figure out since there are monsterous chimeras running around too.

    Licking radioactive paintbrushes . . . I’m just going to step away for a second to process that . . . Okay, I’d do a story where a Radium Girl survived and is hiding in Chernobyl. She’s been plotting her revenge, but has to act early because government agents have arrived. They want to mine the area for radioactive material that can be used in these assassinations. Mutated by her own exposure and able to melt humans with contact, Radium Girl starts hunting the intruders down. This leads to a sequel where she isn’t dead like they thought and is now back in the United States to hunt down the descendants of her former employers.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have never heard of this before. A very interesting idea, Craig.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. Love the invisible twin DNA. Forensics fascinate me anyway. I was thinking along the same lines for where to take the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m thinking Love and Romance in a paranormal setting: the Human Chimera and Radium Girl fall in love, have some magical DNA that makes them compatible and able to procreate through the bodies of regular humans through a ‘wave spray’ that can cover one square meter… Now, of course, your ‘Twilight Zone’ would be perfect for this… When their numbers through impregnation of humans approach ‘Massive’, they turn their progenies
    against each other for sport…and, of course, somehow, blend in the other elements… Of course, ONLY YOU could write such a sure best seller, Craig. All best wishes. I’M JUST SAYING!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My head now hurts with the possibilities. The Chimera grabs the Elephants foot and takes on big pharma over it’s testing protocols. His last act is to sit on the desk of the CEO of a large pharma organization with a box containing the Elephant’s foot and says, “I’ll let you go if you tell me a story and it has to be 300 minutes long.”

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I cannot comment due to brain closure from the flu, but I suspect several genii are at work here!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As you may know, Fiesta has uranium in old dishes — the radioactive red. I recently read about uranium glass, which is beautiful. Radium here at your blog. Radium girls — intriguing.
    That DNA tale is wild, too.
    Good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Each part of the chimera lives in an alternate universe. One has science and one is supernatural. They can switch places, allowing the “supernatural” to appear in ghostly form and rob jewelry stores while the “science” is nowhere to be seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The first one really caught my attention. I have a strong love for drama and this one is packed full!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’d never heard of the chimera thing – that’s fascinating. Anything involving genetics and DNA has always interested me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love your Idea Mills and am always left with mind-boggling possibilities. Genetics has long held a fascination of me and I can easily launch into a lecture with little prompting (normally boring my listeners to tears). Pretty cool to see to see these off-the-wall articles/ideas here.

    Liked by 1 person

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