Tag Archives: chimera

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?

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The Idea Mill #23

It's been a while since I ran one of these out, but the news has been a little bit slow lately. I collect articles that pique my interest as a writer of speculative fiction. I have used some of the things from these posts, and might will use some of the stuff I bring you today.

Let's start out with the Tree of Death. The manchineel tree is a tropical plant that can even be found in Florida. This thing has more defenses than the acid filled creatures in Alien. It appears that everything about it is toxic; its fruit, sap, bark, leaves, everything.

It is written here that natives used to stake people out under the trees as a form of torture. The frequent rains would wash across the leaves and an drip onto the victims causing acidic type burns. Read the article I saw here.

From my point of view, this becomes a great murder weapon. Murder happens in all kinds of fiction and isn't limited to just mysteries and thrillers. It also lends some credence to any kind of alien environment you might want to create. These trees could also play into a global warming kind of story. They push their way north and south of the tropics to drive the people away as nature tries to recover some room for itself. Could be an interesting magical ingredient too.

The next section is a combination of two articles. Neural Dust is the name given to tiny implants into potentially human brains. There are two hopes, the first one being a way to treat some impairments like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The second part appeals to me, where it may allow some patients to control various robotic items. Here is the link to the first article.

The second article doesn't seem to come right out and name the technology, but appears to be the same idea. It puts a different spin on things with a warning about protecting our own brains from hackers. Here is the link to the second article.

These two really appeal to me, because I outlined a novel last summer about bio-hackers and grinders. I have a hunch these ideas will work their way straight into that book. (I just need to get finished with The Yak Guy Project.) It also fits right into something I was working on yesterday about a futuristic baseball league called The Enhanced League.

So what would you do with these? There are any number of mind control ideas that could happen. Need an innocent person to pull of the heist of the century, drop off the ransom, commit a terrorist act. Here's the reference point to make it work. It gives a whole new spin to date rape drugs, political puppets backed by corporate entities, or even a cyber-zombie outbreak when long term implants go wrong.

Finally, the US has authorized researchers to implant human stem cells into the brains of animal embryos. They've even dubbed the creations as Chimeras. Again, the hope involves various brain disorders and extends to growing transplantable organs. Read it yourself, right here.

What could possibly go wrong? Let's explore that. Need some science to back up your Planet of the Apes science fiction, here it is. Need spies to infiltrate a secure government facility? How about some human intelligent rats, or aerial ravens. Nobody would look twice at the sparrow outside the White House.

Part of these posts involves me describing a schlocky story using all the elements. This is always tough, but this one comes with special problems. The Enhanced League and the Grinders novel are screaming at me, and I don't want to spoil anything. Top that off with the manchineel tree not fitting into the science fiction base of the other articles and it gets exponentially tougher. Let's see where this goes…

Iguanas are immune to the poisons of the manchineel tree. A group of genetically enhanced iguanas are forced to plant the poisonous trees around a perimeter to build an invasion camp. Might as well use Florida since they already have iguanas.

The President's brain has been hacked via the national security Neural Dust chip he is required to have. He authorizes a secure facility inside the perimeter where evil scientists will create an army of chimera cyborgs who control their weapons via their own neural chips. Imagine cyborg gorillas and minotaurs marching upon Washington.

The only hope is an ethical scientist who must break her personal code and accept her own Neural Dust implant before it's too late.

Okay, that sucks, but individually there are some great story elements here. They might not drive an entire novel, but a couple of them could. I know I'm going to use neural dust in one, if not two, stories. I may use chimeras too if only as designer pets to do some world building.

What would you do? Manchineel smoke in your voodoo? Designer organ farming for the super rich? A cultural rift between those who are all born lithe and beautiful due to embryo manipulation and those who have to take what God gives them? Let me hear it in the comments.

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