Tag Archives: ritual

The Idea Mill #26

Sometimes the articles come faster than others. I've seen it take months to get enough articles for an Idea Mill post, this time it took about two weeks.

For all the new followers, I get these articles from various sources and share them here. They are a great source of inspiration for those who write speculative fiction.

Let's look at the first article. It appears chimpanzees have a ritual. Nobody really knows what it means, but speculation is that it looks like religion. The chimps throw rocks at trees. It isn't limited to one animal or one troop. It usually involves the same tree, and occasionally there are piles of rocks found as if this has gone on for a long time. Read the article here (Link)

They say bigfoot likes to whack trees with a club. An article like this could give some credence to your bigfoot story. Maybe old BF is throwing rocks at trees instead. Maybe the chimps have a specific reverence for that tree. A tree church if you will. Maybe the rocks are prayers, or a tribute to an ancestor.

I'll probably do some assessment of my blog activities as part of the year ending. Various primates have been pretty prominent in the Idea Mill posts. From baboons who might be domesticating wolves, monkeys who may be chipping flint, and now chimps who may be developing religion. Seems to me the setting is ripe for some hyper evolution type science fiction.

This next article is the kind that shows up occasionally. Someone discovered a possible cure that we'll never hear about again. It looks like some wasps from Brazil have venom that kills cancer cells but not healthy tissue. This all involves some complicated way the cancer cells outer membrane differs from healthy cells. Basically, the wasp venom makes the membrane rupture and the cancer cells pop like tiny balloons. Here is the story (Link)

What can we do with this one? It sets the stage for a jungle adventure pretty easily. It also lends itself to a corporate espionage type story using rival pharmaceutical companies. Of course you would need a crazy wing-nut type character to expose it all. Nobody listens to him until the facts become overwhelming. Maybe you want to write about a desperate family trying anything to save a loved one. It seems to fit with an environmental warning pretty well too. Loggers are destroying the jungle, and there is a desperate race to save the wasps before the cure is lost forever.

There is no reason you couldn't write about a wasp wrangler trying to deliver a colony of lifesaving wasps to a new colony in a distant galaxy too. When his ship gets boarded the wasps get used as weapons against the invaders. It distracts them long enough for the wasp wrangler to get to the weapons vault. Good thing wasps eat meat.

Finally, this one is just friggin weird. It's called sokushinbutsu; the practice of self mummification. It was practiced by monks in Japan in an attempt to become Buddha. It involves eating a special diet of bark and twigs, restricting water intake to dry out your innards, and basically meditating in a box your friends bury in the ground. It only takes three years, but it doesn't work every time, presumably because the monk wasn't suitable to the mission. Read about it here (Link)

For the record, I will not be attempting this. No pizza, no beer, no wonder they wanted to die. It will probably become the next hot diet book: The Mummification Diet.

So what can we do with this one? I'm a little bit stumped, but maybe I'm just dumbfounded. What if it were a form of hibernation? A kind of stasis that could last for centuries. You just need a little time in the hot tub and some Doritos to come back to life. What about something like the terracotta warriors in China? Someone stashed away an entire ninja army, just waiting to put them into action. Lends itself to secret societies, covert plans, and some kind of takeover attempt for your hero to foil.

These mummies could fit right in to a fantasy world too. The creepy old temple where only a few caretakers remain. Treasure hunters show up and the caretakers put a few mummies in the shower to help them out. Why not make them Sleestack type characters?

So how about a story using all three? The last Idea Mill stumped me, but I might be able to come up with a corny story with these.

Your hero needs to retrieve a colony of cancer-curing wasps from the jungle. We're going to have to move the jungle to one that has chimpanzees. He discovers chimpanzees exhibiting ritual behavior, but only around an ancient ruin.

There is competition from a more ruthless competitor, and they use bulldozers to knock down the jungle in hopes of stirring up the wasps. Your hero learns the chimpanzee ritual is the secret to finding the wasps, and if he can figure it out he'll have more than enough wasps for his purpose.

Before he can figure it out, the competition pushes through to the ancient ruin. This awakens the sleeping mummies who begin a campaign to wipe out everyone that isn't a reverent chimpanzee. The chimpanzees show your hero the only way to avoid the killer mummies is to start the self mummification process himself.

The killer mummies pass him by, revenge is extracted on corporate greed. He gains enough time to solve the Chimpanzee riddles and walks out with a pocket full of wasps. At the end he'd kill for a bag of Doritos and a hot tub.

Okay, all three elements – check. Corny – check.

What would you use one of these stories to create? Tell me in the comments.

36 Comments

Filed under The Idea Mill

Let’s all speculate a bit

Last night was a pretty rare celestial occurrence. I watched the eclipse from my Idaho driveway last night, and thought it was wonderful. I’ll spare you my pitiful iPhone photo, because others have posted some wonderful images online.

Events like that get my creative juices flowing. This was not only a full moon, it was a super-moon. Add into that the designation blood moon, and that is enough for most people to be pretty rare. This was also a total eclipse. There are frequent eclipses, but they are partial eclipses.

I’m more likely to avoid such an occurrence in my fiction. It’s just so rare as to be unbelievable. It’s also likely to be glommed onto by half the speculative authors out there. It has that special snowflake thing going for it in my mind.

Still, it’s a hot topic right now. So here’s how I might speculate about it. I always start off asking questions, the most prevalent one being “what if.” Note that many times the first few aren’t all that great.

What if it disappears and never comes back?

The moon influences the tides. What if all the special circumstances gave it an influence on other liquids, like magma?

It was called a blood moon. What if the tidal influences were felt upon our very blood. What would happen?

Geologists tell us the Earth has reversed polarity multiple times. Could this gravitational pull cause that to happen? What would happen if it did?

Perfect night for werewolves. Could the eclipse screw them all up? Maybe they line up and dance the Time Warp.

There certainly has to be an arcane ritual that takes advantage of the situation.

What if the shadow on the moon looked more angular and geometric than Earth’s shadow? The cloaking device worked perfectly for the invasion fleet, but the shadow gave them away.

Some ancients believed a monster swallowed the moon during an eclipse. What if it were true?

What if it were a solar eclipse? With the sun behind the moon, it revealed an image like candling a giant space egg. What if during the lunar eclipse, astronauts saw something similar inside Earth?

Maybe the fact that everything lined up caused what we used to call a radio skip. A spy agency gets wind of some pending terrorist action. Maybe alien messages are intercepted.

What if they predicted the eclipse and it didn’t happen? Something changed celestially. What is it?

To be honest, this doesn’t trip my trigger as a speculative element. I’m much more interested in the idea of flowing water on Mars. I enjoyed it immensely, but that’s the limit of where I’m going with it.

I think this particular eclipse is going to find its way into a lot of fiction. My only suggestion is not to take the easy way out with it. It screams druids, witches, lycanthropes, and demons. Maybe that isn’t the best way to incorporate it into a story. There will be a lot of competition in this arena too.

What do you folks think? Is this the speculative element of your dreams, or are you inclined to pass it over?

46 Comments

Filed under Writing