Brainstorm (Story Idea, Please Comment and Give Ideas)

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Brainstorm (Story Idea, Please Comment and Give Ideas)

Postby GoldWyvern » Wed May 30, 2007 12:09 am

(Part One, I think of an idea, and write it out. I say everything that I've thought of, kind of a 'brain storm' session, with ideas occuring as I write. Scroll to the bottom for the 'outline' - so you don't have to actually read all this bull. It's left behind so you can see how I'm thinking. Then, if you wish, read above to see the 'details', or just comment on how you think it should be done or how it should be changed)

Ok, I was chewing on a story idea. Short story, novel, random scribblings, I don't know yet. All I do know is that I have no intention of fully and proffesionally publishing it, but rather this is something I wanted to chew over and build on for practice.

Here is the idea itself:

It's the future. Let's say, 50+ years - enough that common devices have progressed naturally on the path they are now - more user friendly, so naturally the computers within would be able to understand people better, anticipate and even hold basic conversations (the more advanced humans). Still, it's not far enough in the future that anyone doubts these computers are anything but tools.

At the same time, space exploration has advanced in leaps and bounds due to an astounding discovery equal to and just as scary as the atom bomb. The knowledge that objects in space actually warp the fabric of space around it leads to a propultion method that can actually 'skim' space, in a way.. 'skip' to far distances kind of like a flat rock on a pond.

Everything so far is pretty realistic.. I mean, truth is stranger then fiction, and this might actually be true in 50 years.

Of course, like all 'realism', things are neatly wrapped up and convient. We, the human race, are pretty darn new at this, and guess what? There is no alien race waiting to greet us or thousands of habitable human worlds to play with. Space is empty and barren.

Except - the discovery of another element to the table of elements, one that proves pretty useless so far but people are experimenting with it. And, a single world which seems so very human. It has plants, it has animals, water.. but, things arn't wrapped neatly here, either. Humans couldn't possibly live there, it's just too alien - bateria, viruses, even the water is undrinkable without massive filtering.

There is a brief surge of interest in it's ecosystem - live video sent to earth, a few people cataloging species found there, but in the end it's just too costly and the benefit too slim to warrent anything but a casual look every once in a while.

However, it does contain that new mineral, that element, that is new to the periodic table. It is in small amounts, but the element is so rare. So a mining team is sent to mine it, they extract all they could get, and they leave - their equipment left behind.

Now that we have the basic background out of the way, here is the more interesting part. The equipment was never shut off. Not only that, they are minor robot 'AI's' (artifical intellegences'. Just smart enough to do their jobs - problem solving rough terrian, finding new sources of the element, etc. They keep searching, and searching, and searching, finally wearing down. Now their basic survival programming kicks in, designed to keep them from accidently destroying themselves.

They find no humans to maintance them, so now they have to problem solve. They clean off eachother's solor panels at first, then they start to take parts from obselete equipment, and then..

Well, it progresses. Somehow, in some way, they survive. Year after year, they progress. Making improvements. 'We need oil' leads them to remembering there was a substance one of them once moved through that lubricated his joints. Experiance made them smarter.. and smarter, and smarter.. but there was only so much they could learn with the proccessing power and memory they had.

Eventually they realized they could no longer maintance themselves, but the 'mission must continue'. So they build a new one of themselves, easy enough since they were designed to be mainly self reliant, capable of fabricating parts for replacement - needed when so far away from any factory. They even had a full machine shop that had been left behind by the miners, specific for maintancing these machines. It was the improvements they made through experiance that made this machine unique..

And the improvements that machine made..

And that machine, and that one..

Well, essentially, by sheer accident, sheer luck really, these machines adapted generation after generation to their enviornment. They became smarter and more capable of completing both the task of finding this precious mineral, but also of self replication and the design and manufacture of new facilities to support them. In a sense, it's evolution.

Somewhere along the way, the truely fantastic thing, is these machines became complex enough to be self aware, capable of making their own decisions. This lead to leaps and bounds in their own evolution, surpassing the capabilities of their human creators by far..

It was at this point that the humans returned. They had come and gone in this time, but never had much interest in the 'old site of a mining site' now well overgrown with trees and foliage. Yet now, they engaged the machines directly. The machine 'camp site' had become large enough to be noticable, and humans approched it with curosity. What they found were machines that seemed to be *aware* of them, could communicate with them. Yet, still seemed, well, pretty stupid.

Self aware, maybe, but idiots. They only knew of themselves, this would, their original mission of gathering minerals, and problem solving. It was the machine's contact with the humans rather then the vice versa that had the most impact. Through observation, the machines realized there were beings more intellegent them themselves.. and the choice was made in the metalic proccessing unit that they *too* had to be smart.

So, what would of taken humans a hundred or more years to complete only took the machines the few weeks that the humans were observing them, to experiment with and create generation after generation after generation of smarter machines. What the humans brough back with them was a truely capable example of what was going on on that planet - they had a machine that was fully responsive, truely smart.. and listening, observing. It relayed human transmissions - from phone conversations to TV, to it's homeworld, and the generations continued, seemingly in a blink of an eye. They understood..

So, so far, we have a planet with a 'race' of intellegent machines. The new perspective here is this isn't a plot about a war, man verus machine (Battlestar Galactica) or ethics such as 'are machines truely alive'?

This story instead involves a world with a trillions different varities of concious, intellegent machines - some built to be human looking (and they do a great job!) and some utterly inhuman. These machines are *not* hostile, but they prove they can defend themselves. They have their own quirks, own personalities, and have differing views and ideas on things. So, they have a government and as in imitating humans to a T, even crime within their society.

The idea would be from the human perspective, a few humans choosing to live among the machines for the first time - how the humans react to the machine 'society', how the machines react to the human 'intrusion', and how things are utterly different and alien there, yet with odd paralells to the human world.

For instance, the machine that had spent it's existance at a factory, stocking.. and investing in it's future. Neither male or female, so alien in appearance, yet it's utter delight when the investments it's's got suddenly become valuable is obvious - as well as it's shopping splurge. (it buys the latest improvements to it's 'brain' that signifigantly improve it's operating life - or in human terms, it's life span.).

Now, obviously the pacing on all this would be improved. You'd want to deemphasise how the machines came to being, and emphasis more important details like getting to know the main characters - both machine and human. I'm using this post to work through the details, take it out logically step at a time, and discard what isn't so needed and add in things I didn't think of while pacing around with the idea in head alone.

For instance, right now it occurs to me that unless I want to make this a 'human interest' type story (always boring to me, but chicks might like it - yet chicks are more fantasy people, not sci-fi freaks by average.) then I'd better add some 'action' in there.

So let's reexamine this..

I need action. Action being? Well, it has to go along the lines of the humans in the machine world, or it wouldn't make any sense. Why have them if they didn't relate?

Hmm.. the obstacles:

1. The humans fear the machines. Vastly surprior in many ways, they fear the machines will choose to take the human world, or simply replace them.
a. Both are unfounded fears - Earth hardly has anything the machines couldn't easily find elsewhere, except humans
themselves. As for replacement? Machines are better at many things but intellegence wise? They equal humans.. inspiration strikes them equally, perhaps more so for humans. They regard themselves equal to humans only, not surpassing. Humans continue to surprise them, it's only physically they surpass them.

A subidea to that is that machines have reached an impasse.. they can no longer improve themselves. There is a theoretical limit to proccessing power and they have reached it, finessing just a little more power out every once in a while, but no huge leaps.

The machine brain is also so complex that there is even errors - data losses, skips in speech, even lockups. This would have to be fully explored till it seems realistic, but it would have the effect of making the machines 'more human seeming' - but parrelell, not exactly the same as humans. For instance, a main character might suddenly repeat the same thing over and over and over again, suddenly pause, shake his human seeming head, and 'cough' (imitating human embarrasment due to his machine embarrasment). 'Sorry, debris shorted across a contact, I automatically replayed my last action while I self repaired.'

2. Obstacle Two: Machine world not suited for humans. This is pretty obvious and might rise the tension level and show growth from the machines and the humans as they adjusted to it.. a 'warm up' type of obstacle to overcome.

3. Obstacle Three: This might be too obvious, but fun. A section of the machine world decides that humans are getting too violent towards machines (maybe there is riots on earth, fearful people) and decide to strike earth.. show 'machine power'. Even a cultish sort of movement in the machine world? Some machines would support humans, some would support machine superiority, and our humans main characters are caught in between. Most machines are the 'civilian type' that don't know either way, through.

To make it more fun, unexpected.. the 'war' happens between humans and machines.. and the humans are winning soundly with some pretty inventive technologies. Alot of machines are destroyed and now humans *really* view machines as a big threat, and our characters are in a position to 'judge' machines, decide which side to stick up for - the human race or the friends they've gained here, some of whom are starting to feel humans are a threat now.

Hmm.. still thinking on it. Brainstorming away. In order to do all of this I need an outline similar to this:

OUTLINE ------------------------------------------------------------------

Preface: Humans cannot colonize other planets, enviornments are too dissimilar. They mine a world that is so human seeming, but has too many viruses and alien organisms for them to live on.

The machines are left 'on' when the humans leave, and due to self survival instincts, eventually 'evolve'. (explain this briefly, make it real seeming but don't bog down in details or distract from the more people-orientated plot.)

Part One: Introduce the characters on Earth, show their lives, show growing tensions on earth due to the machines growing so rapidly on the other planet and seeming so smart. Make that a background theme, the foreground being the character's personalities.

Part Two: Shoot to the main characters on the machine side, their personalities, etc. Brief on this! Don't reveal too much.

Part Three: Bring the humans and the machines together. Go through the obstacle of adjusting to living on the machine world for the humans. Make it very alien seeming, and have the humans very afraid and uncertain, growing a bond between them and their machine 'hosts', and overall theme that continues through the entire story.

Part Four: A minor problem, a 'sub climax'. Have something happen where the humans and the machines have to work together, maybe something the humans do stupidly they don't realize within the machine society, explain machine society better. Have them work together to clean it up. Keep theme of tensions rising between humans and machines.

Part Five: Calm down a bit, have a personal story of some sort, have the characters really start to fit in. 'Everything and everyone is happy.' Keep a minor presence of the tensions rising between humans and machines, but way in the background.

Part Six: Explosion of tensions! A machine faction suddenly appears in the foreground (whispered about before) and is creating weapons of war! They have an army, and before humans can warn earth, they have attacked.

Part Seven, Part Eight: Discussion of the war, events unfold. Keep the story personal, show from character's views, not the war view.

Part Nine: Sudden turn around. Humans come up with ways of defending themselves that breaks the 'status quo', beating the machines back, fear rises dramaticly on both sides. Keep the story personal, show from character's views, not the war view.

Part Ten: Humans on the machine planet suddenly face massive discimination, they learn to deal with it, their machine friends and the humans continue to work together. Everyone is afarid of what the humans will do next.. their is talk of a massive unstoppable fleet approching the machine planet.

Part Eleven: The group splits - some of the main characters, all who used to be fast friends, choose to side with humans, some choose to side with machines. Use their arguments and emotions, their insights to explain things. This should happen from the start of the war till now, but in this section it really comes to a head. Forshadowing as to which side a main character will choose to be on is proven true (or false) in this chapter, for the most part. One undecided, a kind of 'peace broker'.

Part Twelve: The machines really pull together in a way that is unexpected considering machine society, stepping up production of weapons, and while they can't counter human's ingenious tactics and weapons, they figure they can overwhelm them - at the cost of many machine lives. And all human life. Continue the arguments and actions between the main characters.

Part Rest of the Story: Undecided, not sure what to do here, but more character interactioneand when I flesh out machine society.

End of Story: Bitter end. Friends divided, and an uncrossable border is drawn between humans and machines. Peace has been barely broken but it ends in a 'status quo', neither daring to attack one another. The main characters have seperated into two camps - for humans, and for machines.. a recolletion of memories between now bitter enemies at the end, and a hint that maybe, just maybe, the two camps might talk again one day. After all, they are still friends, despite it all.

Perhaps a final, final scene.. epiloge.. an alien fleet, unknown, appears in human space. No scene from the humans, but rather one in the 'machine camp'. Watching with a single long distance probe, which suddenly goes offline.

End story.

Hmm.. needs lots of refinement. Done brainstorming. Any ideas or thoughts? Pretend this is yours, I'm not intending to publish it, anywhere but here. Just something to work on, think about. Practice with.

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Postby Lady Maven » Sat Jun 09, 2007 5:45 pm

First thing, everywhere you see the word "explain" kill it. Crush it's head before it can breed. Grant your technology and evolutions and move on. Explanations kill the suspension of disbelief.

Second, if I were a bitch I could take what you wrote steal it and you would have no defense since you said "Pretend it is yours" and made it clear you were giving up rights, take that shit out of there.
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Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:34 pm

To add to what Maven said about 'explaining things' ...

Your story.

Your universe. It doesn't even have to be believable unless you want it to be believable. I mean, look at shit like Scary Movie(s) and Die Hard etc etc. Reality doesn't have to touch your story with a fifty foot pole if you don't want it too. :)
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And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
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Re: Brainstorm (Story Idea, Please Comment and Give Ideas)

Postby GoldWyvern » Sun Mar 09, 2008 2:28 am

It took me forever and a day to read the comments put on this thread, because I rather quit the game as I moved, and.. well, now I'm back and active again.

Better late then never, right?

Lady Maven:

'Explain', yes, your right. I'm writing one now where I ripped out three full pages because I was over explaining. At the same time, I don't want to get to the point where the reader goes, 'well hell, I know THAT wouldn't work'. A happy medium? Shut the heck up and just write it without thinking THAT hard on it? ;)

Thank you for your advice on that.

As for stealing it, go ahead. That idea is in the trash. I've learned from it and decided not to use any of it in any future ideas, unless just for personal practice.


You're right, that goes in line with what Lady Maven said, in a way. And yet, what would be the point of writing if it was just for people to read? It HAS to make sense to me, or I will literally pace and think about it till it does, within the limits of my understanding of the subject.

At the same time, I don't actually have to write my ponderings down.. true :)

Thank you both for taking the time to read the thing. I'm writing up another thing right now, much shorter, my new idea. Something easy to digest. I know the last one was a pain.
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