Thank you so much for the read and your notes, Libby.
I hope my reply is anywhere close to readable :-)
During the OWC I loved the idea of this story, Alex, so I read the new draft.
I still love it, but I do find some things in the world building and narrative quite a bit unclear and some word usage needs refining.
When we meet Emily in this particular incarnation she's thirty-five but her chronological age of combined years lived on earth is one-hundred and ninety-five.
It's a problem yet that I haven't explained the whole body, 'vessel' thing. In short words, the humans have no problems with growing bodies. It stays unexplained yet. Premise is, rather should be – getting a body that hosts the mind – no problemo. I couldn't interweave an angle yet that deals with the topic.
My understanding is she doesn't want to be alive anymore but she's contractually obligated, is that right?
Good that you point that out because I obviously still seem to fail here premise-wise, bigly.
Emily is not obliged
to her 'insurance' that keeps her mind alive. Perhaps I left too much open there regarding her 'insurance'. In my imagination, which seems too off-page, she cherished her insurance that secures her 'mental', say intellectual survival one time. But at some point, say with about 130-140 years, her opinion has changed … --- it's actually some of the philosophical questions the script wants to trigger.
Re the contract, in your denouement she's given a final choice?
Yes. Every time again when she commits suicide aka initial death. With that I'll come to your foregone point:
She's depressed so tries to do herself in in various ways on numerous occasions.
She not only tries, she actually committed suicide 5 times before. Each time she found herself, her mind, back on the mainframe of the insurance company.
Quoted from From script
Suicide becomes easy when pain has no consequence. To commit to the loss of existence is what drives us crazy.
With the second part of her dialogue I wanted to establish that idea (also a philosophical question of the script). In a sense, just imagine, suicide, in this future world, is just a pain, like a wound. It's only her very choice on the insurance's mainframe that decides ultimately about her existence.
I’ve been initial dead for
five times yet
First I wanted to name it: "I've been primary dead
for five times yet."
Now, in this world, there is also a first death scenario - the physical one. People with that strange insurance get a copy of their mind when dead. This copy gets uploaded to the VR platform on the insurance's mainframe. There they, their mind, their sanity, needs to commit to their ultimate death
re: last dialogue of the script..
Perhaps this might read better (if my understanding is correct) as:
I've been pronounced dead five times.
It's not your fault, rather my lack of clarity BUT She isn't pronounced dead.
She even hasn't lost her human/civil rights.
I tried to get this across in the climax when the - O'Neil virtual pulsing thing - even told her-
Quoted from From script
What am I?
The wave animation on the wall pulsates.
You are a human being, Mrs Hastings.
I made this monster of me. And I still fear. I fear so much.
That's what a human being does. Your consciousness, your mind is intact. You are real. Is it so hard to believe?
But no critique toward you. It seems it just doesn't work on the page.
I'm a best selling authoress
I'd change to simply 'author'.
Authoress sounds a bit pretentious and fussy and her character appears contrary to this.
Ha. You wouldn't believe that I actually thought a lot about that one term. I even researched and read that 2 centuries ago something… specifying a female writer as authoress was seen as derogative by women. And I even read an article about a female writer who now wants to be called authoress.
So, I found that quite interesting and have chosen in favor for the today's controversial debate about gender terminology and such…
I hoped it'll sound odd and progressive in a strange way since the story plays in 2180 something.
We live in the age of death
Okay, count me as intrigued but the more times I read this the more confused I am.
Yeah, a catch phrase that obviously doesn't work as well ;-)
It simply plays with the idea that in those times you can choose when death happens. You got the full control over your demise.
Without being gratuitous I'd give a bit more visually to your sequence of shots i.e., the bathtub, pills, open window. I feltt those visuals a bit downplayed.
In a sense that you would have preferred the full flashback with her lying dead in her bathtub, in the crimson bath water?
I actually thought about the money here and also I didn't want to visually overload the script and felt it might be too distracting showing her take the pills, jumping out of the window…
This also might be connected to the fact I made this a VO machine. And I thought if I choose that flawed way of directing the narrative like that, then I at least won't show all the pictures; thought it'd be redundant, done twice, while she explains.
I also feel Emily's anguish is a bit downplayed.
Don't get that. I thought she makes a pretty good cheesy, lonesome psycho.
It's done pretty cheesy for sure – but downplayed??
At least the idea of a cabinet with pictures of 100 passed family members and friends feels effective I thought.
And, though I count myself as pretty well read I'll confess to having to look up the word:'lychnobite'.
Ha :-) Chris called me out on the original street scum
term, which I wasn't so convinced is a problem but then sometimes you just listen to your reader, right?
We're writers so obviously I'm not averse to having my vocabulary widened but I'm on the fence here about the choice of words for your reading audience. It does add a certain gravitas and style but hmm, when some things get a little lost in the translation throwing in a less than commonplace word into the mix makes for a curious hybrid of writing. Perhaps the origin of this word is more familiar to you? Ancient Greek, I see.
People, do actually discuss this very word on the internet and it reached consensus for what I think I wanted to say. So, what I do is, I walk with 'night crawlers' right?
a vehicle hovers along at breakneck
speed - chased by a flying police car, sirens wailing
I don't think hover and breakneck speed go together.
If you hover you're usually in the air but remaining in the same place so that sentence needs to be rearranged.
This was actually part of the OWC reception as well and I just didn't get it there.
Thanks so much for explaining it. I always learn so much when you dissect my work.
So, hover is rather no forward movement.
Otherwise I think 'fly' sounds a little childish. Would 'float at breakneck speed' do?
Okay, I'll stop there for now...
I'd like to offer a bit more feedback but before I do I'd love if you could sum up this world more for me, Alex. Oh, and elaborate re the photos - are they all the people she's known before, or are they her? Sorry if I sound dim.
Yes, they are all people she knows, once knew, and most have passed away.
And I lack clarity here.
The off-page premise is that all those people either have had no insurance for whatever reason (no money, religious beliefs etc.) or they had an insurance but at one point have given in and committed to their ultimate death on the VR platform. The reason for the later may be that they were tired of life, had enough of life. They couldn't buy in the concept of an infinite existence.
Emily, she actually suffers from the same feelings eventually. She had one hundred and ninety years now and she's at the edge of committing to the loss of her existence as well. But she has fear.
And I love this story for that exact reason. In the climax, even not O'Neal's VR avatar can give her answer to her question of what will happen to her if they delete her hard drive.
Quoted from From script
You don't have to. You just have to say the password and we'll erase your mind from the mainframe.
And, I cease to exist?
And where am I going?
I have no answer, Mrs Hastings. You won't be here.
You won't be here is all he can say.
It somehow plays with all beliefs about existence and its subjectivity, maybe even singularity when we look into the mirror.
So, I here made the step of deleting all physics from a person's mind: like having a heart, screw that, people work with what's between their eyes right, no romantic approach to find here ;-)
Then still. Is there really a counter subjectivity. A nothing string? And I don't mean this as a rhetoric question btw.
So, don't get me wrong, this is no believer plea FOR a there is no nothing view
Maybe the question is what happens TO HER in the exact last moment when her digital mind gets turned off?
And I mean not the why – rather the HOW.
And of course there is no answer. And many people would see such stories as stupid. Then what I want to trigger is a thought about YOUR own view on this existence thing...
Your exact view. And I highly doubt there is much consensus in each and every specificity between all of us.
There's some wanted naivity in this story which is surely vulnerable regarding my concept and take.
P.S. Password: Ultimate?
Maybe reverse? The Ultimate Password, or, Final Password?
I walked the catchy way so far, yes. Perhaps it needs something more honest.
This is great feedback, Libby, as usual.
I hope I could give some input to clarify what the story should say.
But it's off-page yet, as in, it works in my head but it's not translated perfectly yet. Then, I don't want to be too whiny about my performance. I think I did this in the OWC thread when posting my rewrite.
SF is really hard since it's a scientific thesis that can't be proven nor refuted.
You could ask yourself how Mr Hammond could build Jurassic Park and none of his needed thousands of employees contacted the press and told the world about that secret dinosaur island.
I think they kept us within entertaining scenes that well, so that we give them credit and ignore our disbelief and enjoy…
Great notes, Libby. It's interesting that you didn't mention the VOs. So, maybe they work here.
Let me know if I cleared up all of your questions about the story's world. It would be very helpful if you'd send me another update for sure.