Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Deep Theory on the Dark Machine

Thanks to Juan for these quizzies. I thought I'd share the answers here as well as on Litopia because I believe that it's always good to look deeper into the machinations of your story world to fight off possible problems and plot holes that may occur either in the plot or as a paradox in the world itself:

This is a really interesting idea with lots of possibilities but I have a couple of questions, especially since it seems to be a TV series rather than a novel:

It was originally an idea for a novel - I adapted it to save time and actually get on writing the idea as opposed to coming up with a new idea.

-Is the day of his accident one day that he is reliving over and over (cf Groundhog Day) or is it one day stretched into a series (producer's question right there)

Actually him reliving that day only makes up the first two episodes of the 8 episode first series. After that he is forced to move into new territory and the minds of other coma victims - his deja vu/future visions will then stop

-Is this consciousness a shared memory or is it a parallel reality? (i.e. what is it that the coma victims are actually sharing? thoughts or virtual actions)

Best to think of it as a parallel reality. They are sharing virtual actions.

-How does he see the future as deja vu? (Because he's already lived in it or because he's clairvoyant? In the latter case, it's not really deja vu)

He's already lived the day so what he believes are flashes of the future are in fact just moments of the original day. Which allows me to first use them to give him information before it should arrive and then to contrast between his old life and his new one when he starts making different choices.

-The responsibility hook is a good one, makes for good drama, but I'm at a loss to see how it can be shown if he is reliving a day. Is he doing things differently? And if the others (i.e. his wife or Mark) are doing things the same way, how can they respond to his change? Or if it's a stretching of the day of the accident with Edward 'inventing' a new reality along with the other coma victims, how can we see the wife's reactions as anything other than Edward's inventions?

Yes... is all I can answer here. No wait: I had to split up this initial story into two episodes, and I've only written the first one, but I've asked myself all those questions. He starts off following the original patterns of the day, but he starts forseeing what will happen and begins shortcutting events - realising that despite his awareness of the future he can't change the outcome. The other characters seem to respond or default to their original reactions, and there's little that Ed can do to change that (he keeps getting drawn into the same arguments). Until that is, the new world (shared consciousness of coma minds) brings into play new characters that Ed's not met before. He should remember them, but doesn't - which puts him in danger. And as for his wife's reactions - yes - Edward's inventions of other people's reactions comes to the fore in later episodes when he believes he constructs versions of his wife and best friend in his mind.

-Does the Dark Machine co-opt the coma victims at the point of their accidents and, if so, is Alisha in Edward's reality (supposedly created by the Dark Machine) or reality-reality (where Edward is I suppose in a coma)?

These questions get harder... The Dark Machine is really another entity - The God Conscious to which all souls return when they die. Alisha is the only known soul to have gone in and return in her original form, but with adopted powers and access. The first series only takes place within the shared coma-worlds, and this works something like with the use of doorways to move between worlds. Anyone in a coma may move between any of the coma worlds. Does that make sense?

I liken it to the state of REM sleep - my original novel concept had coma victims sharing that coma reality (the subconscious) and REM sleepers entering that reality for a brief time.

- Apart from the Matrix overtones that it would be nice to see fall away a little(almost a whole subgenre these days in itself I would imagine), there are some great possibilities for the blending of near-death consciousness with ongoing life.

One grand question is what happens to a person's coma-world when they either a) die, or b) wake up?

The coma-world (as we discover at the end of episode 1 destroys itself. Any other coma-victim still in that coma-world when it dies will die too.

But the "which reality" question is vital.

Why I hadn't thought of the Matrix link, I don't know. It's a sub-conscious level of the mind, the primal, I guess.

- There needs to be a logic we can base our feelings on. If Edward is manipulating all the responses to his 'new self' and we intuitively know this, then how can we respond emotionally to the action?

He only controls that original day and the responses of his family and friends - we see it all go wrong, because he can't change the outcome, but then that is left by the wayside as we move into the second act of the series

- The place where he 'meets' Alisha and helps his friend with the double-cross probably needs to be sufficiently outside of his control (or that of the Dark Machine) to make us follow him. Flitting between two realities could be a way to do this, but then how does his wife get to interact with him in the coma and not be a figment of his new 'consciousness'?

Really she is just a figment that Ed doesn't realise. The majority of what goes on in the first two episodes are figments, and only the five new characters who arrive and who exert changes to the outcomes realise this. Afterwards, when Ed thinks his wife and friend are dead, only he can see them - but it comes down to the power of Ed's mind. Episode 7 has him return to his original life (albeit still in a coma).Possibly you have answers to these questions that didn't fit into 150 words, but they do jump out of the premise as is.That's what I loved about the initial idea - it can go anywhere. The original concept had interactions between Ed and his wife when she was in REM sleep, and she could take those interactions back to the real world to try and help Ed out by changing real world situations and deal with other coma victims. Also I had a World War 2 type framework, where Ed goes up against a German Count who put himself in a coma during the war as part of the Nazi's occult investigations. But of course... his body died years ago, so how is his soul/mind still present in the coma worlds?

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