Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Conquest of Humanity - Notes by the Chapters



RUSSIAN BASE, BELARUS

  • The names Sergeant and Mr. Milendi come from Starcraft Broodwars
  • The idea to call angels extra-terrestrials is inspired by an amusing personal anecdote. It actually led to the whole story being told through the eyes of the atheist.
  • In an earlier draft, Sergei reads the Bible (“the Library” in the story) because he found out his wife was back home in Russia was cheating on him.
  • My exposure to the phrase “Life is a Penny” comes from the book One Life, One Kopek, by Walter Duranty.
  • The two soldiers becoming perfectly obedient to Christ is the kind of thing a Methodist would argue for. I don’t actually believe in it.



AT THE COUNCIL

  • The name Dr. Vanwinegarden is derived from a physics teacher who taught at my college.
  • The theological idea being played with here is regeneration.
  • The society they set out to create reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451



SOMEWHERE IN CHILE

  • Decklan is the name of the Scottish pilot from the movie The Rundown
  • The words he gives are taken directly from the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 5
  • The fire team was named Ypres in honor of the spaceship from Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers
  • The Cats name is short for Covenanter.  



THE THEME PARK DREAM

  • This is the Coliseum at Rome
  • The tunnel they ascend while on the roller coaster is Space Mountain at Disneyland
  • Their cohort was selected to get very few options for amusement and no education. This idea is similar to the psychotic vault tech company from the game Fallout



THE GIANTS DREAM

  • This one was actually a really terrifying experience.
  • The arrangement of the boxes in stacks around the room was not really random, it was designed to unsettle, like the room of conversion in C.S. Lewis’ novel That Hideous Strength.
  • The units are all given in metric throughout the book because let’s face it; a united science and engineering effort is going to use metric.
  • The park looked like Hyde Park as seen from the movie Peter Pan.
  • The giant wore a navy colored business suit with white pinstripes.
  • Rook didn’t bother shaking Will because she had turned off all sensory input. As a consequence she remained behind when Rook escaped and was eaten by the giant.



TWO YEARS LATER

  • A lot of ideas that I had originally fleshed out I ended up cutting down because it didn’t make for a great story, and I figured people could pick up on it on their own. One such thing for example is that people don’t need to sleep because of the mental stimulants the network feeds them.
  • Rooks characterization of Anak is actually spot on.
  • Anak comes from the Bible (the Anakim), the giants starting in Num 13:22. Talmai shows up later as one of the sons of Anak.



THE TEDIOUS DREAM

  • This takes place in the New Mexico desert, which has been paved over. The sky was bright and blue with swirly clouds just like it is there.



THE HELPLESS DREAM

  • The whole play space bounded by the fence looked like a super bonus level from any of the Lego video games.
  • I started this dream just knowing (you know how dreams do that) that there were druggies living in that building.
  • I had a lot of nightmares as a child and one of the things my dad said to help me get over them was that I was the one in charge and could take control of my dreams. Ever since then when I feel in danger, or am being attacked by a random tiger, I pull out a weapon, usually a combat knife, and fight back. Rooks construct was my rational for why there are so many instances of knife fighting in this story, or in my dreams. It’s a jungle out there.



AFTERWARDS

  • The scientists say dreams last something like 10 seconds in real life. I’ve had dreams that have lasted for years however, and felt like they went on forever. That’s why time passes differently in the simulations. It’s not a novel idea; see also the short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.
  • That’s a joke about marriage by the way. Given how hard our society wants to redesign it I couldn’t help myself.
  • I worried about this section because a lot of key knowledge gets dumped on the reader, but they might not feel like it’s important at the time.



THE EMOTIONAL DREAM

  • Lee’s speech is halting and broken (“I… can’t…”). By the time Rook finishes and you see him doing the same thing you realize Lee was showing signs of brain damage after only the first monster. Or you realized that now after I just pointed it out.



MODERN DREAM

  • The “kids” that were running and playing were junior high age.
  • The old man who proctored the test and stood guard wasn’t really all that old. Although I was given the impression he’d amassed a lot of years under his belt, he looked like he was in his 30s.
  • I think everyone who’s been to school has had this dream before, even if it wasn’t combined with another one like mine was. You’re late for the final, you haven’t studied, in fact you didn’t even realize you’d enrolled in that class and now you have to take your test.



RECOVERING

  • This part explicitly returns to the part of the story established in the prologue.



STARSHIP DREAM

  • The black haired woman looked like my sister in law.
  • The wristband was large and clunky, very much like Leela’s in the show Futurama
  • Looking at the Muslim engineer gave me a sense of peace. You had the impression that he had everything under control.
  • The book and reader was a View-Master (an old children’s toy).
  • In my dream once I got to page 4 of the tech manual I was given the equations and tried to solve for the answer. It became clear part way through that I was missing key pieces and couldn’t do it. 
  • The captain reminded me in some way of Captain Janeway from Star trek Voyager, even though she didn’t look like her. I think that’s where the coffee came from at any rate.
  • In actuality the people who survived the purge on Earth rewrote the way the system scanned for the mark of Christ. They were effectively invisible, not hiding out in the hills somewhere.
  • Allen’s characterization of Rook is true, even if he’s a little insane.
  • This file is marked by Tyson before he opens the Masters file.
  • The --- I use in dreams indicate something I felt or knew in passing without seeing it. 
  • This was my favorite dream



THE DREAM OF A WORLD AT WAR

  • The pistol was a large black gun with a huge caliber. It had almost no recoil and practically aimed itself. It was not that much inferior to the laser weaponry.
  • We hid behind the jeep from the white carrier that looked like the ones the Covenant use in the game Halo, but when the guys drove the jeep into the cave they had been driving the same one. Obviously that makes no sense, so I had to bend the story a little there.
  • I don’t speak Italian and have no friends who do, so I’m not sure if I actually conjugated any of the words properly. Carlo never actually said anything in my dream, I just knew he was Roman Catholic.
  • Ian was Philippino, so when naming him I looked up most common names and stuck it on him.
  • The theological idea here is sanctification. Christianity has that effect on people, although it’s more muted and drawn out in real life.
  • The Texan on the monitor talking to the Aussie is Tex Conway from Robot Jox.
  • The Resolute is the name of the Capitol ship from the T.V. show Exosquad
  • Kasem looked like a videogame character, or a Japanese cartoon with his arms that big.
  • The word citwiỵỵāis the word for soul. I think. If you’re reading this and you speak Thai, let me know.



THE MASTER RETURNS

  • Ana’s response is reflective of when Jesus rebukes the rich young ruler in Mark 10:18, “Why do you call Me good? There is none good but God…”
  • I wanted desperately to capture the disgust Rook has at the obvious mindwashing he sees in her. The best thing I’d seen on this was a book called Face of the Waters by Robert Silverberg. These cast away humans land on a planet covered in water, and the land is floating mats created by these primitive humanoids. The whole world continually tries to destroy them until they give in and choose to become brainwashed.



THE TRANQUIL DREAM

  • The colors felt alive. The location was somewhere in Australia, but the neighborhoods felt like America. It was very pretty.
  • Tyson fights Samir for control of the simulation here in changing the sign and adding an escape to the simulation. The faceless man was Tyson.
  • The diner was a 50s joint, very much like a Johnny Rockets.
  • Originally Ana and Samir had a long dialogue about the nature of freewill, but it was very philosophical and slowed the pacing down considerably.
  • The --- are used here to switch the character viewpoint. Unlike the other times I use the device, this time I did actually dream this part about holding the doors and not being able to stab the zombies in the head.



ALONE AGAIN

  • Originally the GREAT inoculated people against the mind control, but as the story rounded out it changed to rewriting the desires of a person. Something like the Mule from Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov.



THE TITANIC DREAM

  • In the dream I knew I was dreaming. Hence the implant malfunction.
  • This place and its classic opulence felt like it was lifted from the game Bioshock. It did not at all feel like a cruise ship. Hence the Andrew Ryan dining hall.
  • When I jumped from the rail it felt like I fell a very long time until I hit the water. And the water was cold.

ESCORTED

  • This was the first chapter I wrote, and the last one to finish rewriting. I couldn’t quite get it to come out like I wanted it to.
  • Assuming Samir is dead, Rook loses his purposes, becomes depressed, and starts sleeping off the network to pass the time. I’m not sure that comes across well, but I’m also not sure it needed to.
  • The people on the Force are super competent, and remain so here. They aren’t trying to get Rook to free Samir, they’re going to use him to kill him and are lying. I personally hate inconsistent characters, particularly bad guys.



A DREAM OF THE NEW WORLD

  • The grass was thick enough to put your whole weight on and not bend it.
  • They spoke in King James English in the dream.
  • In the dream the caves were an impossibly short walk—we took a step and were there.
  • The place felt wide and open, very much like Oklahoma.
  • The catechism question is question 1 from the Westminster shorter catechism.
  • The voice is his conscience. Although in my dream it didn’t feel quite like that.



ON MISSION

  • It’s Samir in the tower, obviously. Rook doesn’t feel good about attacking him with the guards present, so he needs to figure out a way to get them gone.
  • There was a rather lengthy segment in an earlier draft about how Samir won. He lamented that the parents were impossible to turn and would gladly endure torture or death, but if he kidnapped the kids and raised them like he was raised it worked out pretty well. It didn’t seem worthwhile to leave it in.
  • The story Samirs describing about the fighting for humanity and then switching sides—I actually had a dream about it. It was pretty cool.
  • Samir has been living out the end times from a dispensationalist point of view. 1000 literal years of the reign of Christ on Earth.



THE DREAM OF THE DESERT

  • The amphitheater was a place where people had youth events and getaway retreats to worship God.
  • The barn was made from whale rib bones. No idea why.



THE DREAM OF THE WAY

  • This was a very happy place. I’m not sure how well I did communicating the wonder and tranquility of it.
  • It reminded me strongly of Village of the Watermills from Akira Kurosawa’s movie Dreams.



THE DREAM OF THE KING

  • It was like being next to a speaker at a concert. The sound went right through me.
  • I had the impression of a miniature version (5 feet high or so) Niagra falls when the king spoke, hence the ‘waterfall’ comment.
  • The comment “I am a jealous King…” is taken from Daniel 4:35
  • The catechism question that’s not explicitly spelled out is the same as in the prologue. Providence. 


THE DREAM OF THE TOWER

  • I was immediately struck by the absence of the furniture here, it was like an arena.
  • In my dream the knife fight lasted considerably longer, but the details escape me now.



THE DREAM OF THE PRINCE

  • The prince spoke with a very strong lisp, but it wasn’t funny.
  • He didn’t look exactly like Skeletor from He-man, but it wasn’t too far off either.
  • It surprised me how fast his head dissolved in the tar, and how the acid ate away at the tar.



AFTERMATH

  • The cities that are named go in order as the fruits of the spirit from Galatians 6. Love, joy, peace…
  • The woman had dark brown hair and was about 5’6’’





THE DREAM OF A HOUSE

  • It wasn’t as much like a dog like it was a Sandworm from Dune that could whimper and wag a tail.
  • I’m convinced this town is a derivative of Cloudcroft New Mexico.
  • The “house” they settle in is a Mormon church.



THE DREAM OF REPENTANCE

  • If you look close you’ll see there are not a lot of feelings in this dream, or things going on. The whole dream was mostly a feeling of being caught doing wrong.



THE REUNION

  • The line “what I’m saying is true and reasonable” comes from Acts 26:25 where Paul tries to persuade Festus to believe in Jesus.
  • Rook evidences real repentance in refusing to take revenge on his enemy, realizing that by trapping him all this time he’d punished him enough


THE AUDIENCE

  • Samir is answered in part by the words of James 4:2, “You kill and you covet…”



THE SIMPLE DREAM

  • The yellow corduroy couch is the one my parents had when I was very young.
  • Tyson couldn’t totally reshape the program without giving away his hand, he had to let Rook do it to avoid suspicion. It was this personality remnant that kept the Force from reading the GREAT as ‘clear of tampering.’



THE DREAM OF HELL

  • The Chief engineer from the starship dream and the man who Rook walked behind make an appearance again.
  • The monster looked like an 8 foot tall Gnatcatcher bird without feathers or wings or beak. It’s been in my dreams off and on since I was 3.



FINISHED

  • The chess thing doesn’t go great here, ideally it should be a non-corny way to say The End Game, but at least it’s better than Checkmate.
  • The book ends with a post-millennialism viewpoint. In the end through the gospel God saves all. I’m dubious things go down that way in real life, but it’s more fun this way.
  • I thought about having an epilogue being the explicit gospel call, but I think leaving the ending hanging like the gospel of Mark does introduces an element of “now what are you going to do. Now what do you think?” that I find appealing.


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