Oct 4, 2015


The Girl Who Was Plugged In
I've never read any science fiction stories written by Alice Sheldon. Apparently the "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" was written so as to seem to be told by a male narrator who mocks readers (presumably themselves mostly male science fiction fans). In this blog post I want to mix together two topics: 1) Sci Fi stories that involve moving minds around between multiple bodies and 2) my search for a satisfactory narrative structure in the Exode Trilogy.

I grew up reading and enjoying science fiction with male protagonists whose stories were written by female science fiction writers such as Alice Norton, Ursula Le Guin, Doris  Lessing and Carolyn Cherry. Among my favorite such stories is Assignment Nor'Dyren by Sydney Van Scyoc. Is there any reason why women cannot write convincing male characters or why men should not be able to write from the perspective of a woman?

the Exode Trilogy
When I began my current science fiction writing project, my preliminary plan was to write the story Exode from the perspective of Hana, an Earth woman who left behind her life on Earth and who went out to travel among the stars. During the past three years, what began as an attempt to reveal the features of Genesaunt Civilization has grown into a larger project: the Exode Trilogy.

Poor Hana
When I started writing about Hana, I quickly became more interested in just about every other character that surrounded her.

However, even while Hana was pushed into the background, several strong female characters stepped forward into the spotlight.

plugged in
I've been experimenting with different possible strategies for providing a single unified narrative perspective from which the entire Exode Trilogy might be told. For about the past year, I'd grown comfortable with the idea of writing myself into the story and telling the Exode Trilogy from my perspective, but in the guise of "the editor", a fictional character who would obtain various pieces of the story from his "collaborators" such as Izhiun, Thomas Iwedon and Ivory Fersoni.

However, most recently I've begun to toy with the idea of getting back to the "roots" of Exode and telling the story from the perspective of a female character. Hana's role in the Exode Trilogy has ended up being far too small a part of the Trilogy to provide a viable narrative perspective, but several of the other characters could possibly do the job. Ivory Fersoni is one possibility since she has now gone on to her second life, a shift that could provide her with access to all of the information that she would need to tell the Exode story.

one of Gohrlay's artificial lives (source)
Another possibility is Grean, but Grean is not actually a woman, "she" is a Kac'hin hermaphrodite. Trysta/Syon could do the job, but Trysta was not technically a human being, being an Asterothrope female.

I've been seriously contemplating the idea of making Gohrlay be the narrator of the Exode Trilogy. My major reason for not doing so is that it is simpler to steal parts of my own life for constructing the fictional life of "the Editor". I'd have to do a whole lot more thinking to create a complete life for Gohrlay. Actually, it is much worse than that, since Gohrlay has literally led dozens of lives. That might be a can of mind worms that I really don't want to get into.

Roberta Moore
in the Ekcolir Reality
Illustrated by Jennifer Healy
The idea that you could hook a bunch of wires up to one person's nervous system and then have them control another body (with yet more wires) is rather silly, at least from our current technological perspective. Human brains are not interchangeable CPUs. But what might be possible with very advanced technology?

Nothing can deter science fiction story writers from creating stories about minds that magically jump from one body to another. In the Exode Trilogy, each person has within them a zeptite endosymbiont. I'm reluctant to create an analogy between that endosymbiont and conventional beliefs in a soul, but I don't hesitate to imagine that a person's memories and mind can be encoded in zeptites and then transferred between multiple biological bodies and artificial life forms like replicoids. Zeptite endosymbionts provide an imaginary technological basis for mind transfer.

So, if we grant a science fiction story teller a future technology that allows for a mind to be moved from body to body, then why not from body to body to body to body...get the idea?

What would it be like for Gohrlay to have access to memories of dozens of past lives? Is there a limit to how much information a human brain can process and integrate or can a zeptite endosymbiont handle the load?  I like the idea that R. Gohrlay was able to "hand down" to Gohrlay all of the accumulated wisdom from "her" millions of years of existence.

The X-Files 2016
However, I have to wonder if this is pushing the boundary of human cognitive possibilities.

Would a person who was laden with all that endosymbiotic baggage break? Would carrying around millions of years of a robots's memories allow Gohrlay to still be a woman? And would she be willing to narrate the secret history of Humanity?

Related Reading: Review of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr. 
The Most Secretive Woman in the History of Science Fiction
Next: a fan fiction X-Files 2016 episode
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