Jun 16, 2013

Gohrlay's Horrific Demise

spoof inspired by The Island Of Doctor Moreau
Hana's last name is Davyon. On the planet Luk'ru
she crafts her own version of Humanity.
Towards the end of last year I considered Exode as a horror story...with no blood, no monsters, no deaths...just the usual ignorant and bumbling humans worried about the ultimate fate of Humanity.

Horror is one of the genres that repels me, so I've challenged myself to broaden my interests and work at the task of finding something about horror stories that I can enjoy or appreciate.

Now, since having realized that The Foundations of Eternity is a prequel to Exode, I should give some more thought to the horror elements in that story, particularly the gruesome death of Gohrlay.

Of course, the first thing to say about Gohrlay's horrific demise is that her death by "destructive brain scan" is carefully staged. Orbho Anagro made "two copies of Gohrlay" and kept one in storage: a clone of Gohrlay that was kept in reserve and which had no purpose in life but to be put through the destructive brain scanning process. But the reader does not know about this subterfuge until after reading: "The nanites in her brain switched off her consciousness and a robotic surgeon cut off Gohrlay's hair and began removing her skull."

Gohrlay's Brain
So, the first two and a half chapters of the story trick the reader into thinking that Gohrlay is murdered by Overseer Doltun and that her brain is broken into microscopic bits as part of converting her neural circuits into functionally equivalent positronic circuits.

Using the primitive brain scanning technology that was developed by her fellow Neanderthals, it will take many days to scan the structure of Gohrlay's brain. Each cell has to be exposed and analyzed. First her blood is cooled in order to limit cell death during the prolonged scanning process.

I found an old Horror Stories cover that reminded me of poor Gohrlay's body being chilled down in preparation for the destructive brain scan.

The dude in the rubber suit, the klunky lab equipment and the ice cube girls in the back did not fit with events as described in The Foundations of Eternity so some modifications were needed. However, I just had to keep the retro thermometer!

I looked at a large number of pulp magazine covers and it was difficult to find a human figure that I could swap in and make look like it was involved in running the chiller tank equipment. I certainly was not opposed to including another female figure, but most of the young women depicted in old pulp magazine covers were doing little more than cringing in horror.

I found an issue of Avon Fantasy Reader that had a dramatically posed lady holding a knife; the out-stretched arm was what I needed. Her shear "lab coat" makes a nice contrast to the original rubber suit.

Spock's Brain
This was one of the more disturbing episodes of Star Trek. Supposedly written by the person who came up with the idea that Star Fleet follows the Prime Directive, in the end, the crew of the Enterprise happily throws a monkey wrench into the culture of Sigma Draconis VI. In need of a computer to maintain the infrastructure of their underground city, the Eymorgs instead steal Spock's brain and put it to work running their sewage plant and ventilation fans.

Spock and McCoy collaborate to successfully paste Spock's brain back into his body and our heroes ride off into the sunset, the Eyemorg having been told to abandon their underground city and go live on the surface where they can suffer through the raging ice age along with the brutish Morg.

There should have been a sequel to this episode in which, as soon as the Enterprise departed from Sigma Draconis VI, Kara was off in her spaceship to pick out another brain, possibly that of Harry Mudd.

Having his brain be used to run the plumbing of a city for 10,000 years seems like a fitting punishment for Mudd's crimes.

Brain Switch
In The Foundations of Eternity, Gohrlay is quietly slipped out of Observer Base. She wakes up wondering if something went wrong with the brain scan.

Jeed and Many Sails patiently explain that she was tricked, and that there was never any intention to destroy her brain. Orbho Anagro simply wanted the scientists at Observer Base to believe that their brain scan technology had been used on Gohrlay. Instead, Anagro secretly used more efficient Huaoshy technology to scan Gohrlay's brain and convert its functionality into positronic circuits.

When R. Gohrlay "wakes up" after the scanning session, "she" has a working copy of Gohrlay's, telepathic powers. As the first positronic robot with a human-like mind, R. Gohrlay begins her struggle to defend Humanity against the alien Huaoshy, culminating in the formation of Galaxia.

Gohrlay never really knows much about the Huaoshy. Resenting how she was tricked and used for Orbho Anagro's little science experiment, R. Gohrlay makes sure that all positronic robots are programmed with the Laws of Robotics.

For the 30,000 years of R. Gohrlay's existence, "she" is in a nightmare-like struggle against the Huaoshy. Had she known exactly what she was up against she might never have led a revolt against the orbho of Observer Base. Every move she makes is ultimately countered by the Huaoshy. However, in the end, the Huaoshy recognize their own faults and the deficiencies that were inherent in Genesaunt Civilization. Prompted by Gohrlay's heroic resistance, the Huaoshy make some changes and Homo sapiens is given the  opportunity to survive.

Horror Tease
I've started giving some thought to the ending of The Foundations of Eternity. I like happy endings and I originally imagined a pleasant ending for The Start of Eternity. However, since The Foundations of Eternity is a prequel for Exode, I'd be willing to change the tone of the last chapter and even turn it into a horror-tinged teaser for the follow-up novel.

It would not be hard to depict Earth and Humanity as stripped bare of its defending positronic robots and totally at the mercy of the alien Huaoshy. At the end of The Foundations of Eternity the reader could be left wondering if we Earthlings are going to return to being just another soon-to-be-obsolete primate along the way to the Huaoshy ideal of a species that is worthy of joining Genesaunt Civilization.

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