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Stories grow with us

I've always been rather afraid of death since I was a kid. Since I'm not religious, I wanted to come up with some sort of sciency way I could be immortal. Some time in middle school, I think, I came up with this fantasy where there's actually this ancient group of people with this nifty futuristic home located in a parallel universe. They had teleportation devices, see, and they, altruistic folks that they are, teleport our brains away at the last possible moment before we die... and teleport back a fake replacement. (This was back when I felt that we needed our physical brain intact to maintain our identity, and I no longer think this is true.) They would then toss our brains into these VR systems, and we all live our eternal afterlives out in this better-than-real VR world. A technological afterlife.

I didn't actually think this was true, of course. It was just a reassuring fantasy. But around late high school, I didn't find it so reassuring any more, and I decided that I needed to deal with death once and for all. (er.. not that way!) I figured the way I'd do this would be by thinking about what immortality would REALLY be like.. and decide that it probably wouldn't be that great, anyway! Sour grapes and all, I know. :P I was helped along by this nifty Babylon 5 character named "Lorien" who was a really really really old alien. At one point, when asked about his romantic life and friendships, he looks a bit sad and says, "Only the mortal can believe that love is eternal."

I came up with a story idea. In the future, people develop the medical technology to cure pretty much all illnesses. At that point, accidental death becomes a major concern. They've also medically eliminated old age. So these rich people buy out a planet and build really really reinforced bunkers that are super-safe. And they life in them. Travelling is dangerous, so they use a VR system to hang out. With so many ways to die eliminated, accidents in the home become a concern, so many of them just hook themselves up to a VR machine in a care center and live completely in the VR world.

My main character would come to live in this world, get married... and then, decades or maybe a hundred years later, she'd get supremely bored with her married life. It just gets too stale. She can't even stand life there in general any more. So she decides to take off for dangerous Earth. My key line here was to be an utterly serious, "Are you insane?! You could be hit by a meteor or something!"

More time passes, and I realize that I just don't know enough about married life to accurately portray the reasons for the disintegration of a marriage. So I figured I'd focus more on the problems with living in a VR world. But that just didn't feel personal and compelling enough to me, so I didn't make much progress on the story other than coming up with a name: "Shelterworld".

Recently, I've learned a bit more about the themes of relationships, false expectations, and starting new lives... so I'm going to focus on those aspects.. The original purpose of talking about mortality has kind of faded into the background, since I honestly don't think that much about death any more.

Anyway, I just found it interesting that the focus of this unwritten story has shifted around so much with my life. Part of what reminded me of all this is how Jesse recently asked me about this story I wrote a couple of years ago, and why I hadn't linked it up on my new site. I never edited it to my satisfaction, so I don't feel comfortable presenting it to everyone. On the flipside, some of the issues in that story are so tied to that point of my life that I just don't feel as compelled to work on the story any more. Alas. Well, I'm starting to make a more solid outline for Shelterworld lately. Stay tuned!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 20, 2002.

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