Friday, June 1, 2012

Spanner R4 Update: New to Chapter 4, A Shock Cold Opening!

Hollywood calls it a "cold open": the story begins right in the middle of the action. When I read the news of a mass murder in a Seattle café, I asked myself, what would have happened if Shira and Jennifer were there? Between Charmer and Patternist, it wouldn't have happened — unless the killer appeared out of nowhere and suddenly started shooting. There's the new cold opening to Spanner Chapter 4: characters peacefully drinking coffee and holding conversation when suddenly this happens; he manages to kill two and injure five with his full-auto pistol with 30-shot magazine before Shira and Jennifer take him out. I even have the heavy-metal soundtrack, frozen in time. Afterwards:
Sparks: Just what we need. Another terrorist.
Shira: (grimly) No. Not terrorist. Nihilist.
For about a decade's worth of Project Notebooks (until about 2003 or so), I wrote notes about a faction called "Nihilists". Now I know precisely what they are: those who commit acts normally considered terrorist, except their motive is not intimidation but pure destruction. Like the terrorists, they are both solos and gangsters. This nameless nihilist is the first to appear in Spanner — Oliver Thorwald's just a Corporate trust-fund twit turned Special Forces soldier having fun killing "subhumans" and "un-Americans" — but his sudden attack and death announce the presence of the new villain who in Revision 4 dominates Chapters 4 and 5: Mark Bernkastel, the serial-killer teacher (original concept: the "Third" from the manga and anime Future Diary without the "future diary", given my usual wicked twist). He will give our heroines their first real introduction to Nihilism.

It's not merely "the hatred of the good for being the good" as Ayn Rand put it (Nietzsche's word for that: "resentment"). Nihilism, the cult of nothingness, is hatred of existence and the desire to destroy everything. Nihilists like the Seattle mass murderer in the news specifically target the best precisely because of their love of life. In Chapter 5, when Shira accuses Bernkastel of being a terrorist, he laughs. He laughs at the terrorists for their idealism and their delusion that they're (super)heroes. (In one of the new Chapter 1 flashbacks, Willa says terrorists and superheroes do the same thing: substitute their own individual heroism for the mass action required to overcome tyranny.) He will lay out the theory of Nihilism in detail. Then he will take on Shira, Leila, and Jennifer in Dictel Park. He will even sneer at Oliver and his pet psycho Johnny-Johnny.

But that's in Chapter 5. In the Revision 4 action climax to Chapter 4, added for Script Frenzy 2012, Shira flies her hoverboard over Dictel Park to survey the gangs only to find herself rescuing a girl from the serial killer she will know next chapter as Mark Bernkastel. That girl is Mimi, who since Revision 2 had made her first appearance in Chapter 5. Shira saves her life and vows to be her "knight protector".

In summary: Chapter 4 now has a new "random massacre" opening scene written just today and a new "rescue the girl from the mad slasher" climax written in script for in April for Script Frenzy. As with the previous three chapters, Chapter 4 is turning out a lot more interesting in Revision 4 than ever before.

Then there's the completely new Interlude 3, "One Nation Under Copyright, All Rights Reserved", in which an extremely fanatical and ruthless Media Industry Association of America intellectual property enforcer takes on a young woman who claims to be the dangerous Rebel Styles. I got stuck on that for a couple days. What unstuck me was this new passage: "Martin Martian [his handle] prays to the Corporations of the MIAA. The Corporations pray to the entity they themselves worship. Its name is GOD, for Guardian of Democracy (in neoconservative jargon)." etc. I may finish Interlude 3 tonight.

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