Price Shadow Play, Chapter 1- Varun Patil

“You know, Varun, my job would be far simpler if you didn’t chain my hands with secrets,” Jill said from behind her paperwork. “The relationship between a doctor and patient requires trust. It’s hard enough to accomplish when I’m not walking on eggshells to avoid mentioning their jobs.”

Despite her being one of the few white women in this complex who were shorter than I was, she was anything but as timid as her mousy appearance would imply. Perhaps it was because both of us had the same PhD on our walls, or perhaps it was because she knew we both knew she was right.

“Can’t be helped.” It was a hollow answer, but the only one I had to offer. It wasn’t even true; had I made the request, she could have been inducted into the maze of nondisclosure agreements and government scrutiny, but I wanted to spare her. She looked at me like a mother whose kid claimed he’d clean his room later. “I’ll see what I can do. Right now, I’d like to hear your impressions of Mister Cross.” He, unlike Phoebe, was legally allowed to consent to his records being made available.

“Three sessions is hardly enough time to formulate a professional diagnosis,” she said. “Especially when dealing with a patient like him.”

“Is he causing trouble?” It didn’t seem likely, given what I knew of the man, but some people had an aversion to therapists despite no other behavioral disorders.

She gave a humorless scoff. “The exact opposite, in fact.” Oh. That fits the profile. “He’s the absolute model of compliance. He’s personable without being demanding, patient, and so damn smart it’s scary. I think he’s learned more about me than I’ve learned about him. In fact, I suspect the only reason he asked for sessions was so that he could learn how to do my job.”

“That fits the profile,” I said. “His military record is full of notes like that. Perfect soldier, obedient and brilliant at his job, but ultimately not fit for command due to an aversion to responsibility. I think his superiors breathed a collective sigh of relief when he retired rather than take a desk job. After that, he took his retirement as his chance to go back to school and apply for NASA.”

“Aversion to responsibility?” Jill’s eyebrow raised even as she moved her papers aside. “Of all the words I would use to describe Warren, I must admit irresponsible never came to mind.”

I hesitated for a second. I liked to think I was proficient enough in English to pass as a native speaker, but I still made the rare mistake. “What I mean is, he’s very structured, and accountable for his actions, but he’s also averse to responsibility.” I could tell Jill still didn’t understand what I meant. “In the special forces, he was everything they wanted in the field, but never able to step into the role of command. In his personal life, he’s never had a relationship lasting more than six months. On a superficial level I’d almost suspect Avoidant Personality Disorder, but it doesn’t hold under scrutiny.”

“A strong desire for personal discipline, coupled with an aversion to long term relationships,” Jill concluded. “You’re right, that does fit with AvPD. However, he’s shown no discomfort in social situations, nor does he exhibit fear of rejection or criticism. And AvPD tends to strongly desire leadership positions, for the sense of control it provides.”

I smiled as she put together the correct conclusions. I wished I could tell her more about the man’s background; she was the better therapist, perhaps she’d be able to help him if he’d let her, but this was one secret my professional ethics agreed with. Whether Mister Cross chose to confront his personal demons was his decision to make, not mine. “While we’re here, I’d like to bring up Doctor Reed, as well.”

“If you’re asking about her relationship with Warren, you know I won’t divulge that information. But I think it’s public knowledge she’s infatuated, and having met him I can see why. Tell me, how much of him is natural, and how much is part of your cyborg program?”

“Uh, I’m not sure what you mean.”

Jill just shook her head slowly. “Honestly, Varun? You have a top secret project that required Phoebe’s involvement for the last five years. You needed her powers in particular, and I might have a better understanding of the true scope of Phoebe’s ability than she does. A seven year old has the deduction skills to put this together.” She stood, locking her eyes on mine. “Please, just promise me you’re not doing what those sickos in Detroit tried to do.”

“No, of course not.” It stung a little, that Jill feared I’d do something so horrible. It didn’t help that the spectre of Omega Cybernetic Potential’s cyborg-zombie experiments haunted every step of getting approval for the Blue Steel project. “Mister Cross is a volunteer, and everything we did was prosthetics or implant based. We didn’t touch his brain in any way. Please, Jill, you know I would never make Phoebe do that. She’s been through enough hell.”

Jill relaxed some. “I know. It’s just, I guess I’m just frustrated by all the secrets is all.”

“Me, too, but I have to answer to my own bosses. And our clients.” I didn’t bother to hide the contempt in my tone. As someone who built his entire fortune and career off the funding of the military-industrial complex, no one despised it more than I. “The thing is, I was recently invited to a major Hollywood party, and asked to bring a guest.”

She looked reluctant to agree. “Phoebe’s self-aware enough to function in society, but I’m not certain that is a healthy element.”

“I promise it’s a classy party.” Not to say I haven’t been to a few which weren’t. “Those who have wives will be bringing them. It’s mostly screenwriters, directors and the occasional producer trying to convince people like myself to invest in their favorite pet projects. Given what I know of Phoebe’s condition, being able to put a human face on the makers of stories, rather than as some nebulous godlike being which controls all powers, might help her have a breakthrough. At worst, it’s an opportunity for her to socialize away from Imbued.”

Jill considered it for a moment. “She doesn’t have a secret identity to protect, and is high functioning enough to hide her beliefs from strangers. As long as you can promise she’s safe from more direct harm, it can’t hurt her.”

“I’ll make certain she stays away from the wine.”

….

I glanced over at Phoebe, who was in the middle of shooting down another suitor, in the business sense of the word. Phoebe was a pretty girl, but enough to stand out in this gathering of Hollywood elites and the beauties which flocked to them. However, she’d have no trouble convincing people she was a new actress or director’s date to get to know.

Said suitor, the wife of one of the directors, left after a brief chat. Enough for her to appear polite after learning my date had nothing to offer her. Phoebe then went back to talking to the guest who captured her attention. Whatever their conversation, both seemed enthusiastic about it.

I accessed my memory chip to analyze the boy. Joshua Binks, twenty two, one of the writers of some sitcom called Superzeroes. From what I understood, it was a low budget comedy about Imbued with stupid, silly powers that seemed useless, but they managed to save the day when more capable, and intelligent, heroes constantly failed. Nobody, least of all the creators, expected the breakout sensation that it became.

Phoebe seemed to be holding her own, and the writer didn’t look bored or weirded out by her. Jill was perhaps too protective of the girl. Woman, I reminded myself. Phoebe is almost twenty six, and despite her issues she has a brilliant mind and an ability to read human behavior that is quite literally superhuman. She can handle strangers as well as anyone in this room.

Besides, she was safer here than any other possible place in the city. Harassing a date, even one introduced as a ‘family friend’, was a faux pas in the best of light. Harassing the family friend of a man who regularly made multi-million dollar investments was outright career suicide. For my part, I turned back to my own conversation partners.

“Sorry,” I said. If they minded my brief distraction, they kept signs of it well hidden. “As I was saying, it’s remarkable how powers reflect cultural trends. Just last month, a kid in the U.K. got a Brawler five ability, with movement so fast it borders on teleportation. But only so long as no one is currently able to see him. Camera footage showed him surrounded by a forcefield that looks like a winged woman.”

“Oh, like the Weeping Angels? I loved that episode. So creepy,” the woman said. She was brunette, but old enough that it was dyed rather than natural. Like most women in Hollywood, she still looked like she was at most thirty years old. “You know, I was offered a guest role during the fifth season, but I had to turn it down since I was too busy writing for my own series.”

I consulted my memory chip, which brought up the information I needed so fast it could have been mistaken for real memory. Sarah Strawn, widow, mother of… I turned it off, now that I had it in short term memory. “Oh. Urban Development, right? I loved the mother-daughter dynamics.” The chip had been so kind as to inform me she often talked about how she modeled the daughter character in the show after her own teen’s antics.

She smiled and brought her hands together in a way that proved she was an expert actress when it came to feigning sincerity, at the very least. “So you’re a fan?”

I smiled and offered an apologetic shrug. “I caught an episode every so often.” Sarah wasn’t the only person in the room who knew how to act. “I’m afraid I rarely find the time to relax with the television these days.” My implants informed me that I was telling a half-truth: I’d gone over seventy hours relying upon equipment instead of sleep, and if I didn’t fix that soon, I’d risk permanent memory loss of the events of the last week.

“The sacrifices we make for our careers,” the man said as he nodded sagely. Geoff Davidson, too, was as aged as one would expect of directors entrenched in Hollywood, but in far worse shape than his competitor. “Speaking of careers and your theory on pop culture, there’s a girl in town with the power to enlarge men and women.” He gestured toward his crotch and then chest when he said ‘men’ and ‘women’ respectively, a wide grin on his face the whole time. “Calls herself the Puberty Fairy.” He was as sleazy as one would expect of directors entrenched in Hollywood, as well.

“Oh god, her!” Sarah sighed. “Did you hear about the side effects of her power? It really is like going through puberty a second time!”

Read about it. Sure. “I heard about her. I’m not sure whether I’m glad or disappointed her power doesn’t reverse aging. Wars have been fought over even the rumor of eternal youth. But it does go to show you the power of the media to influence events. Doesn’t take long after a movie is released to see real individuals with abilities resembling the characters on screen.”

“That is an interesting thought experiment,” Geoff said. The smug look on his face made an interesting counterpoint to the annoyed look on Sarah’s when they both realized at the same moment that he beat her to an ‘in’ to my wallet. “If you had the choice, what kind of powers would you like to see a sudden increase of? Speaking in pure hypotheticals, of course.”

“Well, I haven’t given it much thought,” I said while fooling no one. “But I think for society as a whole, Gadgeteers are most beneficial. I know they make my job a thousand times easier.”

The pair looked at each other, the looks of smug and disappointed having switched places. Geoff took a moment to select his words before telling me what I already knew. “Can’t dispute that, but other than a couple choice franchises, Gadgeteers only do well at the box office if they’re the villains. Centurion’s in development hell since two different companies own the label and they refuse to cooperate over anything. And if we do a Rose Knight movie so soon after his death, the public will crucify us for trying to profit from his death.”

“It couldn’t hurt to look for popular small-time Gadgeteers,” Sarah cut in, eager for her own shot at my backing. Of the pair, she was the one with television experience. “I doubt it will be anything big enough to justify a big budget picture, but it could be a successful mini-series. If it proves popular enough, perhaps even a long running series. In the end, that might have more cultural impact than a single movie. As your earlier example shows, a concept doesn’t take much air time, if the impact is strong enough.”

Transparant as her ploy was, the logic behind it was sound. At the same time, I rather wanted an original character so I could encourage specific types of Gadgeteers, rather than a rehash of existant powers.

“On the other hand, television is an over saturated market,” Geoff said. “A movie, even a less than spectacularly successful one, will draw a bigger first time showing than any television series could hope for. It might be a risk, but as a medium budget movie it could get the showing it needs without breaking the bank.”

“Or you could make a Rose Knight movie and call it a tribute!” We all jumped when Phoebe cut in. How did she get so close? “It doesn’t even have to be about Rose Knight, himself. Make it about another Gadgeteer who has a power to repair other Gadgets, then gets hold of the costume somehow!”

How did she know? Of course she knew, she can read me with ten times the accuracy of an MRI machine, and she can do it from halfway across the room with a glance. Moving silently isn’t that difficult, either, during a party with lots of background noise.

“That is a great idea!” Geoff’s smile seemed genuine, this time. “And since we can get by with only stock footage of the real hero, we’ll be able to circumvent most if not all of his estate’s proprietary material. Plus it lets us use a young, fresh crew of actors who won’t charge as much while still benefiting from the franchise image.”

“You know, there will still be some very vocal detractors if we do this,” Sarah said, but she had a smile of her own. I also noted how she managed to insert a ‘we’ into the conversation in such a way that implied she was going to be part of production. The old ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ strategy in action. “How about making it an all female cast? That way, when we get criticism for the movie, we can accuse the critics of being sexist. Exploit the controversy for free advertising.”

Geoff’s smile only widened. “Do you one better. Let’s make the pilot of the suit and the Gadgeteer two different people. Like the racists in the sixties claimed about the real Rose Knight. Then we can have a lesbian romance on screen between the two.” It seems he, too, had decided it was better to work as a pair. “With all the people who cry sexism at the drop of a hat already supporting us, they won’t be able to protest later without looking stupid. And it’ll bring the eighteen to twenty-five male demographic back to the theater, all for the low cost of an ‘R’ rating. Parents are too stupid to pay attention to the ratings, anyway.”

“I love it!” Sarah exclaimed. “It has a nice interracial angle to exploit, too. We’ll be all anyone can talk about from the moment we air the trailer until months after its release date! You can’t pay for that kind of coverage!”

Meanwhile, I did my absolute best not to visibly cringe. It would take me all night to convince the pair that this was a terrible idea. Even then, I wasn’t certain if I should stop them. As tacky and pandering as it was, they were right that it would generate huge amounts of free publicity, and in the world of Hollywood there was no such thing as bad publicity. At the same time, I didn’t want my name attached to the abomination that was growing before my eyes. I guess, as a silent partner, I can still have some control of development. Perhaps I can head off the worst of it, or hire a writer that can salvage something from this mess.

It turns out, Phoebe made the decision for me. “Hey, Josh!” she shouted just loud enough to draw attention from other nearby clusters of people. She ran back to her conversation partner, somehow keeping perfect balance in heels and a dress. “Remember that problem you were having with season four? I have the perfect idea! I better get credit!”

I smiled apologetically at the pair I was talking to. “Well, it is her idea for a power.” First thing I do when I get back to base is let Jill know her favorite project just saved the world. Then I’ll see if she wants to split a bottle of Bourbon.

I looked at the pair in front of me, who looked to be chewing over a way to make their ‘brilliant’ work without getting into a copyright argument. I knew it wouldn’t take them long to dream something up.

Forget splitting the Bourbon. I’m getting two bottles.

Next

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29 thoughts on “Price Shadow Play, Chapter 1- Varun Patil

  1. EDIT: http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/new-hero-armors-up-invincible-iron-man-relaunch-from-bendis-caselli

    I can see the future! No, seriously, Rose Knight was always a pretty obvious Iron Man reference. This chapter was up well before this announcement. My parody has become reality.

    A/N- Oh god! The references are real!

    I am so happy to *finally* get an in-story opportunity to say that yes, something resembling the original Robocop movies is essentially canon in Price. I also misspelled Detroit as Destroit. I was tempted to leave that typo in the text.

    Insights from a pair of psychologists on Warren’s behavior.. He may be about as sane as Imbued will ever get, but that don’t make him normal.

    The mental image of a drunk Phoebe makes me giggle. As does the fact that my setting has literally got the Puberty Fairy. Yes, her power does include a sudden influx of acne and hair in places it never was before. That part wears off… eventually… right around the same time the boob and/or penis augmentation does.

    And, no, “eternal youth” is NOT possible in this setting. At least, not in such a way that’s not in and of itself worse than death. Yet there have still been wars fought over the *rumor*. Because humans are a horrible species.

    Speaking of horrible species: my opinion of Hollywood shows its full glory in this chapter. My opinion of people letting Hollywood manipulate them also shows.

    Oh, and there’s a somewhat “subtle” series of references to a certain Mel Brooks classic in there as well (Bonus hint: those directors? I didn’t roll their names). His opinion seems similar to mine. He’s just funnier at it.

    And last but not least… Doctor Patil is a man of many interesting hats. Pity none of them are really “main character” material. I would like to write a story from his perspective, but I don’t know how I’d do it. Besides, I’d feel like a poser since I don’t know near enough about Indian culture to make a go at one as an MC (I didn’t even know Varun was a name, let alone a *common* one in India). Oh well, he’s still a great character that I love.

    PS- Voting and typo catching- please do.

    http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=price

    Oh, and check the fan contributions for a read of a lovely comment I had to delete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. …. Wow. So apparently I attracted the ire of the SJWs again.

    Sorry, NaturalNuke. Deleting that post also deleted your reply to it. I’mma get this up on imgur and then put it in my fan contributions section. Because anyone who obsesses over me like this counts as a fan.

    I’m going to set my site to requiring a poster be approved once before their posts are publicly visible for the time being. Sorry for the inconvenience, I’ll set it back to normal when the wackjobs get bored again.

    https://tananari.imgur.com/all/

    I have now created an imgur account. Where I store this atrocity against good taste for posterity.

    Again, my apologies if there are messages that won’t be seen immediately because of the new, stricter, anti-spam setting. This is costing me sleep, now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just so you know, your images aren’t publicly available (presumably there’s a flip to switch someone in the settings).

    But yeah, I was kind of impressed by that posters ability to miss the point and fit everything they see into their little worldview. I’m almost drawing parallels between them and Phoebe!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s fully available in the fan contributions section, where it will exist forever. I’ll go try to fix the imgur.

      Also… that was a horrible, cruel thing to say about the Phoebe. :(

      Like

  4. No big deal, I was so confused, it was so out of place I thought there was a joke I couldn’t see in it.

    Can’t wait for the next chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Typos:
    when I’m not walking eggshells — not walking on eggshells
    to avoid their jobs. — to avoid mentioning your jobs.* (?)
    never make Phoebe through that. — make Phoebe go through that.
    Phoebe wasn’t beauty enough — enough of a beauty/beautiful enough
    to analye the boy — to analyze the boy

    This sentence is a bit awkward: in the previous sentence, she talks about the doctor-patient relationship in general, but then refers to herself specifically in relation to “them”, which is most easily understood to be patients in general. Thus, I replaced the word “their” with the word “your”, so as to refer to Patil and his fellows, presumably also people with secret jobs. Also, it is understood that she has to avoid asking about the jobs of her patients on Artemis; however, it could be made clearer, since if it were taken literally she would be avoiding their jobs, which doesn’t make much sense.
    ——–

    It’s nice to see Patil in his more natural environment, rather than at the head of a military operation. It shows that he has his own field of competency on par to Warren. Or almost, at least. It’s also interesting to learn how modded he is. I wonder if that’s a perk of the Blue Steel project, or if there’s another project for the scientists, or if that was done privately. Obviously through Phoebe still, but on his own prerogative, rather than the government’s.

    It’s also interesting to know that Warren has only been to see his therapist three times in the time between now and the end of his last mission. I suppose it’s been at least 3 weeks, at most 1 month and a half, since I think that they would want their top operative to get a working psychological support as quickly as organically possible, as well as fit it between other responsibilities.

    The idea that the creator of stories indirectly creating powers doesn’t actually seem to something that will help Phoebe’s delusion. After all, it’s rather easy to spin it as proof that powers follow stories.

    A thought: I know you randomly generate some parts of the characters. How much of Warren and Phoebe was randomly generated? If Warren were gay, would Phoebe be a guy, or would she still be a girl attracted to him? How about if Warren were female and homosexual, and Phoebe stayed relatively heterosexual?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. Patil isn’t some heir who got in on rich parents. He came from a fairly unremarkable Indian family- neither especially poor nor wealthy (by India standards, at least)… he earned everything he has. Including US citizenship, a PhD, and a very high position in a multibillion dollar international corporation which regularly does defense contracts.

      The cybernetic enhancements, however… yeah, he volunteered for those when the project was in its earliest stages and they first picked up Phoebe- in part as a means to convince her it’s safe for her to actually use her abilities.

      Now that I think about it, that might be a fun flashback to do. As a bonus scene.

      Well- Warren doesn’t *need* psych support. He’s emotionally stable (for an Imbued, at least), what issues he does have make him *better* as an agent. And he’s smarter than the doctors, He volunteered for it, and as Jill pointed out, he did that to learn how they do their jobs and maybe make future missions a bit easier.

      That said- yeah, it’s been about three weeks.

      Well, Patil’s hope is to show Phoebe that story creators are humans (scuzzy ones, at that), not gods or some sort of elemental force of the universe. If Phoebe can see stories as something *mortal*, that can be manipulated and controlled by other mortals (herself included), it might serve as a way to get her through her delusions.

      All the way through. The only notable exception in Warren’s background, is a female version would have been aware she had powers. A man whose strength is near-Olympic performance levels is damn impressive. A woman at the same strength (and it would be *the same* strength, not *adjusted* strength) just smashed every female athlete record ever. It would have been a flag enough to get her noticed. And while women don’t serve in the standard special forces in Price any more than the real world… Imbued spec-ops is another thing entirely.

      Other than that, her life would have been much the same past an acceptance from early on that NASA would never happen. She’d also be younger by a few years, to adjust for being found sooner. Probably still in the military- more emphasis on “superhuman brain” over “superhuman body”.

      Phoebe- to quote her own commentary “I don’t want to be the quirky love interest to another girl”- would still have at least tried to make it happen as she’s doing now, because it’s expected of her for the story. She would have been less enthusiastic, but she’d have done it.

      A gay Warren would have been lived through pretty much everything exactly as a hetero one had. Still one or two awkward relationships in high school with girls (he grew up in the 70s… not prime time to come out) then the armed forces. Then the occasional shallow relationships as an adult because his isolation doesn’t stem from his sexuality. Then Phoebe would still try to lure him over via adorable quirky love interest antics.

      There is a *reason* Phoebe’s in therapy.

      Like

      1. I would think that the heads of the company would want their multi-million dollar, superpowered field agent to undergo regular psych counseling/assessments, especially since Imbued are notoriously unstable and he represents a serious investment of information and materials on the heads’ part. Since they already have the psychiatric staff on board, it doesn’t make sense to let their investment go with his mind unknown. It would hopefully give them some warning if he were to go rogue, and provide him with a connection to depend on if he does develop issues. Even if it didn’t actually do anything, the leaders of the project would probably want it anyway, just to say that they’re trying to whomever is funding everything.
        (tl;dr: Therapy would protect the investors’ cash cow, so I think they would require it.)

        Yeah, I see your point about the stories and Hollywood. I don’t particularly agree with your view on the entertainment industry, since I don’t have any experience with it, but I also don’t really care about it. Do you happen to have personal experience with it?

        As for the different paths the story could take, I’m afraid I don’t understand how you feel comfortable writing like that. I can guess why, so that you have your story remain true to the world and to give a feel of reality, but I also feel that the loss of control would be uncomfortable.
        (If it isn’t too much trouble, I would like to start a discussion on how you create stories. I’m working on creating a story/world, and would like to understand your methodology and philosophy. We can discuss it here or somewhere else.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Forcing someone into therapy is a good way to *make* them go rogue, rather than the other way around.

          Besides, Warren’s dependent upon the program for his cybernetics and they can shut and/or override his body if they have to.

          The bosses are trusting the PhD psychologist to know psychology. And the kill switch to protect their investment.

          I don’t have a personal experience with Hollywood, but a lot of people I like and respect (plus a few I don’t) have been screwed by it. So. Low opinion.

          I find the *lack* of control to be liberating, myself. Creating these obstacles to build off produces a more natural, organic world rather than just whatever I come up with. Because dice throw curveballs.

          You can’t dance alone. Since I don’t have a team, I use the dice as my partner.

          I’d be more than happy to chitchat about things in a complex level. I can pull your email off the gravitar and message you if you like.

          Don’t mind if I plan to condense the convo and put it up as a bonus, do you?

          Like

          1. If you mean “Do you mind if I take the conversation we would have and then reformat it into an article on writing?”, then no! (While reserving the option to have things be removed, but I doubt I’ll use it.) And yeah, messaging would work great.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Excuse me for butting in <3

          I don't have any personal experience with filmmaking either, but it's enough for me to see the types of movies that come out. Just from personal experience, women are often portrayed as less-than; Jewish characters, when they appear, fit a certain narrow stereotype; and you're lucky if you even see an ace character. And let's not even get into how mental illness is portrayed and how it stigmatizes anyone who doesn't have an "acceptable" disorder.

          It's offensive enough if you belong to one of those groups or know what's going on, but it can be downright harmful if you don't. Someone can claim to not be homophobic, but they'll still dislike any gay men who don't act like those they see in movies and tv shows, which then puts pressure on gay men to look and act a certain way.

          And then we get to where certain marginalized characters are slapped in in an attempt to appear progressive and appease the "rabid SJWs." But no one too marginalized. A trans black woman? Scandalous!!!

          There’re tons of articles out there if you feel like reading more about this. Thanks for sticking with me through this :)
          /end rant

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s one thing I gotta hand NCIS for… they had plenty of not-stereotype Jews. Well, that is to say, they weren’t Jewish stereotypes. Still pretty stereotypical, but for other roles.

            I’d like to make my asexual characters in the story more directly visible. They’re so hard to write… not because the *character* writing is difficult, but because… well… how do you let people know?

            Gay and straight are easy… they get into a relationship, or at least check out a specific person’s goods. Some methods are more ham-fisted than others. But “is not interested in anyone at all” is just… it’s hard to call attention to “nothing” without making it a central point. And even at that, it’s a “mention and forget” since its only influence is in its lack of influence.

            I don’t have a black trans woman. But I do have a gay black man with a white husband who’d probably vote for Trump. That count for something, right?

            Like

            1. You don’t have to try and rack up points, Price is fine! I’m still here, aren’t I? ;)

              One of the things about being ace, especially aro, is that not a lot of people know what that means. It’s easy to wonder if something is wrong with you for not wanting the same things others do. That, or you think everyone else is being silly for pairing off so easily. Once you do figure it out, you have to come to terms with the fact that you can never experience the same kind of intimate relationship that everyone else around you says is so great.
              It’s also really uncomfortable when somebody starts flirting with you, and you probably don’t enjoy porn at all or find it gross.
              You also have to be careful who you let know, because some people will say stuff like “You just haven’t met the right person yet” or “Did something traumatic happen?” Or my favorite, “You must be gay and repressed.”
              Here’s an idea – an aro whose friend keeps trying to set them up, or an ace whose partner tries to pressure them into sex. Uncomfortable awkwardness ensues~
              Or a demisexual who finally finds someone they love, only (because this is Price) to have that brutally ripped away.

              A few tidbits in case you happen to roll a lucky ace sometime :)

              A lot of this stuff is common, but easy to miss if you’re not ace. Especially because of how poorly represented they are.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I honestly don’t care about “points”. All human subgroups are equally shit in my view. Unless we’re talking voluntary subgroups, in which case you may be worse.

              I get all that about asexuals (I refuse to say “ace”- that’s a dog’s name), the problem is trying to shoehorn it into the story. You’ll notice I don’t spend a whole lot of time focusing on the romance aspect of relationships. I do show it, but I show the relationship first and the sexuality (if indeed there is any) second.

              The only way I’d be able to showcase an asexual’s (non)sexuality is by putting them in a relationship with someone else. And that, while great for awkwardness, has problems of its own.

              Plus most of it would require an asexual main character. In a story where romance will be a factor.

              And most of my characters are in the “yeah, I have a minor trait that makes me different from others, but it doesn’t control who I am” camp. Domenic’s black, he deals with the reality but he doesn’t make a big deal about it (and in fact faces worse racism from other blacks for “acting white” than he does from most whites- except Heritage, of course).

              Chloe’s gay- same deal. Flux, also gay. Genius Loci doesn’t even have a body, and he ignores that in favor of dealing with more important things in life. They’re all of the “it’s what I am, not who I am” mentality. Because I like and respect that mentality.

              I happen to despise obsessing over what makes us different. I write to show what makes us the same. If you prick us do we not bleed, as it were.

              And while I get the need for PSAs on various issues… I’m not really the person to do it. They’re too heavy handed for my tastes, and it’s hard to find a balance. I prefer writing stories about people who (might) happen to be minorities. Not stories about minorities. If that makes any sense.

              Well, I guess I have one asexual character who will make a bit of a public statement on the subject. But “she” is an artificial intelligence. Her opinion of sexuality and romance is “thankfully, of all my intentional design flaws, my creator didn’t include that one.”

              But for asexuals in the story who are implied, but never stated- Muwth… who, by virtue of never hitting puberty kinda skipped that whole “sexual identity” thing. Genius Loci- who, again, doesn’t even have a body. Those three are about as blatant as I’ll ever get.

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            3. Fair ’nuff. I didn’t mean to tell you how to write your story, if that’s how it came across. The bit about lack of influence sounded like an invitation, so I jumped

              Liked by 1 person

            4. The web comic Supernormal step, and the serial Require:Cookie booth have fairly well written asexual characters if you are interested in looking at similar media who takes a jab at writing from that perspective.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. I now have the dubious honor of sharing the fan contribution section with this lunatic -_-

    God, this chapter, and the comment after, made me laugh! I could practically smell the scummy money-grubbing through the computer screen. This shit gets me genuinely riled up. Representation doesn’t mean tossing in a black guy and a lesbian and then claiming the moral high ground, nor is it a gimmick to help marketing. It’s part of the reason hearing about the Ghostbusters remake made me uncomfortable; it all feels very condescending and fake, regardless of the original intention.

    I take back my asskissing comment about Patil. I can easily picture this guy making millions on his own terms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. Sorry about that. Hopefully we’ll get more fan contributions over time so it’ll be a more illustrious place to be. :(

      My opinion of Hollywood’s pandering speaks for itself. I’m not exactly white, hetero or cis, myself (which makes these SJW attacks all the more amusing), and I find myself insulted on a regular basis. I’d rather not be represented at all than represented so poorly.

      I left a lot more info on Patil in my comment to Kallen. I’d just be repeating myself.

      Like

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