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and i don’t feel so bad

maura @ 10:15 pm

This morning* I had an idea for a short story/novel/work of fiction, the second this month. I don’t want to write it, but I do want someone else to, because it sounds like a cool story.

* Where this morning = 4/29, because that’s when I started the draft of this post.

Today’s idea is about pens. Yesterday I went to a meeting and passed around my own pen with the sign-in sheet, and of course it didn’t make it back to me. Which is not a big deal — frankly, the library is nothing if not a repository for pens left behind, so I never want for pens. But I started thinking about pens, how they move around between people. What if there were tracking devices in them, cameras and recorders? What if the pens were semi-intelligent and they had a plan, an agenda?

(Probably this was inspired by the evil pen that kills people in The Lost Room, btw.)

Pens left behind in the library might be part of the story, too. You decide!

The other idea actually got a bit more fleshing out because I started thinking about the last time we visited my mom; it’s a 2-ish hr drive, so I made Jonathan talk to me about it for a while. The basic framework sprang from archaeology: archaeologists assemble knowledge of prehistory from an incomplete record.* No one knows how incomplete it is, and while they work in scientifically rigorous ways there’s still never 100% certainty with any interpretation of the past.

* I remember a great diagram in the shape of an inverted triangle from my archy days that depicted the estimated amount of stuff (animal bones, I think, because that was my bag) that makes it into the archaeological record. Each level of the triangle depicted something else that happens to the bones: carried off by scavenger animals, crushed by accumulating sediment, etc. Probably under copyright; I can’t find it on the interwebs.

(This goes for historical archaeology too, but I feel like the existence of historical records can make a big difference in interpretation.)

Anyway, then I started thinking about ground-penetrating radar, and how it’s been such a boon to archaeology to have the technology to “see” sites before digging them up (and even instead of excavation, in some cases, since excavating a site essentially destroys it). And I started to wonder: what will the next technological breakthrough be? What if a machine were invented that could not only see the shapes of buried objects and features but actually tell you with certainty, this posthole is from a dome-shaped structure made of wood and skins, or this bone fragment is from a domesticated goat? That kind of technology could potentially completely rewrite prehistory and even history as we know it.

As Jonathan and I talked about it we tried to come up with a plot, since this is really just a setup, but we couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve aliens, which is kind of lame (and makes the whole dealie too much a derivative of Battlestar Galactica anyway). And this is probably a book only an archaeologist would love, sigh.

So if anyone wants to take these ideas and run with them, please do! Just write them quickly, because I’m almost out of things to read.

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