ysabetwordsmith: (Fly Free)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today's first freebie is courtesy of new prompter [personal profile] chordatesrock, who wanted to read about autistic separatists. I combined that with a prompt from LiveJournal user Paka about surveillance bases, which gave me the setting and context.


"A Solitary Secession"


It began not with armed conflict but armistice,
a long lull in an unrelated war
when the two sides entrenched themselves in space
and established surveillance stations
to watch over the no-man's-land between
the Orion-Cygnus Arm and the Carina–Sagittarius Arm.

The stations were dark and silent,
with a skeleton crew of soldiers
assigned to supervise the equipment.
Communication was only allowed on rare occasions
when ships arrived to resupply and exchange personnel.

For most, the posting was a hardship,
a punishment for mediocrity or disciplinary issues.
They grumbled and sulked and gritted their teeth
through their time "in the can"
until they could leave for a new assignment.
Some of them didn't make it.
Some of them broke under the pressure,
social beings torn out of society.

For a few, though, the posting was perfect.
The stations all used exactly the same design.
The schedule never changed.
There were no crowds of people pleading for attention
and demanding a pretense of empathy.
The military didn't care about empathy, only performance;
it was willing to make allowances for soldiers
who could work wonders in codebreaking or programming.

They were quiet soldiers, alert in their own way,
attention fixated on those matters that concerned them.
They had little interest in most of the entertainments
that absorbed their troopmates -- the smuggled newsvids,
the nudie pictures, the letters from family or lovers.
They were rarely invited to a second poker game after
people realized how little emotion ever showed on their faces.
They loved the combat simulations, though,
and would play those for hours even when off-duty,
racking up scores that delighted the officers.

Then the armistice dribbled into peacetime.
Nobody wanted to keep funding the stations.
They were decommissioned one by one.

The soldiers were cycled back into the rest of the fleet
or demobilized and returned to society.
Society was ... less than welcoming, of those
who had thrived in the quiet environs of surveillance.
It pushed and pestered and pressured them to fit in
until they wailed and flapped their hands to make it all go away.

Word got around.
They were not, after all, incapable
of noticing the newsvids --
they were simply uninterested
in matters that did not concern them.
This concerned them deeply.

The soldiers still on surveillance
began to pass the news amongst themselves.
They knew -- had always known -- the secret ways
to send messages across the breathless void.
They had more in common with each other
than any of them did with either side of the erstwhile conflict.

So they refused to leave their stations
for the bedlam of the settled planets.

The Carinan army shrugged and said
they were welcome to the relic bases
if they could somehow provide their own supplies,
because damned if the army would pay for it anymore.

The Orion army was not so accommodating, and said
they would by god return to active service elsewhere
or be decommissioned and put down on planets
just like everyone else.

The war of secession broke out with a volley
not of gunfire, but distributed denial-of-service
and datamining and viral attacks.

The Orion army tried to remove soldiers
from the stations by force -- and since
the surveillance personnel from both sides
were now working together,
they moved against bases of both armies.

The Carinan army was not so blase about that.
They struck back hard and fast.
The Orions opened fire.
The war of the arms was back on again.

From the shadows of the surveillance stations
came a new attack, one that wiped records
of where the bases were and who served on them.
A whole handful of silver needles
disappeared into the black haystack of space.

What had once been no-man's-land
became a whole new territory,
claimed and defended by those
who had moved in and found it hospitable.

It did not matter
that they were less than sociable,
connecting with each other only over
a rare shared passion,
that they were better at individual skills
than at teamwork or loyalty,
that they communicated better
via keyboards than conversation.

It only mattered
that they had found a cause
worth fighting for.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-08 10:10 pm (UTC)
avia: Picture of numbers, shapes, and stars falling in a night sky. (falling numbers)
From: [personal profile] avia
A whole handful of silver needles
disappeared into the black haystack of space.


I love these lines~ And I love the whole idea of the poem. I really can imagine being one of those people, who liked the surveillance bases and wanted to stay there instead of going back to a society that didn't understand.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-15 06:14 pm (UTC)
avia: A cute cygnet with a happy and blushing expression, drawn in a dramatic cartoon style. (happy cygnet)
From: [personal profile] avia
Oh, yay! Thank you for letting me know, I definitely will look at that. ^v^

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-09 05:52 am (UTC)
chordatesrock: The Punishment of Loki by Louis Huard (detail) (Default)
From: [personal profile] chordatesrock
I love your opening lines and how this poem flows. I did give you a hard prompt to research, so this is mainly my fault, but there are some people with autism who enjoy porn. I also know several who show emotion very strongly. Sometimes, it can be difficult for an NT to read them-- or to suppress instinctive misreadings-- but, personally, I can get the basics. I can't, for instance, tell happy hand-flapping from angry hand-flapping from disgusted hand-flapping, but I do know how to tell interest from indifference, as well as (usually) desire to talk from desire to be left alone. Again, I should remember (the autistic people I know complain about it often enough) how hard it is to find good information if you don't happen to have friends with autism, so that's entirely my fault for giving you a prompt like that.

Anyway, I think the winning stroke is a highly creative techie attack and a conveniently bloodless way to do battle. I strongly approve of people protecting themselves without bloodshed, and stopping short of retaliation once their goals of self-preservation are met. By the way, how will the new country provide for its needs? Can they farm in space?

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-01-10 01:59 am (UTC)
chordatesrock: Hena the fisherman (Hena)
From: [personal profile] chordatesrock
I will remember that in the future. Since I've been linked to far more of the relevant sites through far more interaction than most people, I can try to find a couple of them. This attempt to rewrite the diagnostic criteria has gotten a lot of praise; this discussion thread is about emotions in people with Asperger's. There's an anonymous contribution on [community profile] accessportrayal here. If you're really serious about this series, enough to pay for the information, there's a new book out called The Loud Hands Project: Autistic People, Speaking, and there's a much older book out called Maverick Mind. (I met both the author and her autistic son, Whitney, when he was in high school.)

I've noticed already how the later poems branch out into other depictions. The society in the first poem seems much more uniform and stereotypical, and the others build in more variation. I like the pattern very much.

Then my leading questions are useful? Wonderful. I'll ask more! What happens when (or if) Operetta and Weavercreep (or any other pair) reproduce out there? What will it be like to raise children in space on what were once military ships? Will you go with the idea that it's likely genetic, and have all of the children be on the spectrum? What will this society do when some of its next generation aren't quiet techies, and present with more obvious disability?

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2013-01-10 07:06 am (UTC)
chordatesrock: The Punishment of Loki by Louis Huard (detail) (Default)
From: [personal profile] chordatesrock
That jogged my memory and I found a thread on experience-based distinctions in autistic traits. Another thing you might try doing is reading through the archives of blogs by people who are representative of different parts of the diversity. The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism interviews people with autism, including (with some creativity) one person who couldn't compose his own sentences. You could also try Ballastexistenz and Lisa Daxer's blog, for one of the starkest contrasts possible. Those resources do have a bias toward people who view their condition in a positive light; Joe90, a user of WrongPlanet, does not.

As a suggestion-- entirely for your own sake-- rethink the idea of incorporating the cause of autism into your fiction. Among the heterogeneous group that calls itself the "autism community" (including people who are appropriating the term), that's part of a deep political division. Talking about a cause is the surest way to guarantee that you step on people's toes. It's almost analogous to sloganeering about abortion, in terms of the impact it will have, except that autism politics is even worse than American politics. It's safer to give it a very wide berth.

Bottlenecks are your friend. There is much drama inherent there.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-08 09:27 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
I would so move in like that... This one is getting saved.

Hmm...

Date: 2013-01-08 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>I would so move in like that... <<

It suddenly occurs to me that such an environment would appeal not just to autistic people, but also to introverts, certain writers, hermits, and other folks whose primary desire is not to be bugged all the time.

>>This one is getting saved.<<

Yay!

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2013-01-08 09:45 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Heck yeah... peace and quiet and all the room you need with no-one looking over your shoulder, and top of the range tech [even if it is a bit out of date]. Plus a community of like-minded people.

Trust me, that's most netizens dream!

Hmm.. now that's a thought... once you get people moving in you'd get a sort of local/net-based economy and the prospect of the deep-spacers waging economic warfare by buying up shipping lines, suppliers that sort of thing to secure their position.
Edited Date: 2013-01-08 09:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2013-01-15 08:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>Trust me, that's most netizens dream!<<

I thought it had potential; I'm glad that the series is so popular.

>>Hmm.. now that's a thought... once you get people moving in you'd get a sort of local/net-based economy and the prospect of the deep-spacers waging economic warfare by buying up shipping lines, suppliers that sort of thing to secure their position.<<

Well, the Lacuna is between the two Arms. I'm not sure about buying shipping lanes, but yeah, any cross-traffic would have to go through there.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2013-01-15 11:50 am (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
Lines, not lanes... as in the companies that do the shipping. Something like the Lacuna [nice choice of name btw!] surely would require specialised vessels [long haul cargo carriers with extended sensor suites] and companies with experience at traversing the less well populated areas of space.

I could see the Secessionists trading through holding companies to buy up control of those. After all, pretty much the first thing they teach in military strategy is to secure your supply lines. Between those ship crews being paid not to ask questions, just leave the cargo at XYZ coordinates.. and the free A.I's handing smaller cargo runs [for a price, they have their own maintenance needs after all.] I'd imagine there's a pretty decent distribution network up and running. Plus it could act as a 'sneaker net' for the more out of the way stations.

Hmm.. wonder how one of them would handle smugglers inadvertently finding their station? Probably offer them a job if he/she had any sense.

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2013-01-12 08:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natalief.livejournal.com
introverts, certain writers, hermits, and other folks whose primary desire is not to be bugged all the time.

… and me. ;-p

Re: Hmm...

Date: 2013-01-12 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Yay! I'm glad that this resonates with you.

It will be interesting to watch how this culture evolves, with different kinds of people coming and going. Feedback is encouraged.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-09 06:37 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (tux)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Whoa! I don't think *I* would like such an environment.... I crave physical connectedness as much as I do the World Inside the Crystal (http://steve.savitzky.net/Songs/world/)(*)... but I could *totally* see there being those who would just disappear into the night.... powerful story. This one's getting memoried and shared.

(*) There are some ways in which 4500 miles is as close as across the room. There are some ways in which it... isn't... and if it causes us problems on a suborbital scale, I don't wanna *think* about distance on the scale of parsecs.

Poem

Date: 2013-01-09 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
This inspired a new poem, "The Velveteen Gloves." It explains how a pair of people designed an interface to transmit physical perceptions, and some of the uses for it. It's written in free verse.

71 lines, Buy It Now = $35.50

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-12 08:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natalief.livejournal.com
(added to memories)

This is beautiful, if pandering a little to the cliché. My autistic nephew is very empathic.

Thank you!

Date: 2013-01-12 09:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>This is beautiful,<<

I'm glad you like it.

>>if pandering a little to the cliché. My autistic nephew is very empathic.<<

1) When introducing an idea likely to be unfamiliar to many readers, I tend to start with the most common version that is widely known. So I did the initial research in basic descriptions of autism, and yes, that makes them pretty generic.

2) If the idea catches on enough to generate further material, I branch out and explore variations. I encourage you to read the other posted poems in An Army of One, which introduce individual characters with different personalities, skills, and interests.

3) I'm actively seeking input from people with experience in this subject area. I would love to hear more about your nephew for inspiration. So far none of the autistic characters are very empathic, and they could sure use someone with that.

4) If you'd like to see more of this series, there are other poems available for sponsorship and merry bundles of cash in the general fund to distribute. Watch for the polling and vote for your favorites.

It's a series

Date: 2014-09-29 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mockingbirds_song
Awesome a serial about the establishment of an ASD dominant society I can see this happening because everyone wants to be accepted and unfortunately if you're to far out of the norm it tends to be find that unless the other person is outside the norm in a similar way to you. A bit generic at this point but it's a broad intro.

Thank you

Date: 2015-08-29 03:09 am (UTC)
anniequill: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anniequill
DUDE THIS IS AWESOME. Thank you for sharing this with me! AnnieQuill from AO3

Re: Thank you

Date: 2015-08-29 03:49 am (UTC)
anniequill: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anniequill
Definately! I'll be there

Re: Thank you

Date: 2015-08-29 09:00 pm (UTC)
anniequill: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anniequill

Cool!

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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