ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm sketching out ideas for the shapeshifter show that would transit different ethnic groups per season. There are some variables I'd like to invite the audience to help settle ...


1) How does the shapeshifting work? The main characters are a team of shapeshifters. They can change form periodically, although it isn't easy and has some risk factors. A key choice here is whether to use a purely biological metamorphosis (like pupation) or a mechanical one (like a transmutation chamber). I'd like to match this to the underlying infrastructure of the show and the scientific flavor of the galactic civilization. So if we pick biological metamorphosis, we get a show that leans toward the organic sciences (botany, zoology, linguistics, etc.) whereas if we pick mechanical transformation, then we get a show that leans toward the inorganic sciences (engineering, geology, astrophysics, etc.). This would influence the type of technology the characters use, some of their skills, what kinds of things are easy or challenging, the frequency that different problems would appear on the show, and so forth. Which do you prefer for this show, biological or mechanical shapeshifting?

2) Do we want a support crew? The advantages include having regular characters who don't change, more ongoing diversity, and more backup for the main characters. They'd have a bigger ship (think Enterprise) that could do more stuff, and we could make the crew all mixed-race actors. The disadvantages would be that it somewhat undercuts the transformative nature of the show and its focus on different ethnic groups. Without a support crew, the ship would be smaller (think Serenity) and more limited, and they'd have less support. But the team bonding would be stronger and the shifting focus would be far more pronounced. Yes or no on the support crew?

3) What ethnic groups do we want to feature? I'm thinking this would be easiest if we pitch each planet with a broad group, and then go for subdivisions if there are enough actors of different flavors to support that. (Frex, cast Mexicans in City A and Cubans in City B, or Japanese in towns and Chinese outside towns.) In terms of writing and art, model pictures for inspiration can be chosen from designated groups. A possible starting list of ethnic groups: Asian, Black, Hispanic, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Native American, Oceanian. Which would you like to feature in the first season? How high or low is your interest in each of those ethnicities?

4) What kinds of characters are needed to make up an effective team? I came up with a set of roles commonly appearing in science fiction teams: fighter, leader, medic, scholar, scientist (engineer or biologist), scout. Other roles are possible, and I'm open to suggestions. In particular, I'd like to include one oddball role. Frex, on Firefly they had several unusual characters: Shepherd Book (cleric, typically a fantasy class), Inara (Companion, a social class), and River (randomly able to function as any class, but usually none). Star Trek has had Deanna Troi (Counselor, a social class) and Data (multiclass). What do you think would work well as an unusual class?
 

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 04:21 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Ray gotta eat him up with a big spoon (Ray with marshmellow creme)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Perhaps it is a biological process that is being 'swayed' mechanically? So they have a natural plasticity that would kick in if environmental challenges came up, but they're using it to make them blend in. So maybe a pupation with some sensors and nanites?

Maybe some support crew, like a ship's engineer and a doctor that don't transform. Maybe they've done it in the past, or they don't have the ability. They're married and they're liked the way they are? It would be good if they were diversity compliant since they're the ones that would be recognized season to season.
I'd think it would be a smaller ship, somewhere between Serenity and TOS Enterprise.

What sorts of problems are they dealing with? I think that would direct how the blend of types there would be.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 05:06 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I take it that you're thinking of this as a vehicle for fanfic with various degrees of meta-ness, ¿sí?

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 05:27 am (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
You could do a "support crew" consisting of a bodiless AI or sentient ship. Not able to shapeshift or 'go native', but able to offer sarcastic advice, coordination, information, maybe some hacking or operating non-combat surveillance drones or something. That would give you some personnel continuity without undermining the shifting-ethnicity concept.

Sentient ships are one of my favourite sci-fi tropes, I love when writers explore their peculiar viewpoints.

If you do go with biological shapeshifting, the ship could be some sort of naturally occurring deep-space lifeform, fitted with a gondola or something, who enjoys bipedal company / music / art / languages and ferrying the crew around and occasionally bailing them out of trouble.
Edited Date: 2013-11-25 05:29 am (UTC)

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(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 07:40 am (UTC)
brushwolf: Icon created by ScaperDeage on DeviantArt (Default)
From: [personal profile] brushwolf
Mechanical-biological; mind transfer or download into different bodies ensures a biology focus, with an understanding on a very physical level of what it's like to be such a person, assuming some of the groups wind up being really diverse?

If you went for some sort of linguist character - that'd get your social niche, but someone being that good at cross-referencing languages to get conclusions about how language (and underlying society) works would have to pull on a huge memory and might be some form of autistic, and I know that's a theme which interests you.

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Date: 2013-11-26 05:44 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] chordatesrock
Instead of considering what archetypes to include, why don't you consider what skills you would need to include if you were sending a party on an expedition to other worlds, and divide those skills between some number of characters who are otherwise fit to go traveling like that?

My vote is that the shapeshifting would squick me if it were biological or technological; I only like magical shapeshifting in my fiction. Soft science is fine, but that undermines the goal of what you seem to be pitching as a hard sci-fi show idea.

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Date: 2013-11-25 04:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
I have an idea for the shapeshifting. Maybe they're either a symbiotic race like the Tok'ra, but inhabiting lab-grown bodies instead of sentient hosts. Like, maybe the lab-grown bodies don't have their own brains, or only a reptile brain, and the symbiote fills in the neocortex with its own mass, mimicking a real brain in appearance until it's time to switch bodies.

Or that idea, but instead of always changing bodies, maybe the lab-grown bodies are designed to change when given a new DNA template.

Or you could go the "singularity" route and have it be a race of AIs that copy their consciousness to lab-grown bodies (which include the whole brain), then when they're done with one planet, then the memories are uploaded to the AI, with the body destroyed. Or total consciousness transfer; maybe there's a network of nanites in the brain that is the true source of their consciousness when they're embodied.

On to your own ideas for how, I like the idea of biological technology, especially living machines. It isn't done often enough, in my opinion. I am also reminded that, though they were planet-bound for 10,000 years, the Ah'Koi Bahnis became prodigiously skilled at genetic engineering, which would be a necessary element for biotech.

I say no to the support crew. I like the idea of this team of exo-sociologists or whatever they are being all on their own, with no help from a support vessel. Support crews open the way for cop-outs and lazy scriptwriting.

Feature ALL the ethnic groups! And more!
Also, another thought: different cultures with different dominant ethnicities, so at least once you could have a European-type "race" being at the bottom of the social hierarchy, maybe more than once, to get different levels of badness. Like there's a huge difference between modern racism towards blacks and the way they were treated in the old slave days.

Most important to portray is an iteration where the European-type ethnicity people are just ordinary people who are shit on figuratively by everyone higher up on the hierarchy. Because I think a major point of this show could be showing privileged whites what modern racism looks like, make them think about what it would be like to be in that position.

I think they should be forced to learn the language without a "universal translator" before they go into the field, so a linguist or two would be a good idea. Because contrary to usual scifi tropes, any universal translator would have to be programmed

Another idea concerning language: in my Traipah storyverse, the Xazians figured out for humans that all cetaceans are sentient, with language. The problem is, humans can't hear most of that language, and what they cannot hear loses a lot in being converted to sounds humans can hear. So humans cannot learn to understand or speak any cetacean language. What's more, even the Xazians have difficulty translating cetacean languages to human languages, because the cetacean mentality is more alien to humans than is the Xazian mentality. Xazians may be shapeshifters that occasionally move around as puddles of silver liquid, but they live on the land and so have a lot more in common with the human POV than cetaceans do. So computer translators would have be AIs to stand any chance of translating cetacean.

So you could have at least one planet where either they give up before they even start, or where they have to undergo such a radical change inside and outside that when they turn back to normal, they struggle to put the thoughts and experiences of that mission into words.

Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-25 08:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Maybe they're either a symbiotic race like the Tok'ra, but inhabiting lab-grown bodies instead of sentient hosts. <<

The premise here is to start from a human base and then do variations on a theme. I like your other ideas, though, and may keep them in mind for some other context.

>> Or that idea, but instead of always changing bodies, maybe the lab-grown bodies are designed to change when given a new DNA template. <<

They do use a DNA template for the shapeshifting.

>>On to your own ideas for how, I like the idea of biological technology, especially living machines. It isn't done often enough, in my opinion.<<

Okay, that's a good strong argument for biotech. I like it, and it's uncommon, which would help the show to stand out from the crowd.

>> I say no to the support crew. I like the idea of this team of exo-sociologists or whatever they are being all on their own, with no help from a support vessel. <<

Well, the liveship or AI version -- suggested by several people -- seems popular. That would be a good compromise by providing some support, but only in limited ways.

>> Support crews open the way for cop-outs and lazy scriptwriting. <<

Yowch. Good point. I've already hardwired some other things to discourage sloppy plotting.

>> Feature ALL the ethnic groups! And more! <<

I would enjoy that.

>>Also, another thought: different cultures with different dominant ethnicities, so at least once you could have a European-type "race" being at the bottom of the social hierarchy, maybe more than once, to get different levels of badness. Like there's a huge difference between modern racism towards blacks and the way they were treated in the old slave days.<<

Yes, that's a great idea. I'll note this for a later season.

White people: "We want to be on your show."
Everyone else: "You're on all the other shows. Go away."
White people: "But we WANT to be on your show TOO."
Everyone else: "Okay, fine, you're on the show."
White people: "Yooouuu suuuuuuuuck!"
Everyone else: "Welcome to the background radiation of our lives."

>> Most important to portray is an iteration where the European-type ethnicity people are just ordinary people who are shit on figuratively by everyone higher up on the hierarchy. Because I think a major point of this show could be showing privileged whites what modern racism looks like, make them think about what it would be like to be in that position. <<

Agreed.

>> I think they should be forced to learn the language without a "universal translator" before they go into the field, so a linguist or two would be a good idea. Because contrary to usual scifi tropes, any universal translator would have to be programmed <<

Yes. I believe this can be made plausible with sleep learning to speed the process a bit -- probably during metamorphosis -- and a common ancestral language from which most of the modern ones have descended. It's a lot easier to go from, say, Spanish to French than from Spanish to Lakota. But eventually they might hit a place where an unrelated ethnic language survived instead, or someone made up a conlang that stuck. That would be a pain in the ass.

>> So you could have at least one planet where either they give up before they even start, or where they have to undergo such a radical change inside and outside that when they turn back to normal, they struggle to put the thoughts and experiences of that mission into words. <<

Those are interesting possibilities. I do like the idea of post-mission processing difficulties. That's especially probable if the show ran on a high budget with settings like a water world or a sky world where the shapeshifters had to take on forms with whole new senses. Integrating memories across a linguistic barrier is hard enough -- across a physical barrier would be extremely disorienting.

Cetacean language

Date: 2013-11-26 05:08 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
I don't have a handy link to it, but it was discovered that the waveform for a dolphin sonar ping off a school of fish (specific fish, like tuna, for example) is often spoken between dolphins even when no fish of that species are nearby. Clearly, the sonar signal for something is an easy word for that thing. That, plus a bit of an experience with psychic contact tells me that dolphins talk in 3D (and even higher-D when you get into abstract concepts) sonar images.

So yeah, hard to translate to humans except for the basics (a simplified grammar, physical things that are directly observable and measurable).

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(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
As to unusual characters... a team of scientists could possibly benefit from the simple point of view of someone who was a former farmer, or other working class type.

I think, considering what Lyria and most of her people are like, that Forizano - being a history scholar and being new to magic - could be considered an unusual character. Don't know how that would work.

It would be cool to have an AI character that wasn't cold and logical and detached; only time I can remember seeing something like that, which wasn't cutesy or overdone, was the AIs that ran the Commonwealth ships in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, and their android avatars.

Or even better: a biological character that had technological augments to hir brain, and therefore was technically a cyborg (getting all the benefits of being an AI *and* all the benefits of being human) without being a stereotypical cyborg at all.

Autistic characters would be good, too. And not just the stereotypical "uberbrain" types, either. There are auties and aspies that are NOT nerds or geeks, and are no more intelligent than average people.

Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-25 08:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> As to unusual characters... a team of scientists could possibly benefit from the simple point of view of someone who was a former farmer, or other working class type. <<

That's a possibility, although the spread in tech level already gives some of that effect. Chameleon comes from a stone age background and a couple of the others from frontier/wilderness and industrial.

>> It would be cool to have an AI character that wasn't cold and logical and detached; only time I can remember seeing something like that, which wasn't cutesy or overdone, was the AIs that ran the Commonwealth ships in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, and their android avatars. <<

The shapeshifters and their ship need a close bond, so a cold AI wouldn't work in this situation. They've only got each other to rely on, and the metamorphosis requires a lot of support.

>> Or even better: a biological character that had technological augments to hir brain, and therefore was technically a cyborg (getting all the benefits of being an AI *and* all the benefits of being human) without being a stereotypical cyborg at all. <<

I don't think this would work for the shapeshifters due to all the physiological changes, but it would work for a living ship. Some blending of organic and inorganic technology might be feasible -- and that's another thing usually played for horror, like the Borg. So a counterpoint to that would be good.

>> Autistic characters would be good, too. And not just the stereotypical "uberbrain" types, either. There are auties and aspies that are NOT nerds or geeks, and are no more intelligent than average people. <<

*ponder* Finding a way to clue that would be hard without the obvious markers. It would be easier to put in the cattle call that casting is neurovariant-friendly and open to actors with invisible as well as visible handicaps. You don't have to wrack your brain trying to figure out all the details of how a character with such-and-such a trait would handle a given situation if you've got somebody there you can just show an outline to and say, "Would this work for you, or is it totally off-base in a way we need to fix?" If you did that with a local character, you could swap off and feature a new difference each season.

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PS

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From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
The following is an excerpt of "Existence" by David Brin, and it neatly illustrates the idea of a true cyborg:

3) Or combinations? Picture a future when symbiosis is viewed as natural. Easy as wearing clothes. Instead of leaving us behind as dopey ancestors, what if they become us. And we become them? This kind of cyborg-blending is portrayed as ugly, in countless cheap fantasies. A sum far less than its clanking, shambling parts. But what if linkup is our only way to stay in the game?
Why assume the worst? Might we gain the benefits—say, instant info-processing—without losing what we treasure most about being human? Flesh. Aesthetics. Intuition. Individuality. Eccentricity. Love.
What would the machines get out of it? Why stay linked with slow organisms, made of meat? Well, consider. Mammals, then primates and hominids spent the last fifty million years adding layers to their brains, covering the fishlike cerebellum with successive tiers of cortex. Adding new abilities without dropping the old. Logic didn’t banish emotion. Foresight doesn’t exclude memory. New and old work together. Picture adding cyber-prosthetics to our already powerful brains, a kind of neo-neo-cortex, with vast, scalable processing, judgment, perception—while organic portions still have important tasks.
What could good old org-humanity contribute? How about the one talent all natural humans are good at? Living creatures have been doing it for half a billion years, and humans are supreme masters.
Wanting. Yearning. Desire.
J. D. Bernal called it the strongest thing in all the world. Setting goals and ambitions. Visions-beyond-reach that would test the limits of any power to achieve. It’s what got us to the moon two generations before the tools were ready. It’s what built Vegas. Pure, unstoppable desire.
Wanting is what we do best! And machines have no facility for it. But with us, by joining us, they’ll find more vivid longing than any striving could ever satisfy. Moreover, if that is the job they assign us—to be in charge of wanting—how could we object?
It’s in that suite of needs and aspirations—their qualms and dreams—that we’ll recognize our augmented descendants. Even if their burgeoning powers resemble those of gods.
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Thank you for sharing!

That is brilliant. It is also very close to what I was thinking in terms of how a living ship's hivemind might work -- with each function having its own awareness, a bit like the lizard-brain and ape-brain and human-brain we have already -- along with a connection to the crew.

Why would a living ship, who could go anywhere in the galaxy, want to have a crew? For company. For direction. To decide where to go, and make the trip meaningful, rather than visiting random stars to graze and gossip.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 05:27 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Empath. Would require training in ethnography and linguistics, but the idea would be for someone who can quickly get the hang of whatever civilization they're working in.

The ship's AI as a major character. Keep the same voice throughout the series, for continuity.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 05:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fayanora.livejournal.com
Good ideas!

I think the ship's AI should be a little autistic, too. It makes sense for an AI to have a hard time relating to biologicals. But like real auties and aspies, the ship's AI needs to have emotions, even if its emotional responses are unusual.

I can totally seeing the ship's AI having an argument with one of the biologicals because of a misunderstanding, and having a minor meltdown (in the autistic sense, not the mechanical sense) and then refusing to cooperate for several minutes or hours while it's off doing its own thing to recoup. Or maybe, like Andromeda, it can multiply its personality, so that while one self is off in a snit, another can take over.

Ooooh, oooh! And the AI could possibly have an AI type form of DID, where there's like 9 or 10 different consciousness cores (but a shared memory core), so which personality they get when talking to the AI semi-randomly changes. Each consciousness core would have different specialities, too.

Or, in lieu of "Blindsight" by Peter Watts, a biological with Multiple Consciousness Complex would be cool, too. That'd fill the "oddball" quota pretty well. :-) (As long as it's done respectfully.)
Edited Date: 2013-11-25 05:45 am (UTC)

Hmm...

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Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-25 05:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Empath. Would require training in ethnography and linguistics, but the idea would be for someone who can quickly get the hang of whatever civilization they're working in. <<

That has potential. It could be explained with science as having hypertrophic mirror neurons. Black gods, what a headache ... I'm not sure you could drop an empath into one xenophobic culture after another without having them melt down.

>> The ship's AI as a major character. Keep the same voice throughout the series, for continuity. <<

A couple of folks have suggested this -- along with a biotech version -- and it seems popular.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-25 12:48 pm (UTC)
ext_74: Baron Samadai in cat form (Default)
From: [identity profile] siliconshaman.livejournal.com
1] I'd go with advanced bio-sculpting, rewriting the body's gene code and then accelerating it's metabolism. Basically, actor A gets into the 'pod' and actor B gets out of it... but at least the hand-waving sounds somewhat plausible. Perhaps it takes a few days, and only some people can take to it, [requires a degree of plasticity] which would give them the time to learn new languages and explain why a limited number of people.

2] There are two people on any crew that you Do Not send on away teams, the pilot and the ship's engineer. I'd suggest a bare minimum support crew, perhaps 3 or 4.. which could be cut down to those two if you're going with the live ship / A.I idea. [and the pilot could be your cyborg.] Which would make it all the more dramatic if they had to violate that rule. Also given that your crew are on a reconn mission then it's more likely they'd be a small ship & crew, because whomever is running this would send out hundreds of those. [which also means they're probably operating on a shoestring budget].

Incidentally, what is the mission objective? Reconn ahead of a larger contact team ? Exploration [which would probably require a larger crew to do] or are they looking for something specific?

3] I'd say go with all the ethnic groups possible, maybe even invent a few.. after all, if humanity has had long enough to spread out like this, then it'll have to have evolved somewhat further. Hey, can we have celts? The celtic sub-ethnic group doesn't get enough recognition as a separate identity. [Likewise Scandic/Nordic... there's more flavours than just vanilla to 'white']

4] I think any small team is going to have to multi-class, although it'll be primary/secondary and maybe tertiary classes so they can all do each others jobs to some degree in case they lose someone.

Hmm... maybe they can upload or fast-learn skills, like in the Matrix, but implanted skill sets aren't as good as ones learnt? [no muscle memory for a start]. That would get around the multi-classing, in the event of someone dying or otherwise being incapacitated, someone else uploads the replacement skills package.

You'd need a physical-systems scientist, bio-systems scientist, anthropologist, psychologist [maybe], security specialist/ranger-scout [maybe also doubling up as second-in-command], team leader/commander, communications expert, medic, historian & scholar... although those last two could easily be the same person... so you're looking at a 8 or 9 person crew or call it a 12 person platoon once you add in a few 'red-shirts' or general multi-class/security goons. Which gives the commander the option of splitting off a couple of 4 man teams for specific missions.

Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-26 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> 1] I'd go with advanced bio-sculpting, rewriting the body's gene code and then accelerating it's metabolism. <<

That's similar to what I'm thinking with the metamorphosis, but more internal than external. Based on audience input, I'm leaning toward a biological change with technological support to make it safer and more precise.

>> Basically, actor A gets into the 'pod' and actor B gets out of it... but at least the hand-waving sounds somewhat plausible. <<

That's the idea, yes.

>> Perhaps it takes a few days, and only some people can take to it, [requires a degree of plasticity] which would give them the time to learn new languages and explain why a limited number of people. <<

It does take time, because the whole body has to rewrite itself. The basic shape would remain similar (unless the show has a high enough budget to allow a lot of major transformations). A tiny number of people may be born shapeshifters, but there are others with a latent ability that can be activated with the right technology.

>> 2] There are two people on any crew that you Do Not send on away teams, the pilot and the ship's engineer. I'd suggest a bare minimum support crew, perhaps 3 or 4.. which could be cut down to those two if you're going with the live ship / A.I idea. [and the pilot could be your cyborg.] Which would make it all the more dramatic if they had to violate that rule. <<

I think the ship could handle its own piloting, and most of engineering with mobile peripherals. *ponder* With a living ship modified to carry a crew, it's probably not self-sustaining indefinitely, but would be fine without them for a few weeks at least. There are probably things it can't do for itself, or that are just safer/better with help. So ship and crew become symbiotes.

>> Also given that your crew are on a reconn mission then it's more likely they'd be a small ship & crew, because whomever is running this would send out hundreds of those. [which also means they're probably operating on a shoestring budget]. <<

I'm coming to suspect that:

* Shapeshifters are rare enough that they are widely scattered, alone or in teams, to cover important positions or events.

* The team has official backing. That gets them decent supplies and funding. If they determine a need for certain specialists, or a large number of footsoldiers, or whatever, they can ask for that and have a reasonable chance of getting aid. However, they can't necessary get things quickly and they are expected to solve most problems on their own.

* The team's official backing often does NOT carry onto the planetary surface. If they're working a well-connected world, it will (but then they have a problem being more-or-less famous). The less connected the world, the less official recognition they get. A lot of their missions would be to places with little or no awareness of the wider galaxy, so they would often have to travel incognito -- hence the need for shapeshifting to blend in.

Thoughts

Date: 2013-11-26 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Incidentally, what is the mission objective? Reconn ahead of a larger contact team ? Exploration [which would probably require a larger crew to do] or are they looking for something specific? <<

Fix what's broke. They're expected to handle a wide diversity of problems -- political, medical, environmental, etc. They would usually have a specific assignment, but it tends to be a symptom that people are complaining about. They have to figure out the root cause and how to solve it. Ideally, they solve the problem themselves. If that's not possible, they develop a plan of action and specify what personnel and resources are required to implement it. The catch is that bringing in more people means finding more shapeshifters (difficult, but there are some that do that kind of assignment) and/or people who match or can pass for the local race (somewhat more common, but never an abundant supply, because spaceborn tend to be mixed-race).

>> 3] I'd say go with all the ethnic groups possible, maybe even invent a few.. after all, if humanity has had long enough to spread out like this, then it'll have to have evolved somewhat further. <<

Oh, I like the idea of a new ethnic group!

>> Hey, can we have celts? The celtic sub-ethnic group doesn't get enough recognition as a separate identity. [Likewise Scandic/Nordic... there's more flavours than just vanilla to 'white'] <<

*imagines entire season of all redheaded actors*

I'll be in my bunk.

>> 4] I think any small team is going to have to multi-class, although it'll be primary/secondary and maybe tertiary classes so they can all do each others jobs to some degree in case they lose someone. <<

I have it set up with primary/secondary at present.

>> Hmm... maybe they can upload or fast-learn skills, like in the Matrix, but implanted skill sets aren't as good as ones learnt? [no muscle memory for a start]. That would get around the multi-classing, in the event of someone dying or otherwise being incapacitated, someone else uploads the replacement skills package. <<

Maybe? I think it works better with information than skills. You could sleep-learn the rules of a sport, but wouldn't be any good at playing with it. It would shorten the time needed to learn the moves, though. You could memorize a summary of the culture, so you wouldn't automatically stick out, but it would still be easy to make mistakes. If sleep-learning works best during metamorphosis when the brain is in a state of high plasticity, it would be an emergency backup but not very useful as a short-term solution. That reduces the opportunity for plot cheating.

>> You'd need a physical-systems scientist, bio-systems scientist, anthropologist, psychologist [maybe], security specialist/ranger-scout [maybe also doubling up as second-in-command], team leader/commander, communications expert, medic, historian & scholar... although those last two could easily be the same person... so you're looking at a 8 or 9 person crew or call it a 12 person platoon once you add in a few 'red-shirts' or general multi-class/security goons. Which gives the commander the option of splitting off a couple of 4 man teams for specific missions. <<

So far I have a crew of eight, plus the ship-personality, covering those or similar concepts.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-11-26 05:48 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
For an unusual character class, how about a polytheistic theological anthropologist? Not necessarily a divinity student (though we could include that to give them a bias in some direction if necessary) but someone who grew up in a particular religious atmosphere, who is trained in the study of religions as such, as well as in mythology and storytelling. On top of all that, theologians tend to have training and often experience in both counseling and public speaking. An actual priest may or may not have a "confessional seal" which they are expected to maintain in their official position, but a professional counselor or therapist definitely has a requirement to maintain privacy.

Shepherd Book didn't appear to have a lot of formal training as a priest (he says as much himself in the movie), but he certainly knew how to listen to people, summarize a situation, and get folks up and moving one way or another; and he knew his book well enough. This idea comes at it from the opposite direction: someone trained academically, who may or may not be skilled in the relevant activities, but when it comes down to it might be able to tell you what it means when the locals invite you to dinner with their god, and lend spiritual meaning to the event. Or even deliver a sermon that literally delivers you from evil!

Quotes:

"Yes, the gods are real. But which of them are we dealing with tonight?"

"Ve absol agot. Now go tell him the truth, I have a candle to light."

(Social engineer has just got their enemies fighting each other instead of the team.) "Loki's probably smiling, but watch out for Legba there."
SE: "What?"
PT: "Nothing. Just be careful to wear a hat for a while. And a donation to a local charity wouldn't hurt."

Hmm...

Date: 2013-11-26 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> For an unusual character class, how about a polytheistic theological anthropologist? Not necessarily a divinity student (though we could include that to give them a bias in some direction if necessary) but someone who grew up in a particular religious atmosphere, who is trained in the study of religions as such, as well as in mythology and storytelling. <<

This actually fits well with the scholar-linguist, who's also a backup medic ...

>> On top of all that, theologians tend to have training and often experience in both counseling and public speaking. An actual priest may or may not have a "confessional seal" which they are expected to maintain in their official position, but a professional counselor or therapist definitely has a requirement to maintain privacy. <<

... and for the oddball I'm leaning toward empath/bard, who has background in psychology. Put these two characters together and they cover all the ways someone could get injured: physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. Which is really good to have if you are running a bunch of highly talented people through a heroic meatgrinder repeatedly, often far from other available help.

>> Shepherd Book didn't appear to have a lot of formal training as a priest (he says as much himself in the movie), but he certainly knew how to listen to people, summarize a situation, and get folks up and moving one way or another; and he knew his book well enough. <<

Yes, I liked that about him. Kitchen-sink chaplain work.

>> This idea comes at it from the opposite direction: someone trained academically, who may or may not be skilled in the relevant activities, but when it comes down to it might be able to tell you what it means when the locals invite you to dinner with their god, and lend spiritual meaning to the event. <<

That's one reason I felt this made a good match for the linguist, because that's the most academic member of the team. The ones in the Scientist roles have more practical training.

>> Or even deliver a sermon that literally delivers you from evil! <<

This gets me thinking about the role of religion in this series. I had left it alone up to this point, because I already had a primary theme (racism/tolerance) and the science is meant to be as hard as I can keep it while still allowing for series-necessary stuff like jumptech. On the other hoof, religion is a key reason why humans split off from a larger group, and it's prone to developing in isolation. So all those different planets have got to wind up with their own religions.

On the third hoof, there are religions that either base themselves on science or mesh with it very fluently. Odinani is Igbo sacred science. Gaianism is based on systems theory. Quantum physics encompasses much that is mysterious and transcendent, for those who like that kind of divinity. Thought is energy, and especially when you're working with biotechnology and galaxy-spanning jump gates, that opens up the idea of other dimensions of reality and consciousness. I've done good/evil polarity in other projects. I haven't done much with the scientific-philosophical branch of religion, beyond occasionally touching on it in Schrodinger's Heroes. So this has potential.

>> Quotes: <<

I love those. Are they all meant for this series, or did you mix in some from Firefly?

Re: Hmm...

From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah - Date: 2013-11-26 09:41 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Hmm...

From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com - Date: 2013-11-27 02:38 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Hmm...

From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah - Date: 2013-11-27 03:20 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Hmm...

From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com - Date: 2013-11-27 07:58 am (UTC) - Expand

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