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Writing in the TBP universe
Since shared universes currently seem to be in vogue within the TSAT editorial clique, I decided that I needed to have my own.
Unfortunately, I've determined that there is no easy way to create one anymore (see Creating Worlds to Share). Therefore I've hijacked one. BRAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Or, in other words, I have volunteered to create a master archive of all (eventually anyway) the stories set in the Blind Pig story universe.
First, for those who don't know, a brief introduction to what the Blind Pig (or TBP) universe is:
Basic Background: There is a primary assumption built into the TBP universe: life does exist on Mars. In this reality this fact was confirmed by the Beagle II probe which was launched in 2001 and returned with samples in 2002. By 2003 the Martian virus within the samples had gotten loose, and had mutated, becoming the Martian Flu. Six percent of people in developed countries died, and over 30% in the Third World. By 2040 the disease is present in roughly 87% of the human population. Symptoms are generally flu-like, and death is possible but rare. Fortunately most just recover from it, but a few are left with a gift, or a curse.
In these few the virus mutates their genetic structure, changing their bodes. Some gained the characteristics of animals, others changed their gender, others gained some control over their aging progress. And other weirder things happened.
As the virus spread across the world it was finally isolated by Dr. Robert Stein, head researcher at the Center for Disease Cotnrol in Atlanta. Since then, the 8% of flu victims changed by the victim have gained a name for their condition. Stein's Chronic Accererated Bio-morphic Syndrone. Or SCABS.
How Scabs Works: Somehow SCABS access the genetic history of the human race. It makes its way back along the genetic tree of life that culminated in the human individual, going all the back to the single celled organism. Then it traces a new path forward, down a new branch. And then it mutates it hosts to match the new path it has created.
SCABS acts like a key to the genetic history. As it mutates to live within an individual, it changes so that it can fit only one specific lock. In almost all humans there is no lock that it fits, and the individual simply recovers and remains human. For the rest, it opens the box and lets the genie out.
Animorphs: Individuals with the characteristics of animal species, either living or extinct. Seventy percent of those inflicted with this type are locked into a fixed form, the remaining 30% can vary their appearance by different degrees.
Inanimorphs: Victims are transformed into inanimate objects, but still with the ability to move and think. Often they violate humanity's understanding of physical laws, simply proving how much we don't know.
Gendermorphs: Victims are transformed into the opposite sex. Ninety-five percent of this variation start as male. A few can toggle their sex as desired, but most are trapped.
Chronomorphs: Individuals with the ability to control the age of their body, and sometimes the age of other bodies. Usually changes are limited and of short duration.
Polymorphs: The blessed few, with the ability to, at will, change their form as desired. Fewer than one tenth of one percent have this.
The Bar: The Blind Pig Gin Mill is the name of the bar where the first stories occurred. The city it is in is unnamed and must remain so (one of the few hard rules). The bar is owned and operated by one Donnie Sinclair, an animorph SCAB. He's a 640lb barkeeper with the head and internal organs of an extinct breed of wild cattle called an Auroch. Don't get him angry.
Basic Universe Rules:
Unlike some other universes, the rules within TBP are fairly simple, and there really are only three of them:
1. SCABS exists and cannot be cured, even momentarily.
2. The Blind Pig Gin Mill (and a lot of the stories) occur in a city that CANNOT BE NAMED.
3. Don't step on other characters. As a general rule, if they have any significant speaking parts, you should check with the creator.
And that's about it. In other words, you can't fix the world, you can't name the city the Bar is in (though it is in the eastern US), and you can't screw around with characters created by other people. Nice and simple.
The stories within TBP cover from 2002 to 2041. 2002/2003 are known as 'the collapse', when the Martian Flu first infected the human population. Western civilization survived relatively intact, the rest of the planet more or less went to hell. The current 'leading edge' is 2041.
Why Write in this Universe?
As with other universes, one of the main reasons is that the reason for the transformation is already specified. The character got the flu and changed into whatever. Because of a backlash against technology, the world of 2040 is very similar to the world of 2004. There are some hydrogen powered cars, computer technology is faster and smaller, voice recognition software is cheap and effective, but that's it. No brain/computer hardware connections, no nanotech, no aliens, etc. In other words, you can write a story using anything around today, change the date, call it SCABS, and voila! Also, unlike Metamoor Keep, the universe is fairly loose. There is no master continuity, no interlinking of stories, etc. This has good points in that it's easier to get into, but a bad point in that you lose a bit of the advantages of a shared universe -- or in other words, there isn't a whole lot of shared plotting going on.
Why do I write in TBP? Actually, it's kind of hard to say. I started because I saw a flaw in that there was next to no technological development in 40 years, and had a solution which I proposed as a story (the backlash mentioned above, the cause being that since technology brought the flu, science is bad). But then the character was so interesting, I wanted to explore more. There is a second character I've created who is a reverse chronomorph with no control, and that was created out of a thought experiment about what it was like knowing that you would die, and knowing when you would die, and being helpless to change that fact.
Why should you want to write in TBP? Because, in my opinion anyway, a lot of the best writing on the TSA list has come about through TBP. It seems to bring out better writing as people are inspired by what has gone before. And, since the actual transformation is rapid and generally occurs whilst the victim is unconscious or incapacitated, it forces you to write about the consequences of the transformation, instead of just TF porn. And, since there are hundreds of stories, there is a lot of examples about how to write about consequences to work from. And that will help make you a better writer.
Next Step: I am currently building what I hope to be the definitive archive of TBP stories on this site. http://transform.to/~mwbard/tbp/indexintro.html