Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Songs and Stories in my Head

Songs and Stories in my Head
Last week I downloaded a song I saw on TV.  It's called "Shiny! Shiny!" and is a duet with two J-Pop (Japanese pop music) singers named Aili and May J.  Here's a link for the video if you want to see it: "Shiny! Shiny!"
I downloaded it to my iPod before going into the office on Saturday morning.  By the end of the day I had played it over twenty time.  At one point, while stuck in traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, I began to imagine the people in the other cars stuck along side me giving me dirty looks.  Every time the song ended, I'd say in a AM Radio DJ's voice, "All Shiny! Shiny!, AAALLLL the Time!" and I'd tap the iPod's wheel to send it back to the start of the song.    
It's not the song itself that made me play it so many times.  I think it's a catchy tune, and for me you can't go wrong featuring two attractive Asian women in a video like that.  But more than the song itself, there was something else making me playing over and over again like that.
It was the story in my head that the song inspired.  
Some songs give me stories that are very straight forward.  "Little Victories," by Bob Seger is a great workout song, especially if it comes at the last five minutes of a cardio routine.  And "Already Gone," by the Eagles is the song I want playing in the background when I go into the boss's office to tell him I'm giving him my two weeks notice.  I've gotten my long awaited book deal, and I'm leaving.  Sure, he'll do what he can, offer me the long postponed raise, give me more benefits, anything he can do to get me to stay.  It'll be no use, though.  Because...  I'm already gone, you see.  
There are songs that for whatever reason, give me these really complicated stories to follow.  
"Son of Man" by Phil Collins from the soundtrack of the Disney version of Tarzan is one such song.  I loved the movie and bought the soundtrack for it.  Son of Man wasn't my favorite song from the movie when I bought it.  But something happened when I listened to the song that made me play it over and over again.
I saw a spaceship.  A big, beautiful starship, flying through hyperspace to some unknown destination.  Each time the song played, I would add details to the craft.  It was driven by these huge electromagnetic sails.  You can hear the sails deploying when the drums go "chunk-chuka-bang."  Instead of the wind, tachyons would strike the sails to drive the ship forward.  Striking the sales would cause the tachyons to decay into normal, sub-luminal particles.  Relativistic effects would make it appear as if the sails were shooting particle streams behind the ship.  
The story, a little music video, really, grew every time I heard the song.  The starship had a mixed crew, humans and another alien race, former enemies, that had been forced to work together to flee a greater threat to them both.  Eventually the song became the ending credits to the story I was seeing.  After successfully escaping their common enemy, they were now working together to find their collective way back home.  
I eventually created a comic book story called, "The Ulyssiad" from that scenario.  The aliens were the "Sirens," a race of bat-like creatures that could glide from place to place in the lesser gravity of their world.  And the ship, I decided, was traveling through something called "Sponge Space."  The sails, now called Higgs Sails, not only propelled the craft, but lessened the vessel's apparent mass to zero, allowing it to be encased in a quantum hypersphere and travel faster than light.  The Ulyssiad was never published, but all the back ground I created, Sponge Space, the Sirens, and Higgs Sails, formed the basis of the universe I'm working in with my science fiction stories.  I used one example of "diving" through Sponge Space in my story, Shadow Angel, which was published in Asimov's Science Fiction's September, 2011 issue.  
"We Weren't Born to Follow," by Bon Jovi has given me another mind-video to play with.  The song sounds like a perfect campaign song to me, the way Bill Clinton's campaign team used "Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow," by Fleetwood Mac during his reelection bid.  An image came to mind of someone running for office, facing a crowd of cheering, banner waving supporters.  It looked like an election night crowd, when the winning candidate is about to make his victory speech.  He's trying to get the crowd to quiet down so he can talk, but everyone is too enthusiastic, too flush with victory to let the man they helped elect speak.  
I began to think about what sort of candidate I would want in this position.  Someone like, me, I suppose.  We all would like to see someone like us being elected as President, or Governor, Prime Minister or whatever Leader we happen to be picking.  
Facing the obvious, that it would take some sort of miracle for someone such as myself to get elected with the way politics is done in my country, I created such a miracle in my head.  
You see, there's a sea of nano-bots, tiny devices the size of molecules, covering the planet.  They communicate with each other.  Together they form a vast information gathering and computing entity.  It's intelligent.  Nothing can be hidden from it.  
And it speaks to the man who just got elected. 
That's how this man, a failed actor and would-be science fiction writer, is able to obtain the most powerful political office in the world.  He didn't suddenly use his access to the nanobot network to make himself wealthy enough to pay for television ads.  Not anything like that.  But he can hear the thoughts of his countrymen.  He knows what they truly want in their hearts, and what they are willing to compromise on to get it.  With the help of the nanobots, he can make near perfect plans that put him into the public awareness.  Even thinks that normally derail a campaign, the little embarrassments from his past that everyone has, are used to make the candidate appear to be more human, "more like me," to any potential voter.  
I haven't written this story yet.  I don't know where the nanobots came from yet, or what purpose they might have that the candidate serves.  It still resides in the, "that would be so cool if I could do that," realm.  I've not yet fleshed out the unintended consequences.  Not yet, anyway.
As for Shiny! Shiny!...?  I see lots of people gathered in a place I've never visited before with me holding something I never believe existed...
I'll leave it at that for now.  That story is still being written. 
But once I get it finished and it's published someplace, I will be sure to let you know.  


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