Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recombinant fiction

I'm gonna post this interesting exercise while I compose my unschooling response to the crazy guy on SSUDs.

Cribbed from Steph


First, select ten fictional characters (from any medium) by whichever method you like best.

Just sitting here doing a casual mind scan…

1. Aeneas (Aeneid – epic poem)
2. Beowulf (Beowulf – epic poem)
3. Candide (Candide - novel)
4. R. Daneel Olivaw (Asimov's robot stories)
5. Yojimbo/Sanjuro (one character - two movies)
6. Dersu Usula (movie)
7. Keyser Soze (Usual Suspects - movie)
8. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs et al. - novels/movies)
9. Nikita (La Femme Nikita - movie)
10. Ripley (Alien et seq. - movies)


Divide the list up by even and odd.

Odds
: Aeneas, Candide, Yojimbo, Keyser Soze, Nikita
Evens: Beowulf, R. Daneel Olivaw, Dersu Usula, Hannibal Lecter, Ripley

Which group of five would make a better Five Man Band (like a Power Rangers team)?

On balance, I think the odds would be a better team. They have one manipulative type in Keyser, one leader type in Aeneas, a coupla single-combat mavens in Yojimbo and Nikita, and comic relief in Candide. The even team has two supremely manipulative types in Daneel and Hannibal and I don't think they'd form into a functional team.

Who would you slot in each position: Leader, Lancer (second-in-command), Big Guy, Smart Guy, The Chick?

Odds:
Leader: Aeneas. He's the only one with leadership qualities and experience. Keyser is a behind-the-scenes manipulator, Candide is inept, and Yojimbo and Nikita are both wolfsheads.
Lancer: Nikita. Yojimbo is too independent and Keyser hasta fill the slot of "smart one."
Big One: Yojimbo. Most efficient killer.
Smart One: Keyser Soze.
Chick: Nikita is the only female in the group but I think I hafta appoint Candide as the "girl" cuz he's an ingénue.

Evens:
Leader: Gotta put Beowulf here cuz Daneel likes to work quietly, otherwise it'd definitely be Daneel.
Lancer: Daneel. It's where he likes to be and he's the actual power player in this group.
Big One: Dersu Usula, the hunter. What else could he be in this gang?
Smart One: Hannibal cuz he's not a leader and not a "big one" in the sense I understand this exercise.
Chick: Guess it hasta be Ripley cuz she is.

It's interesting that I chose two women for my 10 and they wound up on separate teams, when the exercise calls for a single "Chick" role for each team. Of course, I did NOT put Nikita in the "Chick" role, going with Candide instead.

If you think the teams would be improved by swapping one character between the even and odd groups, which ones would you switch?

Well, both teams are comprised of thoroughly competent people - either as leaders, explorers, manipulators, killers, etc. The only exception is Candide; so the best improvement would be to replace Candide with someone competent from an external pool or simply eliminate him. He's comic relief, at best; not a functional member of any effort.

Gender-swap 2, 8 and 10. Which character would have the most change in their story arc? Which the least? Would any of these characters have to have a complete personality change to be believable as the opposite sex?

Beowulf, Hannibal, and Ripley. Interesting. I see Ripley and Hannibal as being transparent to gender. Beowulf, especially in his context, would evince the greatest change; but even then, I don't think it would be a huge difference. Norse women were more equal in their society than most societies of that time and they were also fierce fighters. A female Beowulf wouldn't be all that different.

Compare the matchups of 1 and 8 and 5 and 9. (Ignore canon sexual preferences for the moment.) Which couple would be more compatible?

Aeneas and Hannibal. Yojimbo and Nikita. Easy one. Yojimbo and Nikita have a significant set of compatibilities. Aeneas and Hannibal differ significantly. Aeneas is in-your-face and larger-than-life. Hannibal is subtle and, above all, polite. Oil and water. Aeneas would be dinner before you could say, "Fato profugus!"

Your team is 3, 4 and 9. The mission consists of a social challenge, a mental challenge and a physical challenge. Which team member do you assign to each challenge?

Candide, Daneel, Nikita. Amusingly enough, they fit this problem in their original order. Candide for the social challenge; he's all about social philosophy and interaction. Daneel for the mental. He might be weak on the social norms for the first one and might face a conflict with his three(four)-laws programming for the physical. Nikita will be up for whatever the physical challenge is, especially if it involves killing.

7 becomes 1's boss for a week in some plausible fashion. How's their working relationship?

Keyser Soze bosses Aeneas. Keyser is intelligent, skillful, manipulative, and merciless. Aeneas is strong-headed and used to being in control. Keyser will either successfully manipulate Aeneas or he'll hafta kill him. Could go either way.

2 finds him/her/itself inserted into 6's continuity. As far as anyone other than 2 or 6 is concerned, they've always been there. What role would 2 be presumed to have had in 6's story, and could they fit in without going wonky?

Beowulf with Dersu Usula. Actually, they'd fit pretty well. Beowulf would easily learn how to shoot a rifle and then they'd be congruent. Beowulf could fulfill a role similar to that in his own story – the traveller on a mission of assistance.

3 and 5 get three wishes. The catch is that they have to agree on all three wishes before they get the benefits of any of them. What three wishes would they make?

Candide and Yojimbo. The "best of all possible worlds" simp and the jaded, cynical, bitter, but still ethical ronin. Hmmmm. What would they possibly agree on?

1. Always having enough food to eat. (Recall the buttock story in Candide and Yojimbo, as a ronin, is always broke and hungry.)
2. Not having to kill anyone. ("Unnecessarily" as an added condition for Yojimbo. Grin!)
3. Retiring to a quiet life without adventures. Yojimbo would agree with Candide about seeking an existence without the "great evils" of boredom, vice, or necessity.

1 and 2 are brainwashed by a one-time artifact that works even on people immune to mind control to attack and kill 4. They keep their normal personalities, skills, and competence levels, except any code against killing has been turned off. Can 4 survive?

Fascinating question because of the characters I chose. Aeneas and Beowulf are both canny and skillful fighters. However, Daneel could easily best them, except for that pesky First Law which prohibits him from harming a human. So, he could NOT harm them while they tried to kill him. Then again, he's a robot, something they'd have no experience with and it's difficult to kill someone made of metal.

6, 7, 9 & 10 must help an orphanage full of small and depressed children have a merry Christmas. Who does what, knowing that at the very least the kids will be expecting a visit from Santa?

Dersu, Keyser, Nikita, and Ripley. Dersu will dress as Santa and tell them personal stories about life and nature in the frozen North. Keyser… well, Keyser might play along just for the gamesmanship of it all. Nikita and Ripley will dive in whole-hog and make it the most wonderful Xmas these kids have ever had.

3 and 8 are challenged to circumnavigate the Earth in eighty days or less, using only forms of transportation invented before 1900. Can they do it, or will they be fatally distracted by side quests or their own personality conflicts?

Candide and Hannibal. No problem. Hannibal can do this easily and do it with style. Candide will be along for the ride or to provide a tasty snack if provisions run short.

4 comments:

  1. Keyser Soze--what a great choice!

    I'm so glad that Hannibal didn't end up as Santa.

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  2. Oooooh, Hannibal as Santa. Now, wouldn't that be interesting!

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  3. Well, you're way too analytical for ME now! Dang...what a post.:)

    I'd love to read your response to uber-crazy SSUDS guy. I got to read a small snippet of the kind of mean-ass stuff he's writing. Weird.

    See you in two weeks!

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  4. This was so much fun to read and I am now going to add "Usual Suspects" to my netflix queue. I loved that film.

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