1. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    An Unrealistic Mutation in an Otherwise Realistic World

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by kburns421, Dec 2, 2014.

    I'm working on an idea that takes place in the future and involves a transmittable mutation in humans. The most important aspect is that the mutants don't have blood. I'm thinking their bodies create and function on electrical energy instead. One of the main characters (but not the protag) is a scientist who transforms some people into mutant and back to human during the story.

    I'm more concerned about the story than the genre, but I guess this is soft sci-fi? The idea just came and took on a life of its own with a plot and characters that I think are good. It's only the science part giving me problems. I've spent the past few days learning more about blood and related things than I ever really cared to. I know this mutation is never going to be realistic, but I like to keep my ideas consistent and as realistic as possible within the premise. I feel it's important for me to understand, to some extent, how the mutation works, but I'm getting frustrated and don't know if I'm going overboard.

    I know plenty of stories boil down to, "It is this way because I say so." Even in real life I don't understand how everything in the body works. But I still worry it's going to sound ridiculous.

    How far can I stray from reality before it gets ridiculous? How much detail do I need to know about how the mutation works--just enough to keep consistency and know the outcomes on the body/characters/society? Should I not bother so much with why and how it works? How much needs to be explained to the readers? Does this all just depend on the story itself/the genre/the audience preference? Am I worrying too much?
     
  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it depends upon the suspension of disbelief required. An electrical charge? It would interfere with so many other bodily functions (especially in capillaries around the brain) and I cannot understand how it would carry oxygen, or be pumped around the body by the heart?

    What is the purpose of the mutation?
     
  3. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    When the story starts, there are very few regular humans left in the world, and there's a big split between the two groups with humans being considered inferior and unimportant. The protag is a human female who happens to be immune. But being raised with such hatred and fear toward the mutants causes the protag to do something terrible which sparks the main meat of the story and causes her to to question whether humans are actually any better.

    The mutation doesn't necessarily need to involve electricity, but it was the best thing I could think of to fit all the requirements. The most important thing is that the mutants don't have blood. Also, the mutants are superior in the sense that they are not as easily injured or killed, which is why I figured no blood means no dying of blood loss and no blood-transmitted diseases. But the mutants are still similar enough to humans that the scientist is able to change them back, and they're not indestructable or immortal.

    As I said, I've been doing research on both the body and electricty. I've even debated whether I should make it so they require oxygen at all... but it's all going to require significant suspension of disbelief. Does any of this answer your question about the purpose of the mutation though?
     
  4. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you need to have "mutants" who are tougher than humans why not rely upon some genetic engineering or eugenic process? What is the importance of the absence of blood?
     
  5. kburns421
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    Ok, I'm really trying to think about this to figure out what's absolutely necessary.

    The absense of blood provides a way for the protag to know whether she's been changed or not while she's basically on the run (if she makes a cut on her arm and it bleeds, she's still human). She tries to become mutant only to then learn she's immune. It also allows characters to know when another character is human or mutant since there are no obvious differences in appearance.

    More importantly though, it provides conflict at various impotant points, for example:
    One character almost dies from blood loss. He's saved by being transformed, except it's only partially successful and he's too weak to survive on his own. I was thinking the transformation uses whatever blood is in the body to create the original amount of electrical charge, but he didn't have much. And since his transformation was done using an experimental synthetic version, it's not working quite right and won't create or hold any more charge. But even if I scratch that particular detail, if blood still existed, he could've just had a transfusion, and there's basically no story. So even if it's not electrical, there still has to be some substance other than blood.
     
  6. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    Neurons send electrical charges that the brain interprets as information, so that part is viable. The need to have a mutation where the body can absorb and make use of oxygen in another manner is the hurdle you have to overcome. The ability to absorb oxygen directly from the air or even water through the skin might be one possibility. This could also eliminate the need for the heart and lungs.
     
  7. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, the absence of blood loss can be explained by some genetic engineering that results in wounds healing more quickly. Or, another option, nano-technology, small machines that flow in the blood stream and repair any wounds swiftly. That way the speed of recovery would make differentiation between (lets call them) Nanos and normals would be easy.

    Maybe one character is saved by the transference of nano machines into his blood stream, but his body rejects them because they are not conditioned to exist in him, hence only a partial recovery?

    The electrical charge/ no blood idea just does not sit right with me.
     
  8. kburns421
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    When you say the need to have a mutation, you mean the reason it occurred? My idea for now is that it was originally created by a scientist for use in war, but, long story short, the research was destroyed which is why it's not fully understood at the time of the story.

    I already figured the mutants wouldn't have heartbeats but would still have hearts (since even now we have unnecessary organs). Didn't give much thoughts to lungs and how they'd process oxygen.
     
  9. kburns421
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    The only reason that doesn't work in my story is because if blood is still a common, existing thing, everything is too easy, and there's no story. Blood needs to be a rare resource, let's say. The hospital wouldn't even have any.

    A question though, do you usually tend to enjoy hard or soft sci-fi? I know this won't appeal to those who read hard, but I need to figure out if it's too unbelievable even for those who read soft.
     
  10. Chinspinner
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    I enjoy both. But soft sci-fi with the pretence of being hard grates with me. The moment Star Wars (more space fantasy) introduced midichlorians to explain the force it ruined it for me (well if that annoying twat JaJa had not first).

    But yes I could suspend disbelief enough for this plot. What if nano enriched blood saw non-nano's as a disease to be destroyed so killed them? That would create a shortage.

    But I will stop trying to redesign your idea now, I am starting to annoy myself ;)
     
  11. J Faceless
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    J Faceless Active Member

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    Instead of not having blood you could do, they have the absence of liquid. They're bodies are so electrical so that liquid in there bloodstreams would be disruptive. Instead of blood it could be like a solid, or paste like substance that lets electric impulses flow quickly throughout the body. You could then go on to say this aids healing, faster reflexes and so on because it is a conductor for the electric part of their mutation.
    Interesting idea though, you should definitely run with it.
     
  12. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    Haha, you're not annoying me. I posted here to get help and opinions. I just don't think your suggestions can work with all the important elements of my story.

    Also, can someone tell me how to tag a username so I can stop quoting whole posts?
     
  13. kburns421
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    This could be doable, but I'm not sure I understand how this is significantly different from just having no paste-like substance at all. Does this make it more believable?

    Although, now that I think about it, it might make one or two scenes work better, so I'll have to consider it.
     
  14. J Faceless
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    J Faceless Active Member

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    It was just an idea, I was just thinking the complete absence of blood would be a huge difference between species. Cutting yourself to see if you got infected is pretty brutal too. There would be easier ways to see blood loss, like the skin going cyanotic or blue. That is more related to oxygen distribution then the blood itself as i understand it. But in the end its how you design it so if you have a logical argument behind it I'd buy it as a reader. I mean it just matters how you present it and the world you build around it. I just got stuck on the empty veins, seems like a very drastic adaptation.
    Also seems like a useful thing to have in a YA novel to cut out anything gruesome.
     
  15. kburns421
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    @J Faceless I'm not so sure this can be classified as YA for various reasons, but I think how gruesome it is really depends on how it's written. And even something like cutting her skin would not be without reason or significance. If and how color of skin would change is something else I've been trying to figure out though.

    You have a point that maybe something between blood and electrical energy would be more believable, and I might be able to alter some things and make that work since blood would still be something that only exists in humans.
     

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