1. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    [science fantasy] reason for a certain ability

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by CGB, May 2, 2016.

    My story revolves around a woman with a special power to communicate with ancient alien AIs that live inside "computers" in underground caverns built by the same alien species (the species itself is thought to be long dead).
    The underground caverns themselves are essentially subterranean highways (similar to this: http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Deep_Roads), and exist on several different worlds, including the 12 that humanity occupies. The reason for this vast underground network is hotly debated, but what is notable about it is that there appears to be randomly spaced "statues" of the aliens who built the highways. These "statues" are really just large daises that project holographic representations of the AIs themselves. They appear as statues because they look exactly like regular old members of the alien species and essentially stand stone-still, not interacting in any way that would make the humans who encounter them think they are anything but some intricate and beautiful type of idol or figurine.

    Flash forward to when this particular woman is born, it is eventually discovered by the government that possess the ability to speak with these AIs, and more importantly, can cause the AIs to open wormholes that lead directly from the underground highway of one world into the underground highway of another world. This becomes important, because she is essentially enslaved by the government to help them use this method of transport as well as her ability to interface with the AIs to discover the location (and then later travel to and obtain) a theorized ancient weapon that the aliens built.

    That was long-winded, so I hope it wasn't too confusing...

    Getting to my plot-holes, I am trying to figure out:
    1. A reason why this woman would have obtained this special ability.
    2. A reason why these complex underground highways were built and interconnected.

    Reasons I have come up with thus far include:
    1.
    - She has an incredibly rare genetic condition that required specialized treatment with a computer-brain interface at a young age which has essentially taken over her immune system, and for some techno-science-magic reason her cellular profile becomes similar enough in some way that the AIs erroneously recognize her as one of the dead aliens.
    - She was given the ability for some reason by one of the AIs near where she grew up.

    2.
    - The highways were built by a species which lived underground.
    - Built by a species which was harmed by sunlight (maybe they evolved on a neutron star or something)
    - Built to avoid detection by something.

    Anyway, if you have any good ideas you can throw at me, I'd love to hear them.
     
  2. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    If the aliens wanted to avoid detection, that could also tie into why they built a superweapon. They needed some way to fight back in case whatever they were hiding from found them.

    As for the woman, when you talked about the AI platforms as resembling statues, I imagined the old fantasy trope of a statue that can speak into people's minds. Maybe the AI doesn't recognize her on a physical level, but through her thought patterns. If she has some quirk or disorder that makes her think more like an alien than like a human, that could make other characters think she's feeble-minded and easy to manipulate.
     
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  3. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Moral conundrum: I have come up with my own solution to the problem of why only she can communicate with the AIs, but I do think it's a reasonable idea and am tempted to remove the bits specific to your story and pursue it myself. I'd prefer not to post it here to keep it private, but will offer it to you by PM. That way, you can use it if you choose to, but if not it remains fairly private.
     
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  4. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Maybe she was conceived in the tunnels or at the base of one of the statues and the aliens intervened?
     
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  5. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there some other plot reason for her to be an AI telepath? Because it sounds like she could just be a researcher, or scholar who studies AIs.
     
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  6. Gareth MH
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    Gareth MH Member

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    Yeah I like Feo Takahari's idea about it being something to do with thought patterns. It made me think; what if it was because she was a little autistic in just the right way? Of course that would make for all kinds of writing problems, like potentially having to rewrite you're whole character if not the whole story.

    I also like zoupsim's idea of her just being a researcher.

    But how'd I'd probably tackle the issue is with a combination of these ideas: She has/had a rare condition that required her to have a computer/brain interface from a young age. This then enabled her to comprehend some of the alien language/pictographs/engineering/relics more easily than the average person. Which prompted her to pursue a career in the study of the alien artefacts. Then with the combination of her mental gifts and years of study she's able to understand and even emulate the alien thought patterns which causes one of the statues to recognise her as a member of the alien species and from then on she's able to communicate with it.

    That leaves a lot of room for possibilities as well. If you wanted to she would be able to further develop the skill with more practice which may then put her in a position where she'd be able to fool or outmanoeuvre the people holding her captive as she uses her interface with the AI's to learn more about what they're capable of.
     
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  7. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    Thinking on why they were built underground, a couple possibilities.

    1. Perhaps in operation, they release some kind of radiation that would be bad for things around them. Doesn't have to be a misting of plutonium, but I think that particle accelerators are buried for that reason (not sure, but it seems plausible)

    2. Perhaps incoming solar/cosmic radiation can interfere with their operation. Still shielding, but stopping rads from getting in, rather than out.

    3. If the Makers were at war with something, putting the highways underground could have two purposes. First, shielding them from ariel/orbital bombardment. Second, (different sort of war) providing a buffer in case Something Very Bad captures the other end (think Stargate SG-1, where the Gate is buried underground and has machine guns pointed at it 24/7)
     
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  8. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    Underground roads or tunnels...because the surface is too hostile. Atmosphere too toxic, something, where underground became safer, like worms our frogs don't do well in radiating intense sunlight.
     
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  9. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Here would be my solutions to your two questions:

    The girl can be nobody special, to give her an "everywoman" quality. She's just got a pure heart and has shown it over and over again. The AIs have been aware of every human being that's ever lived there and could understand them just fine, they just chose not to make contact. In astronomy, there is this problem called The Fermi Paradox, which basically states: since everything we know about earth life is everywhere in the universe, why can't we detect anyone else? One of the most commonly proposed solutions to the paradox is that they're completely aware of us, but they're waiting for humans to reach some technological or social milestone before making contact. How else would an AI determine if a species was ready to inherit vast amounts of knowledge.

    I would go with the trying to hide idea. Life won't exist near a neutron star, I won't go into the science too much, but sometimes they throw fits just like our star. But a neutron star's flare compared to a solar flare is like the difference between a match and a hydrogen bomb. The universe may or may not be very dangerous. Dr. Hawking and many others have urged caution with our own radio signals because it's never a good idea to broadcast your position if you don't know what kind of predators exist out there. This would also justify your previous civilization building weapons of mass destruction and maybe even why they are no more.
     
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  10. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    Maybe it happened accidentally. An earthquake opened up the tunnel and the young girl fell in. At the same time the AI malfunctioned, restarted and initiated some kind of factory-reset thing, re-configuring itself and now it accepts orders from the person who was present at that time (like when you set up your phone).

    To hide or to shield from something. Both are good reasons.

    In the other hand : do your characters need to know this? They don't know and try to figure it out. This could add an interesting subplot and throw some mystery to the mix.
     
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  11. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Great ideas. I'm still thinking on this and will keep you updated.
     
  12. Nidhogg
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    Nidhogg Member

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    How about the underground systems were made for a cultural reason as opposed to a functional one? For example, it could tie in to the alien's religious views, where they have to make their places of religious significance underground (kind of like how in medieval times the towers of churches had to be the tallest buildings in a city). It could also tie in with the idea of patterns that was mentioned earlier, with the patterning having some kind of cultural significance as well.
     

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