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Story challenge - immortality

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  • Story challenge - immortality

    Here is a story challenge: posit that one or more people have been born "immortal" over the centuries. It should be a very rare condition. Imagine what such a character would be like. Write one story about this character's life that encapsulates some feature of the character. The story may be set in the past or the present.

    Ground rules: the immortality must be scientifically justified. NO MAGIC!

    Extra Credit: Metaphorically link this character to some event or inner compulsion that resembles a "curse" -- he or she should feel compelled to do something because of some experience or event.

    Extra Extra Credit: Make this curse resemble that of Melmoth the Wanderer in a metaphorical sense. Please, no deals with the devil. I wrote "metaphorical," not "literal."

    This is open to anyone. I've got a story of this sort in the works.

    LSN

  • #2
    Ho, LSN. I might try this, but am going to have to make you shake your head in concern for my literary welfare by confessing... I don't know what Melmoth's curse was. :roll:

    Scientifically justified immortality - mmmm... 8O

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Grey Mouser
      Ho, LSN. I might try this, but am going to have to make you shake your head in concern for my literary welfare by confessing... I don't know what Melmoth's curse was. :roll:

      Scientifically justified immortality - mmmm... 8O
      I'll explain in private e-mail, Mouser. Not everyone bothers to read 19th Century gothic novels. I just like the book by Maturin. I'm trying to talk Doc into giving it a try, too.

      For people who have not read Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, you might find it interesting. The structure of the book is maddeningly involuted, but hey, so are most of my sentences! :lol:

      LSN

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      • #4
        Re: Story challenge - immortality

        Originally posted by L_Stearns_Newburg
        NO MAGIC!
        good working title
        "A man is no man who cannot have a fried mackerel when he has set his mind on it; and more especially when he has money in his pocket to pay for it." - E.A. Poe's NICHOLAS DUNKS; OR, FRIED MACKEREL FOR DINNER

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        • #5
          Actually, the Mouser's concern about being unacquainted with Maturin's book is probably a common enough problem.

          Here's a quick summary of the issue which I pulled in from an intro to an edition from the University of Adelaide Library:

          ". . . Melmoth the Wanderer, half man, half devil, who has bartered away his soul for the glory of power and knowledge, and, repenting of his bargain, tries again and again to persuade some desperate human to change places with him— penetrates to the refuge of misery, the death chamber, even the madhouse, seeking one in such utter agony as to accept his help, and take his curse—but ever fails."

          The URL is http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au...arles/melmoth/

          LSN

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          • #6
            Thanks for the info LSN. Actually, having read your summary, I realise now that I was familiar with Melmoth's curse, but had forgotten, though I have not read the book.

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            • #7
              "How are you immortal," he asked, "magic?"
              The immortal sighed, "no, no magic."

              :D

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              • #8
                I think of this story idea as being speculative fiction, rather than fantasy or straight "science fiction."

                The story could be set in the present, the future, or the past.

                My own story is set during the Counter-Reformation.

                LSN

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                • #9
                  I dug out an old old story fragment about a character obsessed with the passing of time and his own impending death. I might be able to expand that fragment in the context of this theme.

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                  • #10
                    That sounds good, Mouser.

                    My own story appears to be the length of a nouvelle. It should take a while to write.

                    LSN

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                    • #11
                      I think the concept of immortality has become cliche in itself - living forever sounds exciting, but in practicality I suspect it would be rather boring. While being free of biological constraints and the fear of death, I have to wonder what the psychological implications of that would be, and whether it would make any difference at all to how people practically live their lives.

                      I suspect most people would simply go on with the dull routines of their everyday lives. Going to dull, unexciting jobs through force of habit, introverted types will always be an introvert etc.

                      First thing I thought about when I read this thread was about a Howard Hughes type, sitting alone in his hermetically sealed penthouse, slowly getting crazier and crazier.

                      Might be interesting to explore...
                      Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                      Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

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                      • #12
                        Of course "immortality" itself isn't an earth-shattering concept. The psychological effects are the whole source of interest: put some type of person in this situation, then see how it plays out.

                        Thomas M. Disch's "The Pressure of Time" and "Things Lost" are one possible line of attack. Norman Spinrad's attack in Bug Jack Barron is another. There are more. A lot depends on the nature of the immortal being you designate. He's by definition extraordinary because of this trait; does he have ANY other talents he explores through the years? Or is he a complete idiot? It is my opinion that if he's an idiot, he won't make it to a ripe old age, because he'll do the wrong thing and have his immortality ticket cancelled by an annoyed associate.

                        The HH angle is certainly one possible riff. You should feel free to give it a try. It's similar in some ways to one of the threads in Spinrad's book that I mentioned above.

                        I've got my own angle of attack figured out here, but I don't want to divulge it until the story is written.

                        LSN

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                        • #13
                          I've been toying with an approach to immortality for severaal years. I think it will meet your critera and I hope it will be interesting.

                          I have a few other things to finish and work has had me swamped (thus my relative silence the last two weeks), but it is in the works!
                          "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                          --Thomas a Kempis

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                          • #14
                            It is my thought that if we can reap a harvest of publishable stories from any of these "challenges," that they might be publishable roughly in the PX-1.2 or 1.3 time frame. So take your time and do the job the right way.

                            PX-1.1 is almost closed, dependent on whether that fellow who calls himself (doubtless with a Chicago accent) "Da Crow Seer" has decided to let us use his notorious Crosier Quartet. :lol:

                            Although I've not commented on the "Crosier Quartet" (he hasn't asked me), I have read it attentatively. I note with chagrin that I could not find a crosier anywhere in the stories! Perhaps it's only there symbolically?

                            LSN

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                            • #15
                              My own slant requires that I combine speculative fiction with some of the features of the historical novel or story. That's because I want to set it in a recognizable, non-fantasy past. This requires research to do the reconstruction, of course. It's an added complication.

                              LSN

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