Phrase it like one of those memes on Pinterest: That awkward moment when you want to use a movie quote in a blog post but worry that it would cause a storm of comments on the source/validity of the quote rather than the topic of the post, and you just don’t want to deal with the fannish controversy.
Oh, what the hell, quote it anyway:
“I’m half human… on my mother’s side.”
You may recognize that quote as something said by Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor in the Doctor Who television movie.
I’m not quoting it because of anything to do with Doctor Who, though. I’m quoting it because it fits
one of my imaginary friends the protagonist in some of my clone’s novels.
Y’see, when that movie was first aired, I’d already known Hrothgar Tebrey for more than a year. I’d known his father even longer. (And, gods help me, I’d known some of his other kin for… a while. But let’s not go into that. Let’s pretend that it wasn’t me being told about one of Tebrey’s latent psionic abilities that gave me the idea for the story that eventually became the Vesuvius sequence — you do know I’m talking about the planet, not the volcano, right? — in the middle of The Fallen. Wings and lightning…) So when I heard that line in the Doctor Who movie, it immediately reminded me of Tebrey (and, okay, maybe it reminded me of one or two other people, too — lookin’ at you, Jon Livingston), and I laughed more because of that association than because of what was happening with the Doctor.
Apparently it’s a big deal, and often rather traumatic, when someone finds out that one of their parents isn’t human. (Why, yes, I am wearing my Meteor Crater t-shirt as I’m typing this. Amusing coincidence, that.) I suppose for some people it would be rather traumatic to find out that one of their parents is human. (Both of mine are, and I’m still not over it.) It could be worse, though. Imagine finding out that you only have one biological parent because you were created in a lab. (Someone quoted that Yeats poem, and it set of the expected string of associations.) Or none. Imagine growing up absolutely certain that you’ve got an identical twin even though the people who are raising you keep insisting — very angrily — that you don’t have a twin, and then meeting that twin as a teenager, only to have them ripped from your life once more. (Actually, don’t imagine that.)
One of the items on a “Horror Movie Survival Guide” that I saw back in the 1990s said, “Don’t mess around with recombinant DNA unless you’re really sure of what you’re doing.”
I quote that one a lot, too, when I and my clone are working on certain parts of our stories.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining about the “rare dragon disease” retrovirus, and neither will the character(s) infected with it — eventually. (What’s weird is that this wasn’t my idea; my clone came up with it. “I hope he really likes his current girlfriend,” he said at the time, implying that the retrovirus is ever-so-slightly contagious through, um, close contact.) But really, spiking a friend’s drink with some kind of mad-scientist concoction to alter his DNA and fix his memory problems…? Fine, but ask next time! *shakes head*
One of the side-effects of the “rare dragon disease” is that it allows hybridization to occur where it would normally not be possible: infect a male and a female of different species with it, and they’ll be able to have offspring together, assuming they’d want to. (Yeah, well, the male in question doesn’t like his author discussing his sex life — which, I feel like pointing out, was nonexistent for a long time until quite recently.) This is because the source of the retrovirus is cross-fertile with basically everything.
…I just went searching for a quote — didn’t find it, damnit, which is annoying, especially considering it’s from a novel I just edited last summer — but found something else instead: According to what is already published (meaning it’s the truth unless we want to fall back on the “this character lies” excuse, which is possibly appropriate), all of the stuff that leads up to the protagonist of The Madness Engine existing in the first place hasn’t happened yet — in January of 2015, in this or closely similar universes.
[Drake said] “I had found this place in my travels. Ironically, I was seeking a place of peace. I settled down here. I liked it. I thought for a time that I could be happy here. I found a woman I loved, and it had been many years since that had happened. […] I did love her, even if she was mortal. I didn’t expect her to become pregnant, though. My people rarely produce offspring, but that makes them more precious to us. I loved that boy with all my heart. When I thought them both dead…” He stopped to get his voice under control. “I didn’t care anymore after that. I almost fell into darkness. I wanted my answers again. I went seeking knowledge, and I gave myself to it completely. I became a monk in a faraway place. I gave up my titles, my Realms, everything. I wanted nothing but oblivion. I got this instead.”
He’s leaving part of what happened out, of course. Not a bad thing, considering. Don’t want to scare the normals with too much information about the opposition. Let’s not tell them that he died before the “got this instead” happened, and that it was not an easy death.
It could be that Drake’s son was already around (it’s not as if Drake tells even his friends everything — Geoffrey could make snarky comments about that, but he won’t because he isn’t stupid), and only the latter part of what he tells about in the above quote is in the yet-to-come. In which case, it goes like this: Drake thinks that his wife and son are dead, so he goes off to meditate and stuff, but that doesn’t really work for him, and all of this reminds him of what happened to his own parents, so he decides to deal with his loss by hunting down and killing something Really Big and Ugly. Mongoose scenario, revised edition — now with even evil-er metaphorical snakes!
And speaking of messing around with recombinant DNA when you don’t really know what you’re doing (or when you think you do, but the situation is… not as orderly as you imagined), there’s the matter of a certain novel protagonist having, as people keep saying, genetic anomalies. So someone had the brilliant idea to attempt isolating the anomalous DNA and seeing what it coded for by itself. Bad Idea doesn’t even begin to cover this. Any bits of genetic code that are viable when separated from the rest of the DNA for whatever organism they came from… Yeah. Not something you want to meet in a dark alley –or a well-lit space station corridor, for that matter.
I am so looking forward to editing that scene (and the rest of the manuscript).