End Book 2

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Well, I hope you folks have had as much pleasure reading Book 2 as I have writing it.

There won’t be anything new being written for at least a few days, as I go splurge on Legion of Nothing, and start playing around with edits, and really getting Symbiote lore straightened out (and visit relatives for Xmas).

So if you happen to see something continuity-wise that I’ve twisted up into knots, I’d greatly appreciate it if you would let me know. ((I will tag each chapter as complete if I think I’m done with it))

Just in case any of you Aussies are afraid I’m going to try to pretend to know Australia well enough to actually write a story based down there, don’t worry about it, most things are still going to be based in the States – I won’t embarrass myself by trying to write what I certainly don’t know, though I might have already stepped into it a bit.

Completed Status Report – doesn’t mean I won’t change it, just that I think I caught most of the ugliest problems:

Chapter 1.1 – lots of tense errors fixed.  I’m trying to align everything into past tense narration.  A few issues with descriptions of symbiotes fixed to bring them in line with where I want them to be after I’ve spent a couple months writing about them.

Chapter 1.2 – So many tense errors.  Thank you all for being so patient with me, I know they must have irritated at least some of you to a great degree.  Quite a few grammar mix-ups as well, found some of my “favorite” words that I used too much, and a couple bits of rewriting to bring symbiote lore into line.  I know I get better with tenses later but the first two chapters were terrible, and I know the next several will be bad too.

Chapter 1.3-1.4 – even more tense errors.  I hope I get past the chapters where I was having so much difficulty with tense soon, lol.

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  1. farmerbob1

    OK, off to drive a couple hundred miles so I can visit family for the holidays. I might find time to poke around and edit a bit more during the next few days, but probably not much.

  2. Togop

    Continuity-wise, there were some problems about when does the berserker protocol activate. Does it activate when one sees a drone, or does it activate on its own after a while? In either case, what possible reason did that alien or Star have to design the protocol to activate after a while?

    • farmerbob1

      Star didn’t want to implement the protocol on her children, she intentionally left loopholes and holes in it that would allow her to eventually subvert it with her shard and a bit of luck. Argoen was too focused on trying to get off Earth to box Star in with commands. Argoen had a much greater degree of dominance over her symbiote than humans do. Another thing that human hosted symbiotes can thank Star for, and that humans might be a bit less than thrilled about.

      • Togop

        Anyway, itbseems the protocol activates when they see a drone, or on its own in time. I know Star wanted to eventually remove the protocol, but implementing such activation rules doesn’t really help with that. The “see a drone” part doesn’t make sense from Argoen’s point of view – in time on its own would be enough for him – or from Star’s point of view as it doesn’t really help reverse engineer it.

        • farmerbob1

          The berserker protocol activates when they see a berserker/drone, or something that looks like one. How fast it takes effect is dependent on how long the symbiote and host have been in full synergy and how developed the symbiote and host are. Watching one of the ‘Alien’ movies would have a chance of setting off the berserker protocol. They are not even close to the same thing, but the superficial appearance of the black exoskeletons might set off the pattern recognition. Symbiotes will always gravitate to using carbon nanotubes and graphene because carbon is common, and there really are not many materials that can compare to it until you can start using highest order manufacturing to reprogram properties of matter. Even after that becomes possible, it’s never trivial, so carbon is heavily used by almost all symbiotes of all races, leading to black exoskeletons, since painting them will reduce heat transfer capabilities.

          Frank and Bob’s transformation started within minutes of seeing video of berserkers. But they never triggered the effect by seeing themselves in reflections while wearing armor.

          Star built holes all through the berserker protocol, but they were holes she could cover up in modeling when Argoen asked for how they would affect existing human symbiote pairs. All of the existing Project Boomerang human bonded symbiotes could be counted on to transform within a day or so, because they were exposed to Argoen and Star after Star infected them with the code. Argoen and Star were close enough to a human berserker’s appearance that seeing them after being infected with the protocol would have activated them, then they were imprisoned and later released.

          Argoen wasn’t stupid though, she required the protocol to be passed through the reproductive system, it also forced the humans to either kill off all the symbiotes or imprison them, which made their hosts potent individuals physically, but not able to do the crazy things with manufacturing and data manipulation that Frank can do. If Argoen died, she wanted to be absolutely certain that humans couldn’t restore symbiotes to full function and get their full potential. In fact that was one of the commands to Star, that humans would not be able to reverse the changes with any potential near term technology.

          I might have to do a Project Boomerang story at some point, documenting Argoen, Star, and the first symbiote human pairs.

          Remember that Star was thousands of years old. She was orders of magnitude more intelligent than Frank, who is still for all intents and purposes a child in comparison. Argoen’s race had a baseline intelligence much higher than humans, but compared to Star, Argoen ‘s intelligence was also childlike. Star knew the humans would betray them, and knew exactly what Argoen would do when presented with the betrayal. Her only worry was that Argoen might stop and think about it and use a few minutes time to box Star in with commands that she would have to follow, and Argoen was more than capable of that, so Star manipulated Argoen to prevent her from thinking about voicing the commands.

          I haven’t mentioned this already, but I figure this is a good place to mention it – the symbiotes were created by one of the few races capable of highest-order technological manufacturing on a large scale, and they were created specifically to allow their own race to engage in space travel, which can never be done efficiently at anything approaching light speed. Star knew this. She would be completely against anything that would kill her children, and almost as strongly against anything that would keep her children out of space.

          Wow this ended up being long, but fun. I’ll definitely have to refer back to it when doing rewrites.

          Basically, the long and short of the matter is that Argoen forced Star to do it, but Argoen wasn’t careful enough in her instructions to get the long term effect that she wanted Star to enforce. A symbiote thousands of years old is capable of dodging rules as well as any swords and sorcery demon, and any time Argoen asked about it, Star knew exactly how to make Argoen think she was getting exactly what she wanted.

          • Togop

            So, basically, you can ‘beat’ the berserker protocol by making sure nobody sees anything resembling a drone, perhaps by forcing everyone to use some high-tech filtering glasses, but such a solution is potentially too risky to actually implement it.

          • farmerbob1

            Problem is that symbiotes are driven towards efficiency. Once they reach synergy with their host they will, sooner than later, create some type of cooling tube system either in natural armor, or artificial armor (depending on the race they are hosted in). Even if it’s only for testing their limits, or as a last ditch system. With more than one symbiote around, they will eventually see each other in a way that will activate the berserker protocol. If there is some sort of high tech filter preventing them from seeing the real image of another symbiote, that’s going to drive them batty until they can get the real image. Telling a symbiote to sit in the corner and not think about a white elephant is NOT going to work – symbiotes are FAR worse than cats when it comes to curiosity.

  3. Carly

    Just want to say how much I’m enjoying your books! I powered through Book 1 in two days (finished yesterday) and just finished up Book 2. The last two nights I fell asleep thinking about what had happened so far and trying to imagine what might be next… and no, I haven’t really been that good at predicting the story line 🙂

    I’m so glad there are more for me to read – can’t wait to find out where the story is going!

  4. Bobby

    Hmm. Two plot-related things.

    First, if you ever do more substantial rewrites, I’d recommend dropping the thing about the Badass Old Man planning to earn money by challenging people. It’s kind of a dumb idea for people trying to stay incognito, it doesn’t really have any purpose in the story (except give Bob a reason to spar against Sifu Liu and show off his mad skillz to the readers, I guess), and it builds an expectation that the whole thing is actually going somewhere… which it apparently isn’t, since Bob stops being a wanderer before ever trying it out. It ends up feeling like a plot line that was abandoned without being finished.

    Second, I found it… pretty jarring, how anticlimactic the whole berserker thing ends up being. In book one, the berserker syndrome is Enemy #1, and all indications at the start of book two point to it still being the case, except with added the complications of relations between groups of human-symbiote pairs… because they have different ideas about what to do with the berserker syndrome. Except that, actually, the REAL plot is about the military trying to kill all symbiotes.

    Just to be clear, plot twists are awesome (done well, of course). Not giving your readers what they expect to read is… significantly less awesome. I don’t want to go watch a comedy only to realize it’s a tragedy. If someone tells me a book is about a group of heroes vanquishing a dark lord, I don’t want the heroes to spend the whole story dealing with politics and never getting within a hundred miles of the dark lord. And if I expect a serial to be all about trying to find a way to deal with the berserker syndrome, I find it pretty weird when finding the cure ends up being completely trivial and devoid of almost any kind of tension (build computer, scan, done), only for that to be replaced by some other problem.

    If I was your editor, I’d recommend splitting the two plots into different books. Make book 2 Bob VS The Berserkers, make finding the cure a bit more challenging, show us the Agency fighting the things so we get more involved emotionally (after all, we only ever actually see one berserker close up, at the end of book 1, before they essentially stop being a threat, which seems like a waste of some perfectly good antagonists), maybe show us the heart-wrenching consequences of the fight, like the failed experiments to duplicate Frank’s fix, or some innocent newly-synergized pair forced to imprison the symbiote half with much tears and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then have book 3 be Bob VS The U.S. Government.

    Or if you want the version of the advice that doesn’t involve completely rewriting… maybe just keep it in mind going forward? 😛

    • farmerbob1

      A lot of these things make a great deal of sense, and have been turning around in my skull for a while now, in different words, as I watch more lectures and guides by successful authors. I have mostly discarded the idea of publishing these books. If I do a rewrite, it will be a rewrite to the point where I might recycle names and relationships, but the plot, setting, and everything else would dramatically change.

      So, yes, I bounced around too much, and I know it. I went exploring from place to place and let the characters pull me off on little side adventures and twists. I do hope it is entertaining for readers, but I know for certain that it will drive some of you nuts. I know it a lot more now than I did when I was actually writing it 🙂

  5. murray

    Really enjoyed book two as well! It’s a little bit scary how often the US gov’t ends up being portrayed the way they do. Makes me wonder… Anyway, the only plot related question I had was: what ever happened to Bill?

  6. The One Demonn

    Hmmm, if something like this happened in real life, I don’t really think we (Australia) would do anything similar to what was done in the story… The reasons being, our government seems to be pretty damn inefficient and unorganised (especially now with all the bullshit that has gone on with our government the past few years). But I guess I could see our government doing this as we are a bit of a wildcard, but we seem to also be getting more influence from other countries laws and culture, ESPECIALLY from America, our health and education funding and support alone the past couple years has gone to shit compared to what it was a few years ago…. Well enough of the nasty stuff!

    Thanks for the awesome book so far! Will continue to read and hope you one day publish this (would love to read a paperback copy 😉 😉 haha). I noticed you published Benefactor, is there a reason you haven’t published this? Or are you still editing and polishing and plan to publish in the future?

    Thanks, Demon.

    • farmerbob1

      Thanks for reading! Benefactor is a short story, only 7500-ish words. It was easy to edit and a good way to get my feet wet in Amazon self publishing. Symbiote is, all told, 500k+ words. I’ve also written Reject Hero and Set in Stone.

      Set in Stone is my most recent project, and will be the first to be edited and published. I have not been editing recently though, as I’ve started a new career, and that’s eating up most of my time.

    • A Pear With legs

      So I get that I’m REALLY late, but something I still don’t get is are symbiotic self improvers? Do you just bypass the tech singularly theory, or Do they just take a really long time to learn their code enough to go singularity, but are still limited by the total processing power their host species joints can support?

      • farmerbob1

        Symbiotes are self improvers for certain. It’s a geometric curve. The more they learn, the faster they grow. There are bottlenecks from time to time as the experiments that they need to do grow in complexity and required power. That’s why one or two symbiotes in a planetary population tend to gravitate towards dominance. After achieving a dominant state, the “transcendant” symbiotes preserve the existence of themselves and their host race by restricting the “arms race” of other, lesser Symbiotes, while simultaneously providing help and mentorship. More on that in later books.

        Frank gambled his and Bob’s life in the struggle with the berserker code at the end of book 1, and got a massive boost to his computing power as a result, but I am not certain if I explained it yet, at this point in the storyline so I won’t go too much into detail. That computing power boost is why he catapulted above other Symbiotes in power, despite only being truly free to act for a limited amount of time after he and Bob reached synergy.

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