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Is it possible to game the Arena to get superpowers?
December 19, 2014
3:59 pm
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PeterM
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I first thought of this when I re-read Spheres of Influence a couple months ago. I meant to post then but of course forgot. No idea what reminded me of it, but here I am.

Anyway. In Grand Central Arena, DuQuesne had occasion to think that his creators had tried to replicate some kind of dual-brain trick that would help protect him from mental attack. He was surprised that they seemed to have succeeded, at least to a point. In Spheres Of Influence, we see that the Monkey King can apparently actually talk to animals. There's no way that was due to a success by his creators. I assume it's beyond humanity's tech level, at the very least, and in any case I'd have expected the ability to be discovered while the King was still within our solar system, where there are many more animals than there are mind controllers.

So. My assumption is that the Arena is facilitating both of these superhuman abilities for any of a variety of reasons, ranging from a simple "They're supposed to be able to do this, so they can" up to "Well, that'd be cool as hell, so let's do it." The question becomes, would it be possible to make use of this effect?

We know that there are other Hyperion survivors, and that they're drawn from pop culture. What other super-powers are present among them that might be useful in the Arena? Even more interesting, to my mind, is what would happen if you ran a Hyperion-like project to raise someone who absolutely believes himself to be Superman, and then sent him to the Arena? Would he get the full range of super-powers? Some of them? None of them?

December 20, 2014
6:07 pm
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Ryk E. Spoor
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Peter: Given that these are questions relevant to the action in _Challenges of the Deeps_, the third Arenaverse novel, I must answer you as Xellos-Chan would: Sore wa HIMITSU desu! ^_^

December 27, 2014
1:29 am
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PeterM
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Okay, so that's interesting, to say the least. Even more interesting that DuQuesne is maybe the only person with a full understanding of the possibilities, since he'll be torn between wanting to help his friends and all of humanity and not wanting to exploit and endanger the Hyperion survivors. Or maybe worse, since humanity might well decide to build another Hyperion. Under better control this time, of course. What could possibly go wrong?

Did you ever identify the rest of the Hyperion people? I remember Clark was mentioned in the first book, and at first I thought it was Superman but I'm guessing it was actually Doc Savage. Sherlock Holmes and James T Kirk come up in the second book, but both are dead or at least out of the picture. I will point out that Kirk coming back from the dead would surprise no one, but I don't imagine you could throw him into the mix without causing a brief but spectacular legal explosion.

I'm re-reading Spheres of Influence now, and you also mention Herc, Gilbert and Velocity. I'm not sure if Herc is just some version of Hercules, and the others don't ring a bell at all. I'm guessing Velocity is an assumed name since he's a public(ish) figure. Given that he's a driver or pilot my only guess is Speed Racer, but I don't know if you're into him.

In related news, I'll give you a dollar if you bring in Ron Stoppable and Rufus. Honestly, I'd be ecstatic with just Rufus, though I understand that if you added in someone as competent as he is the Arena would simply pose no challenge.

December 28, 2014
1:00 am
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Ryk E. Spoor
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The rule was "only one Hyperion per fictional universe". So if there was a Kim, all the others were just AIs and virtual manifestations. So no Ron. 

 

"Velocity Celes" translates directly to "Speed Racer", yes. 

 

Make another Hyperion? Think about what that would entail; there's a reason it's a horrific lesson for the Solar System. Then tell me how it would help you, if your deduction about why they would have superpowers is correct. 

 

There were a thousand Hyperions, but all but about 20 were dead by the beginning of GCA; based on the ending of Spheres, that number appears to now be 15. Of the living ones, we know DuQuesne, Wu Kung, Kim/Oasis, and Maria-Susanna. 

 

Of the dead, we have had mentioned directly or indirectly Captain Kirk, Hercules (another composite like Wu), Sherlock Holmes, Clark "Doc" Savage, Gilbert Gosseyn (Van Vogt's Null-A series), Jim who was "not so slippery", thus Slippery Jim DiGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, D'Arbignal (from Jeff Getzin's Bryanae series), "Giles", "Johnny", and "Telzey". The latter is clearly Telzey Amberdon, the others could have several possible candidates. Plus a couple of original characters, such as Tarellimade Shantrakar. 

December 30, 2014
3:02 am
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PeterM
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I'd forgotten about the one-per-setting rule. I can see how that made sense both to the Hyperion creators and to you as the writer. And somehow I missed the reference to Slippery Jim! I feel shame. Several of the others I'm not familiar with, and of course all I know about the original characters is what was in the books. I think you handled that well, for what it's worth, a good mix of fandoms familiar to those of us in the 21st century and things that are in the past of the setting but new to the readers.

I don't think another Hyperion would be a good idea, myself, but I could definitely see others believing it's a great idea, or at least the lesser of two evils, what with the dangers of the Arena and the war with the Molothos. Just whip up some super-soldiers and make sure to condition them to be absolutely loyal to humanity as a whole. Or maybe just to the people in charge of the program. Even with the best intentions, it'd be an absolute nightmare, and it's hard to believe everyone involved would have the best of intentions from the get-go, let alone after the power starts corrupting them. I'm assuming that's a big reason everyone who's figured out what's going on wants very, very badly to keep it secret.

I'm not sure why the Hyperions have superpowers. Or rather, I'm not sure why the Arena is granting them superpowers. If it's just because they honestly believe themselves to have powers, that would seem to be relatively easy to exploit. You wouldn't even need to start up Hyperion again. Just brainwash some people into believing they have whatever powers you want and send them to the Arena. I don't think it's that simple, though. For one thing, that's just too easy and boring. For another, it seemed to work for DuQuesne even when he didn't believe he had powers. He was honestly surprised that he had some resistance to Amas-Garao's powers.

That means it's something special about the Hyperions. Maybe it's because the Arena knows their creators were trying to imbue them with abilities, or that they're fictional characters made real and it's decided to make them as real as possible. Maybe it's because there are many humans who know of these characters and "believe" in their powers. That one seems less likely to me because I can't imagine there are all that many Doc Smith fans in your setting, but what do I know? It strikes me that the reason the Arena is doing this is likely to be either very simple or very complex, but it's your book and you get to decide.

Just write fast, man.

December 30, 2014
10:15 pm
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Ryk E. Spoor
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PeterM said
I'd forgotten about the one-per-setting rule. I can see how that made sense both to the Hyperion creators and to you as the writer. And somehow I missed the reference to Slippery Jim! I feel shame. Several of the others I'm not familiar with, and of course all I know about the original characters is what was in the books. I think you handled that well, for what it's worth, a good mix of fandoms familiar to those of us in the 21st century and things that are in the past of the setting but new to the readers.

 

I tried to make it a broad mix of things that were reasonable and that included everything from the ancient to original stuff that presumably was popular in the interim centuries -- after our time, before the Hyperion time. The people of the GCAverse call the period from about 1950 through 2030 "The First Great Media Explosion", and about 1/3 of their material came from that era.

 

I don't think another Hyperion would be a good idea, myself, but I could definitely see others believing it's a great idea, or at least the lesser of two evils, what with the dangers of the Arena and the war with the Molothos. Just whip up some super-soldiers and make sure to condition them to be absolutely loyal to humanity as a whole. Or maybe just to the people in charge of the program. Even with the best intentions, it'd be an absolute nightmare, and it's hard to believe everyone involved would have the best of intentions from the get-go, let alone after the power starts corrupting them. I'm assuming that's a big reason everyone who's figured out what's going on wants very, very badly to keep it secret.

 

If it was as easy as just whipping up super-soldiers and conditioning them, the Molothos would have been doing that all along. It's mentioned by Orphan that no species can enhance themselves beyond a certain limit (proportionate, it's implied, to the natural capabilities of the species). 

 

I'm not sure why the Hyperions have superpowers. Or rather, I'm not sure why the Arena is granting them superpowers. If it's just because they honestly believe themselves to have powers, that would seem to be relatively easy to exploit. You wouldn't even need to start up Hyperion again. Just brainwash some people into believing they have whatever powers you want and send them to the Arena. I don't think it's that simple, though. For one thing, that's just too easy and boring. For another, it seemed to work for DuQuesne even when he didn't believe he had powers. He was honestly surprised that he had some resistance to Amas-Garao's powers.

That means it's something special about the Hyperions. Maybe it's because the Arena knows their creators were trying to imbue them with abilities, or that they're fictional characters made real and it's decided to make them as real as possible. Maybe it's because there are many humans who know of these characters and "believe" in their powers. That one seems less likely to me because I can't imagine there are all that many Doc Smith fans in your setting, but what do I know? It strikes me that the reason the Arena is doing this is likely to be either very simple or very complex, but it's your book and you get to decide.

 

It's actually very simple and straightforward, and implied by the rules that Orphan and others have explicated to them. And that simple explanation also shows why no one is EVER likely to duplicate it even if they KNOW how it happened.

Just write fast, man.

 

As fast as the time I get will let me!

January 4, 2015
6:06 pm
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PeterM
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Ryk E. Spoor said

 

It's actually very simple and straightforward, and implied by the rules that Orphan and others have explicated to them. And that simple explanation also shows why no one is EVER likely to duplicate it even if they KNOW how it happened.

You're gonna make me read the first book again to see if I can figure out what you mean, aren't you? Bah. Granted, there are worse fates.

Just write fast, man.

 

As fast as the time I get will let me!

 

That might not be fast enough. I did just buy half a dozen new ebooks from Barnes and Noble, though, and Brandon Sanderson's Firefight comes out tomorrow, so that buys you some time.

January 5, 2015
6:30 pm
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Ryk E. Spoor
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PeterM said

Ryk E. Spoor said
 

It's actually very simple and straightforward, and implied by the rules that Orphan and others have explicated to them. And that simple explanation also shows why no one is EVER likely to duplicate it even if they KNOW how it happened.

You're gonna make me read the first book again to see if I can figure out what you mean, aren't you? Bah. Granted, there are worse fates.

 

Might have to re-read Spheres, too; some of the key clues are in there as well.

 

Just write fast, man.

 

As fast as the time I get will let me!

 

That might not be fast enough. I did just buy half a dozen new ebooks from Barnes and Noble, though, and Brandon Sanderson's Firefight comes out tomorrow, so that buys you some time.

 

The wait will be a while; I haven't started on Challenges of the Deeps yet, as I have two other books ahead of it in the pipeline (Castaway Odyssey and Phoenix Ascendant).

January 17, 2015
9:32 am
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bmcage
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Ryk E. Spoor said
 

It's actually very simple and straightforward, and implied by the rules that Orphan and others have explicated to them. And that simple explanation also shows why no one is EVER likely to duplicate it even if they KNOW how it happened.

I suppose this can only mean it is an effect of emerging the first time and translating the abilities of a species to the Arena when the species transfers for the first time. Once that happened, they can improve only in a limited way on that as evidence by what Orphan said.

Would also have to reread in search for further clues. It does seem a species could leave their sphere empty and loose their rights, then re-emerge, and try again under a different more optimized form. Risky, but the gains could be enormous if superpowers are granted that way.

As a side not on those powers, I do wonder about the genetics of the hyperions. Would their children inherit something or not...

A pity to hear the next book still must be written, but great news it is contracted. Do make the love interests a bit more tangible ;-) With Laura, the Captain and K, and then 3 men (supposing Wu fits in with Sanzo gone), it is somewhat to complicated. As a reader, it's nice to have some hints who to root for, and I'm really flabbergasted as to which couples to choose from that set of 6. The fact the two men are the only couple at the moment is quite progressive though, but not something I connect with! From future people with long lives and AIWish, I would expect they are much more comfortable with casual relationships.

January 21, 2015
7:36 am
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Ryk E. Spoor
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bmcage said

Ryk E. Spoor said
 

It's actually very simple and straightforward, and implied by the rules that Orphan and others have explicated to them. And that simple explanation also shows why no one is EVER likely to duplicate it even if they KNOW how it happened.

I suppose this can only mean it is an effect of emerging the first time and translating the abilities of a species to the Arena when the species transfers for the first time. Once that happened, they can improve only in a limited way on that as evidence by what Orphan said.

 

Well, you have part of it, yes.

 

Would also have to reread in search for further clues. It does seem a species could leave their sphere empty and loose their rights, then re-emerge, and try again under a different more optimized form. Risky, but the gains could be enormous if superpowers are granted that way.

 

That part wouldn't work, or at least wouldn't work MUCH. Might give you a slight edge, but no more than, say, the Molothos already had when they arrived.

 

As a side not on those powers, I do wonder about the genetics of the hyperions. Would their children inherit something or not...

 

Unknown at this time, and one of the reasons DuQuesne's concerned about any relationship with a non-Hyperion. No idea as to how stable their genetics are or what the results of a union might be, since he doesn't know what the "designers" did, exactly. With Wu Kung it would seem even more a problem; he may have the DNA of more than one species in him. 

 

A pity to hear the next book still must be written, but great news it is contracted. Do make the love interests a bit more tangible ;-) With Laura, the Captain and K, and then 3 men (supposing Wu fits in with Sanzo gone), it is somewhat to complicated. As a reader, it's nice to have some hints who to root for, and I'm really flabbergasted as to which couples to choose from that set of 6. The fact the two men are the only couple at the moment is quite progressive though, but not something I connect with! From future people with long lives and AIWish, I would expect they are much more comfortable with casual relationships.

 

Laura? I presume you mean Laila? And are you leaving out Gabrielle and poor Maria-Susanna? :)

Resolving the Captain's Love Dodecahedron may not be doable, or might be, in the next book. I've already got a LOT of stuff I have to include in Challenges of the Deeps because Baen wants this to be a reasonable stopping point.

October 24, 2016
11:46 am
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So it looks like K is Kim Possible, then?

Because I've been very confused--I keep thinking Oasis Abrams should be the Hyperion mentality, from the Sluggy Freelance world especially because of the hairstyle description, but the novels have made it sound like K is the Hyperion....and whose body are they in? If Oasis Abrams is the Marine, then she suffered serious injuries in the fall of Hyperion. Did K somehow share her body? After all, text has indicated that Oasis is benefitting from not aging much and having improvements like the other Hyperions. On the other hand, there hasn't been any text (that I am aware of) that indicated you would download a persons mind into another person. I originally had thought that some sort of AI called K had downloaded into the Oasis body, and somehow managed to heal her (because in the confrontation in an earlier book sounded like it was happening over a com system), but that doesn't mesh with body improvements, I don't think.

 

Is there any chance we could get that clearly stated?

October 26, 2016
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Ryk E. Spoor
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Clearly stated? The exact process is described in _Spheres of Influence_; Oasis/K describes exactly what happened, and how it all came about. Oasis got caught and nearly killed by Fairchild, who was trying to move into her body to escape, and he'd done so much damage that Kim's only choice was to download Oasis' mind into her own. Then BOTH of them were able to escape Hyperion by posing as Oasis (with help from DuQuesne and Saul).

December 13, 2016
4:33 pm
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ZeroiaSD
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Of course, there's the easiest way to get powers:

Join the Shadeweavers and/or Faith.

December 13, 2016
7:56 pm
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Ryk E. Spoor
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ZeroiaSD said
Of course, there's the easiest way to get powers:
Join the Shadeweavers and/or Faith.  

True enough. Although in both cases your use of the powers, and the particular powers you get, are to one extent or another circumscribed by other people. One of the reasons both of them were VERY uncomfortable about Ariane; she had the power but no commitment or connection to either of the groups that normally keep the powers under control.

December 15, 2016
4:44 am
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ZeroiaSD
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Ryk E. Spoor said

True enough. Although in both cases your use of the powers, and the particular powers you get, are to one extent or another circumscribed by other people. One of the reasons both of them were VERY uncomfortable about Ariane; she had the power but no commitment or connection to either of the groups that normally keep the powers under control.  

 

I really wonder what their opinions would be if they found out about a certain denizen of the deeps...

December 15, 2016
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Ryk E. Spoor
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ZeroiaSD said

 

I really wonder what their opinions would be if they found out about a certain denizen of the deeps...  

 

Vindatri would scare the hell out of both groups for different reasons.

December 15, 2016
10:02 am
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kehcalb
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Ryk E. Spoor said
Clearly stated? The exact process is described in _Spheres of Influence_; Oasis/K describes exactly what happened, and how it all came about. Oasis got caught and nearly killed by Fairchild, who was trying to move into her body to escape, and he'd done so much damage that Kim's only choice was to download Oasis' mind into her own. Then BOTH of them were able to escape Hyperion by posing as Oasis (with help from DuQuesne and Saul).  

Thanks for that...and now I see that it is very clearly covered in the recap at the beginning of COTD. Nice recap.

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