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writing themes

So, since my previous post that mentioned finally writing a bit of fanfic, I've banged out maybe another 15,000 words. Not in one grand work, but in several slice of life conversations meant to be part of multiple cycles. Not 'published' at all yet, since both the writing and the ideas themselves are subject to revision. But what attracts me to the fandom has become more obvious.

MGLN = Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the show title, so I can use 'Nanoha' less ambiguously.

1. Artificial beings and loyalty

I've always been intrigued by AIs, and one of the intriguing things has been the prospect of designed motivation, e.g. beings that *want* to serve, or don't mind dying. Whether you view this as part of a utopian future, dystopian recreation of slavery, or just an interesting ethical challenge, it's, um, interesting. And while most SF works have just some kind of robots, MGLN has multiple kinds of artificial being and possible mental origins, creating a nice diversity.

(For hard SF I've thought of mixing Lungfish/Saturn's Children brain-emulation robots as surrogate people with the purer "we built this" servant-robots of Chobits; I don't think I've ever seen that elsewhere: these robots are people, these robots are self-aware tools.)

2. Precocious Child Agency

While lots of kid/teen shows have this, and often a viewer feeling that the story would be way more plausible with 3 years added to everyone's age, MGLN stands out in my experience for having 9-10 year old characters. And while TOS has a 9 year old drafted by hard necessity, StrikerS has two 10 year olds as regular military members. Running off with this, and ideas of apprenticeship and superpowered kids and such, is interesting to me. Also ties into my interest in overprotective parenting, free-range parenting, et al. (Conversely, spending the last 6 weeks around actual 8 and 11 year olds was an interesting reality check of sorts.)

3. Immortality

Also a lifelong interest of mine. Actually not a huge theme in MGLN, but one set of characters is at least two millennia old, two other kind of artificial being have no obvious lifespan limit, and my favorite character has accelerated healing and could plausibly be ageless, though canon hasn't hinted at that. Still, there's enough for me to work with, not even mentioning the Artificial Mage implications, the transhumanist implications of which I was actually trying to defuse for one story cycle.

4. Telepathy

There's barely any mind-reading in this franchise, but any magical characters have the ability to communicate mentally over a vaguely limited range (or unlimited, for the millennials.) The show sometimes has "A is talking out loud, B and C are snarking mentally as she does so"; that social phenomenon fascinates me. It's like being able to pass notes in class, or text, all the time. The show, of course, has it easy; I'm interested in first person POV, which makes for a challenge: A has no direct way of knowing B and C are talking mentally, but might guess if they make odd reactions, or stall out in the middle of spoken conversation. Which is totally rude but I doubt the temptation could be always resisted. Fanfics which remember the characters can do this get a plus from me.

I was studying first-person books I like, more closely, to get writing tips, and I realized I've probably been influenced by the Vlad Taltos books, most of which have Vlad snarking mentally with his familiar, along with the occasional conversation with other humanoids. Except for Athyra, which has the third-person POV of a teenage peasant, who gets to observe Vlad and his familiars. Hmm, and I think Orca has Kiera's POV on them too. More to study!

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Damien Sullivan

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