Saturday, May 10, 2008

A brief glimpse behind the curtain

David writes:
I also picked up a used hard copy of Headcrash a few months back. I stopped reading when I got to the proctopod...
At the risk of sounding smug; good. That's the effect I was going for. (Well, maybe not quite so strong. You really should pick it up again and finish reading the book.)

You see, one of the things I tried to do in Headcrash was restore a little "squirm value" to the idea of interfacing with the cybernetic world by shoving hardware inside of your body. Since everybody seems to have become pretty blasé at the prospect of interfaces that require sticking wires and chips inside your brain (despite the well-documented dangers of poking holes in the old dura mater), I thought, maybe if I approached it from the, so to speak, opposite angle...

That's a simple and often remarkably effective writer's trick. Sometimes, when you find yourself drifting into the Sea of Clichés, you can restore the emotional power of a idea merely by reversing the polarity. So in the case of Headcrash, instead of putting jacks in Jack's brain, I gave him the Sacroiliac Neural Induction Device, and David has kindly demonstrated the resulting effect.

Ergo, topic for discussion: can you think of other examples of stories where writers have taken a standard cliché, and by simply flipping the polarity, restored its emotive power and/or visceral effect?