I'm hoping that there will be some more activity in this community soon. If the lack of posts by other members in anyway reflects a dissatisfaction in the way I've been handling things, please mention it so I can make changes.
In the meantime, I'd like to share a project I've been working on an off for a while, and I hope that by sharing this, others here will be willing to do a show-and-tell as well.
What I am Hoping To Achieve With This Work:
I have a problem with the fact that leads in action and science-fiction works are still male by a majority. It bothers me that gender, sexuality and ethnicity are largely still default choices determined by a character's role in the work. I don't think there's any evidence that people can only identify with or admire white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male lead characters. I'm interested in trying to replicate the diversity I see among the people I know without tokenising.
I'm intending that among other things (being a good story first) it will do a really solid job passing the Bechdel test through the main character's relationship with her sister, and other women she turns to for advice on how to deal with purely hypothetical situations relating to hypothetical laboratory accidents.
The Project: Attack of The Giant Rampaging Chameleons
It's a narrative that is told through illustrations and words, taking a similar form as James Gurney's Dinotopia series. This series started as a visual gag originally, a friend wanted a chameleon postcard and I decided a giant city destroying chameleon would be funny, because unlike a Godzilla rampage, a giant chameleon would be rampaging while swaying back and forward and pretending to be a leaf. Then it became this fairly silly story about Sun Ladnier; PhD, who really isn't a mad scientist, just a very over-committed one, who house-sits chameleons for a neighbour and works at the same R&D company where growth rays are being developed. And then the hot fire-fighters evacuate her building and her hotel room doesn't even have enough outlets for that many heat lamps, so they just come to work with her... until they out grow her little lab space. So then things get a little crazy for a while, she calls upon a hot fire-fighter because fire trucks have ladders and hoses with which to provide appropriate humidity for gigantic chameleons, or whatever.
Originally I was thinking about making the fire-fighter/romantic lead male because I love the cliché of hot fire-fighter dudes posing for calendars with suspenders and no shirt, but I'd like to explore the pansexuality of the main character, so the fire-fighter might wind up being a woman (or even gender-neutral), or I might even try writing this story as a choose-your-own adventure in which among the incidental things that change based on (seemingly at least) unrelated decisions are what fire-fighter Sun meets when they evacuate her from her apartment, Miss April/Mr May, etc.
I mostly consider it a story about not suffering in silence – when over-committed, when harbouring giant rampaging chameleons, etc., but it's also a romance. In the sense that James D. Macdonald on Absolute Write describes, in that every story can be considered a romance in the representations magical childhood weird science elements, as well as the rom-com aspect.
Show-and-Tell This is kind of just a short epistolary teaser I wrote for submission to a magazine a friend was working on.
One specimen made it as far as the rural wheat-belt. Local organic farmer Nira Yeats petitioned the Kansas Agricultural Department to allow her to keep it on as a biological defence against plagues of insects, birds “or anything else, including stray cows.”
The Rise and Fall of the Giant Rampaging Chameleons
TOPEKA, KA— At 1117 passengers aboard a commuter train exiting the metro underground were shocked by the huge silhouette arcing up over the traffic bridge beyond. It was the rounded back of a modern-made dinosaur, crenelated with scale-spikes up to six-inches in length, just visible in the sudden daylight. The scores of emergency alerts sent were the first of tens of thousands that would be received within the day, as monstrously large chameleons wreaked havoc throughout the city.
“We weren’t quite sure what it was — at first I thought it was an earthmover until I saw the outline of its horns,” said passenger Tifa White.
Prior to the development of guidelines for the Laboratory Care and Safety in Operation of Size Altering Devices (revised act), the chameleon rampage in Kansas on the 27th of July, 2068 was generally agreed to be the most curious incidence of giant rampaging fauna. While not the most destructive of city-wide rampages, it is remarkable for the romanticised drama it has come to represent.
Seventeen chameleons, owned by collector Jan Brenk, disrupted and destroyed city life for a day after being exposed to an accidental dose from Biaxal Corp.’s prototype “Type B-Organic Enlargement Transmogrifier” by Dr. Soleil Ladnier, which caused a rapid increase in their size.
“It was a sight I’ll never forget,” remarked one octogenarian. “All around, skyscraper rubble’s raining down, and this big blue bloke, he was just moving slowly around — swaying about in no particular hurry.”
The phenomenon caused zoologists to discuss the entrenched nature of animal behaviours that caused the chameleons to continue pretending to be leaves even when morphed to such scale as to cease to be at risk from any of their natural predators. Less happily discussed, was the damage left across the cityscape as a result of their traverses, estimated to have amassed a financial impact of $623 million. The rampage also resulted in an unexpected decline in the city’s pigeon population, which is still having an impact; with numbers still down 8% from population estimates of spring 2068.
Why has the chameleon rampage has become such a pop-culture fixation? Some analysts have drawn parallels with monsters of fiction. “It’s the difference with slow zombies as opposed to other monsters. While most of the creatures we typically fear strike quickly, the creeping horror of a slow-moving predator is something human-kind naturally fixates on. There is also the element that the chameleons to the end were not invulnerable monsters. Perhaps sensing that we’d rise against them, they continued their [then] incongruous attempts at camouflage,” said Dr. Kasper Hill, a professor of film studies at Edison University of Technology.
The subsequent disappearance of the Biaxial Corp. researcher identified as having been responsible for reckless conduct; Geneva born Soliel Ladnier (26), has only fuelled interest in the events. Especially virulent are the unsubstantiated rumours that some chameleons were not recaptured, including the urban legend of the “Purple-Horned Beast of Witchita”.
A spokesperson for the State Scientific Emergency Service (S.S.E.S) dismissed these rumours, stating that the idea that chameleon neo-megafauna could have evaded capture and documentation is “absolutely absurd.”
Three of the herpetiles reside at Meteor Zoological Park as part of the Monsters we Made display, but it is unlikely any others will be seen on exhibit due to the expense in creating the large, fully covered enclosures required to keep them (and their high velocity tongues) captive, and the Scientific Emergency Service’s continuing reluctance to allow public access to other specimens.
Scientific Disasters Quarterly,
Jensen Hald reporting.