Paratalk or Torque is where I take a paragraph, mostly at random, and talk about it however I wish. It’s an old column I’ve revived. It has fairly broad scope and could go on for ages. Let me know if you get bored, I may not listen though.
Today’s paragraph is from Chimera, the third book in the Parasitology series by Mira Grant. I love this series, I’m aware that some people don’t. Essentially, it’s a zombie apocalypse totally caused by mankind. It’s the sort of thing where you yell at scientists for continuing to experiment without thinking about what could go wrong. This paragraph is not entirely taken at random. It’s about one of my favourite characters. When I read book two and realised there was a chance he wouldn’t survive I conversed with Grant on Twitter and asked if he was in book one. Why? I’d read book two first then book one and finally book three.
“You’re a playable character, and I’m NPC support,” he said, “It’s obvious that we’ve just been through a major cutscene, and this is probably kicking off a pretty big question for you. We don’t need you to go first and get killed when it would just mean playing through the whole Kmart jumping sequence again. Although I guess there could have been an autosave somewhere in there.”
I mentioned above how this whole series is a zombie apocalypse. Well, this paragraph is spoken by Fishy, probably my favourite character in all three books. He’s been totally weirded out by the whole experience and his brain has flipped out completely. He’s still able to behave as if he’s reasonably rational, to the point of trying to protect Sal. The problem there is that he thinks he’s in a computer game. At one point he even says he can see it pixellating around the edges at times.
If you look at it from a game point of view then Sal is certainly the playable character, the one you can choose to play when you first enter the game. That would definitely put Fishy as an NPC, or Non- Playable Character, someone you have on the side to flesh out the scenes and play with. If this were a Star Trek series I’d be calling him a Red Shirt. You know, someone who gets killed before the end of the episode.
I had to look up a cutscene as I had no idea. I occasionally watch the videogame plays my DD watches on Youtube in order to stop the ironing be quite so boring. They don’t mention cutscenes at all. So, I looked it up. Essentially, it’s a scene that you might have to do multiple times if you don’t save but there is no interaction. And the Kmart jumping sequence Fishy refers to is shortly before they come through the door to relative safety. They’ve been inside the Kmart, have climbed up to the top of the shelving and then jumped from one to the other and then onwards in order to get to a place where things were a little safer.
I love the idea of an autosave in real life. There are so many times I’d love to have gone back to a previous save and redone the whole episode. Sadly, this is not possible and we have to just continue on with life. Sometimes getting things right and sometimes stuffing up so totally there’s no going back. What I love about writing is how you get to go back in and edit things until they’re as good as they can be. I’ve just joined a new writer’s group and it’s helping me get my manuscript written. I can now see the time when I’ll be able to down tools and start editing.
The other thought about this paragraph is how it illustrates how some people deal with the stresses in their lives. Some people disappear inside their own heads and need serious counselling in order to be able to cope. Fishy illustrates how it is possible to cope with everyday life while still being totally unhinged. There are several other references to Fishy and why his brain is working this way, but they’re a bit too graphic to put into a blog. Let me just say, this series is not for the faint hearted.
In case you want to look at the book, or even to buy it, here’s a link.