On Writing

Inspiration from… Science?!

Upgrade is more science-fiction than Night’s Favour, which had a contemporary, almost urban flavour.

Because of this, there’s some advanced tech I need to do various things.  I’ve been research fusion and fission like a mofo for the past wee while, but a few things need to be plain made up.  One of these is a technology whereby I need to be able to teach a language (let’s say English, for argument’s sake) to someone who’s never heard English or seen it written.  In my mind’s eye, I thought that this could be achieved in some far future state by use of a clever engineered virus + some sort of mechanism for storing the memory, but that’s about as far as I’d got.  It was a necessary plot device, but didn’t have supporting science, and I just hate that kind of thing.

Fancy: today, Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu have handed me exactly what I need.  They presented a talk at TEDxBoston regarding manually changing memory states in mice.  Now sure, these aren’t people, but they’re using freakin’ lasers to update the brain directly.  There’s talk of that nice engineered virus in there as well.  Now I have some plausible, albeit infant, science to wrap into my story.  The way it’s going to work now is: some nice person learns English (say) under the influence of the recorder, and that’s uplifted and presented in a coded way (via a virus, perhaps) to the recipient.  Recipient waits a bit for all the right bits to attach to the right places, and might drink some kind of solution that causes an internal bioluminescence in the brain.

It sounds awesome.  I want to try it out myself, right up to the engineered virus part.  It’s probably fair to say that I may need some kind of neurologist to consult on this so it doesn’t appear ridiculous, but this is at least a good basis for fact.

Thanks Steve and Xu, and thank you science.  See you tomorrow.