Schemes of the Reapers

I was supposed to be working on ‘Sideways to Zero’ earlier.

StZ is proving to be a rather tricky project. I like thinking about it. I have plans. I know roughly where the story ends. There are revelations to be made and surprises to be had. I like chatting about them with friends. Sometimes there’s even a real buzz of energy. I even have a couple of tweaks on how eezo works, that would arguably make it consistent with General Relativity (and a very nice, if rather diabolical, explanation for where the canonical theories come from).

Then I find myself sat in front of the keyboard, and …


Anyway, today’s procrastination took an unexpected turn. It came in the form of 4,000 or so words of something else entirely.

So here are the Schemes of the Reapers. Or one of their schemes, anyway.

I was toying around with what hypothetical ‘smart’ cuttlefish might do. I wasn’t at all impressed with the StarBrat in ME3, and honestly feel that there’s quite a bit of lost potential with the Reapers. Ideally, an encounter with the Reaper collective consciousness should come off something like (for instance) Peter Watts’s Blindsight. (If you haven’t encountered that novel, it’s somewhere along the lines of 1984-meets-hardcore-neuroscience. Elsewhere on the internet, I’ve seen it described as an indictment of consciousness. It is, and a scarily-effective one.) An exchange with the Reapers should be a philosophical gut-punch, a sort of existential crisis; instead StarBrat is just irritating. Plus also Synthesis makes zero scientific sense. (What does ‘add your energy to the beam’ even mean? The chemical energy of Shepard’s body? The equivalent mass-energy? The weak electrical fields associated with the brain? Or just shallow, cliché-driven writing? Plus, depending on your choices, you may have already conclusively-disproved StarBrat’s ‘eternal recurrence’ thesis.)

I don’t claim to bridge that gulf here. (Can it even be bridged at this stage? The well has been pretty thoroughly poisoned.) However, it was interesting to have a look at some ‘alternative’ possibilities for Reaper behaviour. I like the idea of scheming cuttlefish, plotting against the galaxy and moving their chess-pieces slowly across the board.

I had a lot of fun with this story; it fell onto the page pretty much in one go. I only had to make a few minor edits before I had something I was willing to post. It was fast, too. I began typing after lunch today, and I was basically done by dinner.

I may write some more; I have vague ideas for two more stories, and possibly a third one beyond. We shall see.

Now, back to ‘Sidways to Zero’…


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