Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wolfe


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Post November 25, 2006, 05:08:24 PM

Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wolfe

Anyone who has read Bill's story in the first hour of the new issue's having gone online should give it another look. Some of the illos weren't finalized.

As of 4 PM, 11-25-2006 they were all fixed and working.

Many thanks go out to Bob Moriyama for his heroic effort to provide the interium illos for Bill's story.

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Post November 25, 2006, 10:45:28 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

I'm not going to say anything about pace, setting, dialog, etc. until I've seen it all…


I'd have to say that this is a downright, bone-chillingly creepy notion. I was awake for an hour the night after reading it, just pondering the possible ramifications to the Nightwatch universe.

This is an outstanding story idea. One so good and so difficult, in fact, that I wonder if it can be pulled off in less than 4 installments. I say that for a couple of reasons:

First, this one seems to be all intro, all set up for the real adventure in future stories. There's a fair effort in setting the stage, revealing Tom's character, his inner conflicts over helping Nightwatch. That shows Tom as a very self-aware individual, and that should help him realize what the telepaths are doing to him (thus, letting us know, too).

Second, the notion of a secret group, capable of controlling people and events against their will and without their knowledge… it's Matrix-esque. Tom (and Simon, if he can come around) either do the deed for these telepathic Illuminati and hunt down a powerful psychic boy whose already messing with lives at Nightwatch, or they fight against these telepaths.

The Nightwatch Institute isn't ready for this.

You can't tell a telepath by just looking at one. Melvin Squibb shouldn’t have a set of psychic shield watches they can wear (or Magneto's helmet, for that matter), and even if he did, people around them can be suddenly turned & fight against them (ala Matrix when the Smiths take over a body).

'Go find a psychic with amazing powers that can hide himself so well other psychics can't find him, and when you do, be careful because he might blow you up with a thought.'

Exactly how does one do that??

I suppose the easy way out would be to just say it's the out of place boy sitting in the café and let him be caught (so I really hope that's a decoy, or he's not so easy to catch). However, I have high hopes that this won't be the case, especially since this would be the cliffhanger episode for December, and cliffhangers need to be exciting.

So, if I'm right, Tom & crew will have to find the boy, maybe find out he's not so evil (from how much he fought against the 'bad thing'), and then stand up to the cabal. I can't see finishing that off and be believable in only one more story, unless it's about 45,000 words.

But then again, I have been wrong before.


I eagerly await the next installment.

Nate
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Post November 26, 2006, 01:58:08 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo



This is an outstanding story idea. One so good and so difficult, in fact, that I wonder if it can be pulled off in less than 4 installments.




Nate, Oh ye of little faith.  I am planning on only two installments and even the relative quickness of certain parts of the chase will provide insight into what they are dealing with in the Collective.

And I can't tell you how happy I am that you approve of the story idea.  Jeff and I did a little horsetrading as to what the true nature of the Collective. is all about.   And I have to say that the compromise not only helps the Nightwatch universe, it also makes the plot a lot more interesting and different from the X-Men/psiCorps/Psychic Friends Network® plots I've read in the past.  As with many stories, a little early arguing can make for a much stronger presentation.






You can't tell a telepath by just looking at one. Melvin Squibb shouldn’t have a set of psychic shield watches they can wear (or Magneto's helmet, for that matter), and even if he did, people around them can be suddenly turned & fight against them (ala Matrix when the Smiths take over a body).




Dang it, Jeff!  Nate's gone and ruined the whole premise of Part II!  Now we'll have to go with your idea about a trip to the Bat Cave for some Anti-Mindreading Bat Spray.   Stop the presses.  .  .time for a major rewrite!

Kidding aside, I don't think I made the psychics powerful enough to turn random folks into zombie fighter puppets.  I tried to show with Callow that even when they were being very heavy-handed in their mind control, they mostly just reinforce their agenda from a menu choice supplied by the individual who is being influenced.  Callow was still being his own, miserable self.  He was overjoyed at the immense cash influx but he still made sure that his people charged all their expenses to this account.  That wouldn't be so much as a consideration of an idea for the psychics who were watching him.





'Go find a psychic with amazing powers that can hide himself so well other psychics can't find him, and when you do, be careful because he might blow you up with a thought.'

Exactly how does one do that??



Oops, I guess I didn't do a sufficient job of explaining what happened in the Farsight® Institute.  And since I don't plan on revisiting that thread, I'll just go ahead and do what I should have done better the first time.

The two people in London were killed by an uncontrolled release of raw psychic power.  My psychics can't move objects or cause things to burst into flame, but electromagnetic fields are a different matter.  These folks were in a tight cubicle surrounded by (literally) tons of electronic equipment.  Everything around them exploded and burst into flame, burning fiercely as every conductive wire in every device and most metal in the area heated up to melting point in a matter of seconds.  That's what burned their bodies.  What killed them was an assault on their minds which caused their brains to.  .  .well, overload.  I never described what happened to the boys in the alley, except that they died.  My guess would be that they convulsed a few times and dropped over dead, bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose due to extreme hemorrhaging inside their heads.

What I thought was important in the scene was that the boy did this without any other psychics having any awareness of it.  The fact that Mrs. Farley managed to be so close to him as he allowed his bad thing to build put her inside the boy's mental shield—which he had presumably extended to the whole alley—when he did the terrible deed.

It was her re-transmission of events that every other psychic in the world detected.

And like I said, if I didn't portray that sufficiently in the story, itself, then I failed.



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Post November 26, 2006, 04:25:22 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

Nate, Oh ye of little faith. I am planning on only two installments and even the relative quickness of certain parts of the chase will provide insight into what they are dealing with in the Collective.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not pulling any punches when I see it.

And I can't tell you how happy I am that you approve of the story idea. Jeff and I did a little horsetrading as to what the true nature of the Collective. is all about. And I have to say that the compromise not only helps the Nightwatch universe, it also makes the plot a lot more interesting and different from the X-Men/psiCorps/Psychic Friends Network® plots I've read in the past. As with many stories, a little early arguing can make for a much stronger presentation.

It caught me from surprise. I never expected that direction, though I'm not sure why. Nightwatch has time travel, demons, parallel realities, aliens, ghosts, and home-grown, honest-to-goodness mad scientists. Psychics shouldn't have been a stretch.

I don't think I made the psychics powerful enough to turn random folks into zombie fighter puppets. I tried to show with Callow that even when they were being very heavy-handed in their mind control, they mostly just reinforce their agenda from a menu choice supplied by the individual who is being influenced. Callow was still being his own, miserable self. He was overjoyed at the immense cash influx but he still made sure that his people charged all their expenses to this account. That wouldn't be so much as a consideration of an idea for the psychics who were watching him.

Hmm. I dunno about that. As a department head, sure, budgets would matter to him, but apart from in Tinsel Rime where he wouldn't pay for Simon to fly to Chicago (but that was a part of the setup for Maria/Frost), I don't recall much interest in money. Perhaps I'm just forgetting it.

To me, these psychics seemed very powerful indeed. Even taking 'menu choices', as you put it, there are angry, crazy people all over the world. How hard would it be to push their buttons to want to blow themselves up next to Simon?

The two people in London were killed by an uncontrolled release of raw psychic power. My psychics can't move objects or cause things to burst into flame, but electromagnetic fields are a different matter. These folks were in a tight cubicle surrounded by (literally) tons of electronic equipment. Everything around them exploded and burst into flame, burning fiercely as every conductive wire in every device and most metal in the area heated up to melting point in a matter of seconds. That's what burned their bodies. What killed them was an assault on their minds which caused their brains to. . .well, overload. I never described what happened to the boys in the alley, except that they died. My guess would be that they convulsed a few times and dropped over dead, bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose due to extreme hemorrhaging inside their heads.

Bleeding from every extremity and dropping over dead is close enough to me to blowing up. It's still shocking, sudden, and damn nasty. Plus, hard to fight.

I'm curious as to why electromagnetic fields would be easier to manipulate than physical objects. Is there a scientific basis for that? (I figured if anybody here would know, it would be you.)

Nate
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Post November 26, 2006, 05:01:11 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

E = mc[sup]2[/sup]?

Assuming that psionic energy is at least to some degree electromagnetic, it could more easily affect other electromagnetic fields / flows than it could move / ignite / whatever solid matter that is, as the equation implies, equivalent to a ginormous whack of energy.

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Post November 27, 2006, 10:40:06 AM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

Nate,

As for budgets, I'm not going to put it in the story, but I figured the Collective gave Nightwatch about a billion dollars to do this little task for them.

Their funds would be virtually unlimited but one of the ways they get their seed money is to scan the minds of the big-time crooks like drug kingpins, presidents and finance ministers of third world countries and the occasional plumber.   They find out their 'secret' Swiss or Cayman Island bank account numbers, codes & passwords & such and then just write them down till later.

Then when these guys are killed by their bodyguards (and it needn't be anything the Collective had anything to do with) or arrested in a hole in the ground, etc.  . .they just transfer all the funds to their own accounts.

Talk about a victimless crime!  And besides, they are the ultimate inside traders.  .  .though I imagine they would have to watch that so as not to arouse too much suspicion.

As for how the psychics could affect electromagnetic fields.  .  .well.  .  .since all psychic phenomena are pure fluffery.  .  .they can do whatever the writer designs them to do.   I don't believe in any psychic abilities at all, but that is what makes it fun to play with.  

I think that things like ghosts and angels and demons and magic are either the rantings of crazy people or deliberate lies told either to get attention or to relieve the stupid of their excess income.  There is the possibility that some of this might  just be science that we don't yet understand.  It's probably a combination of all of these things.

So why not let the psychic energy manipulate electromagnetic fields?  The brain produces something similar to an EM field using very slow ionic transfer (not electricity, as most people think).  To me, it asks the reader to suspend disbelief less than using the mind to pick up cars and such.  And generally, the less suspension we ask for the better for all.  

There are certain things we know and things we don't.  It is important not to violate what is known—though Movie Sci-Fi does it all the time.  Mind powers and alternate dimensions and teleportation are wide open—as long as nothing you do violates what is known.

For instance, we had a story a few years back where someone using rockets exceeded the speed of light in normal space.   It would take the reaction mass equal to the mass of the universe to accelerate a few molecules of normal matter to the speed of light.  Period.  Simple physics.   And yet I had to argue the point (on the lettercol) with the author who tried to claim that he was some philosophical descendant of Galileo because science doesn't know everything.  

The truth is, you really can't exceed the speed of light with normal matter in normal space, you really can't break the sound barrier and no matter how strong his bionic arm may be, even the Six-Million-Dollar Man can't break a heavy chain by pulling down.  Why not the last one?  Well, because he'd do a one-armed chin-up before he broke the chain.    Duh.


The problem, always, is when the author tries to explain how.

I avoid that question, whenever possible.

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Post November 27, 2006, 11:42:35 AM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

...no matter how strong his bionic arm may be, even the Six-Million-Dollar Man can't break a heavy chain by pulling down.  Why not the last one?  Well, because he'd do a one-armed chin-up before he broke the chain.    Duh.

I avoid that question, whenever possible.

Bill


And he can't break it by pulling up, either, because either he would rupture his abdominal muscles (major hernia), crush a few vertebrae, crack his pelvis -- or tear his bionic arm off.

Viz. Martin Caidin's Cyborg novels (on which the TV series was based) for a much more realistic take on what bionic limbs could and couldn't do. Caidin's Austin has a devastating grip, can throw a lethal jab (most arm motion in the bionic elbow, and his hand has built-in cushioning and armor for that purpose), can run at sprint speeds for long periods (much lower oxygen requirements and no muscle fatigue from mid-thigh down). He can jump DOWN considerable distances and land on his feet without injury, but can't jump UP much further than normal (for one thing, he weighs about 50-100 pounds more than he looks like he does). But he can conceal weapons and tools INSIDE his arm and legs (and, in a pinch, in his eye). He'd have a helluva time getting through airport security these days.

Personally, I believe that some 'psi' phenomena are real. (Note: 'phenomena' is the plural of 'phenomenon'.) But it's easier to just call effects of that nature magic (hence Mr. Majius and company), because otherwise one might feel tempted to explain how it works.

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Post November 30, 2006, 08:03:45 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

I started this story and the beginning seems awesome. I'm just having trouble getting back to it due to finals in school, changing jobs at work and various other little things. Either way, I will be reading this one sooner or later.

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Post December 03, 2006, 06:20:01 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

What an excellent story so far! I agree with Nate on the creepiness factor. I also mused over the ramifications to the Nightwatch universe. Pandora’s Box is just a carton of stale crackers when compared with the Collective.

This seems to be the year of the secret societies. First, there was Prometheus. Now there’s the Collective. Are the conspiracy theorists correct? Is the world being fought over in the shadows, where strings are pulled and Presidents ascend and fall?

Aside from the concept, the prose is top-notch. Bill dangles the right amount of carrots to keep us engaged. He’s also fleshing out an underused character in Tom. I like the angle that our good psychiatrist is contemplating leaving Nightwatch, that he understands the perils of his job. It fits quite aptly with his persona.

Bill raised the bar exceedingly high for himself in this installment. Can he keep it up in the sequel? Time will tell...
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Post December 15, 2006, 02:44:34 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

Bill, I knew you could give me the shivvers, but with your writing?

This is excellent - I am so impressed and can't wait for more. This concept has so completely creeped me out that I am going back for another read.
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Post December 22, 2006, 10:36:45 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

Waiting for part two before I comment.



Waiting...


Waiting...


Waiting...
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Post May 15, 2008, 03:39:42 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

Waiting for part three...

... waiting...

... waiting...

... waiting...

... or am I just not looking in the right place?
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Post May 15, 2008, 06:08:16 PM

Re: Nightwatch Who Watches the Watchers by Bill Wo

It took Bill a little longer than he figured to finish up. It came out in July, but the series listing page wasn't updated.

Try here:
http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/serials ... odiet.html


I can't recall another Nightwatch after that. Perhaps Bill broke the mold. :)

Nate
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