18 July 2013

Got your Exoskeleton yet?

Greetings and salutations, dear bloggers and bloggettes!

Today I welcome you to yet another lesson in "You're Writing Sci-Fi but the Amazing Things You Think Up Already Exist". This is often the conundrum modern sci-fi authors face. There is an on-going race to out-think the current scientific discoveries and applications, trying to stay amazing and fantastic and futuristic. I'll never give up, however!

Case in point: My novel THE DREAM LAND Book III "Diaspora" has a plot line whereby a quadriplegic man in a wheelchair is about to be kidnapped by his buddies who wish to save him from his life in a prison hospital. Fair enough. How to do that, however, may cause some pause. I admit I paused. (I'm the sort of writer who doesn't really think ahead too far; I write myself into corners all the time, then have to go think of a way out.)

Step 1: Isolate him. Get him away from his wife and child who accompany him. Get him away from the eyes of the two agents monitoring him from a short distance.

Step 2: Load him and his wheelchair in a van, drive away.

Seems simple enough, right?

Wrench 1: They are in a zoo on a Saturday afternoon, a small but steady crowd of visitors milling about.

Wrench 2: The gate you had sawed the lock off of has had a new lock put on [expletive]!

I think it still may be do-able. How about you?

Random Act 1: Pushing him up the slope from one section of the zoo to enter a different section, the wheelchair gets away and rolls backward down the slope, crashing into the wall around the sea lion pool and tossing our quadriplegic friend head over heels into the pool. (Did not see that coming!)

Random Act 2: Wheelchair is busted from crash into sea lion pool. How are we going to move him out of the zoo and into the waiting van? Furthermore, he's all wet--what to do?

Here's where the wonders of interdimensional travel come into play--as they always do in THE DREAM LAND Trilogy!

Voila! Our protege has special equipment: an exoskeleton. What is an exoskeleton? Any accessory which enables a person to exceed normal degrees of strength, speed, and agility. You can see an early prototype: the Man Amplifier. In larger configurations, an exoskeleton is like a robot but with a human inside. The exoskeleton fits around the person. You may have seen them used in a military context (See Avatar, etc.) where the man inside can "walk" and "fight" using the machinery's superior strength. I thought it would be so cool to use an exoskeleton to get their friend out of the zoo. I thought I was being innovative, forward-thinking, and damn clever.

(In the film AVATAR, they were called an Amp Suit.)
Currently, you can see a similar exoskeleton example in the film Pacific Rim. In it, two operators operate from within what are essentially large robots. Nice idea--but I had it first! A lot of video games also make use of exoskeletons--but I don't play those games so how could I get the idea from them? Is it a case of great minds thinking alike? Seriously?

Alas, my exoskeleton already exists! And not just in other sci-fi productions. It is already used for various medical applications. That was my thinking. Seriously, I thought of it first. I mean, I thought of it before discovering it already exists. Please let me have some credit for the idea. Please?

See how the exoskeleton supports the body and legs of a disabled person? Also works well as modern art, conversation piece, or silent companion.

They already tried to take away my comet crash! So I made my book about what people do, how they deal with the coming event--rather than about the event itself. If this sort of thing keeps up I may even need to change the titles! It's maddening to be a sci-fi author! Maddening, I tell you! Maaaaddennnning!

The only thing left is the humble realization that, if worn correctly, the exoskeleton will enhance not detract from a person's appearance. (Yes, it's a silly picture. Yes, I know it's sexist but the female version picture was all that I could find. I'm sure well-muscled males would also look good wearing an exoskeleton. They will be all the rage in a fashion season coming near you! I can prove this when THE DREAM LAND becomes a Graphic Novel!)

Book III "Diaspora" is coming in late 2013!

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

1 comment:

  1. I want an exoskeleton! I take a plus size, so I may have to special order mine.

    I just saw something on "Through the Wormhole" with Morgan Freeman tonight, talking with Dr. Sankai, the Japanese inventor of HAL Robotic Exoskeletons.