01 September 2009

The Problem with Proto Sapiens

Okay, hereabouts is where we have some... unforeseen issues with the story. To put the whole thing in perspective, this story was written around 1998, maybe even a little earlier. I kept picking the thing up and putting it down, forgetting it for months at a time before picking it back up again, but around the second or third picking up, well... 

Proto Sapiens are Grace's people. In short, they're humans who were abducted from earth thousands of years ago as a cheap (read: slave) labor force. By way of insurrection against or abandonment by their captors, these humans found themselves stranded on foreign worlds, often with distinctly different environments than earth's, causing them to adapt and develop in different ways. In the case of the Proto Sapiens (which, I'll admit, etymologically speaking, doesn't make that much sense, but it kind of sounds cool, so it remains the name), they're albino due to the cloud cover over venus. Because of the isolation from earth and incredible lengths of time following their departure, they've developed a completely new culture and language. The language is wherein the problem lies. 

It's strangely very difficult to write 'bad english' because at worst it's racist (against whom in this case I have no idea) and at best it sounds silly. Unfortunately, while I dodged the 'race' bullet, the 'silly' bullet was dead-on... and the bullet was a brick hurled at mach one... and the hospital bed I was left to recover upon was a pile of bricks with a moth-eaten sheet draped over it.... 

What happened was Phantom Menace. Specifically, what happened was Gungans. I had effectively and inadvertantly predicted the diction and speech patterns of the most annoying alien race in the history of science fiction. I guess at the time it just sounded better in my head, the way Grace's grandfather spoke, but when Boss Nass of Gunga City opened his donkey-lips, out came the exact voice I'd heard in my head when writing the scenes with Arthur and Callie meeting the Proto Sapiens and when Grace reveals she knows a little more english than previously let on. 

So then, the challenge in continuing where I left off (which is about one or two chapters after part six) is finding a way to pare down or tone back the 'badness' of Proto Sapien english. Worst case scenario, instead of actually writing out the rest of the story, I'll just pull a jerk-move and write a summary of the remaining plot. Hopefully, I won't have to. 

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