Saturday, December 14, 2013

Novel Series 10: Changed

This novel marks a lot of firsts for me. It was the first novel based almost entirely on a song and was inspired by that song. If you go listen to "Pain Redefined" by Disturbed you'll get the guts of this novel. Especially with the lines "memories don't lie" and "I stand and fight. I'm not afraid to die." It's also the first short novel I've written clocking in at only 66K. And it's the first one where I tackled a whole ream of "political" issues as once: trans* struggle (not so much with Jayden, more so with Billy), monetary segregation between rich and poor, some racial segregation (there are rich black people in here but they're few and far between), society's views on men and women, and the can of worms that comes with genetically engineering "perfect" humans as opposed to letting nature take it's course.

With all that being said I'm sure I didn't touch on some of those issues as much as I wanted. This will likely be the first one I do a full read through and add a lot to. Also, this is one of the first where I had to go to the NaNo forums to ask people if it would seem insulting to trans* people. Some did find it offensive. Most didn't once I explained myself a bit better. I also have to add the point that it is possible for a male to female trans to get a working uterus. It's *almost* possible in this day so it should be in the future. Anyway, here we go:

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 66,456

Prompt: "Memories don't lie" - Pain Redefined by Disturbed.

Main Characters: Jordan, Jayden Sanderson, and Eric Sanderson

Minor Characters of Note: Billy, Bull, and Nadine

Summation: Jayden Sanderson, daughter of the ruler of the world, wakes up in a hospital with amnesia after surviving a brain surgery that should have killed her. The problem is that she feels like she is no longer Jayden Sanderson.

High Points: Um, Billy was a high point in general. There's always that one character that helps make a novel less depressing and he was it. Then I hurt him. Badly. Poor guy.

Low Points: The whole freaking thing. No really. I don't think there's a particularly nice thing about this novel.

The World: The future, obviously. But the gap between the rich and the poor has widened even more to create the Esteemed and the Shanties. The Esteemed are those with the "superior" genes: no genetic disorders, better body/face structure, stronger, smarter and faster. The Shanties are those who are genetically predisposed to diseases (anything from cancer to having a too big nose).
The Shanties people are tired of being at the dregs of society just because they're "inferior." They're tired of working in the mines, working in factories and not being able to eat every day, or live in a home that doesn't leak. They're tired of not having the latest tech or not being able to go to college just because they're Shanties. They're tired of living behind an electric fence, not getting medical care and being treated as dirt. They need a leader to replace the one who has gone missing. They find their leader in a completely unexpected place.
Also: there is a one-child per person ban on the ENTIRE world to control population. This becomes exceptionally important to the novel in later chapters.

Major Plot Twist: Jayden Sanderson and Jordan in a HUGE way.

Memorable Lines:

"Good. Continue with the procedure. We need her alive."

"It was an operation to cure you from that horrible malformation. You're healed now, at the expense of your memories it seems. Don't worry though: it won't be hard to help you remember who you are."

"It's really none of your business."

"That's the problem: I don't remember, in case you forgot."

"We're Esteemed. The cooks don't cook with things that would fatten us up. All those scrapes go to the Shanties, remember? I could survive on junk and not gain a pound. Even if I did I could get it scraped off, right? I mean, we can afford that?" (This is said with anger, not in a matter-of-fact way. It's meant to be insulting and tells you all about the segregation in one little block.)

That Jayden had looked happy to be female, relished in the attention her body got her and enjoyed being Esteemed. The Jayden she was now did not like dresses, skirts and was coming to the slow realization that she wanted to look more masculine. Jayden frowned when she comprehended that she was about to take part in another Esteemed cardinal sin.
The Esteemed were not enthusiastic about men who dressed too much like women or women who dressed too much like a man. There were distinctions between men and women that had to be followed and only those in the Shanties were stupid enough to question the gender they had been born with. Changing that gender went against God and that was not right.

Jayden stared at the blonde on the screen. The blond was wearing a white dress that bellowed out around the hips. Her hair was curled sweetly and there was a pink bow in her hair to match the pink sash around her waist. That Jayden, from six months ago according to the time stamp, looked like a precious doll.
The Jayden watching doll-Jayden was in a pair of formless white shorts, a baggy white tank and eating cheese chips straight from the bag. Doll-Jayden’s nails were perfect and her skin looked flawless. Watching-Jayden had chipped nails with bright orange junk stuck under them. Her skin was greasy from sweat and eating crappy food right now.

"You're an Esteemed and you hate the Shanties. You're supposed to be in dresses and skirts and attending meetings with me. I don't even want to take you because of how you are now. What is wrong with you?"

"In case you forgot: I have amnesia. I'm pretty sure those tumors did something to me or took something from me. You're not helping. Shouldn't you be more concerned?"

"I don't know anymore. I'm born-Esteemed, I think or something but that doesn't make sense. I know this place. I know you Bull."

"Guys, we can't just let her go without figuring out who she is. I mean, she knows us. Esteemed Jayden Sanderson knows us."

"Who's Jordan? I recognize the name but," Jayden started.
"He was our group leader. No, more than that. The people here in this city (the Shanties): they loved him. We loved him. He was the Golden Boy, you know? If you had a problem you went to Jordan and he'd fix it. Kids needed medicine and he'd go into the Esteemed places to swipe it. People needed food and he'd find a way to divert a hover car meant for the Esteemed here. He went in a few weeks ago and hasn't come back. I was supposed to go with him but I got sick. It's my fault he's gone." Bull said.

"Keep it (about a hover board Jayden buys for Bull). Unless you can outfit everyone here I'll be a target." Bull said.
"Sorry, I guess I forgot." Jayden muttered (she remembers after she tries to hand it to him that Shanties people will target their own if that person has better).
"You've got amnesia, I can't blame you." Bull returned.

"I don't really feel like a girl." Jayden said.
"Aw, I totally get it. I don't feel like a boy. Too bad we couldn't like, switch bodies." Billy said.

"It's okay here because well, we don't believe in God the way Esteemed people do. God is the final judgement of what we do, you know? So if it's wrong for me to want to be female when I was born a male, I'll take my punishment." Billy said.
Jayden blinked and nodded. The answer had come to her a moment after she had asked the question. Somehow she knew more about the Shanties life than the Esteemed life and it made no sense...

"Are you coming Bull or are you going to paw at the ground and wait for me?"

"You're not male. You're female through and through and always have been. You will always be too because my daughter is not getting a sex change. You'll be thrown into the Shanties for that."

"What makes us (Esteemed) better anyway? A few genes that give us brighter skin, bigger eyes, shiner hair, pouty lips, natural thinness, stronger bones and muscles all with less potential for disease? There are people in the Shanties who are just as,"

"I'm not Jayden Sanderson, am I?"

"I want to talk to her alone. She's my girlfriend and deserves the privacy to kick my ass if she wants it."

"I don't know whether to kiss you again or smack you."

"I'm always ready, dingbat." (Best nickname for your lover, ever, btw)

"I want the Shanties, no; I want all people to be able to live in unity. No fighting for food in the dirt, no choosing between paying an electric bill or feeding themselves, no dying from common colds, no forcing them into jobs they don’t want to do, no living in darkness because they can’t afford to turn on a damned light or can’t buy candles. I want people to have the ability to live to their full potential no matter what genes made them.” 

“The time of the Esteemed is over. The time for unity is beginning and if it takes a war to bring unity, equality, and life to all then so be it. I’ll stand and fight. I’m not afraid to die for my people, all people. If you agree that everyone should be able to reach their full potential no matter what genes made them or if they have “bad genes” then you’ll be in this new world. If you still think that the Shanties people are worthless, below you and don’t deserve to live proper lives then you will be eliminated. That is my promise and unlike the other people in the Sanderson family: I keep my promises.”

"You deserve your rest and I'll be here when you're awake again. Good night, dingbat."

"At least you're not crying."
"You know I don't cry."

Nothing needed to be said between them. They were Shanties. They were strong. Death was commonplace to them but this time Jordan knew what it truly meant.

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