Cheeseburger Gothic

Protocol ebook

Posted July 16, 2015 into The Dave by John Birmingham

Soul Full of Guns, the Karin ebook, was easy to write because it's a straight line through a series of action sequences and old spy movie tropes.

A Protocol for Monsters isn't. It's Emergence, but told from the PoV of the other guys. The Scooby Gang. So the narrative arc is set and familiar before you read it, but what's new is knowing what's happening both offstage and in the minds of Heath, Emmeline and Compton when they meet Dave.

Example?

This is from Heath's point of view, in the back of the SUV taking Dave from the hosptial to Area 6, the unnamed 'training base' where they run the super hero tests on him:

Hooper shied away from describing how he’d kill the things, saying he was hungry when Heath pressed the question.

‘I’m sorry, but I really have to eat,’ he whined, a strangely contrary tone coming out of such a large framed, rough-headed man. He looked to Heath like the sort of dumb ass cracker whose life had been on a steep downslope from the day he’d stopped playing high school football. And yet he was qualified engineer, so obviously not stupid. He was only about halfway gone to seed, and he had the sort of looks Heath could imagine might play well with cocktail waitresses of low repute.

Later, when Heath calls Compton and Emmeline on the Longreach to tell them about the ambush and Dave's unusual skill sets, Compton narrates the exchange, which gives us an insight into his relationship with Emmeline, while also filling in a little background on Dave, and Emmeline's first reaction to him:

Both of the scientists could hear the weariness and stress in Heath's voice, even through the encryption algorithms carrying his voice over the secure connection. Compton had taken over an office on the rig. Hooper’s in fact, from the name written on a piece of gaffer tape stuck to the door. If afforded him some privacy, and even some amusement at the disapproving look on Emmeline’s face as she took in the engineer’s unrivalled collection of pornography. Compton could tell part of her unusual mind was attempting to reconcile the fact of the centrefolds with the workplace harassment policies a large corporation was sure to have in place.

“I left a team behind to deal with local law enforcement," Heath explained "and Mister Hooper suggested a workable cover story.”

“So he’s not just pretty face,” Compton said.

“No, he also seems to be something of a pervert and a sexual harasser,” Emmeline said, still fixated on the wall art.

Bingo!

Compton pushed on, hiding a smug little victory smirk at having been able to read Ashbury so well. Once you understood her condition she was like a wind up toy.

The real challenge is humanising Compton, after having monsterised him in the second and third book. We are all the heroes of our own journeys and he's no different.

16 Responses to ‘Protocol ebook’

w from brisbane reckons...

Posted July 16, 2015
JB, those excerpts read superbly. Interesting concept. Using a monster plot that appeals somewhat to our eternal adolescent, plus laughs, but having a middle aged 'hero' who reminded me of a John Updike character. And then around that, accreting additional perceptive and diverse character writing. I think you are on to something here.

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Aaron reckons...

Posted July 16, 2015
Cool idea and glad you are filling in comptons motivations cause he was bordering in card board cut out character territory. I knew from experience that you take characters more seriously than that. I suspect compton may be a deciding factor in humanities fate in the end.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 16, 2015
I bet that in Compton's mind's eye he is Daniel Craig.

With a neck beard.

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Aaron has opinions thus...

Posted July 16, 2015
I would love to hear threshy refer to the scolari grymm as neck beards from now on!

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 16, 2015
Threshy's first PoV line in the next book:
Threshy sort of wished he'd eaten John Malkovich's brain.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted July 16, 2015
I wish the same thing for myself, but undoubtedly for different reasons.

GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted July 16, 2015

Is that a Malkovich RED brain or a PENQUINS of a MADAGASCAR type of brain?

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Nocturnalist asserts...

Posted July 16, 2015
We're all the same Malkovore under the skin, Paul.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted July 16, 2015
I don't want to be him. I just have this hunch that his brain would be good eatin' if properly prepared. And served with a good French Margaux. Preferably one from Bordeaux, although any will do in a pinch. I'm not picky about that sort of thing.

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted July 17, 2015
I think the easiest way to humanize Compton is to suggest that after years of adjunct work he was happy to have a hand in establishing the Human Terrain Teams, leveraging that into a position with OSTP. As someone who remembers his poverty a little too well, he works pretty diligently to make sure he doesn't go back there.

Which means most of the time, to everyone else, he is probably going to seem like a first class prick.

We had a Vice Chancellor until recently who very much reminded me of Compton. Someone finally got rid of him, but I'm told everything he did was with an eye towards protecting his position after years of poverty.

Rob puts forth...

Posted July 17, 2015
Had a guy like that at law school. He wrote one paper and made us study it. An exercise in obscurity. Prick got tenure 30 years ago with a mere honours degree and didn't do anything else. The faculty hated him , I was just the part time graphic designer and they used to moan to me about it.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted July 17, 2015
Before you judge me, please know that I've been working 16-20 hour days since the 29th of the last month. I am not prone to anxiety dreams, but I think I had one last night. I was in this business meeting from hell where I was trying to sell the idea of a song called "A Protocol for Monsters" sung to the tune of "The Politics of Dancing."

I woke up confused. I got the fact that the song titles coincidentally have the same foot and meter. But The Politics of Dancing is a terrible song. One of the worst from the 80's. "(We Don't Need This)Fascist Groove Thing" (Heaven17 1981) would have been a much better choice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV5dbcOmw6I

Therbs would have you know...

Posted July 17, 2015
I can imagine you Paul, in 1981, cutting a swathe through West Coast discotheques and offering young ladies wine spritzers. Grand times.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted July 17, 2015
In 1979 I rejected disco as "corporate music" and in '81 was slam dancing when the opportunity presented itself. But the young proto-goth ladies I was attempting to seduce did enjoy the occasional white wine cooler. So you got that part right.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted July 18, 2015
Bartles and Jaymes, if I remember correctly. Very sweet, but also very sad at the same time. In this instant moment of retrospect it appears to have been appropriate for that particular place and time.

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted July 17, 2015
No wonder Dave hated Compton , prick took his office. You just don't do that man. Prick was probably playing with his star wars action figures and wrecking his Barney motivational posters.

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