Issue 90 Creators’ Notes

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    • #9820

      This is a thread for the creators’ notes for Issue 90!

      Usually, we like to use the SSBB wiki to give authors and artists a chance to leave commentary, notes, links, and other useful information about their stories. However, since the wiki is down, this thread is intended as a temporary holding place for those things. Once the wiki is revived, any material left here will be transferred over there.

    • #9821
      Iron Eater

      Author’s notes for “Me, Myself, and I” (Iron Eater’s contribution to the April 2021 issue):

      I had two ideas when I went into this story and pretty much no clue what I’d do for a plot. The first of my guiding conceits was to design a non-human character based–extraordinarily loosely–on a particular Dark Souls 3 boss (the twin princes, for those curious), and the second was to write a story that used a lot of the same beats as most xenophile fiction, just this time with the HUMAN as the sexy alien and a sense of assumed familiarity on the part of the narrator’s audience. No need for Zinc to explain himself if the person to whom he’s speaking is either the same species he is, or at least very familiar with them! This also meant I could depict humanity from an outsider’s POV and really focus on humanity’s objectively unusual traits. I also was able to pick and choose what sensory details Zinc would notice most; if scent wasn’t so important to my Rhoanish stories it would’ve featured more than it does already, but I figured colors and patterns divorced from how we’re used to thinking of them would do the trick. Zinc is honestly a bit face-blind when it comes to humans with similar pigmentation since his own species has very samey facial features.

      Zinc’s species is intentionally unnamed; the scientific classiciation Yousef mentions is derived from Geryon, the three-bodied giant of Hellenistic myth. I’m not entirely sure how he spreads one consciousness between three bodies, just that it works. His aladryy can go over a mile or so from his other bodies without trouble, whereas if he’s completely separated his awareness defaults to the ral since it contains his actual brain; the others would be essentially comatose, though capable of breathing, digesting food, etc., so it’s possible to keep a body alive and relatively healthy by hooking it up to an IV until the rest of the individual can be returned to it. If one body dies (even the ral!) this isn’t a guaranteed death sentence for the individual, though it requires a great deal of medical technology and ongoing care afterwards. Prosthetic bodies are possible but still heavily being researched.

      In more mundane xenobiology news, all three of Zinc’s bodies work from the same base pool of calories, and while all of them possess organs analogous to the kidneys and liver the aladryy is best at filtration. The “chemical membranes” on his body allow nutrients and fluids to circulate from biomass to biomass; these are found on the back of the aladryy, the front of the sudai, and both sides of the ral, and it’s possible (if uncomfortable) for an aladryy to be attached to the ral’s dorsal furrow or the sudai to end up face-to-face with the ral. The “frills” he mentions frequently are arranged right along his hairline in three sets of two and loosely resemble axolotl gills, though they’re used for sensory intake instead of respiration. His tails (each body has one) all end in loose fronds of flexible tissue like parts of a tube worm; the sudai and ral both have the spine extend into theirs, while the aladryy’s tail is made from a peacock’s train of tissue usually kept wrapped around itself. The PURPOSE of these frills is to filter diatoms and other microscopic life from water sources; a “spa day” for a member of Zinc’s species often involves sharing a pool filled with enriched water with other people’s aladryys, each facing outwards from the pool with their tails unfurled to drift in the water.

      I could go on, but I’d essentially be making a Zoobooks entry by then and there’s only so many hours in a day. Can you tell I had fun working with some pure sci-fi logic?

      Originally I planned for this to remain a light comedy throughout. As with all plans, things evolved during the writing process. Exploring how Yousef, an inherently sexual person, would be willing to make major life changes based on what he needs in the here and now was fascinating, and I wanted to make sure he possessed sufficient agency in the plot without being the ACTUAL main character who does all the growing. He’s clever, charming, and keen on setting clear boundaries for himself while respecting others’; I wanted it to be obvious why a shy homebody like Zinc would come so far out of his shell despite a long-standing concern about humans! Yousef being able to be vulnerable with Zinc, and Zinc in turn being willing to step outside his comfort zone to offer aid to someone about whom he’d come to care, were both far more complicated concepts than I’d expected, but I think it was worth that extra investment in the end.

      For every thoroughly silly fanfic conceit out there there should be at least a few attempts to take it at face value, so this is the closest I think I’ll ever come to a sex-pollen story. Hope you fans of the trope enjoy what I did with it!

    • #9822
      juou no zan

      author’s notes for “My heat was triggered by my fandom nemesis?!?!” by juou no zan

      As both a Certified Transgender and a noted speculative gender system enthusiast, I have long been annoyed and puzzled by the way omegaverse stories handle gender. Like, it makes little to no sense. I understand the origins, but the more divorced from the werewolf porn it gets, the less understandable certain decisions are.

      So here’s my attempt to make it at least kind of biologically plausible. I’m assuming babies are still assigned genders based on genital appearance, which gives us three groups: Definitely Male (alpha or beta), Definitely Female (betas only) and “Either female alpha or omega”, which you would not necessarily know until presentation (early or middle puberty?) I assume there are genetic factors at play so you could probably like…do a calculation about which one is more likely but I thought more about the social factors than the genetic ones.

      After presentation then, we have three groups, which are not the same, or five, which are related to the above classification. Folks who can impregnate people (alphas, beta men), and folks who can become pregnant ([cis] women), and the folks that can do both (omegas and alpha women). Probably for this to make sense omegas can only impregnate people under certain circumstances, or maybe only other omegas? Which invites its own speculative spin-off about–wait fuck, I think I’ve just reinvented the Left Hand of Darkness. Well whatever.

      Or there are five groups, which are alpha men, alpha women, beta men, beta women, and omegas, but given there is overlap between “things men can do” and “things women can do” I think the three groups make more sense.
      I’m assuming the heat/rut cycle of alphas and omegas is mostly a fertility thing. I guess knotting must be too, but don’t ask me how or why it would evolve in a three gender primate; I included it specifically for the inherent hijinks of being physically connected to your fandom nemesis.

      Finally, although I am trans, I am also perisex, so hopefully I have not, in my speculative gender system building, hit unintentionally on any tropes that are intersexist. I was considering visibly intersex bodies as a more sensible interpretation of the omega gender, but definitely from the perspective of a perisex trans person. This is slightly less than complete wish-fulfillment, but acting like my own aesthetic and functional preferences as someone actively modding my sex hormones and thus, sexual function, didn’t come into it at all would probably be dishonest. Like, I could tell you this was all specific worldbuilding purposeful stuff, but to quote the philosopher Marge Simpson, I just think they’re neat.

      I mean, it was also my solution to the extremely big problem (imo) of. You know. Assbabies. Like, are rectal births a thing? Sure. Are they great for the baby or the person giving birth? Not really! Not to mention the “solutions” I’ve read to uh…where the heck the baby gestates didn’t seem very….good. Thus, omegas that are more modeled off of irl intersex people (and existing non-human hermaphroditic life) than cis men who are somehow able to conceive and carry babies.

      Oh also I hate that trans people are rarely included in omegaverse stuff even when it veers into the same gender navel-gazing and “cross-dressing” shit that is our jam. Which is why Valera even exists! I just took this trope I usually hate and shoved my whole id in there. You’re welcome.

      On a non-omegaverse note, I assume this story derives from the fact that I just read Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System and also how I’ve spent the last six months attempting to be more social, which during a pandemic meant doing a lot of online socializing. More than that, I could not tell you, because my brain assaulted me with this entire outline one night while I was trying to sleep, like, hey, wouldn’t this be funny? Yes, brain, it was, but some of us had classes in the morning. But it also meant I wrote the whole thing in like a month, which was a little nicer than my usual “start a story, sit on it for six months to six years, and finish it…eventually” process.

    • #9840
      Togi Kayako

      Anywhere I Wander by Togi Kayako

      || Author’s notes
      This is actually my third attempt at a story for this issue. The other two grew out of control (which seems oddly appropriate for a sci-fi theme!) and were probably going to need to be well over 25,000 words if I was going to do them justice. I’m hoping one of them may yet see the light of day in December.

      My initial idea for this included actual porn being projected onto the screen with the shadows over the top, but I scrapped that for a bunch of reasons. Thus, the projector is broken. :) The idea initially leaned more toward the smut, but then it caught feelings (and a sort of vague Wild West vibe) and here we are! Thanks to Emm and Sam for beta reading.

      || Trivia:
      – The compound (a former drive-in theater) is based on the Starlight Drive In from Fallout 4 and the title comes from a Fallout New Vegas quest. I was also considering “I Could Make You Care” because it’s a better quest, but I think this makes a better title.
      – Despite this, the apocalypse is probably not the same as the Fallout universe’s. Massive climate change and some rampant, irresponsible genetic tinkering have happened on top of whatever other disasters there might’ve been.
      – Dee’s scales, and probably a lot of other folks’ unusual skin/coloration patterns, probably run along Blaschko’s lines.
      – The part-animal folks who use single-syllable names is stolen from an old NaNoWriMo project of mine, though it was fantasy rather than vaguely sci-fi. Everyone has longer names, but they’re considered very personal to share (and in the fantasy version, magically powerful as well)
      – I left exactly how animal-featured these folks are ambiguous, so free free to imagine anywhere from “decorative animal touches” to “definitely a furry” however the spirit moves you.

    • #9880

      author’s notes for “Rule 63” (by shukyou)

      According to the font of all knowledge (read: Wikipedia), “Rule 63 is an Internet meme that states that, as a rule, ‘for every given female character, there is a male version of that character’ and vice versa.” If you knew that already, you knew where this story was going from the get-go. If you didn’t, well, perhaps the title is less of a mystery now.

      This was originally supposed to be an outright comedy, but the comedy fought me, and man, when comedy fights you, don’t fight back. Instead, it became a more serious meditation on both gender and finding someone who understands you (even in ways you wish they wouldn’t).

      This is the third story I’ve done with Tamago, and I continue to be blown away every time by how much the animations can add. That small sense of movement is just breathtaking.

      • This reply was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by W2. Reason: stupid HTML
    • #9883
      The Winter Cynic

      Artist’s notes for Wildlife Conservation Efforts by The Winter Cynic

      I really struggled with this theme because though my kinkmari ball is vast and varied, Science is really not a kink I had assimilated. But through some gentle prodding, I found that objectification is definitely an alternative! The art takes place in a universe where cat people are rare and endangered so humans are trying their best to keep this species afloat.

      Subject No.1 is a domesticated, lab-raised catboy, whose coloring is based on a Calico cat, for a little gender moment. He’s got the parts to help their species propagate; his pronouns are he/him. No.1 is energetic, enthusiastic, and has way too much energy thanks to a carefully regulated daily regimen.

      Subject No.2 is a wild cat, based on a lion of unspecific origin. He’s lived a rough life and has evaded many attempts at capture, but you can only outrun really dedicated scientists for so long. No.2 is, indeed, causing that little belly bump. Sadly, because he’s a predator who is just adjusting to life in the lab, he does not have that much energy.

      Even though they are human shaped to us, the audience, whether they are actually human shaped to the scientists is quite open for interpretation. But these two cats can definitely communicate with each other! And unfortunately, No.1 is communicating that he does not understand why No.2 is worn out by a few rounds on the breeding bed.

      As always, I want to thank SSBB for allowing me to live my fantasy of being a yaoi mangaka, complete with an omake.

    • #9887

      author’s notes for “Dead Man’s Switch”, by Shirozubon Saruko:

      If by some chance you’re familiar with it, it should be clear that the basic premise of this story was lifted directly from the 1997 The Outer Limits episode of same name. I’ve gone in some very different directions with the details, however. Still, I owe a shout out to the original, which has lived in my brain rent-free for almost fifteen years now. Thanks for being just not horny enough, Dead Man’s Switch 1.0!

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