Workshop Episode 38 (Guest Host: Jerry Gordon)

The Roundtable Podcast, Workshop Episode 38, with Jerry Gordon and Dan Scholes Jerry Gordon – editor of anthologies and author of tales (check his “Coming Up” section below for all his awesomeness) – returns to the Big Chair at the Roundtable for an epic story workshop. Guest Writer, Dan Scholes, brings a scifi tale of a distant culture dominated by nanites that infect every aspect of society. Dan’s story becomes the foundation of one our most intriguing and in-depth workshop episodes. You’ll be raking in the literary gold like autumn leaves, friends… just hit that “play” button. (and then, to continue the bountiful harvest of writerly goodness, check out Jerry’s Showcase Episode!)

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Workshop Episode 38 (Guest Host: Jerry Gordon)

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

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Coming up for Jerry…




And from Dan Scholes…


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Comments (4)

So I’m going to riff on the nanites themselves. for quite a bit.

Let’s start with why are people injecting these foreign objects into their body. I know it helps them live longer and connect with tech, and they have done it for a thousand years, but why did they start in the first place and how did they convince people it was a good idea?

I think in the beginning, in order to convince everyone to accept nanite injections, they would need to be more than useful. They would have to be medically necessary. This is a nice planet with a pleasant and consistent climate. Why would they need nanites to live?

What if the “sun” were stronger? Brighter, with more radiation reaching the planet’s surface. The early colonists would develop skin cancer and cataract blindness by age 40. Then they need the nanites to handle the radiation.

Once injecting nanites become commonplace, then they might as well include other features like ‘wireless’ nanite transmitters and receivers.

As to why wait till age 16, maybe nanites don’t interact well with early puberty hormones.

Next you have talked about how most people are 15% nanite. So I wounder what is the difference between people with 15% and people with 30%? Are there different abilities, privileges, responsibilities, or expectations for people with higher nanite percentages?

With “wireless nanites” higher percentage would probably mean higher bandwidth. Maybe the nanites become sentient because they needed a certain threshold of processing power, which is only possible in higher percentages. Critical mass so to speak.

If you went with my “nanites regulating radiation” suggestion, then maybe people with higher percentages could withstand higher radiation levels, they aren’t blinded by bright lights, or they can even adjust their eyes for improved night vision.

Now for our Antagonist. I am going to go in an opposite direction from the panel suggestion. What if the Antagonist is 1% nanite? For whatever reason his/her body rejects the nanites, so almost none live in his/her body. The antagonist’s parents are big-wigs in the ministry so they fake the results of the antagonist’s ascension ceremony. They can’t let the other members of the ministry know their child is a 1 percenter. Now the antagonist needs to develop a “super nanite” which can survive in his/her body. Before injecting experimental nanites in his/her own body, the antagonist decides to experiment on others first.

Part of the reason I like “nanites regulating radiation” is because our protagonist is …
A lighting tech. What is radiation? It is a form of light.
So maybe his knowledge of lighting could inform what he is able to do with his nanites.

Thanks for taking some time and showing an interest in my story. I really like the idea about the nanites being medically necessary. After reading that I had an idea for an ancient, man made catastrophe wherein they damage the core of their planet thus reducing the magnetic field. Maybe the nanites replace older therapies to combat the planets excessive solar radiation, and the cybernetic stuff could be an even later development.

Thank You for the input, it’s really helped.

Love this idea. Can’t wait to read it!

One thing with why you might need to wait for 16 for the networking nanites: beyond just being a rite of passage, can you imagine having a bunch of small children screaming in your head? Not cool. One assumes that by 16 a person would have the social skills necessary to be plugged in to a giant neural network. Also, one can also easily imagine that much available stimulus not being very good for young minds.

Which brings me to the antagonist. Possibly he was given the networking nanites by mistake at a young age, and his brain just never quite recovered? Or maybe there are certain types of mental illnesses that the nanites can’t fix? Or maybe his body rejected them somehow, or his mind never was able to mesh with the network. Or maybe there is some danger of using the nanites, which the ministry has kept secret, which the antagonist found out about, and he’s not insane at all? Maybe he’s trying to save everyone else by either a) “waking” people up to the threat, b) by killing off specific people who are dangerous for some reason (ticking time bombs of one sort or another), c) trying to disrupt the ministry that is behind the nanites, d) trying to “fix” the nanites in order to avert the danger. You get the idea. There are a LOT of really fun possibilities!

I do want to see more with the ministry being involved in the story, beyond just being the vehicle for the nanites. Since Bryan wasn’t there to say it, I will: I REALLY want your antagonists to have good, sound reasons (at least in their own minds) for what they are doing. They believe they are the good guys. Maybe they even ARE the good guys, and your protaginist doesn’t realize it. Maybe there is a problem which the ministry and your antagonist are both trying to solve, but they fundamentally disagree about how to solve it. Maybe some of the mysterious deaths are actually being caused by the ministry as they attempt to solve the issue, so you have two different profiles of deaths to really confuse things. Which side will your protagonist choose? Or will he discover a third path?


The nanites themselves got short shrift in the discussion. What do they want? The picture I had was they had sentience.

It occurred to me that humans would have stopped biologically evolving after the invention of nanites. The nanites, however, would have been contiunously experimented upon and improved. Perhaps they have come to a point they no longer need humans as hosts.

Jerry pointed out something important; as Charley is 51% cyborg, he is less than half human. I think that would be a cause for a lot of reflection on his part. How will he know if his feelings/desires are his or the nanites?

You mentioned at the top of the show the nanites were the antagonist. I think that could work. Perhaps the suicides are a reflection of inter-nanite conflict; one party wants to continue to work with the humans, the other side says, bugger this, leave the meat-bags behind and let’s explore the stars.

Just some thoughts for you. This was a great show.

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