ASH: Time Capsules #8 - Memoirs of a Kong (APE MONTH)

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Sun Jan 15 18:04:08 PST 2006

    //||  //^^\\  ||   ||   .|.   COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
   // ||  \\      ||   ||  --X---------------------------------------------
 //   ||      \\  ||   ||                 "Memoirs of a Kong"
//    ||  \\__//  ||   ||          Copyright 2006 by Dave Van Domelen

     [cover shows a cyborg gorilla chatting amiably with a talk show host]

     "So, Kaoru, what's on tonight's docket?" Caius asked as he flumphed down
on the common room's couch.  One of the advantages of having a housemate in
the history grad program was that he could dig up all sorts of weird
entertainment programs from the archives.
     "A grab bag," Kaoru turned on the main screen.  "I've been going through
the old modular talk shows of the 2030s again, I figured we could use the
promo segments to decide what oldies you want me to fire up the full versions
of next week."
     Janna clapped her hands.  "Excellent, K!  What host are we getting?"
     Kaoru smiled.  "None.  I actually managed to get the source clips this
time, with the generic vactor body.  I figured it'd make for a weirder
     There were sounds of agreement around the common room at this.  Modular
talk shows had been designed to plug in a virtual host that best fit the
viewer's demographics and preferences, then assemble a show out of
monologues, skits and promo segments that the viewer might like.  Not as
sophisticated as the AI vactors of the 2050s, but they had a certain rustic
     "Okay," Kaoru sat down next to Janna.  "First up is a plug from 2035,
for that classic of Badfilm, 'Raging Mad'.  Release runtime of one point
seven hours, director's cut two point two...."


     A humanoid silhouette behind a desk gestures to his right.  "Our next
guest is Joe Jung, writer and director of the new biopic, 'Raging Mad'!"
     The view switches to a curtain that is pulled open to reveal a cyborg
gorilla in expensively tailored evening attire, his metallic parts burnished
to a high sheen.  An unseen audience explodes into applause, while the band
strikes up a few bars of a highly retro Peter Gabriel song.
     The camera follows Joe as he crosses to the desk and takes a seat next
to it.  The chair creaks ominously, eliciting a chuckle from the audience.
     "So, Joe, whatcha know?" the host-surrogate asks.  
     "Well, I know my movie is going to be released this week," Joe smirks,
an expression that looks vaguely threatening on his simian face.
     "Ah, getting right down to business," the host chuckles.  "I hear this
is the first movie both written *and* directed by a non-human terran.  Is
that right?"
     Joe tries to look modest, but fails.  "A number of AIs have, of course,
written movies before, and some non-terrans like the Pranir Seeks-Better-
Lighting have directed, but as far as I know, I'm the first to both write and
direct, yes.  And I also did my own mocap after deciding that a vactor would
better portray my younger self than de-aging makeup."
     "A triple-threat, then.  I hear there was a romantic subplot as well,
but that it got cut from the final release version?"
     Joe nods regretfully.  "I felt it was rather powerful...of course, since
it happened to me in real life, I'm biased," he chuckles.  "But the movie was
running long, and interspecies romance didn't go over well with test
audiences.  Something had to give, and love's labor was lost."
     "Too bad," the host sympathizes.
     "Well, when the archival version is released in March, viewers will have
the option to see the full story as I envisioned it, if they so desire."
     "Great.  Let's go to the first clip, Joe.  Could you set it up for the
     "I'd be glad to.  This is actually the first scene of the movie, and
it's an action scene.  It takes place shortly after my uplift, and for a long
time it was among my earliest memories.  I'm fighting my way out of the
Khadamite Vivarium, and, well...roll it," he grins.

               *              *              *              *

     A small repair robot scuttled away as Joe approached.
     "It wasn't a threat, but I kept a wary eye on it," a voiceover droned,
"everything could be made into a threat, after all.  I'd been made into a
threat by the Technomancers, who had sent me into this place.  This
'Vivarium,' a place of life.  And death."
     Joe checked the telltales of his newly augmented arms again.  They
blinked green, full power.  Once again, he reached for the gun that wasn't at
his hip.  "Chipware taught me how to use guns, but they'd sent me in here
unarmed," the voiceover continued.  "To see how resourceful I was."
     Carefully rounding the corner of a building that looked like it had been
blown up repeatedly and rebuilt with no eye towards aesthetics, Joe broke
into a slightly awkward run, gaining quickly in confidence and grace as he
synched up properly with the metal legs that replaced the ones he had been
born with.
     He used his momentum to leap atop a wall.  This was a signal to the rest
of the creatures in the Vivarium to attack, slay whoever was bold or stupid
enough to make himself an obvious target.  A trio of plasma bolts streaked
towards him from different directions.  Joe evaded them all, then headed in
the direction of the least accurate blast.
     "I went in unarmed, but I wouldn't leave that way."
     Back at ground level, Joe smashed his way past a pair of figures that
looked like they might have been men once, but their arms had been replaced
by masses of steel tentacles.  He tore one loose and snapped it as a whip
ahead of him, clearing another lesser threat from the field.
     Then a wall burst apart, knocking Joe to the ground and revealing a
towering mass of squamous flesh and bony spines....

               *              *              *              *

     "Thrilling action," the host gushes.  "Now, you said it was one of your
earliest memories for a long time.  What changed that?"
     Joe shifts in his chair, setting off more creaking and more audience
tittering.  "Some self-improvement.  You see, humans aren't the only species
to have the Magene, although it's extremely rare outside of Homo Sapiens.  I
was born with it as well, my gift is intelligence.  For a gorilla, I was a
supergenius.  By human standards, I was about as clever as a C-student in
college.  A sober one," he adds, and the audience giggles.  "The upshot,
however, was that the procedure the Technomancers used on the Raging Mad
Mountain Gorillas presumed normal gorilla intelligence, and it didn't
interface properly with my brain.  It was years before I found out I even
*had* meaningful memories, and had my cybernetics adjusted by a mercenary
tinkerer to let me access my full potential."
     "This was when you broke away from Khadam, yes?"
     "Wouldn't you, if you came to remember what I recalled then?  How my
life was torn apart?"
     "True enough," the host nods.  "And I think we have a clip of that, and
it's part of one of the Full Immersiovision (TM) first person virtual
sequences.  Why did you decide to use Immersiovision?"
     Joe smirks faintly.  "I presume you're referring to the hazy, indistinct
quality of Immersiovision, as compared to more expensive later-generation
virtual envelopment technologies?  Well, budget was a concern, but I felt
that for scenes involving hazy, half-forgotten memories, it was actually more
fitting than, say, the VirtuReal or B-There processes."
     "Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, then?  Great.  Let's roll it.
And if you have an Immersiovision-compatible unit at home, you may want to
turn it on!"

               *              *              *              *

     The forest is silent.  The mist hanging about the trees is not enough to
explain the silence.  A danger is near.
     You look around.  You're alone.  This does not seem to bother you on its
own, though.  But this is a suspicious sort of alone.  You move as quietly as
you can through the understory of the mountain rainforest, flaring your
nostrils to take in the faintest scents.
     You see something wrong.
     The old silverback of the troupe is lying still on the ground.  Too
still.  Dead still.  But the silverback hasn't been sick, isn't that old yet.
And he isn't lying the way he always does when he's sleeping.
     You approach, and your eyes fix on a red tuft of fur on the end of a
shiny thing, sticking out between the shoulderblades of the silverback.  Is
it some sort of poisonous creature?
     You tap the red thing.  It's stuck into the silverback by some sort of
hard, sharp beak, but doesn't seem to be alive.  How strange.
     Something makes you whirl around, and a red blur passes just in front of
your face!
     You leap in the direction the red blur had come from, to smash the nest
of the things.  Something moves in the undergrowth, a panicked retreat.  It
comes into view.
     It was a skinny not-gorilla!  
     You have seen the not-gorillas before, a memory whispers, but have
always avoided them.  They had many strange things, dangerous things.  Tools.
Weapons.  This one holds a long black stick, but is just trying to point it
at you, not swing it.
     You reach out and grab the stick out of the not-gorilla's hands
with a sneer.  Something about this stick is different.  The not-gorillas
were not stupid, you know.  There must have been a good reason for just
pointing it.  You look at where on the stick the not-gorilla had held it, and
see a little side branch.  
     You point the stick at the not-gorilla, who is shouting now.  Warning
his troupe, probably.  These are invaders, and you have to stop them.  You
push on the side branch, but it snaps off.  You snarl.
     Then you feel a sharp sting on your leg.  You look down, and there is
another of those strange red things.  Then to the side, and there is another
not-gorilla with his own stick, pointed at you.
     The last thought that runs through your head as blackness reaches up to
engulf you is the realization that the red things must live in the sticks....

               *              *              *              *

     "Of course, it's what happened after I got my memories back that's the
*real* story," Joe confides.  "But if you want to see that, you'll have to
wait for the download to become available on December 12!"
     "I can't wait," the host replies with enthusiasm.  "Let's all give Joe
Jung a big hand!"
     The audience explodes with applause.
     The segment ends.


     "This can't have made back its investment," Janna opined.  There was
general agreement from the half dozen or so people in the room.
     "Oh, it was a total anchor," Kaoru nodded.  "But it ended up something
of a minor cult film in the 2060s, which is why I was able to find a copy.
So, wanna see the whole thing next week?"
     "Sure," Caius shrugged.  "I expect I have some sins I need to atone
     "Then we definitely need to see the cut romance plot," Denny smiled.
"I've seen some of those sins, and they need BIGTIME pay."


Author's Notes:

     January 2006 is Ape Month on RACC, ookie.

     A few terms got slung around that you might not be familiar with, or
that might be used slightly differently in 2035 than in real life.
     "Mocap" is short for motion capture, wherein an actor's movements are
recorded for use in animating a computer-generated character.  For instance,
Andy Serkis did mocap for King Kong and Gollum.
     "Vactors" are virtual actors.  Sometimes they're simply image skins over
a mocap frame, other times they're programmed with a library of mocap actions
which are strung together into a performance.  Library-based vactors are
useful for realtime computer animation or for making late changes, but tend
not to be as good as full mocap.  As implied in the opening, by 2050 a vactor
was actually an AI that could drive CG bodies, rather than a set of routines.
     "Uplift" is a generic term for procedures that take an animal of sub-
human intelligence and bring it up to (or near to) human intelligence.
Cybernetic brain boosters, genetic tampering, magic, whatever.


     For all the back issues, plus additional background information, art,
and more, go to !

     To discuss this issue or any others, either just hit "followup" to this
post, or check out our Yahoo discussion group, which can be found at !


More information about the racc mailing list