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Old 02-21-2012, 07:08 PM   #1
Steven Lake
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The Sparrow Syndrome - Idea Feedback Requested

Hi again everyone. Long time, no see. Sorry I've been so awol lately, but between taking care of my mom, writing, movie stuff (yeah, I'm actually crew on a movie, believe it or not), web development and other exploits, I've been crazy, crazy busy. But anyhow, during that time I've been able to finish a previous work in progress and have considered adding another book to my "to do" list. This is what I came up with. It's called "The Sparrow Syndrome" and is sort of an apocalyptic thriller with a rather interesting sci-fi twist.

If you're curious about the currently tentative title, it's actually a pun built from the character of Jack Sparrow and the adventure to the fountain of youth in the 4th POTC film. But the story isn't about pirates. It's about a really weird super bug that does some things most people wouldn't think of, or even consider possible. So, anyhow, here's my initial rough plot summary. The final story may diverge 100% from this in the end (no rough plot summary ever survives the first draft. lol), but this is what I'll be starting with. Anyhow, here's the initial rough plot summary.
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The story is about a bug created in a secret billionaire's lab. It's designed to make him eternally youthful with perfect health. However, it backfires. But not completely. It's a contagious disease that gives perfect health, looks, incredible intelligence and extremely long life to some who are infected with it. Others it kills in the most gruesome and horrible way possible. The methods by which the disease selects who will die and who will live is indiscriminate, and doctors race to find a cure. However, some don't want them to find a cure. They like the idea that only "the elect" are preserved and made perfect, and "those of lesser birth" are weeded out.

In total the disease takes out about 70% of the earth's population over a two year period before the disease runs its course. (ie, everyone's been infected) Those that are left divide up the world into little fiefdoms and restart the world anew. However, as a side effect of the bug, everyone's rendered sterile, so despite having extremely long lives (doctors are estimating close to 500+- years under ideal conditions) they can't have children. Well, later on it's determined that there were some who were never infected (they hid out until everything blew over) and are able to have babies.

Well, the hunt is on to find these "breeders" and bring them in, with each country carefully and zealously protecting them. But any breeder who's brought in becomes infected and either killed or rendered sterile when they become "perfect". Realizing that the future of the human race is at stake, the breeders begin a war against the "immortals" in order to protect themselves and the future of the human race (as well as medical breakthroughs to kill the virus itself).

A breakthrough is made and it's discovered that anyone who is "cured" dies within a few days of being injected, as it's the virus that's keeping them super healthy and nearly immortal. So now the immortals are out to destroy the people who made the serum and prevent its distribution, while using this "cure" to ensure their "breeders" don't become sterile. Eventually the serum is used as a silent tool to stop the enemy immortals by darting them. A quick poison puts them down (doesn't kill them, but it acts like a sedative) and then the cure puts them out of action.

Eventually the "breeders" are able to outnumber the "immortals" and it's only a matter of time before they are all wiped out. A few immortals go into hiding, but the hunters keep hounding them, always on the lookout for people who are a little too perfect. It soon becomes a mantra that it's dangerous to be "too perfect", so people revel in their flaws, and instead of being better than their fellow man, or perfect, they're all pretty much happy to be "just average."
Well, that's the summary. Again, things may change as I dig into the idea. But this is what I have so far. And yes, it's a bit clunky in its flow. But it's only writing notes, and it's not meant to be a final summary. lol. But anyhow, I'm interesting in what people think of this. If the idea sucks, say so. I'd rather scrap the idea now before getting into the rough draft than later after I've worked several months on it. Anyhow, that's my thoughts. Your 2c is very welcome.
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:29 PM   #2
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It has a vampire feel. The very opening sounded a touch like Jonathan Maberry's Patient Zero but then you diverged.

I can imagine a trilogy (infection, hunt, cure). It sounds like a lot to put into one book. As usual, whether it sucks or not will be in your writing. The broad sketch sounds workable, if ambitious, to me. So what's your essential theme, perfection is bad?
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:48 PM   #3
Steven Lake
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Well, not so much perfection as elitism. There's a strong theme leaning towards the "elites/gods" vs the "dogs/mortals" mentality. IE, the "I'm better than you" mentality, and why it's self destructive. Now obviously that's not the whole theme as there's plenty of other elements in there, but that is part of what initially starts the war, and then later drives it to its climax. And yes, I did sorta feel that "vampire" touch to it, but thankfully nobody will get their blood sucked out in the process. lol.

As for 3 books, yeah, your idea does sound like a viable idea for the concept I have. What I'd likely have to do first is write the entire thing from to back, then decide if it needs to be broken out into multiple books. That's how I've ended up with a couple of the trilogies I have floating in my work pile. IE, at 250k it was too big for one book, so it got sliced into 3. But with the entire thing written, it makes the breaks between the three books easier.

I also avoid one of the common failings I have with writing is the inability to tell exactly how far a story will go. I can guess, but ultimately I don't know. For example, my recent book "Offworld Chronicles" was supposed to be 7 books when I started, then it stretched to a projected total of 12, then down to 3 as the story matured, and finally ended up just being one once I started polishing and realizing how much fluff and dead weight I had in the book. So yeah, that's one reason why I prefer to write the entire series front to back as one massive story before committing to breaking it up into specific books.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:35 PM   #4
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If you want to stretch the beginning out a bit, maybe have two "mad" scientists, with two semi-successful answers, and the problems begin when they mix - deliberately or accidentally, creating the super virus.
This could also mean a lead time, a discovery, and a failed race to track down everyone treated with one scientists's discovery and prevent them meeting someone treated with the other.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:15 PM   #5
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Wow you edited 12 books down to 1?!?! That is A LOT of fluff to remove. Must have been painful to loose all that work!
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:23 PM   #6
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Bah lost my reply somehow... anyways I think the idea has merit. There is lots of room for some good subplots to full out a good full story. I do not know your background, so do you know much about infectious diseases? Their treatment? Their spread? Containment Etc? If not you might want to brush up on that a bit first.
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:48 PM   #7
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I love this story idea and the ending, too.

One thought: One of the cool things about "bugs" is that some people can be immune for no apparent reason, not just because they were able to avoid exposure. They will either have natural immunity or not be susceptible or have some other genetic predisposition against getting ill that becomes apparent as they remain healthy while everyone else drops like flies. This kind of thing happened during the plague and other large-scale flu outbreaks. Many of those who tended to the sick simply didn't come down with the bug. The survivors of a pandemic may, in fact, be unable to be infected regardless of their contact with the infected. They just aren't susceptible.

Of course, you don't have to be completely accurate on this point since this is fiction, but to make the "immortals" that much more evil, you could have them bringing the "breeders" in and performing gruesome laboratory tests on them before killing them to try to figure out how to develop and release a variant of the bug that will eradicate the breeders without having to smoke them out and kill them one by one.

I really think you've got a good idea for some books here! Nice work.
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Old 02-24-2012, 03:04 AM   #8
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You certainly have an imagination with all the ideas starting with the bug. It just goes on and on. I suggest you not try to get too far into the future with the story development and just concentrate on one or two iterations and do them well. Spend most of your time on honing a few ideas in the story.

The initial idea of some being made strong and others being killed or destroyed by the bug is not new. It is actually an old idea of one "agent" effecting good or bad on the "victim". A recent favorite of mine is the 2005 SciFi movie "Doom" with "The Rock" as "Sarge."

A few quotes show you the parallels.

"they discovered humanoid remains on Mars, which, unlike humans, have an extra chromosome pair which granted them invulnerablity to disease as well as advanced cellular regeneration."

"Blood samples taken from two hostile creatures reveal that they were human. Dr. Grimm determines that their genetics have been altered by the addition of the Martian chromosome; however, the chromosome seems to "choose" whether it causes the person to be superhuman or a monster, apparently able to determine on a genetic level whether a person has the capacity to be evil"
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:02 AM   #9
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Parts of the plot line reminded me a bit of Robert Merle's The Virility Factor.. I like your idea, but I find your ending a bit too predictable and too politically correct. It would be much more interesting if the bug in one of the immortals mutated and created a male or female immortal who isn't sterile...
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Old 02-24-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
Steven Lake
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Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
Wow you edited 12 books down to 1?!?! That is A LOT of fluff to remove. Must have been painful to loose all that work!
Well, the original concept called for a total of 12 books. Or at least that's what was planned. But as anyone knows, no initial plot survives the first draft.
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Bah lost my reply somehow... anyways I think the idea has merit. There is lots of room for some good subplots to full out a good full story. I do not know your background, so do you know much about infectious diseases? Their treatment? Their spread? Containment Etc? If not you might want to brush up on that a bit first.
Yup, already covering that. Got plenty of medical people around here too whose brains I can pick.
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Originally Posted by phloxy View Post
I love this story idea and the ending, too.

One thought: One of the cool things about "bugs" is that some people can be immune for no apparent reason, not just because they were able to avoid exposure. They will either have natural immunity or not be susceptible or have some other genetic predisposition against getting ill that becomes apparent as they remain healthy while everyone else drops like flies. This kind of thing happened during the plague and other large-scale flu outbreaks. Many of those who tended to the sick simply didn't come down with the bug. The survivors of a pandemic may, in fact, be unable to be infected regardless of their contact with the infected. They just aren't susceptible.

Of course, you don't have to be completely accurate on this point since this is fiction, but to make the "immortals" that much more evil, you could have them bringing the "breeders" in and performing gruesome laboratory tests on them before killing them to try to figure out how to develop and release a variant of the bug that will eradicate the breeders without having to smoke them out and kill them one by one.

I really think you've got a good idea for some books here! Nice work.
Yeah, that's actually not a bad idea. That might be something to explain why the breaders didn't become immortals. Also, the "evil" immortals idea isn't bad either. It could in turn allow me to divide the immortals against each other, with several different groups all trying to come up with solutions to their dilemma, with still more out to stop any efforts the others might be making in order to ensure maintenance of the status quo.
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Parts of the plot line reminded me a bit of Robert Merle's The Virility Factor.. I like your idea, but I find your ending a bit too predictable and too politically correct. It would be much more interesting if the bug in one of the immortals mutated and created a male or female immortal who isn't sterile...
Good idea. As for the predictable ending, this is just a rough plot, so as I get into this I may totally diverge from the original idea for the ending. One possibility is that as the breaders have children, some of them become immortals, and some don't. This could in turn create a "dogs and cats living together" solution where, after a while they realize that, instead of fighting against each other, they find out that by combining forces they can put to use each groups advantages, while offsettings the others disadvantages to create a mutually beneficial co-mingling of the two groups.
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Old 02-24-2012, 04:31 PM   #11
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If the breeders are only a tiny remnant, it is hard to see how they could possibly go to war against the immortals.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:04 PM   #12
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If the breeders are only a tiny remnant, it is hard to see how they could possibly go to war against the immortals.
That is pretty much how war works. Small % of populations take on entire nations because for the most part only a small % of them fight back. Plus do not discount the power of terrorism to take down a nation.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:17 PM   #13
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That is pretty much how war works. Small % of populations take on entire nations because for the most part only a small % of them fight back. Plus do not discount the power of terrorism to take down a nation.
But that's not how war works. Small populations get conquered by large populations.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:22 PM   #14
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But that's not how war works. Small populations get conquered by large populations.
Yes and no. How many people do you think make up the enemies in Iraq? Afghanistan? Vietnam? Korea? Small forces over a very extend period of time can turn a tide against a larger superior foe. There is more then one way to fight a war....
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:35 PM   #15
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Yes and no. How many people do you think make up the enemies in Iraq? Afghanistan? Vietnam? Korea? Small forces over a very extend period of time can turn a tide against a larger superior foe. There is more then one way to fight a war....
A smaller guerrilla force can make things difficult for an occupying power. That guerrilla force may be able drive outlast the occupier, but isn't going to be able to overthrow the occupier's own government.
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