Insider 5-23-13

Dave Gross, Author of Dark Convergence, is today's Insider guest. He gives us a glimpse into how he works and what inspires his writing process. Privateer Press does not necessarily condone or support his views regarding robots, soul transference, or artificial intelligence.

Convergence Movie Marathon

-by Dave Gross

Recently, I’ve begun to imagine what my influences for Dark Convergence would have been if I’d done my usual pre-writing ritual: bingeing on thematically related movies. Originally, I wanted to re-watch Band of Brothers, The Pacific, and a selection of classic war movies, but a busy winter kept me from putting together a marathon. Thus, my conscious inspiration for the new Skull Island eXpeditions novel was pretty strictly the WARMACHINE, HORDES, and Iron Kingdoms game books. It was only after finishing the project that I started to think of my unconscious influences and the movie marathon I would have had.

Since the Convergence of Cyriss forces consist primarily of machines and human souls encased in clockwork vessels, in addition to the war movies I’d probably screen Blade Runner, Robocop, and The Terminator. Those three films run the gamut from androids who may or may not have souls to cyborgs to pure robots. Throw in Alien and Aliens, and you have plenty of variations on the theme of humans vs. machines.

The Convergence forces might look mostly like robots, but only a fraction of them are pure machines. Servitors are small, hovering mechanisms without real minds of their own. They obey a restrictive set of programming, and while it was tempting to think of them in terms of Star Wars’ R2-D2 or Silent Running’s Huey, Dewey, and Louis, they don’t have even that much personality. They’re no less efficient for that, as you’ll see when the Cygnaran army first encounters the Reflex Servitors.

Vectors are the Convergence version of warjacks, but their warcasters would call them the perfected version. Like servitors, they lack the quirks of personality common to other factions’ ‘jacks, making them even more an extension of their warcasters’ will. They are more tool than companion, more weapon than soldier. I like to think they’d get along just fine with the T-800.

To me, the most interesting members of the Convergence armies are the clockwork soldiers and priests, who retain their human minds in mechanical bodies. A few even retain their mortal forms, like Aurora, the rising star of the Convergence. Much as she might long for the “perfection” of a clockwork vessel, even with it she’d retain quite a bit of her humanity, since her human mind would persist even in the new body. The clockwork soldiers and priests of the Convergence are thus more human than Robocop’s Alex J. Murphy, and they’re virtually the opposite of the “skin jobs” in Blade Runner, whose minds are as artificial as their bodies.

The Convergence would be among the first to hunt down Blade Runner's renegade Replicants, since they believe the simulation of a human soul is an abomination to their goddess, Cyriss, the Maiden of Gears. Looking back at the difference between the androids—or “artificial persons,” as Aliens’ Bishop prefers to be called—you can see why the cult of Cyriss might be wary of them. Even if it’s true that “the A2s always were a bit twitchy,” do you really want to gamble on whether your science officer is more likely to save you than murder you?

While I wasn’t thinking specifically of these films while writing Dark Convergence, the questions they raise about the differences between robots, androids, and cyborgs were certainly tickling at my imagination—and I would bet the creators of the faction had similar films in mind now and then.

Dark Convergence by Dave Gross, the first novel from Skull Island eXpeditions, is available now. For more information about Dark Convergence visit the Dark Convergence page on the Skull Island eXpeditions website.