Okay... So, this isn't part of an actual story or a full-born plot bunny(yet), but just a thought-bone that my imagination has been chewing on, and I'm feeling compelled to work it out.

There's the "Secret Life of Toys" trope, where a child's toys are intelligent beings with lives of their own. Pixar's Toy Story movies are the latest version of that, but there's also The Brave Tin Soldier and The Velveteen Rabbit (and I think there was a horror movie, Chuck).

Anyway, I've latched onto the notion of an old book somehow becoming intelligent, and having a life of its own, by "absorbing" some of the thoughts and memories of each of the people who've read it over the years: One person's anger in reaction to a particular part of the story, one person's happy memories triggered by another part, someone else's boredom and daydreams, and so on. And each of those separate parts gets knitted into a whole new identity, and "mind," which becomes independant from the original intention of the book's author.

The thing is: the whole reason to have awareness and intelligence is so that you can interact with and move through the world. It's easy to imagine dolls and other toys in this way because they have bodies (of a sort).

How would a book, with an intelligence and will of its own, act on its will? It's hard to be a protagonist (or antagonist) if you can't actually do anything for yourself.

Since "Body" equals "Movement," at least on some level, I'm thinking that the book's mind might be bound up in the movement of pen on paper, when its letters were formed...

But I don't know. Any ideas?
msmcknittington: Queenie from Blackadder (Default)

From: [personal profile] msmcknittington


This isn't meant in a sarcastic manner or anything approaching negative, but have you read the second Harry Potter book? Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Tom Riddle's diary sort of operates in the way you're describing. The series also has a textbook that has teeth and can move and is rather surly about the whole situation.
msmcknittington: Queenie from Blackadder (Default)

From: [personal profile] msmcknittington


Although, with the diary, isn't it "just" a vehicle for Tom Riddle's consciousness / ghost? And so it's not actually its 'own person'?

Yeah, but it's a little more autonomous than that, since it can interpret and interact with the outside world. Though I suppose you could argue that it's not the book itself that has sentience but Tom Riddle. I'm kind of the opinion that at that point, Tom Riddle and the book were pretty, oh, symbiotic, since the Tom Riddle the book knew had been pretty much overcome by Voldemort. But that's splitting some pretty fine hairs. :)

Anyway, what if the book could take the ideas/characters/objects described within and make them real, only they'd be vulnerable to the same things the book was vulnerable to? So, a book about King Arthur could project a semi-corporeal King Arthur, but expose him to water or fire and he'd wash away or go up in ashes.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)

From: [personal profile] melannen


Well, here's a few ideas (most of them borrowed from other fantasy novels, though, alas):

They could write back to their readers - that's not direct action, but it's a way of interacting, at least.

They could physically move around - crawling on their pages, snapping at people, eating things, etc.

They could mind-control their readers (Either directly - giving commands - or a more subtle full-mental takeover - or just destroying their sanity).

They could rewrite the world, either in some mystical sense where changing the words on the pages changed the world, or in a universe where magic worked through words, writing, or diagrams, they could work spells directly, or write things that became real when they were read.

They could have some sort of power that lets them move things telekinetically, or lets them "haunt" the library where they live in the ways a ghost could, or lets them change the contents of other written things.

They could be able to manipulate or shape-change the paper in their pages semi-magically - I've read a couple comics with librarian superheroes (just go with it) where they can manipulate paper, making everything from bridges and pathways to razor-sharp cutting weapons to tentacles to complex origami machinery; and then disassemble it and return the paper to an innocent stack; so I can see a book having similar abilities with its pages.

ETA: Or they could manipulate their ink - a book with prehensile tentacles of black ink that it tucks back to words when it's in danger would be both a very creepy villain and a very cool protagonist.

They could have symbiotic bookworms or silverfish that did the fetching and carrying for them.

They could take part in a 'network' of other intelligent books that spend all their time gossipping with each other through L-SPACE connections.

They could turn completely inward, refusing to believe in any world outside what's on their pages, and the story could be about drawing them out and helping them figure out *how* to interact with wider existence...
Edited Date: 2010-09-10 04:51 am (UTC)
ailelie: (Default)

From: [personal profile] ailelie


Yes to the network idea. I missed this the first time I browsed down the comments, but I agree completely (as evidenced by my own reply below).

I think that, like how some books never go out of print, some people could never fade as their stories would remain told and re-told between books for ages.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith

Hmm...


I did put a book-character in a story once, a grimore. It had feet, but didn't move until the very end anyhow.

Also, body =/= motion and motion =/= character. It often seems that way because almost all characters are mobile humans. But some humans are not mobile, and some characters are neither human nor mobile. In such cases, the different perspective shapes the story into something new and memorable, if handled well.

One might, for instance, imagine that a book experiences life through its readers in some fashion.
ailelie: (Default)

From: [personal profile] ailelie


Why not suppose that we read books, they read us? Our lives are their stories.

Also, maybe books that were written by the same author, printed on the same tree or with the same supply of ink, or touching covers can communicate, not in letters or ink, but ideas. Since, after all, isn't that what books are? Ideas?

And it would be an entirely *oral* culture. Stories passing by way of sharing shelf space or from same author to same printing press, etc. A vast, loosely connected network.

And old books, so long forgotten, finding new life when bought at yard sales and put on new shelves. And finally having a new audience for all the stories it has accumulated over the years. And gaining new stories and lives in return.

Oh, and the sudden absence of a voice when a book falls apart or is destroyed.

A group of books prepared for burning. All sharing as many stories as they can before the flames reach them. And each falling suddenly silent as their covers buckle and pages curl inward and blacken.

It could actually be quite interesting.

---

On a side note, you may wish to look into Morrow's The Last Witchfinder (a book written by a book) and Moer's The City of Dreaming Books (books as creatures, creatures as books).
.

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