Teledildonics? Q&A with Nara Malone
NARA MALONE is an erotic romance author with a cutting edge vision of the future. Forget e-pub–Nara talks to you about transmedia fiction. Part of an elusive techno-tribe, this Ellora’s Cave author trolls the internet horizon to explore the boundaries of Second Life, researches potential medical evils in biomedical-engineering and also applies her writing chops in the video-gaming world. I emailed with Nara about how she takes her fascinating interests and applies them to her writing.
MADELINE IVA: Your book SNATCH ME takes place (at least half the time) in a virtual world. It may sound odd but, is there a real virtual world online where this kind of hunt n ravish thing happens?
NARA MALONE: While there is nothing exactly like the premise in Snatch Me, there are several regions in Second Life where similar role play takes place– Hard Alley and Kingdom of Pleasure come to mind.
MADELINE IVA: Did you enter this world and research it? Was it easy to navigate at first?
NARA MALONE: I did visit these worlds. I did the trailer for Snatch Me in Hard Alley. Navigating in Second Life is sometimes frustrating because of something called lag–basically a delay between the time you send a signal to your avatar to do something and the time it takes the avatar to respond. You might click repeatedly on a mouse several times because nothing happened and then all of a sudden your mouse clicks are registered and your avatar walks off a cliff.
I once had a very long conversation with an invisible fellow in Hard Alley. I was certain he was playing some sort of game because no matter what I tried, or what he suggested, I could not see him. It turned out that my slow connection just was lagging behind downloading information and twenty minutes into the conversation he materialized in front of me. You have to admire the patience of the players in the game that they accept such quirks as facts of life in virtual worlds and are willing to work together to get beyond them. Fortunately lag isn’t constant. Like bad weather, it comes and goes.
MADELINE IVA: Explain: do the guys in this world just have at the women? Or is there consent involved? Or is a woman consenting just by entering the world? Were there any surprises that came up during your research?
NARA MALONE: For another avatar to have any power at all over you in Second Life or any virtual world, you have to implement software that will give them that control. You have to use a viewer (like a web browser for virtual environments) that implements restrained love features. You have to turn that feature on in the viewer. In addition, a player wishing to take a submissive role has to wear an object, such as a collar or tag, that allows a dominant to take control. By nature of the programming scripts involved the game demands a certain level of consent to participate. Beyond that, if a dominant is someone the submissive decides she doesn’t wish to play with, or if there is some aspect of play that exceeds her limits, she can say no. That no is respected by all players and region owners. If it’s not, she can make a complaint to the region moderators or owner. As a final safety, all a player has to do to stop something from happening is to log off the viewer. So there are multiple levels of consent.
MADELINE IVA: (trying not to snort) What’s a “talking penis”?
NARA MALONE: (laughing.) I first discovered the phenomena of talking genitals when I took a role play class. The instructor mentioned that having genitals on automatic in public places filled the chat with comments from genitals and was considered bad manners. If you have genitals with those features, you’re supposed to turn them off in public. I try very hard not to come across as too much of a noob, but really, who could let a comment like that go? The penises talk? Vaginas too? What did they say? Why did they talk?
Programmers being wonderfully creative and helpful beings, love to solve problems. One problem that came up quite a bit, from what I can gather, is that when a scene between avatar lovers got hot and heavy, their typing skills started to suffer, first spelling went south and as things really heated up, speed slowed when the participating parties shifted from two hands typing to one hand. One inventive fellow decided it might be handy if the avatars genitals could insert canned phrases into the chat while the real life people were…um…taking care of business. I believe the comments are activated by the level of excitement experienced by the participants and those might be interfaced with something called teledildonics. So the comments might move from “Oh, baby” to “ohhhhhh” as things heat up. We’re way past the level of my research here. I have never seen or tried teledildonics and I didn’t own any talking avatar genitals and didn’t know anyone who did. I’m clueless as to what a penis might actually say, but it’s fun to imagine 😉
NARA MALONE: Face blindness does exist and unfortunately my research on that front was gleaned from my experience with the condition. I have normal vision, but for some as yet undetermined reason face blind individuals cannot imprint a mental image of a face. The more severe cases, like mine, can’t recognize close family members. I depend on other clues like hair, body shape, the place where I normally expect to see certain people to give me clues to identity.
MADELINE IVA: In BLIND HEAT there are human-animal embryos in a science lab. You’ve said elsewhere that this is actually happening in the real world. Why? What’s the point? How is the science in your world different from what’s going on in this world?
Here’s a paper at the NIH discussing human/rat chimera http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2220020/ Here’s an article in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19781-2005Feb12.html about the patent office refusing to patent a research project where the resulting chimera would be “too-human”. That’s a point I mention in the book, at what percentage of human is a non-human/human chimera considered human. What percentage human does it have to be to have human rights? I’m always surprised by how many readers don’t realize that this research has moved way beyond science fiction and has been reality for many years.
MADELINE IVA: What’s your favorite kind of erotic romance? What do you look for in an excellent read?
NARA MALONE: I’ve recently been reading capture romance. Two of my favorite authors in that genre are Claire Thompson and S.J. Lewis. I think the key to capture romance is the suspense and conflict. Claire Thompson goes for the quick capture and keeps you in suspense over how it will all end. S. J. Lewis excells at prolonging the hunt, that dance between hunter and hunted.