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CritterKeeper

My own immortal idea

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This whole aging backwards phenomena has brought back memories of an idea I had back when Highlander and Forever Knight were on about how a more realistic Immortal might work.

People in the real world tend to change gradually over time.  Earlobes get longer, weight creeps up, hair color can shift, most people get a couple of inches shorter, that sort of thing.  Someone who looks exactly the same in photos from a few years ago might get away with it, but a couple of decades, we expect changes!  So, an Immortal would probably tend to change over time, too, but they could change in either direction.  You look at a picture of a co-worker from when they first joined the company, and their hair is darker and their nose bigger in it, you assume they got a nose job and either started or stopped coloring their hair.  We've all seen people who lost a lot of weight whose face looks completely different from when they were fat, or hugged a mother or grandmother and realized how short they seem now -- or seen someone who's had kids since you last saw them and never lost the baby weight, or noticed someone is standing a lot taller and asumed that was due to posture, confidence, or shoes.

One of the practical results I realized pretty early on is that immortals of this sort who lost touch would not be able to recognize each other if they ran into each other decades later.  Immortal TV characters are always running into an old love, an old enemy, an old friend, but this kind of immortal might well have a chance meeting with a former arch-rival, and have no idea they knew them.  You'd almost have to set up something like Hob Gadling, where you meet at the same place every hundred years, but what happens when that place is torn down, or the country is at war, or the calendar changes?  Or you lose the necklace you wore to identify yourself, or the specific flower on his lapel goes extinct?  How many missed connections before you'd assume they'd either died or lost interest?

That gets even worse/better if their memories continue to work like ours do.  Recent things are easier to recall than things from the distant past, and even truly significant events or important people tend to fade over time.  You might forever remember the moment you realized you weren't aging normally, but someone you were in love with a hundred years ago would have faded in favor of more recent loves.  You hear people who've lost a loved one a long time ago talk about how they realized they couldn't remember their face or voice any more.  Someone five hundred years old might not remember what happened when they were two hundred any better than an eighty-year-old remembers details of when they were thirty-two, or perhaps even when they were twelve.  And since they couldn't talk to anyone about those old times, they'd tend to fade instead of be reinforced.  Retell a modernized version enough and the story would tend to supercede actual memories.

How would you be able to find other immortals if there was no obvious sign, no tingle of recognition, no familiar face and crystal-clear flashbacks to remind you?  How would you even start?  Put an ad in the paper?  Write a novel with immortals in it and hope it becomes a best-seller, then wade through all the fakes and dreamers and crazies who would write to the author in hopes of finding someone else who's for real?

Most would probably just keep going along with their lives, changing jobs or moving about as often as we do, winnowing their box of keepsakes as things lose their importance just as we do, making new friends and losing touch with the old just as we do.  And I imagine most would be about as happy or unhappy in their lives as we are, as they would be if they weren't so long-lived.  Hopefully, they'd be getting wiser and more empathetic as they experience life, but perhaps no more quickly or successfully than anyone else.

Trouble is, this sort of immortal isn't exactly tailor made for drama.  Hard to come up with a good way to use such a character.  That's probably why the idea is still percolating in the back of my brain instead of coming out onto the pages/screen.  ;-)

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That actually reminds me of an extended lifespan idea I once had.

When the female becomes pregnant, her nervous system is linked with the child.  While expecting, the mother is effectively thinking with twice as much brain power.  When the child is born, he or she has much of the mother's memories.  So as long as the family keeps producing female offspring, an element of the self continues.

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16 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

That actually reminds me of an extended lifespan idea I once had.

When the female becomes pregnant, her nervous system is linked with the child.  While expecting, the mother is effectively thinking with twice as much brain power.  When the child is born, he or she has much of the mother's memories.  So as long as the family keeps producing female offspring, an element of the self continues.

Sounds like The Archive in the Harry Dresdan books.  Having the memories of a whole series of adults in her head from birth doesn't leave much chance for a child to have enough personality of her own.

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Having your own personality as a child is not an option in the world I know.

From day one, to everyone you encounter, you are just an extension of your parents, siblings, race, friends, neighborhood, school, etc.

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