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It will come as a surprise to no one that I can be somewhat weird. I watch Summer Blockbusters like the rest of society but when while everyone else is ooh-ing and gasping at the crisply rendered explosion that smothers the screen after a T-rex chomps on a Transformer, I'm distracted by the fate of the minor female character who is neglected by the script after she does her duty lending Emotional Depth to the male protagonist. It's become a trend.

Tron: Legacy would have been another forgettable explode-a-thon if not for the last few minutes of the movie. Quorra, a piece of self-aware software who had lived her entire life in a virtual reality world, was incarnated into the "Real World" by a piece of technology that broke my brain*.

I immediately had two questions: (1) Does her body work normally? and (2) Did Sam have to explain menstruation to her?

My prompt for Yuletide was: Quorra spent her entire existence as an "isomorphic algorithm", mentored by, well, a guy. When she finally transfers into the real world, the computer fabricates for her what appears to be a fully-functioning human body. A female body. In a film world that magnificently fails the Bechdel test, how does she come to terms with the messy practicalities of being a newly-made human? Do the richness of colors and scents make up for the drawbacks of being stuck in this strange new world? How does she construct a background for herself, and who are her allies?

Maybe I'm not the only person who was captivated by Quorra's story, because I received not one but TWO Yuletide stories about her.What I find amazing is how the same prompt inspired two brilliant but very different stories**.

One, Sunrise, is a long, deliciously plotty account of how Quorra adapted to the "User World". The rich, sensual details contrast the beauty and ugliness that the world offers to someone unprepared for it. Quorra survives a crippling isolation and then returns to the Grid with a new appreciation for it.

The other, #include "light.h", is more brief but no less intense. It's a missing scene from the movie - the minutes between Quorra's and Sam's emergence from the virtual world and their ride on Sam's motorbike. The witty banter between the two characters had me grinning like a maniac. There's also a lovely bit of world-building as Quorra tells Sam about religious belief in her world.

Thank you, wonderful writers, for making my Yuletide gay. Everyone else, please read their excellent stories!

* I'm a biomedical engineer. I design microscopic structures on a computer and use lasers to fabricate them out of goop. In 4 years, I've barely made more than little rectangles a thousandth of the size of a grain of rice. Seeing fully-functioning people pop out of thin air...hurt in ways that I can't express.

**To the credit of both authors, they kept FAR away from my wacky preoccupation with guys-dealing-with-periods.


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December 2012

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