Ben Thornton     Mike Uchida     Ethan A. Cooper

Ben Thornton

About Ben Thornton
Ben Thornton is co-creator of the world of DOWNfALL also.  In particular, the one to blame for the parts that suck.  Hailing from deep south east Texas, my exposure to literature and pressing cultural media like cyberpunk and sci-fi was severely limited.  He did however have a driving force* throughout these dull years to keep him going.  Ben did/does/will collect Transformers action figures, and considers them one of the best animated series. Ever.  With my literary influence drawing both from William Blake, Pappa Hemmingway, and Stan "The Man" Lee, he has always been a fan of the tragic hero and epic storylines.  In college, Ben met Ethan, who was one of the final keys to finding an outlet for ideas that had built up over a lifetime and found DOWNfALL an excellent place to give it a whirl.  Major impressions on my DOWNfALL writing include the terrific Manga/Anime "Galaxy Express 999", The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience", and a few others.  Having no experience in writing in a multi-author environment, Ben was eager to give it a shot,
mainly because it beat doing homework**.  While holding no literary honors yet, Ben does hold the record for most liquid volume of Jolt Cola ingested in one night***.  The character of Aran bears "some significant parallel" to the life of the author (minus the guns and violence).

*   Read: Psychosis
**  Which, in retrospect, was not a good idea.
*** Again, bad idea.

Question: Explain what Aran is all about and why you chose to tell his story?
Aran is an amalgamation of my life and a lot of my opinions on technology and humanity.  Writing Aran is a way to express a lot of my views on humanity's dependency on, and the necessity of, technology in our lives.  Somewhere in the storyline is a lot of sub-plots.  But, hey, that's up to you to find.
Question: Any overall themes that are central to your character?
Yes.  Violence, Technology, and Love.  All of which are in flux through the three arcs, but reach a final point in the story.  Again, not much can be said because I want these points to be encountered by the readers through the arcs.
Question: Give a few sentences which sum up the world of DOWNfALL to you.
Man's sins final price.
World fallen into chaos.
Hope, in fallen souls.
Question: What role does violence play in Aran's life?
Question: Does Aran have any regrets?
Not getting that industrial clear-coat on his last overhaul.
Question: Does humanity have a chance in the technological age?  (This question refers to technomancers giving up/losing their humanity for various reasons.)
Hah, I could answer that here, or write my story.  Guess which one I'm going with.  But seriously, a chance?  Yes, I think they have a chance.  Do I think that chance is probable?  Tune in next week!
Question:  If Aran was alive now instead of the future, what would he be like?
I plead the fifth.  As this question gets answered in Arc 3 in explicit detail.  Wait.
Question:  Could you explain, in simple terms, what a/the Mindscape Void is?

However, in complex terms: Mindscape void is a point where the Technomancer, either through his own initiative or loss of control, reaches a point where it's all-too-organic brain can no longer keep up with the massive throughput of information from the hardware linked to it.  Consider it similar to a coma, except the brain retains full conscious thought.  However, this state is dangerous to the technomancer in that, once it happens, the brain "forgets" about the hardware and tends to be more captive to its subconscious landscape.  Hence, the Mindscape void is usually something that takes years or decades for a technomancer to escape.  In the subconscious landscape, a technomancer may live for years without realizing what has happened.

Question:  Aran vs. a mountain:  who wins?
Odd you should mention that.  See my next post [a32].  Destroying a mountain, that's too easy of a task.


Mike Uchida

About Mike Uchida
Mike Uchida is the last of the fALLEN.  He submitted his first Phoenix post about three months after the first (2)syl and Aran posts went up.  He takes no credit for the creation of DOWNfALL, but considers himself lucky just to be able to participate in it. 

Mike was born in Brazil while his parents were missionaries there.  He has lived in several different places including Hawaii and Ohio, but has spent most of his life in Colorado.  He has been interested in Star Trek and other sci-fi genres since junior high, and has been a fan of Star Wars for as long as he can remember. 

Before DOWNfALL, Mike had little experience in writing (outside of the classroom).  In fact, he used to deplore writing because it was extremely difficult for him.  Despite all this, (for some unknown reason) he could not resist the opportunity to join.  The invitation to create a character was extended to Mike by Ben Thornton, his friend and former roommate.  After a brief period of consideration, Mike decided to accept the chance to collaborate with Ben and another friend of his, Ethan Cooper.  He has
never regretted that decision.

Question: Explain what Phoenix is all about and why you chose to tell his story?
Con artists have been around since the days of Jacob and Esau, so I suppose that they will still be around in 2195.  Phoenix is a con artist--an extremely good con artist at that.  He is a con artist because his father was a con artist.  It is the only life he has ever known. 

Phoenix is smooth.  He gets into all kinds of trouble, but usually he can talk his way out of it.  If that doesn't work, he simply utilizes his skills as an escape artist and slips away leaving his enemies scratching their heads.

All good con artists constantly change their identity.  Phoenix is no exception.  In fact, "Phoenix" is not even his real name.  Aside from that, he also has some technological goodies that can drastically alter his appearance.  He does not rely on them 100 percent, but they do help him to be a master of disguise.

He is quite a carefree guy, but lately he has been struggling with deep inner turmoil that he does not fully understand.  This has come to a head during his recent capture.  Of course, he would never let anyone know this.

I chose to tell the Phoenix story because, in a sense, it is the story of many people including myself.  The circumstances and the settings are different, to be sure, but the story is the same. 

Question: Any overall themes that are central to your character?
Phoenix is all about change, newness, rebirth.  The road of life is full of strange turns and twists.  That is normal.  Yet sometimes such a profound change occurs that a person gets off one road and starts down a completely different one--perhaps even going the opposite direction.  The story of Phoenix starts with a man who has just started a new life (even
though he hasn't realized it yet).  Unfortunately, this only allows for brief glimpses of his past life, so the change may not be noticeable at first, but they are certainly there.
Question: Give a few sentences which sum up the world of DOWNfALL to you.
I see DOWNfALL as a definite possibility for our future.  In case you haven't noticed, the world we live in is not a nice place.  I am often disturbed by the amount of violence included in our stories.  Even more disturbing is the amount of violence here and now.  We live in a world where children as young as six shoot each other in school, murder is a fact of life, and "lesser" crimes, such as rape, are not even newsworthy.  Respect for human life is at an all time low.  DOWNfALL is simply a
logical eventuality of this deterioration.
Question: Where did you get your idea for the Phoenix character?
Actually, I don't fully remember what was going through my mind when I created Phoenix.  I do remember that I wanted somebody unique and different.  Since I was the latecomer, and Ben and Ethan already had great characters, I wanted to go with someone that was different in many ways.  His age, occupation, and attitude are all examples of this.
Question: Do Phoenix's ideas toward women reflect any of your own?
No they do not!  However, I actually have met a few people in real life that have tried to convince me that women are "inherently evil."  My initial reason for making Phoenix this way was to make him differ from all the other con artist characters in movies (Maverick, The Music Man, etc.)  However, this little facet of his personality has turned out to be a great source of material.


Ethan Cooper

About Ethan Cooper
Ethan Cooper is co-creator of the world of DOWNfALL.  Born and raised in California, he has been an avid bookworm since grade school.  His interest in sci-fi/horror manifested itself in Transformers comic books, Star Wars, Robotech, and Stephen King, along with other hobbies too numerous to count.  Attending college eventually brought him in contact with Ben Thornton and Mike Uchida.  Having previously experienced a multi-author online collaboration set in a fantasy setting (Heartland), Ethan wanted to give it another go, this time with a very definite purpose in mind.  Only a little mindstorming with Ben was needed to decide that DOWNfALL would be sci-fi, with a touch of horror thrown in.  It is apparent that the story has taken on a life of its own at this point, and Ethan is not sure if he has control of (2)syl anymore.
Question: Explain what (2)syl is all about and why you chose to tell her story?
 (2)syl primary attribute is purity.  She is one of the last physically pure (i.e. devoid of any technological improvements to her body) people on the planet.  Her extreme state of purity is in stark contrast to the rest of the world, which is the real story that is going on in the background.  I thought one of the best ways to tell the story of a dark future was to create a character who was the antithesis of the world at large.

(2)syl is female in part because the world as a whole perceives women to be weak, and my character needed to be perceived as weak as possible.  She needed to be preyed upon.  She needed to be hunted.  She needed to be abusable.

I chose to tell her story because I think (2)syl represents a struggle that many people, including myself, experience on a day-to-day basis.  It is the struggle to do right when no one else around you is, or even wants to.  It is the struggle to survive and continue in a world that wants you dead.

Question: Any overall themes that are central to your character?
Purity, and the struggle to remain pure in an impure world is something that has plagued me throughout my life.  (2)syl's life is obviously an exaggerated portrayal of reality, but it directly portrays the constant war one must wage to remain pure when the whole world is not.  I think a main question (2)syl's life asks is: Is it even possible to remain pure?  Another prominent theme I deal with is what exactly humanity is, and what does it take to lose it in a world dominated by technology.  Much of the population of the DOWNfALL world has given up their humanity in exchange for something.  I am able to deal with this because (2)syl refuses to give herself up to this trend.  Her relationships with the wirewitches, Aran, and even Phoenix are perfect for dealing with the concept of humanity lost.
Question: Give a few sentences which sum up the world of DOWNfALL to you.
It is a world of mass confusion.  It is a world of rape, which preys on the weak and strong alike.  No one is secure.  It is a world of fALLEN people, where purity is virtually a myth, instead of a goal.  It is world imploding down a spiral of self-destruction. It is a world without God.   It is a world virtually without hope...with only three woefully inadequate saviors.
Question:  How in the world do you come up with all these crazy names (Kiiziiziixii, 2-85, etc.)?
Since DOWNfALL is a fantasy world, I like to insert as much fantasy as I can.  I love to think of names which don't hold to any conventions.  This is why numbers and non-alphanumeric characters come into play.  I like to create names that people can pronounce, but that are not necessarily easy to say.  I basically throw out any common names and start from there.  The only real except to this is JACK, which is a very common name.  But since JACK is female, suddenly it's not so common any more!
Question:  Do you have a system for naming wirewitches?
Female wirewitches have four-letter names (ex. PIIX, TERA, NAAQ), with two consonants and two vowels (this only gives 14,400 possible wirewitch names at any one time, but since wirewitches are few, this will never be a problem).  Every letter is always capitalized.  Warlocks are named with a three-digit number, with the first digit separated from the second two digits by a hyphen (ex. 2-85, 3-43).  (This give us 1,000 warlock names, but since warlocks are even fewer in number than the females, this will never be a problem)
Question:  What is up with the whole "(2)" thing at the front of (2)syl's name?
This is just another naming convention in the DOWNfALL world.  (2)syl's past holds the key to why she is named like this.  I can say that the (2) is really just part of her name and holds no great significance (well, at least at the moment).  Addressing her as "(2)syl" would be fairly formal, while dropping the "(2)" and calling her "syl" would be informal (i.e. reserved for her friends).
Question:  It seems like every time we see (2)syl, she is wearing revealing clothing, or nothing at all.  Do all women dress like this in 2195, or does (2)syl just like to show off her sexy body?
(2)syl's story started out with her naked in an alley, cold and alone.  The intent was not to titillate the audience, but to symbolize her beginning, her "birth" so to speak.  Without memories of her past, in a sense, she was born in that alley.  Being naked, also indicates vulnerability.  (2)syl is intended to be a very vulnerable character.  She is a target for a lot of evil.

Also, at some point, there is some humor in the situations (2)syl finds herself in.  Though I'm chronicling a serious story which may or may not have a happy ending, levity is a part of life, and I like to insert moments of it in the story (i.e. her encounter with Q'and'q in the hallway after Calamity Carl tore up her shirt).  If I didn't insert moments like these, (2)syl would be even more of a brooding mess than she already is.

I think it is an indication of the state of dress when the only clothes that are offered her are "revealing."  Not a whole lot is sacred in 2195.  Sex will always be something that is for sale, and this is no less true in the world of DOWNfALL.

(2)syl does not like to show off her sexy body (as evidenced by her reactions around Q'and'q), but her mindset is one of dealing with the situation she is in, and worrying about what she considers nonessentials later (this can be seen during her first encounter with the wirewitches).

this page and its contents copyright (c) by ethan a. cooper, ben thornton, and mike uchida