(I Also Write Children's Books!)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Have Some Progress

I have carefully analyzed the last two days' progress.  I see no spoilers I consider meaningful, nothing that would give away the rest of the book's secrets.  Mostly it concerns world building, one of the few expository sections I ever write.  My blog goers seem to like that stuff, so here it is.

The First Scene Of What Is Currently Chapter Eight

Also, here is a photo of a bush shaped like a ham.


  1. The Audit is genuinely kind of scary, it's really cool. I like her, too.

    Also I'm glad someone's talking to the students about the not-getting-personal, cause it sounds like it really needs saying. It could get SUCH a mess otherwise, just -- yikes.

    As for her least favorite statistic: fascinating. I can only think of one reason why THAT of all things would be her least favorite (or why she would act the way she did about it). In fairness, she is absolutely right that nineteen people is a ludicrously small sample size and WAY unreliable ... but that doesn't necessarily mean that the correlation wouldn't show up at a significant percentage with higher numbers. So: hmm.

    1. (Also, theory/guess. Is She Who Wots one of the nineteen? Possession mechanic, her power sounded kind of like it ... Can't think of anybody else who sounded possessed in any way. Though I could be forgetting somebody.)

    2. Juno, She Who Wots, and Penny are all described as having the same hair style: brown hair with braided pigtails. Seems like a hint that Penny's power has some sort of possession mechanic to it.

    3. Hmm, if you think about it like that, its more apt to say that Juno, SheWhoWots, and Penny all seem to have aspects of Mediums in the Shinto priest sense. By that I mean they are more easily possessed, or influenced by spiritual or psychic beings or powers. As far as I'm aware there are different metaphors for explaining the relationships between mediums and these beings. It can be contractual or symbiotic, where the spirit lends its powers or knowledge in exchange for acting as a host. Other times the medium could be their avatar on the physical plane, to work towards the goals of the being lending their power. You can look at mediums as either pots to contain their powers, or as cloth that the beings want to dye in their own colors.

    4. (Third time I'm going to try to type this post...sigh) The Relationship between Mediums and spiritual beings is similar and dissimilar to the relationship between fantasy Gods and their faithful priests,clerics, paladins, or agents. The Priests act as a focal point for the thought energy (belief / faith)of the believers and funnel it to the god. Its a two-way relationship however, the god in return grants the priests with some amount of divine power in return, with which to perform magic, blessings, and miracles in his name. Often times in fantasy novels, organized religion works like the biological processes of a Tree. If your interested in stuff like this, here are some recommended books: "Demons of Astlan books 1&2", " By Blood Betrayed: the Kingsblood chronicles", The Portals of Infinity series, "骷髅魔导师", and "深渊魔神".

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Or, she The Audit may be such a statistics fanatic that bad correlation may make her hate it, just like she said.

    7. Yeah, I can see it being Penny. Brown hair alone would not be enough (very common) - but with pigtails? 19 of them?

      Knowing that, why would she let Penny wear her hair that way at all?

      But doesn't it make you think about all the kids (and adults) around Mars who have her coloring, and braids, and appear to be breeding Mad Scientists....

    8. Nah. There are so many shoddy statistics in the world. Worse ones, even; way worse. If it was just that ... anyway, she wouldn't act the odd way she did about it if it was just contempt for their (lack of) statistical rigor.

      I forgot about Juno! (@alex) You're right. Knew I was forgetting somebody.

    9. I defiantly think the The Audit's reaction to her least favorite statistics is an emotional one. I imagine that very few things could elicit even a minor emotional response from her, Penny being one of them.
      Also what ever a "Possession Mechanic" is, I doubt it's a good thing. Lets just hope we are allowed to learn more in book 3.

    10. You 'defiantly think?' It would be a big risk and making a statement against a bad stat with her daughter's sanity.

    11. I think it is more likely that she could have pushed Penny into wearing her hair in a different style just to avoid the chance. In the book, her parents were 'constantly' messing with her hair when it was not braided. Maybe that was deliberate, to push her into wearing it that way....
      So, maybe in that world little girls with really long (like Penny) but un-brained hair (not like Penny) hanging over their faces have issues with their power. Like the Witch Girls in Japanese Horror Movies.

    12. But your assuming that the hair style is the cause and the P.M. is the affect. It would be much more likely that being a P.M. drives the individual to choose the hair style.
      This is possibly given some support by the second favorite statistic, which might imply that superpowers are somewhat influenced by the populace.
      The Jupiter humans would value a different subset of powers. Greater importance on Mad Scientist which it appeared is the case.

    13. Self Image is reflected in appearance and style, which in turn affects mind-set back. Early training may help her avoid the mind-set that encourages a "possessor mechanic."

      Prudence suggests that her mother would not intentionally put her in a hair style that is in any way associated with some sort of insanity, or mind-set that she does not like. Especially considering how measured and careful she is about all other aspects of Penny's Life. This is the woman who appears to have measured the school cafeteria food exactly and served Penny a duplicate to take to school (when she started using her lunch box).

      But, it's super powers, so anything is possible.

    14. I was actually thinking more along the lines of Consensual Reality. That because society as a whole has thinks one way it is reflected in the super human community. It's an odd concept but an interesting one.

    15. Actually, statistically in real life there is a lot of credence to the Audit's least popular theory. Just simply google-foo of people based on industry and occupation tends to result in similar trends in hair colour and style. Most guys and girls with technology skills for instance do tend to be dark haired, with longer hair in simply styles such as braids and pigtails; it's so prevalent that blonds entering such fields typically dye their hair.

      So the question isn't whether the statistic is true, the question is what the statistic means by possession. Penny has dark braided hair in twin tails. This is consistant both with children her age and women looking to enter or work in the technology industry. It's likely that even if Mrs Akk had thought to do Penny's hair differently, that she would still have ended up with that hair style.

      But - we weren't confirmed that it's the pigtails or what kind possession means. It's more likely that - if Penny's hair is just now causing worry it's cause she's noticed something worse. Penny might actually be developing a 'fashion sense'.
      I mean - looking at that chapter, we get few descriptions of penny herself in it so maybe Penny has changed her appearance in some way as a part of the whole "I'm now the leader of a club, and important, and have henchmen etc etc"

    16. Actually, The Audit's comments about her least favorite statistic had a laundry-list quality instead of her usual tight logic, which is consistent with a mother worrying that it might actually be relevant.

      Small sample size matters, but correlation not causation? That wouldn't stop it being an indicator, especially if other evidence narrows the probabilities.

    17. Well perhaps the thing we need to consider is, when did this become a statistic. It's such a small sample size that perhaps, this was a statistic Mrs Akk had not thought about until recently.
      And therefore a good reason to be worried, is if she saw Penny zone out while building something...

      And now I'm worried.

    18. Much like the Audit's complaint, we are work on too little information. Does the sample include all supers with possession as a mechanic, Or is it just that's the only portion of the super population to have the specific hair color/style combo. Nineteen people is entirely too small a sample group to have an accurate statistics even if it's only for supers.

      There was a significant pause between the question and answer. And like I said before a emotional response. There is good reason to think she fears for Penny being in the sample group.

    19. Possibly, but I really don't see The Audit allowing Penny to wear a style that may (by Consensual Reality or any other reason) be associated with a sanity threatening issue.
      Respecting her choices, yes. But, she is the parent, and when it comes down to laying down the law - she is The Audit.
      I can't see her letting something like that slide, or letting her husband make a machine to encourage it, much less smile indulgently,

      I expect it will turn out to be something interesting that we haven't thought of.

    20. Again your assuming the hair style is the cause. What I've been saying is that they could of shaved her head since birth and it wouldn't have changed a thing. Also there is the likelihood of her looking up the statistic after Penny's power arrived.
      Plus "Possession" is such a broad term open to interpretation that it might not be exclusively bad. Someone who can mentally control machines could be considered to be possessing them.
      Likewise as someone suggested before Penny's blackouts could be her being possessed by spirits of dead scientists.
      The Audit seems to have a concern for the stat and Penny. But our Illustrious Author has a love of red herrings. It could just be a couple of situational coincidences giving the appearance of direct concern.

    21. Nah, I'm going to go with, this is only a new statistic. Something she has only noticed in the last year at the most. If it were an older statistic then I agree, there was no way she would allow Penny to braid her hair that way. Mrs Akk must have seen Penny do something to cause her to worry since the events of the previous story.
      Even if it's just her having weird moments or recurring nightmares as a result of her being killed repeatedly while piloting zombie drones. Or having almost suffocated in space several time. Or...

      Actually - if I think about it, since becoming a villain Penny has had a LOT of traumatic experiences. I would be happy to wager she's been acting differently around the house and the Audit has simply been worrying about Penny a lot as a result!

    22. I could see Penny's more recent odd behavior prompting research. I know in the previous books that Penny's parents had some discussion on the relationship between Penny and Bad Penny. Maybe the are finally looking at them being one in the same. Thinking Bad Penny is a possessed version of Penny, hence the concern.
      I don't see Penny being the nightmare kinda person, she made of sterner stuff. She's having way too much fun doing it to really fear their adventures.

    23. Maybe the hair is not associated with the phenomena, but if Consensual Reality does rule, having the hair in the style 'might' encourage the effect, or focus it toward her. We don't know, insufficient information.
      If it has no effect, then 'no harm, no foul.' But if it does, she was reckless to allow it at all.
      Unless it is new... again, we don't know. Insufficient information.

    24. Seventy three percent of the super powered with hair like Penny's have a possession mechanic.

      We've only seen two people other than Penny who are obviously possessed, and they both have Penny's color and style, but that could be the author playing games. We haven't been told what fraction of people with a possession mechanic have the hairstyle (as J Southard points out), which makes a big difference.

      We've actually been told enough to figure out how many super powered individuals there are in total, though. Does anyone remember that? I'd have to reread the books to find it, and I'm curious enough to work out some odds if I could find it.

      And unless the Audit made a rounding error, a sample size of nineteen means 26 super powered people have the hair, and 19 of those have been identified as having the mechanic.

      If the number of possession-mechanic people is small, the odds of that happening by chance are absurdly remote, but it's still hard to determine if that's a coincidence, since you'd need to examine a new sample and find a similar pattern in order to determine the significance. The Audit made some good points, even if they lacked form a little.

    25. I'm still thinking this is a false lead from Roberts. It just seems a bit too on the nose to be a concern. I mean honestly there hasn't been anything that was obviously possession with Penny. We know nothing first hand about her blackouts, just vague comments about her treating them as minions and laughing manically.

      I forget her name, but the mars girl with Penny's hair, I don't think her powers had a possession Mechanic to them. I think that she was simply Possessed by more powerful beings. So she wouldn't factor in to it.

      The way it's stated makes me think that some aspect of the power will involve possession. But I don't think being possessed counts as having a power.

    26. Juno (the Space Witch) had the hair that was the exact same "shade of brown" as Penny, wore it braided, and was very much possessed - of the will of the Jovians.

      Remmington 'Remmy' Fawkes hair is blonde, and her hair in pigtails (two big long ones - they went to her thighs apparently), but not braided. She did not appear to be possessed, but was out of her mind with jealousy.

      The children of the colony "nearly all of them had mouse brown hair," but there was not a lot of mention of specific hair styles.

    27. Juno, thank you. I just deleted what I had typed because I just realized that Juno show powers that could be considered Possession. She was able to control peoples minds to varying degrees. But my original question stands. Would you consider her being possessed by the Jovians as a qualification for the statistic?

    28. Can't tell what is she really is.
      Harvey mentioned that 'civilized' races were all indoctrinated into a type of thinking, which is hard to separate from being controlled.

      Being brainwashed, or being possessed, how can you tell the difference?

    29. Agreed. Which was why I was hesitant to include her. I keep thinking of when Penny looked at her through the Cats eyes, She saw some sort of Jellyfish looking thing surrounding her. It makes me think she was being possessed fully and that maybe her abilities were because of that and not her own.

  2. Richard may be hinting at Penny. After all; "what's possession mechanic". That's seems like a giveaway. I'm more interested to know who drop the ball and got "personal".

    1. I think it was Marcia. The first line is - I thought Marcia really had gotten away with it and everything was fine.

    2. I agree with Dark All. Marcia has already proven she is a bit over zealous with her pursuit of crime fighting. I'm sure had the Science Fair sting gone differently for her it probably would have been considered getting Personal. She's also a not nice word.

    3. Yea, I think it was Marcia.
      I am betting Marcia ran her mouth about Charlie.

    4. Say 'Charlie's family' and I think you'll be closer

    5. Knowing Marcia she was probably in her stride, she may have made allusions to a number of the children locally. Like "open speculation" with Charlie being the most blatant. It would explain why the Audit herself was giving the speech and not a more prominent (and active) hero like Mech or Marvelous.

      They wanted to scare the kids into towing the line, rather than have a friendly conversation.

    6. I would pay money to hear Mourning Dove's version of the Audit's speech. Gives "scared straight" a new meaning, it does..

    7. The Audit said some students would be getting the talk more then once. So you might get you wish, and it will only cost you the price of a e-book.

    8. Damn, can you imagine the look on their faces when SHE walks into the school. Might spark an evacuation.

    9. I'm thinking more about when she walks into a class with kids who's parents are on her list.

  3. Is there a planned release date for the next book of The Inscrutable Machine?

  4. Thanks very much, really looking forward to the book!!!

  5. Great teaser!! Eagerly anticipating "Don't tell my Parents I'm a Supervillain book 3". Hope now that her parents are more closely monitoring her she can get some actual training. Preferably from "The Audit". I'd like to see Penny receive some Mental training, and physical training from her mom. I mean they know she is going to be a superhero, they might as well train her to be excellent. Penny has been doing great as an amateur, but as her parents daughter the super powered community is always going to expect High tier performance from her in the future.

    In addition to her parents, I'm sure that she could arrange additional training through Spider for the teammembers. Yes penny's supervillian team has proven themselves capable, but anyone who is hiring someone for a high risk job usually ensures they are properly trained for the mission, or at least would quantity their different abilities and prior training before hiring them.

    Anyway Good work.

    1. Yea, training for Penny. And, training from Master Crabface for Ray.

    2. Claire is already getting training from her mother, all the time. Style, Cat-Burglary, fashionably lateness, etc. I wonder if she is giving her training on how to 'deal with boys.'

    3. Penny don't need training from The Audit. She need training from someone who can shoot. Her aim is terrible! She misses everything (remember T.I.M first fight with Ms. A). That's a glaring weakness in my book, hopefully some villain like Lucy or Bull will call her out on it and get her into some weapon training.

    4. Yea, that too. Really, any kind of professional training.
      She also failed when throwing the German Grenade, and said that she has arms like wet noodles too. Or did - before her Villainy Cardio Exercise Program. Hand-eye Coordination would be good to train. Or she could make a self-aiming weapon or something.

  6. Mr. Roberts, I was looking at the names you use - Ms. Harpy (ha), Ms. Stakes (mistakes?), Ms. Petard (a small bomb), Mr. Zweif ('myself' apparently), Charlie Kamachi (a fool), and Cassie Pater (as in Pater = Father, or paternoster the prayer?).

    Are they all significant, or just funny words that you like?

    1. Excellent question, William! I fill my books with meaning and foreshadowing, and also with red herrings, so these continuity discussions get pretty funny to watch.

      The names of Penny's teachers are all derived from the names of my middle and high school teachers. Mr. Zwelf, for example, is derived from one of my science teachers whose name was a different German number.

      Most (but not all) superheroes and villains in the IM world have names that are word play related to their powers or pseudonyms. Cassie Pater = 'Capacitor'. Her sister and sister's partner are Rachel and Ruth, Rage and Ruin. Bull's last name is Cuddihy, because... cud? Get it? The Fawkes were named after a rebel. The Tinsleys got their names a little more subtly. I wanted the most average, awkward, mundane sounding names I could get for two girls in touch with the Outer Darkness.

    2. What was Abigail's sister's name again? I don't think it was ever said in the books?

    3. Abigail's sister Barbara is a character in the third book. Penny recognizes the name Barbara Tinsley immediately, so there's no real spoiler in saying she's Abigail's sister here.

    4. Oooh cool. Also - I thought you wrote a short story with them for something? Whatever happened there?

    5. The more popular idea was the story of Bull and Evolution's meeting. He meets Irene in that story, too. I finished it a while back and it's waiting on editing. It will appear in an anthology.

    6. Thanks for the explanation.

    7. Mr Roberts, you missed the real spoiler. Bull's last name was stated as the last name of another character in the chapter 3 preview.

    8. So you intended to let us know that? I guess it was fairly easy to guess, but I remember you specifically not confirming anything when it was being speculated on

    9. Lets be honet, I think the majority of the fans had already guessed Claudia was Bulls daughter. It's always been more of a question who her mother is;
      Ie; Morning Dove as candidate number one. Perhaps Marvelous as number 2. I personally had discounted Bull as her father early in the piece as too obvious so it's actually a bit of a let down to learn that it's true.

    10. Oh wait. Just reread stuff, so Marvelous is only in her 20's? That means she is arguably young to talk about hero work the way she does...

    11. What is Bull's last name? I don't remember it, or where it was stated.

    12. Roberts stated his last name here in the chat a little while ago. By accident. Forgetting that we'd read the name in the chapter 3 post a little while ago.

    13. I never knew Bull's last name. I guessed that Claudia was Bull's daughter because when they met him in book 1 Bull referred to his daughter as "Cat," and Claudia's middle is stated to be Catherine in chapter 3 of book 3.

    14. I missed it until Shadowdancer pointed out it out - Claudia Catherine
      Puts her attitude in a perspective, eh?

    15. I'd be willing to bet money, that her mother is morning dove, and that this is why she has such vehement feelings about it.

    16. Claudia is not handling her situation well - whatever it might be.

      I hope they do not turn out to be her parents. An absent father, who is a famous villain, and a mother who is a victim of mad science and is famously a killer vigilante. That would explain her attitude, but would be too contrived.

    17. Bull being her father wouldn't be too bad, his connection to Penny might help Penny bridge the gap with Claudia. Also the gap between Bull and Claudia. I agree Morning Dove is a bad choice for a mother. I would think a former Super who retired to raise her would be better. The absent super villain father is enough to justify her attitude. I want her to have a very loving mother, because every time I read about I just want to give her a hug,

    18. Spot on.

      And, imagine the trouble with Mourning Dove showing up at parent-teachers day!

    19. I mostly just watch these discussions, but I'll give you this specific information:

      Mourning Dove has no biological children, and no adopted children in any direct parenting sense. She was in the vicinity of twenty when she died, and now she's an animated corpse incapable of reproduction and with no desire to reproduce. She has no libido to speak of, although it's hard to 100% remove romance from a human.

    20. That as you no doubt intended , just leaves me with more questions. Alright. I'm going back to my second choice of Marvelous until further notice.

    21. Isn't Marvelous still kinda young to have a child Claudia's age? I'm still guessing we've not met the mother yet. She married to Bull still, and by all accounts the still love each other. And her name is Irene.

    22. I'm not sure. It kinda hasn't given us much to go on but from what we were told Marvelous has been in the industry since penny was very very young. So she has to be about middle age right ? Thirties at least ? Mainly I just like her character and would like to learn that mothers can still be heroes ☺

    23. I think Marvelous might have noticed her daughter sneaking out to fight crime. And the community knows nothing of Generic Girl. Also if Bull is indeed her father then he has no clue of her powers and That something a mother would tell a father.

      Everyone is focused on her having a Superhero Mother. Did Roberts reveal something in a earlier post that I Missed? I think it would be more probable that the mother is either a norm or a super who never chose a side.

  7. I would like to make a statement. Of this latest leaked chapter. The thing that most interested me, was that Penny seamed 'surprised' by claudia's shyness at this point... Does this mean by this point people know Claudia has powers?

    More to the point - have they thought up of a better name for her than "generic girl' - cause seriously that's pathetic.

    More to the point - is possession power in the passive or active form. Being posessed/owened.. Or posessing/owning.

    ^_^ Cause lets face it - Penny is pwning the local super community!!!

    Jokes aside - I look forward to this and the other story when done :)

    1. I assumed that she's in the club. The teaser said that outside T.I.M, Marcia and Claudia, there's half a dozen other members in the class. That indicate to me Claudia is in the club also.

    2. I would say not, considering Claudia's reaction.

      I think Penny was referring to the student's that 'could' have jumped into a fight. And, that there were a lot of club members in the class. Two separate things.

    3. Claudia has seemed to aggressively maintain her anonymity and probably wouldn't join the group. Especially considering she's one of the few people who know the identities of the IM. Like wise Marcie is both powerless and stuck up. I doubt she would join the group because of who's in it.

    4. Actually since both of them are budding superheroes who take themselves too seriously, joining the club makes more sense than boycotting it. A good way to keep an eye T.I.M and get info on budding supervillain.

    5. Actually, in the chapter it said that Marcia and her friend were bragging about their hero exploits right near the end. So I'd say they've outed themselves and joined the club for the reasons Ghost just said. To keep an eye on potential villains.
      I'm still uncertain about Claudia. I want to see her in the club, cause I want her to realize that most of her classmates Don't see her as a monster or a thing (the way she thinks of herself)

      ^_^ Basically I want Claudia and Penny to become friendly enemies! Both of them deserve it.

    6. I can't see Marcie joining, even if it would help her keep an eye on the rest of the super powered kids. She's just to arrogant and status conscious to 'join' a group with Penny and Ray in it, much less run by them.

      Claudia on the other hand might join to observe the others, ESPECIALLY Penny, but probably wouldn't reveal herself just for that. Of course, unless Ray has come out as having powers, there is already a precedent for super hero/villain fans without powers of their own to join. I'm sure Claudia could play the part of a quiet but knowledgeable fan, if only because she's probably done considerable research on the supervillains she's had to fight. She could even pass herself off as a potential non - powered hero like The Original or Penny's mom.

      It could even become part of her Secret Identity. After all, no one would suspect the Boy Wonder of being Superman. ^¿^

    7. I could see Marcie spying on the club but not actually joining, for the reasons Schitzree pointed out. I've also always got the impression that Marcie tries so hard because she has no powers and is simply jealous deep down.

      Claudia on the other hand, views her powers as a responsibility. She keeps herself so low profile, I can't see her joining even to keep and eye on the potential villains. Also I don't think she's concerned about them. She flat out told Penny to stop playing at being a supervillain, If she joined it would have to be because Penny somehow broke the barrier and convinced her to try being friends.

    8. "Marcia and her friend Sue were telling stories to some kids, Marcia confident and Sue awkward, but still doing most of the talking."

      I don't think they were telling stories about 'their' exploits so much as stories they knew.

      So, probably not outed.

  8. Hey, The Audit put the eraserless pencil down on the desk with a dramatic click, then a moment later she points it at Cassie. That doesn't seem right.

    1. I figured picking it back up again was information that didn't need inclusion, but maybe it is. Thank you!

    2. Maybe it doesn't need inclusion. It just stood out to my eye. You're welcome in any case.
      Say, if you need any more proofreaders I'd be happy to help in any way I can. Nudge nudge wink wink.

    3. "She laid my eraser-less pencil down on the desk. Its 'click' echoed like a bell ringing as she finished." I took it that she laid the end on the desk to make a 'click.' Not, that released it.

      Different interpretation.

    4. That's easily solved. Instead of putting the pencil down, just have her tap it on the desk ?

    5. Speaking of things that made me go "Huh?" When Cassie said she had a giant monster I thought she meant Sharky because nothing else present looked giant and monstrous. I figured that they were working together, and he'd messed up Cassie's plan.
      Then later it turns out the giant monster was some electrical creation or something. I was expecting Penny to be surprised by that, but she had intuited more information from the situation than was present in the text.

    6. Penny wasn't surprised at all. She'd seen Cassie make a small electrical monster. It seemed intuitive to her that Cassie meant she made a very large electrical monster.

    7. Fair enough, but the computer lab incident was in the previous book so some clarification might help.
      By the way, in chapter 1 it says Penny and Marcia had both mocked Sharky for his name. I don't think Marcia ever heard the name Sharky before.
      Nitpick nitpick nitpick. :)

    8. I personally assumed Petters meant a monster she built. The original scene on the oval was very clear, she saw sharky as competition and hadn't wanted him involved. That meant Capacitor had her own plan which - apparently - involves a monster.

      Which gets me to a thought... Penny needs to build a mech... Like, some kind of tank buster mech or something for large or overpowered heroes.

    9. Giant Clockwork Mecha. O¿O

      Ooooh Yeah ^¿^

    10. What I'm waiting for is Penny to make a fake Bad Penny to fight. It's been in my head since the beginning. The only way for them to truly come out as heroes without people always wondering if they are the IM is to publicly fight and defeat them.

    11. I've been thinking about an android Penny too. Marvelous practically suggested it. It would be pretty cool, but such a creation would occupy a lot of space in the story.

      On the subject of mecha. I think her first one should be athletic and have the power to store kinetic energy. It should be called Isaac.
      Subsequent mecha could be named things like; Albert, Marie and Nikola, depending on their specific function.

    12. I think the best option would be to make the mecha be piloted/powered by the Machine. Then it could obtain the Machine's ability to absorb power. As for athletic, we already have plenty of agility between the three. Teleportation, and super athleticism are basically team ava... wait wrong series. Team Machine? (doesn't have the right ring)

      Point is, in gaming turns we currently have a DPS(ray) support(claire) and mage(penny) but they don't have a tank. And when other tanks or high level dps come a knocking, they need someone in 'armor' as it were to slow them down while the others deal the damage.

    13. Nah the team should not expand. There was a very important scene in Book 1. When they Play T&CS vs the other team and stomp them. Their success is because they work so well together adding another entity would mess that up. Their speed is one of their greatest assets, a tank would slow them down.

      Now I could see Penny making a suit of power armor like Mech's. Something she can summon when needed. She does need to make more toys for them all. I'm also waiting for more Ragdoll Zombie mayhem.

      As for team names. My guess is they will keep T.I.M. Either by defeating themselves and claiming the name as a trophy or much more likely they are outed and have no need to change names.

    14. I don’t see an increase in membership as a problem. I mean look at the Justice League. The Trinity (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) is the core and the main group has 7 members (Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash, Cyborg), but outside them there are several members the League can call up at any one time. As long as T.I.M remains the core, increasing the membership should not be an issue.

    15. I don't know if you are referring to the club or T.I.M. I was talking about T.I.M. because when all is said and done the club is not important. It's a means to introduce more super kids and create additional problems for T.I.M.

      Over population of important characters is a constant problem. If you've read Wheel of Time, you will know what I mean. I'm told Song of Fire and Ice is the same way. Even TV shows have the issue, the original run of Heroes kept adding new characters getting to the point of not being able to develop anybody's story.

      Sure Justice League and X-men can have a billion members, because most of those members have their own comics, not to mention multiple writers. Also Everyone of those superheros you mentioned were heroes on there own first. They don't need the team, it just makes it easier for them.

      Sure learning more about the other kids with powers would be fun, but not at the cost of T.I.M.'s story.

    16. If "Blew up the Moon" is any indication, the series will now focus on Penny and not T.I.M. I'm okay with that since Penny is the main character from the beginning. Maybe that's why I don't see an increase in characters as a problem.
      As long as Penny stay the main, having more side characters to play off could be fun. I think the most important things are that T.I.M stay as villains and that the books keep the fun vibe.

    17. The books are Penny's story, shes telling it. So it will always be focused on her,. See the problem comes in that Penny is a nice squishy human, hell a love tap from Claudia would turn her to paste. And she needs to have the other two around her when ever there is super size mischief and mayhem to be had.
      Now the few chapters we've seen have mostly focused on Penny the girl and not Bad Penny the super villain. Also don't forget that Penny and Ray are "dating" and she spent the whole of Moon wondering what it meant for them. So there are many more avenues to explore the other residents of the world. But I think the reality of it is, if Penny teamed up with others and not the rest of T.I.M.. It will ultimately end in a failure.

      It takes years and years to build the kinda of trust and understanding that T.I.M. has. Which is why they have kick so much ass. It's not because Penny is probably the worlds greatest Mad Scientist, or Claire's skills, or Ray's new powers. It because they instinctively know what the others are planing. And when Penny gives an order there is no thought just action. To really understand the level on which they work you have to experience it your self.

    18. blogspot really needs to have like buttons :)

  9. I just realised, after posting a picture of a ham bush... Nobody made the obvious joke about the document you also posted. Or how the Audit turning up to the classroom, along with Cassie's behaviour fits the theme....

    Darn, somebody ought to get onto this [whistles innocently]

    1. Homer Simpson: Oh, I get it! I get jokes! [laughs]

      Took me a way too long to figure it out!

  10. If "tier 4" is "so advanced it looks impossible", isn't magic identical with tier 4? A Clarke's Third Law thing? Brian Akk keeps trying to force magic into tier 3, where "you don't understand it, but you can see that there's something you don't understand", but I don't see how pieces of cloth that breed would make any more sense to modern science than rocks that create higher dimensional portal if you stack them just right, or a bundle of gears and a nine volt battery that can defy thermodynamics.

    1. Yes. Or at least that's my thought too.

      And by the way, Clarke's law goes in both direction (no seriously he's stated this himself). I would wager half the stuff Penny has invented that doesn't appear to be "magical" uses principals in magic. The russian witch from book one practically confirmed it saying she had brought magical weapons into the shop. And she hadn't made anything intentionally using magic at that point.

    2. I believe there is the added aspect of being able to duplicate the results. A mad scientist who deals with advance nano technology could potentially create a near identically rag doll army.

      So tier 3 is like knowing when you mix baking soda and vinegar it has a reaction, but not understanding the exact principles behind the chemical reaction. Tier 3 tech is just on a much higher scale them a science fair volcano.

      Tier 4 on the other hand seems to forgo standard patterns. It seems to ignore all known principles and defies understanding. I think it is pointed out that a core feature of Tier 4 is the inclusion of unknown principles. We don't know why it works and everything we understand say it either shouldn't work or it should work differently.

      Now there is one flaw with using Clark's laws in this situation. That is by all appearances Magic is 100% real in the world. Clark's laws was created under the assumption that Magic was not real. Sure it can still be applied in many situations, but in the end sometimes magic is just magic.

    3. Except when magic is science. Which as I said, I always find it interesting that people focus on Clarke's third law. I always liked the one : : The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

      Lets face it that's essentially what Roberts Tiers of magic are. Officially Roberts has said that there is no tier four. That tiers one through three are terms used by the science community to - in essence - describe how far into the reams of "impossible" a given technology goes.

      Combined with his third law we basically have a sliding scale.
      Tier 1: Pure science
      Tier 2: Science sufficiently advanced enough to look like magic
      Tier 3: Magic sufficiently advanced enough to look like science
      Tier 4: Pure magic.

      ie.. The Machine, is Tier 2 (operates on known principals of science but can't be explained why it works)
      Tier 3 are the Zombie ragdolls... Magic that looks like science.

    4. Isn't it Tiers of Technology and not Magic? Brian Akk is the one who talks most about it and he doesn't believe in Magic at all. To best of my memory it is used to describe tool and inventions.
      Also I'm pretty sure it's been established that The Machine is a Tier 3 technology. I believe her dad says it at some point.

      Part of the problem is that we as readers are operating with a greater breath of knowledge then the characters. We know the Ragdoll Zombies were created using a magic handkerchief. We know (or at least are mostly certain) magic is real. Where the characters are forced to rely on there own imperfect observations and sometime incorrect beliefs.

      So I would say objectively;
      Tier 1: Mundane science, nothing that can't be replicated with traditional science.

      Tier 2: Is advance scientific principles that traditional science can not readily duplicate. But still operate with in known scientific boundaries.

      Tier 3: Is based on unknown scientific principles and can not be duplicated at all. Except perhaps by the inventory.

      Tier 4: None existent as of yet.

      But again I doubt there is a standard for the classification. Book 3 might blow all our opinions out the window.

    5. Yes. Yes. Yes. (Cackles) no.
      Yes in that the tiers were designed for scientists by scientists and that there is no tier four. Yes that the definitions of the tech as defined by (penny's dad in particular) would classify objects as you stated. Yes we have greater knowledge than the characters. But think of this, we know there are magic users in that world. We know Penny herself believes in magic.

      How do you think she would define the tiers ?

    6. One thing I need to say on this tech vs magic thread is that I don't think we should tie magic and tech together. I mean for all we know, even though tech has a tier system in this world, magic might not. Also the argument that tier 4 tech is magic doesn't make sense because magic/abilities might not work under the same system. Richard hasn't written anything about that yet.
      For example, Penny's air cannon is tier 2 but that doesn't mean a hero/villain who can shoot air blast at the same power is a tier 2 blaster. Blasters can have their own tier system.
      So tier 4 tech should not be called magic because if you do that, then all magic is tier 4 tech and above. I think everyone can agree that this is incorrect. Tech is tech and magic is magic. Mixing them up will just confuse everyone.

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. Per Mr. Roberts, from a previous forum:

      "Tier 1: A device understood by normal science, but made more easily than it should be. Penny's lunchbox totally qualifies.

      Tier 2: A device that current science understands the basic principles of, but does not specifically understand how that device works. Something that could be made, with some research. A cybernetic eye like Red Eye's is a perfect example.

      Tier 3: A device that relies on physics that current science knows nothing about. Penny's teleport bracers. Vera. Probably Claire's frictionless soles. Penny spits out Tier 3s like they're going out of style.

      Tier 4: There is no Tier 4, because in theory, the top is just 'We don't have any idea how it works yet.' Brian uses it to describe a device that is so advanced that it looks impossible."

      And, "If there were a Tier Four, her Machine would be it. It doesn't just work on unknown principles: it shouldn't work at all."

      My take?
      "Tier 1 - cutting edge (or next generation tech).
      Tier 2 - leap forward in science (new tech).
      Tier 3 - unknown to science .
      Tier 4 - WTF?"

    9. I Knew I read the list somewhere. I agree that the Machine is a potential Tier 4, if for no other reason then it seems to be limitless. It's not true AI but it's never failed to follow a command, even doing things on its on Initiative to better follow those orders. She's upgraded it once in a few seconds, so she could do it again. It's damn near indestructible I'd bet it might even be able to absorb Kinetic energy under the right circumstances. And it's clockwork.

      Ghost, That was one of my poorly made points. Magic and Science operate on totally different rules, you can't classify them the same, Although the question is, did Penny use the principles of Magic or Science to make the Rag Dolls? If used Science does that make the Dolls Tier 3 by default because of the unknown principles behind the magical elements?

    10. Oh, it does absorb kinetic energy. Ray said, "I require the original's portability and its unique ability to absorb kinetic energy."

      While on the space station (Io I think), Reviled used it to hammer a railroad spike nail. They were in zero-g, and since it soaked up the kinetic energy he didn't get pushed away when he hit the nail.

    11. I had forgotten about that. But I was actually thinking about her possibly using it to absorb punches and other attacks. Just picture a super strong person punching her but hitting The Machine and nothing happening.

      I also forgot to mention that it also absorbs Magic.

    12. I've actually thought about the kinetic aspect a lot. If you think about it, the machine it'self only has the ability to eat any metal and withstand any attach because it absorbs kinetic energy.

      On a basic level as psudo-science it's like the aetheric generators in Moon. The Aetheric generators absorb ambient energy from the universe around it, amplifies it and makes it useful.

      The machine does it the same way, but with almost none of the same mechanics. On a level that quite frankly is magic - mere copper or iron has been imbued with the ability to absorb all kinetic energy to the point where it can cut through diamonds.

      Either that ... Or it's somehow absorbing the electrical energy that holds the atoms together at a base level.

      But as claimed above, Neither of these things explain how it can be sentient to the point where (I think) it's basically operating off Penny's subconscious (which would explain why it can 'hear' her through a vaccume)
      Nor does it explain how it can spit out whole working parts (within limits)

      Basically, as far as I'm concerned. It's magic that looks like science!

    13. I prefer to think that Penny is operating on such a high level of tech that when observed it looks like magic.
      The one Mad Scientist told her that the reason she has the black outs and trouble with her power is because she had a normal brain and it can't handle the super level knowledge.

      But what if she does have a super brain, but her power is simply that much more advanced. All evidence points to Penny being the strongest Mad Scientist in existence.

      First she doesn't need to stay with a style. I can think of at least 4 different ones she's used.

      Second she created/duplicated Vera. Tech that is implied no one else has managed to even understand.

      Three depending on how you see it she has created multiple Tier 3, and is a good argument to add a fourth Tier of tech.

      Four there doesn't seem to be any tech that her power can't understand. At a glance she saw the problem with the teleport science her father was working on.

      Five She can merge Magic seamlessly with her inventions.

      all of this less months after getting her powers, which everyone said would be years before it was fully active. And it does seem to be growing at an alarming rate.

    14. Well, Cybermancer told her that a regular brain can't hold a superhuman intellect.
      I don't think that he said that she would have problems like blackouts.
      I wonder what her powers are really all about. The thing with her replicating other's inventions really got me wondering.

    15. It was a bit of an assumption on my part. I was contributing the blackouts to Penny's need to not think to hard on what she's doing. Kinda like when your driving home and suddenly realized you don't remember the last 10 miles of the drive.
      As of book 2 it seemed like the blackouts only happened when she suppressed an idea for too long. And she is now better able to retain some memory of the inventing process.
      The early blackouts being caused by her brain not having adjusted to the super power. All assumptions on my part but not unjustified ones.

    16. I attributed it to working on any Tier Three (or higher) Device.

      From what I remember, she only blacked out when working on Tier Three Devices (or higher). I don't remember her blacking out on any Tier 1 or 2 devices.

    17. He think he kinda skipped over some of them, having them built between scenes. She did black out when ever she used the Puppeteer tech. The only time she didn't was the very end, when she blew up the moon. So it could be some sort of surge protector that shuts off her thinking brain when the knowledge is too much for her to handle.

    18. I can see it either way - if she has s super 'subconsciousness' that take over when her higher functions shut down it would explain the mania and lack of social skill.
      That would be better than being possessed.

    19. I like the idea myself. Partly because before the blackouts she will often have some control over what she's building. At least once she tweeked to plans before going under. If the Inventions were coming from something outside of Penny I don't think she could have even that small bit of control.

  11. Clarke's Third Law ("sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic") would have to go both ways, wouldn't it? From the standpoint of science, "indistinguishable" means "same thing" until you find an observable difference. One can claim they're different, but without an observable feature that sorts "magic" into one bin and "technology" into another, it's just speculation or a discussion of philosophy.

    And I assumed when I read that scene that the witch in the shop was complaining about the magic of Penny's cursed pennies, since she also complained about the technology. It's funnier if the witch is raising both complaints about the same items, though.

    And functioning nanotech machines are something you could detect, even if you couldn't make them. If you can confirm that nanotech isn't involved, reproducing pieces of cloth are back to "inexplicable". We can make water by burning hydrogen and oxygen, but if you have a bottle that pours water endlessly in apparent violation of conservation of mass, is that "magic"? "Tier 4" technology? Is this about the visual theme, where it's "magic" if the bottle is hand-blown with a fancy symbol on the side, and it's "tier 4" technology if it's brushed aluminum like a mac powerbook?

    1. You make good points
      No I'm not countering , you make good points. And Clarke law does go both ways. In a later book he stated "magic and science are the same in appearance and function. The only difference between them is our own level of undrstanding." So basically he said that magic is a form of science. My personal assumption was that she classifies Vera as part magic part science. Although her jacks and sentient stalagmites also feel semi magical in their function.

    2. Well, I was mostly agreeing with something you posted above, but I accidentally created a new thread instead of appending to the old one. I'm not sure how that happened, so there's a really good chance it'll happen again. Does clicking on a comment's "Replies" not append the reply to that comment?

      And yes, Penny seems to seamlessly mix magic and technology on a regular basis. Her power doesn't seem to draw any lines. Haven't there been people besides Penny who have said Conqueror Orbs use both?

      I would make the distinction, though, that while Clarke's third law makes a valid point about "technology", that law doesn't refer to "science": science is mostly just applying inductive logic, with a few tricks to avoid common mistakes. Scientists are particularly deliberate and thorough when they go about it, but I swear I've seen a dog use the Scientific Method (he worked a latch to open something, and then went back to check his hypothesis regarding how he managed to do it by closing it and opening it again).

      Brian Akk has his little lab and a presumably vast knowledge of the results of published scientific experiments, but it seems to me that The Audit displays a more blatantly "scientific" way of thought (when she's being The Audit). They're really a matched pair.

    3. I also Agree you make valid points. I said in the above thread you can't use the same rules with Magic and Science. I'm sure that some magic is simply a person exerting their will over the laws of physics and manipulating them. But then you'll find the ones who spit in the face of physics.

      Science is built on the foundation of set laws. Now those laws change and adapt from time to time as we grow to understand. But they are there, you drop a rock it falls. (without help that is)
      But does magic have the same sort of Foundation? Or is it a lot less rigid and infinitely more mutable?

      I also maintain that Clark didn't believe in Magic, and his laws were a step towards disproving it's existence or at least explaining away those things attributed to Magic. I think both can exist but they are apples and oranges. You can use magic or science to make one look like the other but it doesn't change what they really are.

    4. Well, if you count Magic as using energies that science does not even know about, you could put it all at Tier Three.

    5. Exactly. Which is why it needs it's own separate standard of measurement.

    6. I know science is taught by starting with basic laws and working upward, but actual science works the other way, starting with observations and trying to work out the rules that seem to apply every time. Laws are just patterns that have applied over a wide range of examples, and scientists are always looking for exceptions.

      Finding something that actually contradicts a law means the law is either wrong or it just covers a special case, and scientists get really excited when that happens. Well, theorists might get frustrated, since that means they put in lots of work and ended up describing unimportant edge-case, like Cybermancer apparently did. He said Brian Akk proved him wrong, but he can't have been altogether wrong if his model produces a reliable product, can he?

      And magic as an act of will sounds a lot like Tolkien's magic, but in these books magic seems to have more structure than that: Penelope's power seems to figure out how a spell is operating and make adjustments to the model by applying tools. Figuring out how something objectively works and using that is engineering, and whatever you've figured out is science. It might be a new branch of science, if it's not connected to anything else you know about already, and you might want to give it a separate name (like "magic"), but once you start mapping out the behavior you can treat it like any other science (as the Conquerors apparently did).

    7. Nothing you said changes the fact that you can't measure distance in pounds. They can do the same things. They can cancel each other out. They can be merged together under the right circumstances. But none of this makes them the same thing.

      Even if Roberts were to reveal that at it's core magic was just a for of super science, you would still need a different unit of measurement.

      Small quantities of solids and liquids are measured in Oz. but once you get to a certain point it changes to Pounds and Gallons. Go out and buy me a pound of milk and I'll shut up.

    8. Well, yes and no. You can use the same scale.

      Tier Zero is well known, or common place magic. Common house wards, or cosmetic charms.

      Tier One is cutting edge/next gen magic, more efficiently designed magic – wards that now protect against every known sort of scrying, and all known wiretapping and spying, and covers more than one room like the previous wards.

      Tier Two is a leap forward in magic. House wards that somehow protect against quantum effects, like entanglements.

      Tier Three is magic unknown to science. Ward that protect against methods of scrying/eavesdropping that the caster is not familiar with (from dimensions that the caster never even conceived).

    9. I was actually thinking about this on the way home from work. I was going to say you can use the same scale just different qualifiers for the tiers. I'm never meant to imply that magic can't be quantified like science/technology. Just that they need to be done separately. Like Dark One said most magic would end up as tier 3 by default.

      It just now occurs to me that some of this is moot. The Tech Tier's are mostly being use to describe the tech used not the actual inventor. And honestly we've seen very very little magic items in the series. The handkerchief, the jade statue(by extension the pennies), the roof top store was full of stuff but it was only mentioned in passing. I can't remember anything else off the top of my head. The stone portal and ancient spear in Moon, were never positively identified I think.

    10. There was a mention of all the charms that Witch Hunter was supposed to be packing. His 'spell breaking' gear.
      T.I.M. could have bought some at the Magic Shop, but declined because Little Grandmother would not talk to them.

    11. Oh DER!!! I just figured something out.
      Penny invented the anti-friction boots after being levitated by Marvelous. That's probably where they come from, she figured out the spell (after all, she said the spells weren't in english but she seamed to be able to understand them)

      The anti-friction pads have levitation charms woven into them.
      And once she understood how marvelous casts magic, she might have invented Ray's "boom" gloves that way too.

    12. That's a possibility. I would be more willing to except that she was inspired by that then figured it out how to use it. If Penny is able to learn to use other peoples powers as well, she could become one terrifying person.

    13. Still looks to me like there's a terminology disconnect here rather than an actual disagreement. Science: the process of carefully applying inductive logic to observations. Engineering: using established rules and expectations (from scientific research, established traditions, rules of thumb, superstitions or wherever) to build things out of available materials. Technology: the products of a set of engineering capabilities. That's how scientists define science, but screenwriters often do it differently, usually by making "science" into a kind of engineering.

      TVtropes.org references the same definitions when it describes the popular storytelling trope "Science is Wrong", and raises the same complaint about it that I do:
      "There really shouldn't be any reason a system of observation can't find a pattern with magic unless that magic is specifically changing its behavior upon being examined. Even when this is the case; it often seems the only time magic changes its rules is to invoke this trope." Link here.

      I've actually been kind of impressed by the way this book series handles the concepts. Brian Akk makes valid points rather than flimsy "straw-man" arguments, but he seems grumpy and frustrated about things that confuse his brilliant mind, so maybe he's too dismissive of magic? Reminds me of Einstein's reaction to quantum physics' randomness and "spooky action at a distance". Reminds me a lot, now that I think about it: he kept designing experiments to disprove the parts he didn't like, and the results kept showing he was wrong.

    14. Also, I've been rereading the books, and Penny invents the anti-friction pads several chapters before Marvelous levitates her. Clair gets them before the parking lot fight where they first encounter Ifrit, and Marvelous meets and levitates Penny after they hit the school and junkyard, but right before they go after the dragon's blood and encounter Ifrit and Marvelous again.

    15. Really ? Snap. This is why this subject is so hard for me to debate I keep getting facts wrong and undermining myself. And I personally agree with you in that people tend to confuse "science" and technology. Magic is science. Even magic that defies known rules of science does not inheritly stop being science. They constantly discover or make new things that defy the known rules. I think people (like brian) simply like to think modern science was the first time people thought scientifically. And therefore anything from before that (magic) is inferior or unenlightened.

    16. My problem is that I have long ingrained views on magic. My general view of magic is the manipulation of forces that goes beyond the realms of science and reason. I don't sometimes except super science that gives the appearances of Magic (like the technomages from Babylon 5)
      I've seen no evidence in these book that Magic is just super science. Although it's not to say that some magic is super science while other magic is strange mystical powers.

    17. The problem as some said is in the definition of science. A lot of people like to treat science as a finished thing. A noun. An object with defined properties and nature. But it isn't it's a term to describe a process of learning which means there is known science and unknown science. And no matter how much we like to think otherwise unknown science is unknown. Where most cases in magic the user's don't care if the "why this works" is known or nor so long as it works.

    18. I have seen many, many magic system in games. They tend to make a science out of it, basically a repeatable event.
      Guy by the name of Isaac Bonewits wrote a nice GURPS book, and he said that the main problem with magic is that there are too many variable to any spell to repeat exactly.
      You have intent, time, astrological events, target, etc., that all change the way it comes out.
      Basically, it's not that it is not scientific, but not consistent enough.

    19. Good points. And Magic can use scientific methods to do amazing things just like technology.

  12. I was just thinking about the name Mad Science. Penny didn't like it (at first), and I was stuck thinking about another name.

    Then, I was reading another series, Wearing The Cape, and they call their Mad Scientists "Verne" Types, after Jules Verne, I think.

    That - Vernes, or 'Teslas' would be a good alternative name.

    1. Her original objection is that she thinks only Villains are call Mad Scientist but after both her dad and Mech uses it shes fine with it.

      Wearing the Cape is a good series. The Verne types are like Verne's books a bit more weird science. So not a great fit I think.

      Now Tesla was a great man, and never got near enough credit. Also happens to be a bit of Idol for Penny. Now something based on him would work great.

    2. Well, Tesla's would fit then in that world.
      But, I read a few things that make him a great scientist, but not exactly easy to get along with... so, perfect for Mad Scientists.

    3. In the Wearing the Cape Series you have ‘Verne’ Types creating –

      ● Nearly ‘true’ A.I.’s
      ● Mecha
      ● “The Stuff” (an adamantium-like substance)
      ● A Plague of Godzillas (plural!).

      Penny made a ‘true’ A.I. (Vera), and self-replicating Zombie-Rag Dolls. And, the ‘Mad Scientists’ of Jupiter made Mecha. So, I would say that they do have a lot in common.

      Now, I am not really saying that the name has to change. I was just sort of thinking about the name is all. Penny did eventually embraced it. But, if she wanted to make a change, she could push for it.

      One of my other favorite ‘Mad Scientist’ is Agatha Heterodyne - “Girl Genius!” When she started creating, her process was at one point called ‘Heterodyning’ (after her great hero inventors and ancestors – the Heterdyne Brothers), to differentiate it from what other (bad/insane) Mad Scientists did.

      If she (Penny) wanted to, she could declare that what villains like Bad Penny does is ‘Mad Science,’ but what “she” does is different – “Tesladyining.”

    4. The main difference between Wearing the Cape's Verne Types and Don't tell My Parents Mad Scientists is that Verne types almost always defy known laws of reality and their inventions tend to be impossible to reproduce or even work for others.

      So far Robert's has stayed mostly within the realm of what is believed to be possible. Many of the inventions and science are thing scientist have theorized about over the years. We might not have the faintest clue on how to create a wormhole, but many educated people believe it's just a matter of time.

      The key factor in Wearing the Cape is that the powers people gain is almost entirely shaped by the individual. Anything is possible, absolutely anything. The T.I.M. books appear to have a bit more structure to the power system.

    5. I can’t exactly agree, but am not sure that it is worth debating ….. but since this is the internet….

      Vulcan made gear for Astra (basic armor), and Brick wore manufactured Dragon Armor (Quote - “Verne-tech and sorcery fusion made in freaking China!).
      I would save that it is reproducible and did work for others. And, that is not the only example.

      Some Verne-tech is un-reproducible and defies the laws of science – like The Machine, and the Elephant Attracting Umbrella.

      Oh wait, that is from Please Don’t Tell My Parents….

    6. Astra's armor, her clothes and other such things use the Stuff. The Stuff is made by Vulcan and only Vulcan. It can only be manipulated and used by Vulcan. I personally wouldn't count something like the armor as Tech for the sake of this discussion.

      I agree there are a number similarities between the scientist powers in the two series. I guess it mostly just how I feel about the "Mood" of the two.

    7. Well, they are close enough, considering that they are just made up as an explanation of cool stuff.

      And, I agree, in that Please Don't has a different, and in my personal option - better, tone than Wearing the Cape. I like it much, much, better.

      Hope/Astra is funny, a -pixie-sized Pollyanna Superman. But, I like builder - Mad Scientists, 'Level 12 intelligence,' 'Makers,' "+Brains," or any other super science types.

    8. I agree. Amazon actually recommended these books because I was reading the Wearing the Cape series. I jumped on them because I love mad science. Of course I should point out I found the Cape series Because I also read the Peter Clines Ex-heroes series.(Superheroes and zombie apocalypse)

      But out of all of them these are the Funnest to read.

    9. Jim Bernheimer's Confessions of a D-List Supervillain was my gold standard for good super-hero books - until I ran into this series.

      Read Ex-Heroes, and plan on catching the next, some time.

    10. I've been eyeballing Confessions, but I read so many series that adding a new one is daunting. And Ex-Heroes is a great series, well worth the read.

  13. I've been thinking about the significance of Vera's reaction to the Puppeteers.
    Because Vera is an imitation of a Conqueror Orb you wouldn't expect Vera to particularly care about Puppeteers, but Vera goes berserk and even starts ignoring Penny.
    Penny didn't make an imitation, she somehow made a real Conqueror Orb without ever having seen one.

    1. Yes, that was noted before, that Penny was replicating the tech of others - Conqueror Orbs that reacted just like the originals (with a bit more of free will), & Wonderland's Sugar Tank were the main examples.
      Makes you wonder if the teleport bracelets, and Claire's Footpads were original or someone else's inventions.

    2. I assumed that Vera's reaction to the Puppeteers was more of a hardwired reaction. Penny made a duplicate of the tech but with different programming. Like installing Linux instead of Windows on a PC. At the core its the same.

      Her Sugar Tank wasn't necessarily a copy of Wonderland's. Her parents speculated that Bad Penny was using other people's tech because she was using multiple tech styles and didn't believe a single person could make it all. Of course it's never stated one way or the other.

      She did get the inspiration for the teleport bracelets from her fathers notes. So maybe she's not stealing other people's tech just using it for inspiration.

    3. I always assumed reading the story that Penny found pieces of a broken orb, got the machine to re-constitute them, and then programmed it herself.
      So it has a personality and stuff but the weapons and much of it's cpu/processor or whatever it uses in place of those things are original hardware.

      It's like taking a ps3 and chopping it up and programming it to be a xbox. Vera basically IS conqueror technology, but not actually a conqueror’s orb.

      And since the puppeteers and conquerors are apparently in a psudo blood fude - I could see her being hard-wired to kill puppeteers.

      I could also see Vera being terrified of herself as a result - but in some strange way Roberts seams unwilling to give the reader true emotional connect with any of Penny's tech.
      I'm hoping this doesn't mean, in the same way that Archimedes died, vera is going to.

      I really hope not. Cause while we haven't really seen it like that in the book, very is kinda Penny's daughter when you think about it.......

    4. Did Archimedes die? Didn't she send him through the portal with Harvey to the Red Herring?

      I feel the lack of connection to Vera on an emotional level is that Roberts knew she wouldn't be sticking around. She is a bit over powered and she tends foil the tension. To a lesser extent Archimedes could be used to stop many threats. It's the reason for most of the bull in Superman comics. When nothing threatens the hero and they can easily overcome any obstacle is there really any enjoyment to reading about it.

      And I think Penny created Vera not fixed broken pieces. I know the parents speculate the reason for the Landfill raid was to get a buried orb. But in that scene no orb is mentioned. I do believe she used the radioactive material to create her.

    5. Yeah, she created Vera from scratch after pulling resources out of the landfill. She didn't even SEE any part of an Orb until they hit Mech's Lair.
      Which is why it was so weird that the Vera acted so much like a real Orb. That fueled the first conversation about Penny's Powers on the previous forum.
      And, all we know about Wonderland is that she used a sugar tank with a wand, just like B.P. did.

    6. This is but isn't true. If you re-read when penny looked in the silo during the mining op, she saw what looked to be pieces of quarts amongst the stuff mined up. And when she got home, the first thing that happened after she came too was;
      "I opened my eyes to see The Machine spit out a spere of quartz the size of a tennis ball"

      In other words she didn't really do much too the orb itself. She describes electronics and ceramics and the hands and a few other things that she HAD been working on but whatever the main body is made of, it's something the Machine could put back together without her having to go through a massively complex process.

    7. All that means is she used the Machine to create Vera's body. There is zero evidence she found an orb. Cause she instructed the Machine to get pure materials. and the line you referred to is "That clear block was glass, yes, but the block next to it looked like quartz. Sweet! Just what I needed." The key words is Block of Quartz.

      Also the Machine has trouble fixing certain things. When it eats and regurgitates all her fathers old tools, a bunch of the more complicated tools were spit out in pieces. So if it can't fix a human made machine, I doubt it could simply fix a Conqueror Orb.
      Building something from scratch is often easier then repairing a damaged one. Some things that break can't be fixed.

    8. Except that she only 'Thought it was quartz'. Remember this is all from her perspective. Its like, she thinks her bracelets are a teleporter, but after experimenting realised that their time manipulation.

      And Roberts himself has said; just cause Penny thinks her tech works a certain way doesn't mean it does.

      If people are wanting to know how vera can be such a perfect copy of the Conquorer orbs to the point of going on autopilot when surrounded by her species' arch enemies: than this is the most obvious answer. We know Penny is capable of fixing conquorer tech. She saw a busted orb in Mech's lab, and her power wanted to fix it. The power source for the bomb in book one she said looked "like conqueror tech" and in book two she was adapting orb fragments to make weapons.

      When all is considered this means either one of two things.
      Somehow she has conquorer schematics being beamed into her brain (supports her mum's theory that she's being influenced or controlled by conquorers)

      Or she found pieces of orbs, and her power spent hours while she was blacked out figuring out how to reprogram and re-purpose them.

    9. Try to understand. I'm not saying she found an orb, as though to down-grade Penny's genious, or say that she didn't build Vera.

      She is a genious. She did build vera.
      I'm just implying she didn't start from scratch.
      As that would be very unlikely considering (as pointed out) she didn't even know what conquorer tech was when she build Vera.

    10. Lets put my thoughts into more coherence. What I think basically happened with Vera, is that the conquorer orbs are not made of a mineral naturally occurring on earth. Just like their power sources are not naturally occurring on earth.

      I think what she 'thought' was quartz was actually an alien crystal. (and lets face it, quartz is just Silicon-di-Oxide "industrial glass" in the building industry)
      She then looked at the patterns and coding programmed into the glass, compressed the substance down, replicated the original functionality that she saw in the broken pieces, added a new power source (probably a more efficient one, resulting in Vera being much smaller than a normal orb)
      And after doing all this, when the orb was placed on her workbench a basic self aware 'personality program' was wirelessly uploaded into Vera's mainframe....

      ... and come on... Even if this meant she didn't start from scratch with no prior knowledge of Conquorers or their tech.

      She is still a fracking genius if she can accomplish all that!

    11. And final statement, yes you were right, Archimedes 'lived' (if you can call his existence living), I was remembering it wrong.

      I do find it disappointing on a basic level that Roberts keeps going:
      :: Penny invents life in the form of The Machine
      :: -- Oh it's not really alive, it just acts like it is.

      :: Penny invents life in the form of Vera
      :: -- Oh, she has personality and stuff, but she's basically just really smart AI, and has no emotional attachment to Penny
      :: --- And Then Vera moves out and lives with the Aparition and there's barely a tearful goodbye/

      :: Penny bio-engineers something that should be alive, a cat.
      :: -- Oh no - it is even less alive than the Machine was and can be thrown away with no emotional attachment at all.

      ... Heck. starting in the third act of book one, and continuing through book two - The Machine doesn't even more about on it's own unless it's working as a plot device, blindly following order. Where in act one of the book, it was chewing on Mech's thumb and running around excitedly.

      Honestly. It's like Roberts doesn't WANT us to get emotionally attached to them. No wonder I thought Archimedes dies. He just gets lobbed into a spaceship with no goodbyes or anything!

    12. See I would use Vera's increased skill set to justify her being built from scratch. In Moon, we learn the Conquerors were built a very long time ago, and they are just running on autopilot now. Yes I know at least some of them have something like sentience(The Orb of Heaven for one)
      As for Alien Mineral. So far as we know everything in the universe is made of of the Elements of the Periodic Table. Sure we find new elements(or make them) all the time. But it's a good bet that go to any planet in the universe and you will find the same elements. So if they were made of some alien material then Penny could probably replicate it.

      I just really like the idea that Penny is badassed enough to create Vera all on her own. To me it makes the story that much more entertaining.

    13. It could just be that Roberts is opposed to the concept of creating Artificial Life. I don't think anyone should be blithe with life.

    14. Yah... spose. I personally feel the old classical rules apply. If you create new life you should treat that life like family. Specially sentient life. Which is where Roberts seams to be cheating in that there is always some excuse for why her inventions aren't sentient. 😑

    15. Well it's always been my experience that it is difficult to write pets into stories. The ended up being more background and often pulls focus away from the main story.

    16. On the subject of Vera, here is the full quote, “The Machine opened up obediently to let me examine the collection. That clear block was glass, yes, but the block next to it looked like quartz. Sweet! Just what I needed. The sugar cube was finished already.”

      The things that jumped out at me were – “collections” and “clear block.”

      And, on the page before it, “Yet another mini-Machine emerged, this one a long, crawling metal centipede. My copper block got sucked in, then spat back into place as a finished cube.”

      In the book, during the scene at the landfill, all the material was chewed up by the mini-Machines and processed by The Machine itself into pure collections of the same sort of thing – a block of copper, zinc, aluminum, and lead, a clear block of glass. ‘Clear’ glass, without apparent impurities.

      The ‘most obvious answer’ is that it was as a pure block of raw quartz before Penny used it to make Vera.

      If there were an Orb Crystal in the landfill and the Machine were separating out material, it is much more reasonable to believe there would have been two blocks collected – a block of alien crystal and a block of quartz collected from the landfill.

      Shadowdancer may be right, but I don’t believe so.

      And, I am hoping that the sugar was cleaned up, and the impurities separated out, before she made candy out of it. They ate some of it (the pills to protect against her ‘harassment rig).

    17. And, I am not sure what the 'bomb' thing that Penny made is supposed to illustrate (from the previous post).

      Right before she made it, the passage reads as -“I needed better weapons anyway. My power dutifully threw up a plan, and I set the Machine to eating quartz while I filled the smelter with plastic.”

      The quartz was processed by The Machine prior to being used to make the weapon, so any saved programming from The Conqueror’s would have been ‘chewed up.’

      And, it was made both after Vera, and after she saw the Orb in Mech's Lair.
      At that point it could be Conqueror Tech, or Penny Tech. You can't point to it’s origin any more without a lot more information. I assumed it was window dressing for the weapon she made (and was appalled by).

      But, we don't know.

    18. And, Shadowdancer, the bracelets you mentioned may or may not be teleporters, or time manipulators. You assume that Penny’s Power can’t properly recognize quartz, but that she correctly identified the process of somethings she made in a black-out.

      Previously, she saw her father’s teleporter. So, they could be reverse-engineered teleporters.

      The section where she explains about her bands starts with “Which left me with only one thing to do. I lied!” Near the end she says, “For all I knew, that ‘was’ how the bands worked.”

      Even Penny did not know for sure.

      So, she could be right, and made time manipulators, and wrong about the quartz (and it is an alien Orb Core). Or, she could be right about the quartz and wrong about the time manipulation (and actually made teleporters, or a worm hole, or something crazier). There is no sure proof either way.

    19. And, as to not being attached to Vera, or the Machine, well… “Vera wasn’t a tool, or a weapon. She was a gift. That was why I’d made her. I felt a little like crying” and said, “Yes. You have my blessing. I’ll miss you.” Not overwrought, but not exactly emotionless either.

      Add to that her state when she lost the machine in the second book (taken by Juno), and you can’t say she has ‘NO’ attachment to her creations.
      “I checked my wrist…. The Machine wasn’t there. They’d taken the Machine. Cold crept into me, an unbearable aloneness I couldn’t remember feeling before. What was worse, dying out here in this empty closet, or losing the Machine forever.”

      Also, she ran to the Machine first, to check it, before checking on Claire and Ray after GGirl kicked their butts.

      So, definitely an attachment.

      However, I agree on your point about the Machine’s self-will Shadowdancer. Sometimes it acts on it’s own, and sometimes it does not. But, they all are aware that there is more to it than they know. As Ray said, “Part of what it does,” after Penny said, “And I know what The Machine does!”
      Then they got surprised when it produced the mini-Machines.

      So, we will just have to see what else it can do before we can state for sure that it is alive, or not, or something even weirder.

    20. I don't think that Archimedes got a send off because Penny was disgusted with bio-tech.
      She tossed him in , and swore... "No more biotech. No more Puppeteer anything. Humanity was not 'civilized' because of me."

      That, and he had no mind of his own to hear a goodbye anyway.

    21. I always like hearing your responses Luis. But seriously did nobody pick up on the sentence I said earlier

      Quartz is not a unique mineral.
      Quartz is naturally occurring glass.
      If quartz had been dug up it would have been in the glass block.

      And also asking if her power can recognize quartz.. don't we know her power doesn't know words ? That's why she has trouble knowing how things work. She thought it was quartz that's all we really know. Her power just though "YESSSSS".

    22. Oh and southard I'm not saying your responses are bad. They are well thought out and I understand why you think that way. I think the chatters on Roberts books would all fit very well as 'friends of Penny' we all seam to be geeky enough.

    23. Also.... GGirl. Lol. Just lol.

    24. By the way, Penny actually did encounter Conqueror tech before she built Vera.
      Remember the Energizer Marcia brought to the science fair? It wasn't an Orb, but if her power is learning from what she encounters it could have picked up Conqueror tech there.

      Also, the text is very clear that she didn't bring back anything intact from the landfill. Just blocks and bars of raw material. The Machine didn't bring to the surface anything that hadn't been processed.

    25. Kristy I love to discuss and argue, but it's been a very long time since I've been able to do it and I'm a bit out of practice. I can also be quite an ass at times, It just happens when I'm enjoying the discussion. I actually prefer when people disagree with me, this place wouldn't be any fun if we all agreed on everything.

    26. Hey Kirsty. I caught your point.
      I was just pointing out, as Mr. Blaggart stated, that everything was in a 'collection' of the same stuff. It was all processed by the min-Machines first, and again by The Machine into a single solid.
      It is possible that Penny got a cube/core, and rebuilt it - with her own touches.
      I think it would be a much more likely that she just made an Orb from raw materials.

      And, Mr. Blaggart, good catch. I'd forgotten about the Energizer. it came from the "invasion, the one that officially didn't happen."
      That was the Conquerors, I think, so she saw an example of their tech.
      However, it was not an Orb. And, her power did not seem to kick in when she saw it, not like when she saw the Orb in Mech's Trophy Room (it gave her directions on how to fix it), or when she corrected her father's schematics in her head.

      I hope we find out one way or the other in the next books.

    27. Actually blaggart, now I think about it, there is another place she'd seen a conquorer orb before. When she was told about the Orb of Heavens being the ig orb in the library - the book said she'd seen it a dozen times not knowing it was conquorer tech.

      So good catch making me think about that.

      And Southard, it's no problems. I love debating personally but I get that a lot of people can get worked up. or start taking it personal.
      Like the heros and villains in Roberts books, I'm not big on getting personal, I just enjoy being a good antagonist!

      ^_^ And I do really enjoy these discussions

    28. She did see the Orb of Heaven before Vera, but she never saw it when she had her powers. Of course it would also go along way towards explaining why Vera has most of the functionality of the larger orbs. Penny's power saw it in her memories and did it's thing.

    29. Ha! Yes, that's right!

      But, now we are left not knowing anything again.
      The only other 'duplicate' is Wonderland's Tank and Wand set, and we know nothing about it, or if she could have seen any part of it.

    30. Where did we learn about Wonderland in the books again ? I'm too lazy to figure it out. Did she see articles on her or anything ?

    31. The only mention of wonderland that I remember is when Penny's parents are analyzing video of T.I.M.'s attack of the warehouse, or mech's lab. They think she may have gotten her hands on one of Wonderlands.
      She wasn't much of a Super Groupie like Ray and Claire, But with parents still active in the community, she may have seen or overheard something.

    32. I only remember them mentioning the Sugar Tank and Wand in the second book, when they start comparing Penny's Powers to B.P.'s, right before she went to meet Lucy.

    33. I like Dr. Who, and Unknown Armies.

      They both play with titles, and Archetypes - The Doctor, The Girl Who Waited, The Last Centurion, and The Master.

      It matches really well with Superheroes - the Original (a copy of Batman looks like), The Expert, The Audit, etc.

      If they really play up the - "Tech Thieves" part of T.I.M.'s reputation, they can really keep their parents thinking on the wrong track. T.I.M. are Tech Thieves, and Penny is the Clockwork Girl. Two different things altogether.

    34. They can't possibly be related, right?

  14. You can't get 73% from a sample size of 19. The closest you can get is 14 out of 19, which rounds off to 74%.

    1. the irony is, that could just mean she's uncertain about one of those 19 ...

    2. Could be that she doesn't round off her percentages instead just cuts off at the decimal.

    3. The Audit - round off!!!

    4. I'm tempted to post a clip from The Princess Bride

    5. I think it does fit with what we are talking about....

      Statistics, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    6. Yeah. Found it via nostalgia critic. Funniest movie ever 😀

    7. I have been looking for another good, funny movie. The current bunch of movies is all too serious.
      Anyone know of any in the spirit of Please Don't....

    8. Super hero movies? Hancock is good. The pre cg hulk movies are nice too. And what was that movie with the home improvement guy as a Flash rip-off :/

    9. Hancock was ok, but the super heroes movies with a sense of humor are rare.
      The ones that try too hard to be funny are just not. Shows like the Thundermans, and the move My Super Ex- Girlfriend don't do anything for me.