I have not added to my novel word count this week. Not a single word.
Instead I have been researching body modification, as that’s a key part of the novel. Before, I’d mostly looked at how science fiction treats it, from the somewhat bizarre notion that tweaking a person’s DNA can dramatically and almost instantly modify their appearance (as far as I can tell, a serious misunderstanding of how DNA functions in embryology, but a common trope in popular SF…I think Star Trek started it) to the idea of using technology to become better than human – Iron Man to the ‘steel-heads’ of Dark Angel. And in written fiction, too.
This week, my research took me into the reality of it today. It seems a world of extremes. On the one hand you have the cutting-edge medical uses of modifications, from prosthetic limbs to plastic surgery. The pacemaker is so well accepted today we barely even think about it. There are portable dialysis machines and insulin pumps.
On the other side, there is body modification as an aesthetic. Piercings and tattoos are as common as the less-than-permanent modifications women use as a matter of course (I have both): I mean things like hair or nail extensions or even makeup. Stretching the ear lobe is pretty common today, too; I know a couple of people who have large rings in their ears and I see them frequently in strangers. But these barely scratch the surface.