Tuesday, January 31, 2017

And another thing -- Notes I forgot to stick in about Toner's skin (super people)

I realized that I left something important out about Toner: her skin.

I have a tendency to leave characters largely undescribed, including skin color, and I need to break that.  I also have a problem that comes from growing up almost, but not quite, exclusively surrounded by white people.  If I'd grown up across the river in Portland then racial diversity would likely be my default assumption, but in South Portland . . .  yeah.  So that's something I need to break out of too.

I think I might be doing better on breaking the second habit than the first, one, which doesn't help much because without description no one notices I'm not shoving forward a bunch of white Anglo-Saxon  characters.


It's particularly notable that I fucked up the "remember to describe characters" thing in Toner's case because I put a lot of thought into it given her nature.  Squid skin has some very interesting stuff going on with it.  Not as much as octopus skin, but some very interesting stuff.

So, part of why Toner can pass as total human without covering her body completely is because her skin is not a squid-ish pink.  It's a human-ish brown.  It can do the same dark to light color range as most squids, just in brown instead of pink/red, but one has to remember that squid-white is a color that no human being should ever look.  Toner can totally turn her skin white but it's not “white person” white nor is it what one sees in cases of albinism and similar conditions.  It's more of an “Oh my God!  Are you about to die!?” white.  With possible bits of "Are you already dead!?" thrown in.

Beyond human-ish brown, she can also do some shades of blue, but it's never been that useful to her.

Another thing that's never been very useful is something that I happen to find amazing.

Every part of a human body can pick of vibrations, and thus can “hear” to a certain degree, it's just that the ears are made to be fan-fucking-tastic at it.

Squids have a similar thing going on with vision.  All of their skin is photo-receptive.  It can all, after a fashion, see.  It's not like sight as we know it.  When we see things the light has been passed through an aperture (the pupil) then a lens, then any empty (ok, fuild filled) space, and only then hits the photo-receptive cells.

That's how it gets to be picture-like and not "blah".

Squids have eyes that are remarkably like our own (there was much debate over how the fuck they got that way) but there are key differences.  No color vision, no blind spot, different means of focusing.  Not that much when you consider the complexity involved in an eye like that.  Thus squids can see as we can see, but they've also got this other sense.  The skin-vision that we've really got no common ground to base our understanding on.

Without an eye, any given bit of skin gets hit by photons coming in from all directions.  It's like if instead of exposing film via a camera you just left it out to pick up what it may.  Yes, how exposed it was could tell you if it were dark or light, and you'd have some sense of the average color of everything in the vicinity.  But it's basically junk.

Shadow sensing is, however, really useful if predators tend to swim above you and block out the sun because that tells you when to do evasive maneuvers.

But rewind to the thing about leaving film to be exposed without the help and direction of a camera, that's approximating one photo-receptive cell.  Squid are covered in them and they point in all directions and given the amount of processing done by the decentralized parts of the nervous system . . . it's like nothing we know.

Also, while Toner gets her color-vision from the human influence on her eyes, ordinary squid don't have that going on.  It is believed that unlike their eyes, their skin might be able to sense color.

The reason that this doesn't matter much to Toner is that she keeps her skin mostly covered up.  Her neck and face below where a nose would be are the only parts exposed to much in the way of light.

But she does swim sometimes.  Her life involves more than being the resident tech genius, after all.

1 comment:

  1. That is *cool* info -- I did not know that re squid skin! I love learning new things. :)