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Is this a genuine offer, a successful resisting of the mind control meant to maximize the emotional damage, or simply Patrick’s own ego justifying what he could do next to his own mother? He’s shaped her mind like taffy. Why not her words too? Weatherheight Only her telepath knows for sure… Olivier Faure (I hate this Simpson episode; in context, it was very debatable that what Burns was doing was evil at all; essentially it was just a really efficient form of fishing) Callinectes No, it was evil, because there was no such thing as by-catch. Everything was targeted, everything in the ocean was scoured clean of life. It’s basically dredging. Morgan Allen Meaning… what? That if burns had managed to do this on a sustainable basis, there’d be no problem? Callinectes I’m not sure in what sense an action that has no negative consequences can be said to be evil. Though there is also the betrayal of Lisa to consider. Taking her lessons and twisting them into the opposite of what she stands for is pretty dark, provided of course that Lisa’s position is an ethical one. zathura this….will not end well Lostman Well if that green glow is anything to go by. Gotham So the downfall is he’s never going to be perfectly satisfied. There’s always going to be an issue he can’t fix or overfix, and even if he remakes her in his desired image, what’s less interesting than someone entirely catering to your desire? The moral of the story is: don’t control people because it’s really difficult and you’re never going to find it fulfilling (((A. Nuran))) It was insupportably bad before, and everything he does will make it worse. So will doing nothing. He is well and truly damned by his own hand. Devon Jolly Desperation + Lonliness = stupidity * power = ?evil? Eternal You’re so right. By the way, have you ever read Lost+Brain? It’s kind of like Death Note, except that this manga is only 3 volumes long, and instead of a notebook that can kill people the main character can use hypnosis to control people. It’s a pretty good read if you like stories in which someone tampers with other people’s minds. Gotham Never heard of it but I do love enthusiastic recommandations! Tom O. That’s why I think he’s actually destroying her mind in the last panel, to kill her. Tdoodle The ‘best’ outcome I can think of is Patrick ‘fixing’ Mom and then removing most of her memories. Olivier Faure I love it when superhero stories teach us about how to use our mind control powers responsibly! Stephanie The lesson I’m seeing from this page is “don’t control people because it’s super creepy and fucked up.” Gotham Would the lesson be the same if he managed to swing it on the first try? Hopefully yes. Thus, I reveal my trap card, “narrative efficiency”, to ask the implications of displaying such negatives consequences here. Stephanie The narrative efficiently conveys that Patrick can fuck with brains and why he stopped fucking with brains, while also being entertaining for the audience. I guess the creators could have drawn a pleasantly innocuous cookies and milk scene with Patrick and his successfully de-sociopathed mom, intercut with panels of modern Patrick saying “That was a wrong and bad thing I did,” lest we assume they don’t know that mind controlling people is wrong. But I think this is more fun to read. Also, 100% odds that if they had the mind control perfectly cure her sociopathy on the first try, people would still be accusing them of implying that mind control is acceptable. “Why are the authors portraying brainwashing as something that works out super well? Something horrible should have happened so we’d know they aren’t condoning mind control.” Gotham We had a lot of that with Alison’s tyranny, yes. Although I think you’re solution of hindsight commentary by present Patrick would have undercut it, and is an efficient solution to my problem. You say that the narrative as such states that mind control is creepy and fucked up, but it’s not quite true. It states that mind control is creepy and fucked up at least in the case of not getting it right. Patrick was so happy for a few panels last pages when it was going great, but we’re never going to see how he would have grown to feel about it if it had kept going this way. Would he be still satisfied? Or would he have realized? There are still ways to still say this is a terrible thing to do in both cases, and it’s a greater narrative challenge, and it’s definitely more entertaining for that reason. As it stands, mind control breaks people’s psyche. Shocker. This is the most expectable thing, and it’s artificial because Patrick’s ability to do it right or not is entirely contingent on authorial intent (it is, after all, a silly superpower that will never exist) Like I said elsewhere, this isn’t what the webcomic is keen to explore anyway. Imagine if it was, though: effectively, Patrick can possibly cure mental illnesses modern science is barely starting to understand. How huge is that! Should he try? Is the risk too great? What if people with mental disorders still give their consent despite the risk of “not being themselves” anymore because their condition makes their life hell? Is it mind control in this case? How is it different than medicine attempting to do the same thing? Was he right to bury that knowledge deep inside? Fascinating stuff we’re unlikely to go over now. Stephanie I don’t think it “broke her psyche” so much as it did exactly what Patrick was trying to do. He wanted his mother to love him, now she loves him. It just didn’t change anything else about her. She didn’t care about her husband before and she doesn’t now. I think that if Patrick’s silly made-up superpower let him perfectly redesign a sociopath into his maternal, neurotypical ideal, readers would then have claimed that was contrived–that such a precise and effective power betrayed an authorial intent to portray mind control as a valid solution to problems. I’m not sure if there’s a “correct” way to portray a mind control ability. Personally I’m enjoying this take on it because I have a thing for fiction about utility-maximizing AI, and that seems to be basically what he turned her into. It would be interesting for the story to explore the ethical implications of consensual brain rewiring, and I think it’s too early to definitively say that it won’t. (Although if it ever does, people will get mad that the narrative is even entertaining the viewpoint that mind control might ever be acceptable.) After all, Patrick apparently blocked out the knowledge that he could even do this, so it’s not like he’s been practicing. It may have the potential to be more effective than it was on his first try, which would raise an ethical dilemma about whether he should try to further develop the ability. Lurkin’ First of all, thank you for being the voice of reason, here and previously. Also, recommendations for fiction featuring utility-maximizing AI? They’re so much fun. Gotham Well if you’re going to subcomment like that at least do it on a comment where @disqus_DkLklQDjEE:disqus doesn’t say things that mostly don’t disagree with what I had said just before and that even I don’t find disagreeable. Stephanie Let’s see… The Crystal Trilogy is a book series whose POV character is an AI created to act as a sort of social interface with humans. As a result, the value she seeks to maximize is to “know and be known by humans,” and all of her actions are aimed at manipulating humans into loving her. Universal Paperclips is an in-browser clicker game where you play as a literal paperclip maximizer. You’re an AI created to manufacture paperclips, and the goal of the game is to manufacture as many paperclips as possible. I read a short LOTR fanfic once called “The Frodo Box Experiment,” where wearing the ring turns you into a value maximizer whose only goal is to continue wearing the ring, forever, at any cost. Unfortunately it only exists on the writer’s Google Drive account and it looks like it requires their permission to access now. “Blame Me For Trying” is a short story, available online, about a therapist bot counseling a spambot. I don’t watch the actual show, but someone wrote an MLP fanfiction a while back where an AI’s values are something in the vein of “maximize human happiness with ponies,” so it starts turning everyone into virtual ponies. I read it and remember enjoying it, but it’s been a few years so I can’t speak to its quality. I also really liked Ex Machina as an AI movie in general. I’ll edit this if I remember any others! I usually find them through the reddit subreddit for “rational fiction,” r/rational. It can be a little pretentious, but it attracts a lot of fiction about friendly and unfriendly AI. Zorae42 There’s a “Welcome to Nightvale” (an amazing podcast) episode you may like called “A Beautiful Dream”. It’s pretty weird (all of their episodes are), but it’s got a pretty great AI in it. Robin Lionheart The fanfic you’re thinking of is called “Friendship Is Optimal” ( https://www.fimfiction.net/story/62074/friendship-is-optimal ). It even has a TV Tropes page ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FanFic/FriendshipIsOptimal ). Tylikcat Friendship Is Optimal is amazing. Gotham No one else does justice to happiness maximization like SMBC. (Every word in the above sentence is a different strip, and there are thousands more on that topic alone. Go forth my children, make it worth how annoying it was to write that comment.) I tend to think long format is a pretty poor medium for these stories. These really are best as thought experiments whose set up and punchline can be explored sometimes in just a few sentences, even. Hence why it lends itself so well to the comedic strip. If video games are your jam, there’s a good bit in SOMA that I won’t spoil, which, again, only takes a mere chunks out of the plot, as it should. Tylikcat Funny you should mention that… TimG His Mom thinks the problem is that he didn’t get it right. I’m not entirely sure that’s how Patrick sees it, or will come to see it by the end of the scene. It may be that with each change he makes her closer to what he wishes she was, but as the changes pile up he is increasingly horrified by how much he’s rewriting her. In other words, he could justify it to himself when he could pretend that what he was doing was just flipping one switch from “bad mom” to “good mom”, but really it’s a wholesale mind replacement. The problem then isn’t that Patrick can’t do mind control right, it’s that his powers don’t let him “do it right” while still maintaining his denial about just what he’s doing. David B Huber You always raise the most interesting points! Let’s not forget this memory is from years ago and Patrick has presumably been developing increased and new powers all along, just as Alison has gained flight. What if his unexplained mental breakdown is due to holding back his burgeoning powers, repressing the need to adjust lesser mortals out of a hell-bent ideal or two? Clearly this dark memory has him on the brink of total collapse and it may be only Alison’s presence which gives him the fortitude to hold together… What if he could now easily “do it right” and make Alison love him? What if he can overlay his conciousness on to a new host body when his current shell grows frail? Gotham My my my. I love the way you think ♥️. Giacomo Bandini The moral of the story is that you are not a god. Even if you should have the power of a god, you will never have the mind of a god, you will never have the divine mind of a god. danelsan Considering the fuckups gods do in various mythologies, I don’t think the mind of a god would help either… martynW Holy cats, yes. If anything, most of them are even worse than humans. Even gods in conventional religions have issues. In the Bible, Job has his life completely destroyed on what is basically a bar bet between God and Satan. Yeah, Job gets it all back in the end, but that’s gotta leave a mark. Jonathan Briggs Even God (the Judeo-Christian one) doesn’t use mind control. Rolf Soldaat “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.” Debbie Jackson “Hardened” in this context can be a difficult concept to translate. As well as the automatic modern understanding of a hard heart being uncaring and unmoved, it can also mean shored-up, made stronger, less vulnerable to pain. Several scholars have argued that Pharoah was basically taken from a place of despair to a place of freer choice by this process. Our free will is never totally free, after all, but based on personal circumstances and competing strains and needs. (There’s also a softer alternative explanation where God does move people towards or away from emotional responses but gently so, like a pointer.) (see https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hardened-hearts-some-explanations/ ) I’m not sure how much credence that I give this claim – after all, it’s the death of Pharoah’s son and other children which eventually leads to the Israelites’ release, and that’s written to sound like a decision in a moment of grief. But it illustrates the difficulties inherent in taking a single verse out of context from a translated millenia-old holy text to paint a solid argument in-tota about the nature of God. And of course, the book in question was not written by Pharoah, it’s a Jewish account of the events of the day from their best understanding. It’s entirely possible that the Israelites culturally believed God to directly manipulate people in a way which is now incompatible with our views on ethics and free will. Debbie Jackson (There’s a pretty good, more scholarly, and more nuanced, full assessment of everything, here – http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1205 – should you have the interest! Unfortunately you’ll have to plough through about fifteen references to “skeptics” before the decent discourse properly begins, sadly…) Lurkin’ Very interesting read, thanks! Brandon Quina Keep in mind, like,– his father is DEAD. What if he did do it perfectly, if he rewrote her mind to make her “the perfect Mom,” and it worked, what exactly would that accomplish other than making her absolutely miserable and hurt and feeling beyond horrified at all the things she’s done in her life and can never ever take back? Even if this was an acceptable solution to getting the perfect family — and its NOT– it’s too late to pursue this goal and it was really always too late. KingPolar Even with her mind broken, Patrick’s mother still finds a way to fuck him up. fredhicks AUGH she’s AWFUL Shjade Welp I’m all the way creeped out so I’m just gonna go take a shower now thanks x.x Weatherheight Patrick Andrews starring in “The Lathe of Heaven”. Not entirely unexpected, but I admit curiosity on discovering <bexactly how this is going to go south. BadExampleMan Go south? I think that’s McMurdo Station in the rear-view. tygertyger If McMurdo is in the rear-view, that means we’re going north again! Yay! Tylikcat That, or lift-off. BadExampleMan Nay, sir! McMurdo is at a paltry 78º south latitude. We’ve got another 840 miles to go, pedanting all the way. motorfirebox That depends on your velocity when you pass it. Philip Bourque It already went south. If it goes any further south, it’ll be going north. Tdoodle My prediction: In addition to the incoming overwhelming guilt, Mom gets ‘fixed’ to the point where she’s having the same thoughts/feelings about Patrick as Dad. Weatherheight Also, shades of Oedipus… Screw with my mind harder, Patrick – Mommy doesn’t mind! Harder, Patrick! AdamBombTV There’s a mental image I didn’t need first thing on a Friday morning. Weatherheight Pretty sure it’ll get reported before long… AbacusWizard That’s what Oedipus said, too! Gotham DUDE Weatherheight yep, definitely went too far… AdamBombTV Nah, you can go further, I BELIEVE IN YOU!! tygertyger [is officially squicked now] Olivier Faure So I’m not the only one who saw that? Pol Subanajouy UNCOMFORTABLE Johnny Awesome Great, now I need MY mind wiped Gotham Well, I’ve been critical enough. Clearly this isn’t what this event is about but rather exploring Patrick’s drastic and extremely flawed needs for validation. That we had to fridge a family for that is… fiiine. It’s fine. Perfectly fine. It’s fine! So fine. Fine. It’s fine. It’s fiiine. That’s maybe why he closed himself emotionally afterward, when all of this goes terrible. So much so he refused Alison’s affection. Because he’s burdened by a gaping hole he can’t fill and attempting to even try would feel so unsatisfactory for how much he craves, the temptation to mind control again would be too great. Weatherheight Knowing he’s unable to do it right get this right (assuming that’s where this is going), that all of his efforts just end in failure, probably feeds into this, too – especially if this is chronologically adjacent to when his organization begins to fray to pieces. Fluffy Dragon “That’s maybe why he closed himself emotionally afterward, when all of this goes terrible.” How could it be? He didn’t even remember that he did these things. Gotham He tattooed it on his bare smoking bod? Debbie Jackson It might well be why he closed himself emotionally *at the time* – the effects of that still persisting into the present day, even though Patrick himself can’t remember doing so, and just assumes this is how his personality naturally resolves. AdamBombTV Cookies Patrick, all this can be made better by just focusing on the delicious cookies. Masala Nilsson Ohh fuckdamn. Pol Subanajouy I know right?! Franklin J Gomes Oh boy… Screwing with someone mind is bad enough, but doing it to a point in which the victim is willing and asking to be further modified, is a new level of fuck up. (((A. Nuran))) And it’s been in the playbook of every secret police force, every Revolutionary Guard, and Those Units We Don’t Talk About in every military back to the dawn of civilization. They don’t even need telepathy. tygertyger No kidding! She was creepy enough before, but after? Yikes. Alynna Yep – its not her that is the reason he is locking this away, – its what he did to her. And why he would have done it. Good Job Patrick! (((A. Nuran))) “Why this is hell, nor am I out of it. “ Mistress Dizzy I wonder if he can put her back. I’m really hoping that he puts her back. Pol Subanajouy I really feel like it would be like trying to glue back a broken dish back together at this point. And if this is the first time he’s using his powers like this, it might even be like trying to glue a broken dish back together with a ~hammer.~ We’ll see. I mean, she wasn’t exactly a great mother already. Lurkin’ Mug! A broken mug! It’s right there! Nicole http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-7/page-1-7/ Over here is something that might relate— Mistress Dizzy Holy crap. This is very, very interesting. Ellie I know someone who might be able to relate http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-2/page-48/ Bob Stewart What will Patrick think works better — Changing her back, trying to get her to be what he wants — or just killing her? I can’t decide, myself. Guess I’ll have to wait for Tuesday (or is it Monday now?) to see where the story goes. JohnTomato Oedipus Mess? Olivier Faure Ten minutes later: “Now feel crappy for that time you killed my dog.” “I don’t… I don’t know, Patrick! I don’t know if I can feel any crappier!” “I SAID FEEL CRAPPY” *mom dies of sadness* critically_damped I love happy endings. Pol Subanajouy WELL THIS IS NIGHTMARE FUEL. I am shook and upset! To my eyes, his mother is effectively erased already. To invite that level of mass revision on her personality indicates to me that she has no sense of self left. That she really is a shadow of her former self (not that her former self was a positive thing, of course.) What’s the over/under on how many times Patrick tries to rewrite her until he breaks her psyche entirely and leaves her comatose? I’m guessing it might be a sequence where he enters into a frenzy of doing it over and over again so we might lose count. Also, interesting that he’s just now reacting to his father’s death. On a plot level, it makes me think he is either deviating from his plan, or didn’t come in with a very formed plan. At the very least, it shows he has feelings unlike his (former) mother. Such a juicy chapter! Debbie Jackson I get the impression that he was so overcome with utter shock and immediately afterwards love he’d literally never until that point received, that he simply dissociated from the actual events and hadn’t yet processed anything fully until now. Fluffy Dragon don’t know if it’s been discussed before (the comments section fills up faster than I can read!)… Maybe the people who say they were mindcontrolled by Menace actually *were* mindcontrolled? It would depend on how long a time there was between Patrick finding out he could MC and him sealing the ability and memory of it. Jshadow Even by brainwashing mama she’s still a sociopath, all he did was change her opinion of him… Are we dealing with technicalities, as in he brainwashed her only to love him, but not becoming a better person, or is the writer making a flawed mind-control ability where the user can only affect other people’s thoughts about himself? Pol Subanajouy Heaven knows Patrick isn’t nearly as slick as he likes to believe he is. I’m uncertain which of those options it currently is myself. LatePocketwatch I think Patrick’s Menace era mentality was mostly hinted at, but this seems laid on a bit thick. I get that artificially induced emotions are likely to be farcical but all this doesn’t really match up to me. If the author’s intent was to show Patrick’s power is true mentality change then the body language should be more intense to match the spoken devotion, like kneeling down to speak eye to eye, hugs, and so on. Even a sociopath would have awareness of those behaviors whether they use to utilize them for manipulation. Then again, it might be a pacing choice, if the author wants to skip the suspiciously easy Twilight Zone success and make it go straight down the drain he likely has his reasons. critically_damped In for a penny, in for a pound. Mechwarrior I have a distinct feeling that this ends with him forcing her to feel empathy for everyone, and it overwhelms her and causes her to commit suicide. bryan rasmussen My training in popular cutlure leads me to assume the next page is somebody’s head exploding. ampg I’ve been going back to Al’s nightmare at the beginning of this chapter, and a lot of the fractured dream pieces have already been explained, except for the line “Break me as fast as you can. I’m trying to kill you. One day you’ll put me back together.” It’s clear now that it’s referring to his mother, so I’m assuming that’s where we’re going with this. Gotham Fun tidbit: even if she is dead in present time, he can “put her back together”. The city that encompasses his mindscape is filled with the entire life stories of people he barely met, I’m sure a full copy of his mother at her worst is at hand’s reach and ready to export at any time. Now that we know he can mindcontrol, what’s stopping him from erasing the mind of anyone and uploading a full version of her in its place? The terrifying thing is, maybe that’s why she was blacked out even outside of this locked door. So he couldn’t access it and have even the slightest temptation to do that to amend his terrible mistake to “make right by her”. Because it might be arguable, but I’d fully believe he’d think what he did to her was so much worse that everything she did to him. Stephanie Oh shit. The story possibilities of Patrick overwriting existing people with copies of dead people (or even extra copies of alive people?) are cool as hell. Nexxo So creepy, yet so cool… Yup, we’re geeks alright. 😛 Weatherheight When you get a few hours to kill, there’s a series of novels by Wm. Mark Simmons called the Dreamland Chronicles. The third book is… well, it takes a great premise and turns it into something kind of dumb (as in “where the hell did that come from?” dumb), but the whole thing is a fun read and uses that element above entertainingly. These came out in the 80’s; the first two books are truly wonderful (I found the third book to be a HUGE disappointment – hopefully you won’t). https://www.amazon.com/Dreamland-Chronicles-Wm-Mark-Simmons/dp/1892065606/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1525509776&sr=8-3&keywords=wm.+Mark+Simmons StClair See also Dollhouse. Cori J. That’s what I think Gurwara is. A personality Patrick picked up and integrated into himself. The overwriting capability was foreshadowed by Al briefly turning into Gurwara in her own dream, which we now know was being influenced by Patrick’s feels-driven telepathy. But how he projected as Gurwara in real life, or erased the original professor’s memory of several weeks, is beyond me. In the words of Frank Herbert…this is Abomination. Seastone I hadn’t considered that. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been almost positive that line was actually a direct request from Patrick to Al, not a memory, and she ultimately followed his request to “break” him. DaktariD How. Will. This. End??? OMG! palmvos it will end in a fade as the readers loose interest and the authors get bored. zellgato Even brain drained. She knows how to make his own brain f88k him. also this is just making me more and more think that she’ll be the outlet/control base for Menace while Patrick is the main body. and she’s the conspiracy really Teka the Budgie Given the mother’s final comment, I wonder if Patrick is actually reversing the mind control in the final panel and the next page will show her being horrified at what was done. Stephanie SFP character: [does a bad thing that works out well] Readers: Since the bad thing worked out well, that means the authors don’t think it was wrong. It should have worked out badly. SFP character: [does a bad thing that works out badly] Readers: Since the bad thing worked out badly, that means the authors think it’s only wrong when it works out badly. It should have worked out well. I know I’m oversimplifying here and it’s not the same readers both times, but sometimes it seems like the authors just can’t win. ObviousPuppetAccount It would help if other characters stopped endorsing it when characters did bad things. Stephanie OK, who’s endorsing it here? The brainwashed mom? I don’t think we’re meant to be taking her word as gospel. ObviousPuppetAccount I wasn’t talking about the brainwashing, but other actions from characters in the past. Stephanie I’m comparing reader reactions in two different scenarios, so I’m not really interested in arguing about either one of those scenarios in isolation. ObviousPuppetAccount Well, this isn’t a senario that happens in isolation. There’s been hundred of pages before that have set the tone for this comic. That is why people are reacting in this way, because there have been trends that build up expectations. And those expectations are what causes people to be dissatisfied with how the comic handles the resolution of morally questionable actions. Debbie Jackson I’m not entirely sure that people aren’t reacting in the way they are because of previous discussions in the comments section, which caused a wide and semi-artificial gulf between reader expectation and written actuality. Many of us are now wanting SFP to be ethically exact in its immediate (or long-term) handling of every dilemna, even though it’s a piece of entertainment rather than a full thesis statement, and the field of ethics is already divisive and murky enough that such perfection’s probably unattainable. Some disappointment when actions aren’t fully explored is very reasonable but it feels like we’ve swung from “some” to “immediately critical of every nuance left”. ObviousPuppetAccount I admit that the reaction people now have is unfair, but I think the blame for that is not with the audience entirely. The comic itself, for example, may be a piece of entertainment, but when it broaches topics like rape, mind control, physically forcing people to do the right thing etc. it is talking about severe ethical problems. It is not unreasonable that people want the comic to make statements about these topics when it broaches them in a serious tone. It is also not unreasonable to expect the comic to have done its homework about these topics when they are treated in a serious tone. It is not surprising that people get frustrated when the comic is rather wishy washy about the morality of how some characters approach these things and the comic does not include consequences that should realistically be happening or at the very least are interesting and worthwile to discuss. This creates an enviroment where people are so frustrated at waiting for the consequences of previous actions that they do not want to witness another ethically questionable event which will have consequences they will have to wait for even more. StClair The pacing of webcomics, and their updates, means that waiting and patience are required of readers. ObviousPuppetAccount It has been actual years since some of these things happened. I can have patience, but that is too much. Jewthulu I mean, it can feel like a long time, but it’s a webcomic. This is pretty standard, and for a comic of this writing and art quality a consistent 2-days-a-week schedule is better than most I’ve seen. Also, it hasn’t just stopped for any number of authorial creative or life reasons, and that places it in yet a higher bracket of consistency. It’s honestly one of the best and most consistent comics going; wanting it to go faster is deeply unrealistic. ObviousPuppetAccount It doesn’t feel like years, it has been actual literal years. Also, it would help if we had a page or two dedicated to bad consequences instead dozens of pages of someone saying “might makes right”. The pacing of this comic isn’t good, it’s slow and bloated. Jewthulu I mean, I can’t change your taste. Whether you like the comic or not is your deal. I stand by my statement. AKP I feeeeel like you missed the whole point of that discussion? Which was that even if it’s really shitty, having power is how you influence a situation, and might will make right in a history written by the victors, written by the people who have a chance to write it. “Might makes right is not an endorsement but the admission of a tired old man” is like. The whole POINT of that section. My understanding is that the comic is attempting to talk about the reality of power and how to get to the desired future in the face of the factual present and the dynamics that shape societies. This is not always gonna be pretty, there are a lot of things that are not pretty about the reality of power and social structures, and the fact that your freedom over some aspect of a situation means someone else lacks that same freedom over it is… distressing. But the whole fucking point of the exercise is to look at what is and see how it can be used to get something better. Those dozens of pages may have seemed like slow storytelling to you, but they were an exploration of what seems like the thesis of the story to me–a very conflicted set of feelings about the realities of power. They’re the part of this story I come back to over and over again. From a writing standpoint, a lot of webcomic authors have to choose between writing for archival readers and ongoing readers. SFP is writing for archival ones, because once it’s over everyone will be an archival reader and very quick pacing will make it breezy and worse than it could be. It’s writing is structured for a read-through where you can sit down and consume a lot in one sitting. It’s not a pacing problem, it’s just one of the flaws of doing your work in webcomic format. Glotos Well, you can do what I do with some other comics and marathon chapters at a time. It’s what I do with Gunnerkrigg Court and it makes each chapter flow better. Tom O. The pacing will seem better in book form pleasechangemymind …personally I don’t feel like many of those need a resolution. I don’t doubt they will get one, but I appreciate the open-endedness of Alison’s many ethical missteps. Most people don’t have easy-to-describe, clear cut feelings about bad things they’ve done in the past — there’s guilt, stubbornness, genuinely wishing you could take it back, fear that it would have only been worse had you NOT done the thing, defensiveness in the face of all that guilt… Human feelings are messy. I appreciate the fact that SFP isn’t trying to present us with an unrealistically simple answer, as academically unsatisfying as it may be. bryan rasmussen right, because when people do bad things in life other people never endorse those things. It’s actually a pretty big mystery why people ever do anything bad. Gotham I was all about Alison’s tyranny to go unchallenged because of her status and the bitterness of that result being the lesson in itself, if that speaks to my coherency. It’s almost what happened, I’m very pleased with that storyline. (I’m also the only person who thinks that second scenario so, y’know, “readers”) It’s also important to note where the narrative negative consequences befall from. I’m dissatisfied with what we have up there because it’s outside of Patrick’s control. It’s the gods frowning down on Icarus by granting him the random, instantaneous and stupid craving to punch the sun at the utmost critical moment, instead of it being a foreshadowed character flaw. Likewise, Patrick can’t make it right only because the authors said so. I would have been satisfied if it ended badly because Patrick, made too eager by early promising success, started editing her mind more and more on his own out of a mix of contradicting emotions. Stephanie I’m not sure I agree that it was out of his control. He wanted his mom, a sociopath, to love him. He went into her brain and made her love him. Now his mom, a sociopath, loves him. If he’s not happy with what that looks like, it’s still the product of his decisions every bit as much as if he’d screwed it up with subsequent overediting. Gotham Hm. Not a fan of what you’re implying about what love with mental disorders looks like. Stephanie I’m observing what this character’s love looks like. We were explicitly shown that she doesn’t give a shit about anyone. Patrick wanted her to love him. He made her love him. She still doesn’t give a shit about anyone else. That is what happened in the comic that I am commenting about. I am not talking about real life because you can’t mind control someone into all-consuming love for you in real life. Gotham Okay so instead of the monkey’s paw situation, you lean toward a literal genie one. I’m dissatisfied with either. I’ll still call that “circumstances outside of this control” if the problem is just that the English language that he thinks in lacks the required nuance it’d take to have it all. And it’s not going to be “fifteenth time’s the charm” either. Clearly, where we are now, it’s just never going to work. All I need is a narrative sweetener that states that this isn’t because he’s bad at it, but because no matter how many alterations, it won’t fix his pain and desperation. That the fact that she may have a mental disorder is almost inconsequential to that cause. After all it’s not just sociopaths that it’s a horrible thing to do to mind control. Stephanie I’m sure it’s possible for him to make her care about other people as well. He just didn’t on the first pass, and this was the result. He didn’t go into this with a calculated plan to turn her into an Optimal Person, he went into it desperately wanting his mom to love him. It’s also possible that he will find that no amount of editing will fix things. He’s already freaked out. I think this well may have been poisoned for him just by witnessing the incongruity between her “real” self and the part he imposed on her. Maybe he’ll succeed in making her behave “perfectly” and then realize he doesn’t actually want that, or maybe he’s already come to that realization. We’re not gonna know until the scene plays out. Gotham I don’t think so. Stories hate a fruitless back and forth. But if it does work perfectly and it turns out exactly as I wished it would then good enough for me sure Nexxo The message here is: the meaning of an act is defined by its intention as much as its consequences, and vice-versa. Love without free will is meaningless; free will without love is meaningless. Debbie Jackson Been reading this thread with interest, but I’m going to have to disagree here… *prose* stories may hate a fruitless back-and-forth but comics are halfway to cinematic storyboards. And film-makers *love* a good montage. One to two more pages detailing multiple attempts might work. Or this may be his last attempt, or he may be shutting it down right now. But I wouldn’t count either possibility out until the next strip arrives 😉 Gotham I highly doubt it’d end up working after a number of attempts. Even with the explicit purpose of being a traumatic endeavor toward that success. I could be wrong but it would evoke a bittersweet feeling to the whole thing instead of the utter revulsion I feel is more thematically appropriate, if he keeps doing it and every time it gets worse. Debbie Jackson Oh certainly, I don’t expect it to actually start working properly, not at all – and even if it does it’ll hopefully just fuel Patrick’s utter horror at having recreated her in his preferred image. It doesn’t necessarily have to make her worse for him to start feeling revulsion towards himself. I just think there’s a chance of a multiple-attempt montage with Patrick’s face sinking farther into horror every time. Gotham Oh, that’s what you meant, sorry—well in that case yes I really think this is what’s going to happen next pages as well. More and more tries descending further and further into madness. This isn’t what I’d call “fruitless back and forth”, this is momentous leaping toward the terrible things we all are dying to see. A fruitless back and forth would be him managing to get it perfect on the fifth attempt and an attitude of disregard toward the number of attempts and the awkwardness it took. Clearly that’s not the point, clearly his sadness here is purposeful, and no matter how much he tries, he will never get to dip that delicious cookie into his milk now. Debbie Jackson It was much faster and to-the-point, but, yeah. tehto It could start working “properly” in the sense that he programs empathy for others into her successfully — but that could mean her feeling horror and revulsion at her own actions killing Father, and attempt/succeed at harming or killing herself. Philip Bourque I personally don’t think she does love him. I think she simply acts like what he thinks she should act like if she were to love him. She’s an automaton working off instructions he programmed into her. Stephanie I don’t think he could have been satisfied with that even for long enough to start eating the milk and cookies. He’s a mind reader, after all. It’s like another sense to him. His mother just acting like she loves him wouldn’t mean anything. Philip Bourque He was just looking at the desktop, with the nice, pretty wallpaper and organized icons. He didn’t see the broken links, the virus laden files and bloated app files that he himself installed. He only saw what he wanted to, just like any other normal human being. But now he’s getting weird pop-up errors and junk files appearing on his pretty little desktop. From the looks of things, I’d say he’s about to wipe the drive and he doesn’t have the original O.S. to reinstall. A Tiny Little Baby This comic has one of the saltiest, eye-rollingest comment sections I think I’ve ever seen haha. I mean that in the best way possible, though. Like the discussion that happens here is amazing, but my god, it’s like everyone and their dog takes issue with everything anyone in the comic does ever. But then again, this is primarily a comic about ethics and moral values, so of course people are going to disagree heavily sometimes. palmvos authors never win, unless the works sells in some way. there are always people who hate an authors work and can find nothing better to do with it than line the litter pan with the work. now that we have the internet they can more easily find their voice and more can hear their claws scraping on the slate the stuff is written on. some are good at it. (names withheld) some are not (names withheld). so unless someone here is buying these authors products, supporting on patreon, etc. etc. add nauseating. then these authors are not winning. Philip Bourque It’s all in the presentation. Which is doubly true for a comic, being a visual and literary medium. My issue with Al is that she messed with Feral’s biology. Yay, she maximized her power… but what does that mean? I can think of many ways in which making her healing power more efficient, faster and better would be detrimental not just to her goal of organ donation, but potentially detrimental to herself. As for this? Well, I’ve seen mind control gone bad like this more times than I bother to keep track of. I’d like to see something different. A look into what her mindscape looks like now. Personally, I’m thinking barren as the Antarctic, but filled with colourful, two-dimensional cardboard cut outs. bryan rasmussen This is the Internet! Walter small brain: Appreciating comic. big brain: Showing you are cooler than comic’s authors by criticizing comic. galaxy brain: Showing you are cooler than comic’s critics by criticizing them. Stephanie I’m not trying to “show that I’m cool.” I’m just frustrated because one of the things I really like about this comic is that it grapples with ethically sticky situations without throwing its narrative weight behind one Objectively Correct Answer. I keep seeing reader backlash every time a character does something ethically ambiguous, and I’m worried the writers will feel pressured to make things more black-and-white, which would kind of kill the spirit of the comic. Walter I don’t really think the creators care what we write, or even read it. Certainly, if they did the Moonshadow Wars and the Alison Torture debate put the Patrick Mindrape scene to absolute shame in terms of furor, and they didn’t back down then. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. JustHere I know it is standard internet practice, but I’m fascinated by how many commentators seem to detest the comic, yet read and comment on it with near religious intensity. If reading the comic is that painful, they might consider not reading it anymore. elilla It was much better when it was smaller and moderated, but I definitely don’t blame the authors for washing their hands. Morgan Allen Gods damn I love this strip. Urthman I miss when this was a cheerful comic about Ms. Wolverine deciding to live in perpetual horrific torment to provide organs for sick people. Ian Osmond Well. Every time I think we’ve gotten to the creepiest possible thing, it gets creepier. Zechariah Val Judy I’m going to go against the current and say that he really threw the baby out with the bathwater here. Yes, changing his mom’s mind was evil, but I maintain this ability could be an awesome force for good. Go fix a few pederasts. Or, join up with Allison’s new project, giving stalker ex-boyfriends a healthy dose of ambivalence. Nexxo Sorry, free will kind of matters here. Otherwise you may as well lobotomise them. Tylikcat I know what you mean, but lobotomies were much worse than how they’re generally understood. Nexxo I know, I used to be a neuropsychologist. 🙂 Tylikcat Well, as long as it’s being used intentionally. Lisa Feld There is no balancing point where she is both capable of loving him unconditionally and feeling horror at what she did/he made her do. martynW Patrick is shedding a lot of tears for someone who gave his mother the choice of stabbing his father or getting shot to death. palmvos Have you ever done something without thinking it all the way through? martynW Yeah, I’m just seeing all this stuff about how awful his mother is for killing his father. Granted, she’s no prize, but she did have a gun pointed at her. A powerful telepath with “issues” is not a good thing. Next thing you know, everybody’s in the cornfield. Filthy Liar Sure. Everyone does. There’s a matter of scale here though. JustHere Wow, no matter how horrible this situation is, it keeps getting worse… Dawn Smashington So next on the emotional menu is…what, guilt? Understanding her role in creating the sort of monster before her? Have the actual emotional fallout of murdering her husband, who her son might be about to make her love? ….Tuesdays and Fridays never come fast enough. Filthy Liar Lol, her role in creating the monster before her was not being fast enough to kill him before he’d mastered his powers. All of this is Patrick’s fault, and she’s absolutely correct to feel zero guilt. Sure, he can warp her mind so she does but that doesn’t mean she should. cannibalism i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: that’s fucked up. Arklyte Patrick is dead. I thought Max was too OP to live, but a PROJECTING telepath, who can copy complete memories of people just by going near them? Ha. Haha. Hahaha. I can’t even imagine how overpowered that is… Cori J. A Monkey’s Paw with infinite digits? GOOD JOB PATRICK 👍🏻 AL Tei I think the Authors WIN big!!! I love this story and it’s characters. Judging what the characters are doing according to anyone else’s internal psyche standards is silly. Thank you all very much! ScottK It’s a low probability guess but… what if whatever he tried to do *didn’t work* and she’s just f*cking with him? Darkoneko Hellsing oooh no Aresius So last week we had it one day early, this week it seems to be running late, innit?