Monday, February 1, 2010

Five things to do with an eye

1. Alter the pupil

This is actually inspired by a real person, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. Apparently he was born with the sign of the ouroboros, the serpent biting its own tail, encircling the pupil of his left eye.

In a story, I’d have removed the pupil entirely and had the ouroboros circling nothing. It’d look creepier that way. :)

2. Add a dash of color

I picked up Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel's Dart because the heroine was born with a fleck of red in one eye, the sign that she had been marked by the god Kushiel. While the book wasn’t a perfect read for me, the descriptions of the mark were always evocative – a pinprick of blood, a snip of rosepetal floating on a pond, and so on.

3. Replace with magic

In the Way of the Tiger gamebooks, the main character loses an eye, but this is replaced with an emerald. It’s been a while since I read the books, but I think that when he looks through the emerald, he sees any creatures which might otherwise be invisible to human sight.

4. Replace with technology

The modifications the Borg make to whoever they assimilate tend to be terrifying but weirdly compelling as well. The replacement of an eye with a red ocular implant is the most distinctive such feature, especially considering that these implants allow sight beyond the human visual spectrum.

I love magic or technology which no one really wants but which can give great advantages as well.

5. Turn it into a conduit

There’s a good reason people wear eyepatches. An empty eye-socket might not be pleasant to look at, but a socket that goes all the way down, dark and endless as a pit, might be worse.

As for what crawls or flies out of it when the patch is removed… that would be anyone’s guess. Or nightmare.

(The image is from the cover of the Aeon Flux DVD box set.)


Mary Witzl said...

God that is all so creepy. I just LOVE it!

I once had a friend who had a tiny pupil right under her real one in her left eye. She had beautiful green eyes and the tiny extra pupil was hardly noticable after you got to know her. But it was utterly cool.

A. Shelton said...

There is a real-life condition in which human pupils are misshapen. I've forgotten the name of it, but it can cause sight problems in people with the condition. I've met someone with this condition, and it hasn't interfered with his vision, but it's utterly cool to see.

Randall said...

On the web, finding a blog with the title "Five things to do with an eye" can be a very bad thing indeed.

Not in this case, but I'm just sayin'.

Of course, the classic case was Odin, who traded one away for wisdom. What else might an eye purchase?

colbymarshall said...

AAHHHHH!!!! I don't want anything to fly out! HELP!!!

Marian Perera said...

Mary - Glad you like it! I've considered extra pupils in eyes, especially if they let you look out of both corners of your eyes at once. Good security measure, if the brain can handle both fields of view from each eye.

And as you said, it's cool. :)

A. Shelton - Thanks for mentioning that condition. I must look it up. I didn't want to get into significantly shaped pupils because that always reminds me of DragonLance, but maybe there's a way to work with such a condition so that it comes off as creepy but original.

Randall - True about sites on the Internet... and there is something very disturbing that a future character of mine does with eyes. But that's another story.

As for what else you could purchase with eyes, this isn't really something you can buy, but what if you needed to keep an eye on a place? Literally. You could leave a living eye mounted over the mantelpiece in a house or on the top of a tower.

Colby - Maybe whatever's inside would only fly out if you were in danger?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I done the whole eye color change.I also seen cat/snake like pupils, weird colors and full color eyes (usually all black or all white with no discernible iris).

With an alien race that is part of my current WIP, I went with ear movement, since the Garou are dog-like.

Marian Perera said...

ralfast - the eyes-of-one-color remind me of either Betazoids or Fremen, which is why I don't use them. They're OK, but it's difficult for me to get away from the associations with better-known races.

Eyes as searchlights, on the other hand...

Victoria said...

I know a guy who has one blue eye and one brown eye. It's totally awesome, and after I read this article, I started thinking about eyes that are different colors. What if there are more than two eyes, and, therefore, more than two colors? *gets shivers just thinking about all the possibilities*

Hazra said...

The coolest thing I read all week! I told my friend about Sigurd and she freaked out!

Marian Perera said...

Chasse' - I have a character with more than two eyes. :::D

The way he gets the extra eyes is a lot of fun to write.

Hazra - Thanks! I like to think of it as Life imitating Art. :)