Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Banneker Bones Appendix

Because this blog has always doubled as my writer's notebook, I sometimes store things here that may not interest regular Esteemed Readers, such as my handy Middle Grade Ninja Style Guide. I check that page (and update it frequently) and direct editors of my work there as well. And because it's online, anyone who needs it has access to it and I can't lose it:)

The following is a living document (expect regular updates) to help me keep track of the details of Banneker's universe. If you're a fan of Banneker Bones, this might come in handy for you as well. If you've never read Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees, I assure you, the book will prove far more interesting than this scattering of author notes. Why not start with the first five chapters?

Expect this appendix to get much, much longer and far more detailed as I work through Banneker's upcoming adventures. This will be a useful exercise for me. Maybe you'll care, maybe you won't. Whatever:) Plenty of great interviews and guest posts in the archives for you to peruse.



CHARACTERS (humans)


BANNEKER BONES: 11-year-old genius detective, biracial with light brown skin, brown eyes, and dark hair kinked close to his head (with faint blond patches), hums tunelessly when nervous or concentrating, terrified of bees. Allergic to dogs. Invented the Gyration Rotation Station: Teachers across America told their students the legend of how the then only six-year-old Banneker Bones put together the final bit of circuitry essential to his father’s invention of the first Autobox robot, using the pieces of a broken watch. Always wears the same outfit and thick, square black glasses. He was dressed in the clothes Ellicott would come to think of as his uniform because Banneker never wore anything else: mud-brown slacks and a black dress shirt with a cherry-red tie, over which he wore a forest-green v-neck sweater. Atop his head was a black felt hat with a wide white band just above its brim that made Banneker look a little like a detective in an old pulp comic book.


ELLICOTT SKULLWORTH: 11-year old genius sidekick, white with blond hair, blue eyes. Partial to hoodies and jeans, but unlike his famous cousin, wears different clothes everyday. Originally attended Mrs. Eddy's fifth-grade class at Brownsborough Elementary in Indiana before testing into the Latimer University Archimedes Program. Loves to read, is partial to horror novels. Excellent writer. Adores flying on jet pack and holographic videogames. Lacks confidence, contrasting with Banneker's overconfidence.


REGGIE RAND (the third): 11-year-old comic book artist, creator of Sa-Ninja, biracial, deeply enjoys mocking Banneker. The skinny kid had light brown skin and wore glasses, but his hair was too long and he was too tall to be Banneker Bones.


LING BONES: 7-year-old sister of Banneker, Chinese, proud of the fact that she's adopted, very talented piano player, extreme pain in Banneker's backside.


MR. REGINALD RAND (the second): Father of Reggie, Owner of Rand Enterprises, hulking bald white man, like a white bull stuffed into a shirt and tie. Has a distinctly deep voice. The man sounded like he recited Shakespeare to adoring crowds of English teachers on the weekends. Mr. Rand probably has entire passages of The Fountainhead memorized, would love to have dinner with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel. He smokes cigars with a red 'R' wrapped around the end. "What the president and the congress don’t understand, what they've never understood, is it’s the captains of industry who truly rule America. Decisions are made in boardrooms, not the halls of government." Far more Lex Luthor/Kingpin than Donald Trump: He was dressed in a dark purple suit with a black tie made of a material that reflected every light in the room. From this distance he appeared so handsome he shone. 


DR. MYRA BONES (Aunt Myra): Banneker's mother, Professor of English at Latimer University. Does not wear glasses. Eyes bulge in sarcasm. Loves books almost as much as Ellicott. Dr. Myra Bones had dark skin, kinky hair that shot up straight from her head into an afro, and soft brown eyes that looked friendly.


DR. PATRICK BONES (Uncle Patrick): Banneker's father, president of the Autobox Company, inventor of Robots, sort of out-to-lunch most of the time. Wears thick black glasses like Banneker's. Dr. Patrick Bones was tall and thin with blue eyes and blond hair. He had a strong cleft chin and he greatly resembled Ellicott’s father and Ellicott himself. He was dressed in jeans, a white lab coat, and a button-down shirt that was only half tucked in. He had at least three days’ stubble on his hollow cheeks and his blond hair went every which way.


DR. JUANITA FRANKLIN (Grandma Juanita): Banneker's 70-year-old grandmother, black. She cooks all the food served at 221 Garrett Street, Myra Bones' mother. Devoted reader of The Latimer City Inquisitor.


PATRICIA SKULLWORTH: Ellicott's mother; affectionately call him 'Ellie.' Terrified of robots. Likes a strong drink after an encounter with one. Not afraid to confront her husband when it comes to Ellie, even if it involves a bit of corrupting her child (just a little). A fan of romance novels, such as Destiny Takes a Lover. His mother smiled, though tears glistened in her eyes, and she hugged Ellicott close to her for one last embrace. “You’re going to do well here, I know it. You’re brilliant. Always have been. And I’m proud of you.”


HARVEY SKULLWORTH: Ellicott's father. Blond hair and blue eyes like Ellicott and his half brother Patrick Bones, whom he hasn't spoken to in years for reasons not yet specified. Kinda creepy that Harvey married a woman named "Patricia." Maybe we'll explore that in an upcoming book. Probably we won't. Anyway, Harvey hates robots. Seems awful angry and cynical a lot of the time; pictures himself a working class hero taking the high road. Big-time football fan, giver of suspect advice. Manager at a Rand Enterprise's warehouse.



CHARACTERS (non-humans)


IMPORTANT: Robots are neither male nor female. Refer to them as 'it.' PEOPLE may call them 'he' or 'she,' but that's a reflection on the humans, not the robots.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Robots are designed to make humans comfortable over efficiency. For this reason, robot vehicles appear to have drivers, though they aren't necessary.


WINSTON: Robot butler. If it had a last name, it would be Pennyworth, but robots don't have last names:) Banneker's only friend/servant. Banneker rides it to dinner, which is not something friends should do. The back of its head can be a monitor and it can read Banneker's email and access Banneker's computer privileges even when they've been revoked. A bright silver robot appeared at the top of the staircase. It descended on thin metal legs finished in three-pronged feet, the long toes of which curled around each stair as the robot stepped.Its center was a bulky cube. The robot had two arms as thin as its legs. Its head was a metal box with a hinged jaw. Two dark pink eyes bulged out past the edges of its face. Has jet flames that fire out its feet when Winston wants to fly. “The protection and service of all the children in this home,” Winston said. “It's my primary function.”
Ellicott thought of the way Winston had allowed Banneker to ride it to dinner. “So if you serve the children in this home, does that include me?” Winston’s eyes flashed pink light and Ellicott had the impression his question amused the robot. “You're a child in this home, aren't you?” “I guess I am,” Ellicott said. “If I ask you to kick somebody really hard for me, will you do it?” All light disappeared from Winston’s eyes. “No. My programming forbids me to harm any human or creature unless not doing so conflicts with my primary function.”


BISHOP: Giant security robot who protects the Bones family penthouse. A bronze robot that projects a beam of red light from its eye. The bronze robot stepped out of Rand Enterprises ducking, and then extended to its full height of nearly two stories. At the end of its arms were large barrels like Gatling guns where hands should’ve been. (30 barrels) He’s only armed with rubber bullets and chloroformus oxide.


JACOB: Snooty robot doorman who greets the visitors of 221 Garrett Street. Plugs into a charging station behind the lobby's front desk, answers phone calls without a phone. A robot with two big black wheels for feet, a silver chest, and arms ending in four steel fingers approached. It was dressed in a red doorman’s jacket that matched its red base, and permanently molded to its head was a steel cap, also red. The robot’s eyes pulsed purple light with each word, but its steel mouth stayed frozen in a wide grin. Ellicott had the distinct impression that though the robot doorman had barely more than a metal nub for a nose, it was now looking down it at his mother and him.


ROBOT WAITERS: There's also a kitchen staff that's rarely scene. Think of them as enchanted furniture ala Beauty and the Beast. The three robot waiters came rolling into the room carrying bowls of some steaming red substance that smelled exotic and spicy.Each robot had four arms and was able to carry four bowls without needing a hot pad. The last robot carried only one bowl and another pitcher of water. The robot waiter rolled into the kitchen where Ellicott could see another robot washing dishes.


EDWIN: Driver of the Bones' family Limo. The car has the green Autobox logo on its side. Ellicott had once asked his uncle why the Autobox Company's vehicles had robot drivers. "I mean, it's not like a robot car needs arms to turn its own steering wheel." Uncle Patrick had agreed this was true, but the company had market tested vehicles without drivers and the overwhelming consensus had been that potential customers found them "weird." 


SECURITY ROBOTS: Sometimes carry EMP blast rifles. robots painted blue with the word 'SECURITY' across their chests in white.


SANIN-JA (Sanin-JA): The star of Reggie and Ellicott's comic book. He opened the pad to reveal a sketch of a muscle-bound hero with big black eyes and a huge bald head. The hero was throwing two Chinese stars, one with each hand, and strapped across his back was a bo staff. “He’s an alien ninja with the power of telepathy and telekinesis.” Reggie grinned and flipped to the next page on which was a drawing of the same muscle-bound alien dressed in a suit and tie and wearing glasses. “This is his secret identity: Sanin-Joe.” Reggie flipped through more pages in which Sanin-JA was slicing the arms and legs off foot soldiers while wielding dual samurai swords, fighting monsters with his bare hands, and exploding the heads of criminals with his amazing psychic powers. Each drawing was accompanied by erupting fountains of blood.“You just tell the same story that’s in every superhero comic. Your hero comes from another planet down to Earth where he learns to love humans and becomes best friends with an evil genius who later turns out to be his greatest nemesis. And then they fight forever and eventually, if Sanin-JA has a sidekick, the evil genius kills him and they have their biggest fight of all.”




LATIMER CITY LOCATIONS


IMPORTANT: All the rooms in the Bones' Penthouse have programmable walls and carpet, so they can change design at any time (you didn't catch me in a lapse, Esteemed Reader, the room must've changed since the last time I described it).


221 Garrett Street (at the intersection of Garrett and Morgan, hee hee): Home of the Bones family (and Ellicott). Has impressive fountain in its lobby with a moving frog boy in its center ala Ball State (holla!) and moving fishies. 221 Garrett Street. appeared to be made entirely of darkened glass and stone. A grand marquee extended over the wide sidewalk. The building looked more like a swanky hotel than a place where people actually lived.


Bones Family Penthouse: Ginormous apartment with 20-foot windows big enough for giant robot bees to fly through and a grand piano on a raised platform. On the other side of this ridiculously enormous front room was a gathering of expensive-looking furniture in front of a fireplace the size of a garage door. Between the piano on the right and the fireplace on the left, a grand staircase wound down to the center of the room. This was not an apartment. This was a mansion that happened to be located at the top of an apartment building. 


Party Room: The funkiest room you ever seen. Tell you what its name is: Party Room. Rocks a party like nobody can. Rules and regulations, no place in this room's nation... It's nextdoor to the front of the penthouse as Ellicott walked directly there from listening to Ling play piano.  Around the bar were tables and chairs, and Ellicott guessed this must be a room where parties were held, but it felt more like a fancy restaurant than someone’s home.


Dining Room: Down the hall from party room.  Ellicott couldn’t possibly imagine a dining room bigger or fancier than this one. The walls were at least 15-feet tall and there were windows that ran from the marble floor to the ornately carved ceiling on either side of the table. Long blue velvet curtains hung to the side of each window, but they were open and the darkened skyline of Latimer City could be seen through them: bright lights, neon signs, and tall buildings of concrete and steel, the tops of which just reached the level of the dining room’s windows, reminding Ellicott how high up he was. Ellicott chose the chair beside his mother and had to move some of the rich red tablecloth aside to sit down. It pooled over his legs like a blanket. In front of him were two crystal goblets, three spoons, three forks, and two knives. Ellicott spun to see a robot of a similar model as the doorman pouring water from a pitcher into his glass. Just as the doorman’s red jacket had been permanently painted on, this waiter robot wore a permanent white tuxedo jacket.

***We are promised a grand dining hall not yet shone.


Banneker's Room: On the second floor of the penthouse. Large oak door at the end of the hall. This one room was bigger than Ellicott’s whole house, and it was three stories high. It was large enough for a Tyrannosaurus rex to stand upright and fit comfortably in the center of things. The walls were cold riveted steel, but black designs had been painted on them like Rorschach ink blots. On the wall directly ahead of them was a great clock 12 feet in circumference. The face of the clock was black, but the hour and minute hands glowed yellow and the numbers were neon red.Reggie led him beneath the clock into a new part of Banneker Bones’ bedroom where the ceiling dropped lower as there was yet more bedroom on the floor above them. They passed between four steel tables littered with bits of machinery and various metal objects that looked a lot like arms and legs. Ellicott spotted a steel head with light-up eyes.

***Clock is 10 minutes fast


Banneker's Office: Directly above Banneker's robotics lab and behind the great clock. Accessible by a spiral steel staircase and a fireman's pole (naturally).  The first thing he saw of the second floor was the giant television screen only because it was impossible to miss. Almost the entire far wall was one big screen, 10 feet high and 20 feet across. On the rear wall was the back of the giant clock. Though the yellow hands and the red neon numbers were mercifully not as bright from the back of the clock, they still provided the only light in an otherwise dark room... long table behind Banneker, at the end of which was an old-fashioned red phone that glowed beneath a glass dome cover.


Guest Room/Ellicott's room: On the second floor of Banneker's Room with five bookshelves.  “That’s where Banneker sleeps,” Aunt Myra said, pointing to the right of the front door where Ellicott at first saw only shelves filled with books. In front of the books was another spiral steel staircase and fireman’s pole, and now Ellicott realized there was even more to the second floor of Banneker’s incredible bedroom. “And this was the guest bedroom,” Aunt Myra said, pointing left. “But it’s your room now. Aunt Myra led him up the third and final steel staircase in Banneker Bones’ lair to the guest bedroom. It was four times the size of Ellicott’s bedroom back in Brownsborough and like Banneker's office, it had its own fireman's pole. Large windows on two of the walls looked out over the rest of Banneker’s extraordinary room. Ellicott poked his head into the bathroom. There was both a shower and a tub that looked more like a Jacuzzi. It was shaped in a perfect circle and could've held 20 Ellicotts.
“There’s a toothbrush and floss for you,” Aunt Myra said, pointing toward a marble sink with gold fixtures and an enormous vanity. “And on the other side of this counter is a laundry bin. Just leave your dirty clothes in there and Winston will take care of them.”


Uncle Patrick's Workshop: Directly below Banneker's robotics lab, connected by a spiral steel staircase and a fireman's pole.  THIS NEW ROOM WAS THE largest Ellicott had been in yet. There were partially finished robots everywhere and a lot of the same equipment Ellicott had seen in Banneker’s workshop, only larger. In the center of the room was a raised steel platformAt the top of the platform was a walkway the width of the deck around an above-ground pool, and that was what the platform reminded Ellicott of: an above-ground pool without water. In the center of the walkway was a pit filled with all sorts of machines.


Rand Enterprises Lobby: The first thing Ellicott saw of the lobby of Rand Enterprises was an enormous fountain five times the size of the fountain in the lobby of 221 Garrett Street. In the center of the fountain was a stone man bent forward with the literal weight of the world on his back, spinning between his shoulder blades. He led Ellicott around the giant fountain to where there were banks of 10 elevators on either side of the lobby. Between the elevators stood robots painted blue with the word 'SECURITY' across their chests in white. Only once he and the officers were in an elevator did it occur to Ellicott that he barely noticed the robots, he'd already become so accustomed to seeing them. They rode the elevator up 81 floors to the very top of Rand Enterprises.


Aunt Myra's Library: Three story library at the end of the hall from Banneker's room, which officially starts on the second story.  There were two enormous gated holes above the main floor's seating area, giving the library the feeling of a courthouse or other stately building. Through the circular openings, Ellicott glimpsed the other two floors of the library, all containing shelves upon shelves of books.At the end of every shelf was a painting or photograph blown up to poster size, and though they looked to be canvas stretched and placed into ornate golden frames, he suspected they could probably be changed as easily as the walls and floor of the hallway. Soft classical music played overhead and Ellicott had the thought that if it were possible to crack a doorway into Aunt Myra's skull and climb inside her mind, it would look and sound like this library.




GADGETS

JUKEBOOK: All-purpose book capable of generating holographic displays and neccesary for classes at Latimer City University: It was a slim book as thin as a folder, and when Ellicott opened it he saw there were no paper pages, only electronic screens on either side. “It’s a Jukebook, so it’s any book you want it to be,” Aunt Myra said. She pressed a power button in the lower corner. Both screens lit up and millions of book titles appeared for the reader to choose. “If I may make a suggestion.” Aunt Myra pointed to an icon for Watership Down by Richard Adams. “Have you read this one?” Ellicott grinned. The opening pages of Watership Down appeared on the two screens as though he were holding an open book.“I think you’ll like it. It’s my favorite.” Tiny holographic projectors protruded from the corners of the Jukebook, allowing small rabbits to crawl out of Watership Down's cover and hop across its pages. She pressed a button along the Jukebook’s spine and something long and black poked out that looked like a pen. Aunt Myra pulled the stylus free and manipulated the electronic menu until one page of the Jukebook went blank.


ROCKET SCOOTER: Textbook metal square that can transform into a rocket scooter and a jet pack because awesome: With that, Banneker took his backpack off his shoulders and pulled from it a metal square that was only a little larger and wider than a textbook. He set it on the sidewalk in front of him and at once the metal began to reform. It unfolded itself, sprouting wheels and a steering column. Within 30 seconds and with surprisingly little noise beyond a faint whir, it had shaped itself into something that looked like a scooter. Banneker kicked off and started the scooter down the street. Then two streams of flame shot out from somewhere beneath the scooter.






LATIMER UNIVERSITY


IMPORTANT: 12 girls and 8 boys of the Archimedes Program.


IMPORTANT: official school colors are red and gold.


SCHEDULE OF CLASSES: Mondays and Wednesdays: American History, World History, American Literature, Art, Lunch, Homeroom. Tuesday and Thursdays: Swimming, Anatomy, Applied Physics, Mathematical Theory, Lunch, Homeroom. According to the schedule, this was World History with Professor Chandra Gupta. Next up was American Literature taught by—Ellicott reread just to be sure—Professor Myra Bones. After that, was Art, followed by lunch, and then something called Homeroom with Professor Nelson Martinez.Ellicott couldn’t believe his luck: two history courses, a literature class taught by his aunt, and an art class—all Ellicott’s favorite subjects! His stomach turned, however, when he read his schedule for tomorrow: Swimming (not bad), followed by Anatomy (could be interesting), followed by Applied Physics (yikes!), followed by Mathematical Theory (theoretical math sounded a lot harder than regular math), followed by more Homeroom.


THE CAMPUS: Latimer University itself is a fairly standard city college (in a world of high concept science fiction) for well-to-do students. It's the Archimedes Program that's special. Ellicott had never been on a college campus before and he was amazed by how large it was. There were tall brick buildings on either side of the limo marked with plaques proclaiming them as the School of Science or the School of Telecommunications, and so on. Apparently every academic subject had its own building and its own plaque and students hurried between the buildings yammering on phones. Above the brick buildings, Ellicott could see the tops of the larger buildings of Latimer City. But they seemed farther away, as though the university were its own separate city within a city.


LECTURE HALL: American History and World History are held in the same lecture hall. A lectern is at the front as well as a holocomputer. There were 40 rows of desks, almost all full, and arranged in descending heights like the seats in a sports arena. There must've been 300 students in the giant university lecture hall, all at least eight years older than the boys.


PROFESSOR NELSON MARTINEZ: Homeroom professor. At the front of the room a skinny old black man dressed in a suit stood behind a lectern.


PROFESSOR MCGOWN: American History professor. At the front of the room a skinny old black man dressed in a suit stood behind a lectern.


PROFESSOR CHANDRA GUPTA: World History professor. A short Indian woman dressed in a sari.

MADAM SMITH: Art professor with big teeth and bouncy blond hair like Virginia Bombshell. Is this a sly reference to my best friend since the third grade who illustrated the first book? Who would ever suggest that!?! These are very serious books and I would never joke around in such a casual manner with really important leeeeterature.


WYATT LANDER: College student with long hair. Description forthcoming.


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