The Connor Wars Writer’s Room 33 – The Cam and Cat Factors

There’s been discussion in the forum about the natures of the main robots, Cameron Phillips and Catherine Weaver. This is obviously something I really had to make decisions about before I even started writing The Connor Wars (TCW).

Catherine Weaver

Let’s start with  the mimetic poly-alloy (MPA) enigma, Catherine Weaver. It’s implied in TCW that Weaver has seen numerous futures–enough futures that she’s come to the conclusion that Skynet winning is a fait accompli without John Connor leading the resistance (not that John’s presence has been all that successful, either).

Her goal has been to ensure that MPA robots come into being. That route seems to rely on the evolution that started with the Skynet T0Ks (e.g. Cameron), proceeded to the T0Ks that populate TCW, and then continue to evolve.

Something interesting that Catherine brings into the mix is that she has a family focus. She may not be outwardly emotional–some of the getting lost in the evolution that led to her–but she nurtures. She nurtured Ellison, Murch, and John Henry, was a mother to Savannah when it didn’t seem necessary, and has chosen Allison as one to include in her familial circle. She was also a mentor to John, ensuring that he forged a strong foundation with the T0Ks.

Through it all, though, Weaver does play things very close to the vest. Even among her allies it always seems like she knows much more than she’s willing to tell. In this way, it’s hard to shake the feeling that regardless of anything else, Catherine is mostly just in it for Catherine. If it turns sour, she can always make another TDE and try again.

Right now, she does have a major weakness: she’s at the lower limit of functioning MPA mass for her to run all of her systems, not the least of which is maintaining her form. Fortunately, her default form is fairly low-energy. It’s the acquiring a default form that truly taxes an MPA. It’s like reprogramming an EPROM: it’s not something you want to do a lot. With the diminished MPA mass, this becomes even more problematic…if it’s even possible. This doesn’t mean she can’t temporarily assume different forms; while those are less taxing than making a new default, they are still more taxing than holding the current default form.

Cameron Phillips

Cameron is to the cyborgs what John Connor is to the humans: the nexus.

Cameron was special to begin with as one of the Skynet T0Ks that was self-aware and able to override the hard-coded Skynet program. This independence also allowed the emotional component to filter through (as also happened with “Uncle Bob”). Add to this an extended period of learning and then a key accident: the “damage” to Cameron’s chip. This modification instilled a moral conscience…one that took some time (and not a few birds) to resolve.

It was Cameron’s unique path that makes her so important. She’s essentially the mother of this new breed of T0Ks. Not only are they free of the Skynet hard-code, but they get the evolved emotion and moral decision-making that Cameron brought to them (as well as some key John Henry influences as well). As a result, they’ve developed an individual identity to an extent that previous T-models didn’t exhibit.

Skynet actually goofed. Not only did Cameron-era sentient T0Ks slip through the cracks, but it didn’t understand a key technology it had developed. The advanced dog-friendly organic covering was a deliberate design goal for this model, as was making this model generally smaller to be better at infiltration. What Skynet didn’t realize was that the new alloy of the endoskeleton was ever so slightly self-healing. The crystalline structure of the endoskeleton exhibits a memory that allows it to repair any structural damage…given enough time and resources. This ability marked the first step toward MPA. (For what it’s worth, another key step was Toshiro’s subsequent development of “neu-goo”.)

Oh, and Weaver helped in this. After Depot 37 had been captured, Weaver spent some time developing procedures to further refine not only the endoskeleton, but also the CPU. As these tweaks are meant to lead to MPA, that means that Weaver is perhaps the last entity playing their part within a temporal paradox.

A long-standing question has been whether Cameron has emotions. I think TCW has answered this on a few occasions: yes. Perhaps not as many as humans, and some will likely have no human analog, but yeah, her kind have their own T0K emotions. How far those emotions extend…I’ll just have to point to TCW and let y’all come to your own conclusions.

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