Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Let Me Show You

I'm borrowing this idea from tehswitcher; I think the Minor Shift is a great twist on the idea behind the Great Shift.  If you haven't encountered this idea before, it's basically the same idea as the Great Shift, but with the odds reversed.  Instead of 95% of people switching bodies with someone else, only 5% of the population has switched bodies.  It's a small tweak, but it's one with huge implications.

The Great Shift is a great vehicle for stories.  It's an easy bit of phlebotinum to explain how a character has switched bodies; and it lets your character go public with his/her bodyswap, instead of having to hide, as happens in many stories.  As one person among billions who's switched bodies, the character's situation isn't unique, which allows you to tell a certain sort of story.

But that's also the main drawback of the Great Shift.  When nearly everyone in the world has switched bodies, there's nothing special about your character's situation.  The character's experience is watered down.  Plus, part of the fun of a TG story is that the character will be perceived by others to be a member of the opposite sex, with all the implications that brings.  But if close to half the human population has changed sex, then people can no longer make assumptions about a person's personality, gender identity, history, or role in society based on a person's physical sex.  From a utonian perspective, that's a wonderful thing; from a storytelling perspective, not so much.

The Minor Shift gets around that problem.  In the Great Shift universe, if you encounter someone in a female body, there's an almost 50% chance that they used to be male, so you can't infer much about the person based on his or her physical sex.  In the Minor Shift universe, if you encounter someone in a female body, there's only a 2.5% chance that they used to be male.  So, when you see a female-bodied person, you assume they've always been female unless you're told otherwise.  A man who's switched bodies with a woman will be perceived by most people he encounters as a woman, with all the social baggage that brings.

Take this caption here.  This character is uncomfortable being perceived as a woman.  Would he be as uncomfortable in the Great Shift universe, where gender stereotypes and biases have presumably broken down because there are so many people running around in bodies of the opposite sex?  Probably not.  So the concept of the Minor Shift allows for a different kind of story than the Great Shift.

Thanks to tehswitcher for the great idea. :)


  1. interesting issue! but how do you calculate the rate of 2.5?

    1. 5% of the population switched bodies. If you're one of the 5%, you presumably have roughly even odds of switching with a male or a female. So that means half of the 5%, or 2.5%, of the population has changed sex in the Minor Shift universe. So if you encounter a random female-bodied person on the street, there's a 2.5% she used to have a male body.

      That's my reasoning, anyway. My logic could be totally off. I'm not a math person. :)