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A Thing I Wrote: The Starfish Ambassador [Jul. 12th, 2010|01:37 pm]
A few weeks ago I wrote a little game for a contest called Little Game Chef. It's a sort of roleplaying-ish party game about language and etiquette, and since a fair number of the people reading me here might be interested in that sort of thing, I thought I'd link to the place I put it, here .
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Heinleinology [Jul. 6th, 2010|09:34 am]
So, I recently finished Charles' Stross's Saturn's Children, and couldn't help but notice the depth of the plot's similarities to Varley's The Golden Globe. This is, of course, unsurprising, as both authors were deliberately imitating Heinlein in those books, but still, having not read more than a smattering of Heinlein, I'm wondering which of his books is the one in which a person with a Past and Issues Involving Multiplied Personalities, current down on their luck, makes an extremely powerful enemy and thus begins tramping across the solar system, eventually learning that their main enemy is an identical copy of themselves other than their experiences, and finally ends the book by securing a spot on an interstellar flight.

(Or is this just what anyone gets when putting the whole of H's corpus into a blender on 'high'...?)
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There appears to be a book Meme going around... [Oct. 3rd, 2007|12:00 pm]
Since I keep seeing this thing (most recently from arch_scrivener, I thought I'd go ahead and try it out myself

Books Below the FoldCollapse )
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If It wasn't for Disappointments, I wouldn't have any Appointments. [Aug. 6th, 2007|12:54 pm]
[Current Mood |disappointeddisappointed]
[Current Music |TMBG]

So, no posts in a while here, and, correspondingly, very little writing-type activity either. Because right now it's more reading season that writing. So I thought I'd post a few extremely short reviewlets of recently read books.

The common theme linking these reviews is, mostly, 'good but disappointing': there are largely books for which I had held so fairly high expectations that did not reach them at all. On the other had, the authors are, largely, still worthy enough of those same expectations that even a disappointing effort is still well above the level of the pack. So: onward.

The Execution Channel, By Ken MacLeod. I was expecting a pointed, telling Geopolitical Nightmare Scenario, as told from the left-side of the spectrum, which is more or less what I got, but the presence of MacLeod's confederate communist dead-enderism, with it's endearing-but-pathetic faith that the South East will Rise Again really planted itself firmly in the way of the narrative.

Bad Monkeys, By Matt Ruff. Honestly, Set This House In Order may be too much for anyone to live up to, fully. That said, still a good book, about which it is difficult to talk without tipping off too much.

I Am A Strange Loop, By Douglas Hofstadter. Part of my problem with this one may fall into having read Blindsight immediately prior, and thus spent much of the reading-time wishing to see the ideas Watts brought to the table addressed. But I expect I would have found the pro-Vegetarianist essays and views-of-afterlife that hinge upon conflating maps and territories weak regardless.

Crooked Little Vein, By Warren Ellis. Which is, honestly, nothing more or less that one might expect from a novel written by Warren Ellis. Apart from the length, which is quite undersized in today's market. But I was hoping he would 'break out' in pure prose like Gaiman did. But this one isn't going to be bringing home a Hugo. Maybe an Prometheus or an Edgar, but not Hugo.
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(no subject) [May. 22nd, 2007|01:37 pm]
Haven't posted for a while here, but I haven't been all that productive, writng-wise either, so that's that. Anyhow, here's a little poll, mostly so I'm sufficiently used to making polls to handle running the next instance of the_book_game...

Poll #989609 Test Poll

Who should be the bad guys next year on '24'

Is Anyone Reading this, anyhow?

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Week 3: Progress! [Mar. 9th, 2007|02:35 pm]
[Current Mood |productiveproductive]
[Current Music |The Killers, Sam's Town]

Beyond the weekly 500 words at 100 Word Stories (which is a really neat site that's always looking for fresh voices, by the way), I've broken through the blank page and written about 1000 words worth of a short story, as well as getting in my head a fairly decent outline of what the whole thing is going to look like. I think it's going to be about 8000 words when it's finished, but I could be wrong.

There's also a stirring toward the start of a new Lexicon game on the wiki, which would be excellent if it happened.

Anyhow, onward with the ongoing ruminations on the Fantasy Genre. It's occurred to me, recently, that one of the more common uses of Fantasy (and certain subgenres of Science Fiction) is to tell stories about particular events in history without being forced to confront the flaws (from a modern perspective) of the people and nations that lived in that history. The bog-standard epic fantasy is, essentially, World War II without the need to dwell on man's inhumanity to man, replacing it with the much less troublesome orc's inhumanity to man. The time-displaced community story, a modern favorite (Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time, Flint's 1632, Birmingham's Axis of Time), can be seen as a story of colonization in which most of the evils of colonization are removed. (They're doing it unwillingly, not for profit; they aren't bringing slaves; they're careful to try and avoid exploiting the indigenous peoples who, by and large, are mostly white/European/western this time around...) And, of course, there's a long tradition of re-casting the American Revolution in space, where the colonists are often not burdened with either slavery or any indigenous population at all. I don't have a problem with this; far from it; but am interested in seeing if there are any historically interesting conflicts or situations that haven't already had a formula established for wiping away the historical sinfulness, and if I can come up with the right kind of tweaks. Lately I've been thinking a bit about the Crusades: specifically the First Crusade. I have some vague ideas on what to change around to make it work, which will have to wait until the short story is finished before I get back to them.
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Week 2:Not Politics but Religion [Mar. 2nd, 2007|03:40 pm]
[Current Mood |geekygeeky]
[Current Music |Hellogoodbye's Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!]

Another baseline week, with 500 words worth of 100 Word Stories and not much else actually written. However, a bit more movement in the planning stages.

Firstly, I've re-evaulated the whole short story market situation after doing a bit more looking around. When one is not concerned so much about how much one would theoretically get payed so much as the mere fact of money flowing in the proper direction, it looks like there are considerably more possibilities than I had thought. So I'll probably aim to get a few short works into various pipelines as an immediate goal.

Which is a bit of a pity, since I've recently gotten a novel-shaped idea. On the other hand, it's an idea that will require a good bit of research before really getting started, and the research itself might manage to turn into something publishable somewhere, so that's okay.

Anyhow, on to the ruminations on Fantasy, which are going to start with Religion rather than Politics, actually. Specifically, why the heck does the 'standard' Fantasy Novel's world, despite having a Medieval or (likely) later, maybe Renaissance-era or the like society somehow manage to avoid monotheism ever having gained any kind of popularity. This is sort of puzzling to me. It's not a particular indicator of quality, or lack thereof, of course: it's front and center in, to take three recent and extremely good (IMHO, of course) examples of the genre, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion and Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. Only in the Martin has Monotheism even occurred to people, and there it's found only in the Exotic Foreign Lands.

So where does this particular tic come from, anyhow? I'm tempted to blame Dungeons and Dragons. You don't see pagan pantheons in Tolkein, or his contemperaries and direct imitators, after all. (To some degree, you do in Howard's Conan, but that's at least in a more proper Iron-Age context [and Crom-ism seems henotheistic enough to be well on the path to monotheism anyhow.]). No, the first place you see such things are in the post-Gygaxian fantasies; Eddings and that ilk.

And the second question is whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, for the prospective writer or world-builder. In the case of the novel-sized idea I mentioned earlier, I'll be having my cake and eating it too, here, with Medieval Christians finding themselves plopped into the middle of one of these advanced-paganist worlds. About which more next week, getting finally to politics as such unless I manage to write something shorter that I want to talk about here instead.

Also, I'll be playing this new-fangled the_book_game thing, which looks like fun.
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Week 1, thoughts on the matter of topic and form [Feb. 23rd, 2007|02:59 pm]
[Current Mood |restlessrestless]

Relatively little progress this week: 4 entries at 100 Word Stories (missing one day for the holiday) and that's it, apart from some time spent staring at a blank page and a little more looking over the first chapter of Inheritance (the 2005 NaNoWriMo work) with an eye toward a possible revision and continuance.

The problem, of course, is that I don't know what I want to be writing as of yet, other than that I want do something in a decently long form and that the ultimate goal, down the line, is publication. So that probably means skipping over the short story/novella/novelette continuum and heading directly for novel-length, especially if I am (as is most likely the case) writing in the Fantasy genre.

One problem is that Fantasy generally means worldbuilding, which is something I'm not all that in the mood to do (in big chunks, that is. I've got a couple of worlds I'm slowing building up 100 words at a time over there, but none are really ready for prime time.) I did just unearth some old files; some notes toward an RPG setting I wrote more than a decade ago. It might be interesting to use that, at least as a starting point, although I don't at this point remember the setting well enough to recall if it's interesting enough to work out.

Next week, provided I don't have anything more interesting to talk about, I think I'll yammer a bit about politics (on an extremely abstract scale) and subgenre choices. Meanwhile, it's back to that blank page this weekend...
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Obligatory Introduction and mic Check Entry [Feb. 16th, 2007|03:40 pm]
[Current Mood |creativecreative]

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." --Samuel Johnson.

So, this here journal (for which one must be asked to forgive the homemade Icon for the time being; rest assured I write better than I StarOffice Draw) exists to chronicle and further my various exercises in blockheadery, and, hopefully, attempts to take my writing beyond, into the 'paying hobby' stage at the least.

So let's start with a mini-resume of what I've written lately. Firstly, there's my baseline activity as a contributor at 100 Word Stories, which has me writing 5x100=500 words a week at a bare minimum.

Over the past year or so I've been enjoying whatever instances of Neel Krishnaswami's Lexicon Game I've been able to find. (That link isn't working quite right right now; here's a Mirror. A few weeks ago I put together an index of all of the examples I could find. None are running right now, more's the pity; if I had either a reliable source of players or a compellingly original idea for one I'd likely start one up myself, but for now I don't have either.

A few years ago I had a handful of submissions make it into the generally excellent Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes GURPS supplement, (The Unified Way, Onos, Voidskates, Artifactists, and Real Love, in case anyone's both curious and familiar with the work.) That one was compensated, making it at least a brush with non-blockheadishness.

And I've done National Novel Writing Month three times: one failure, one success, and one failure, in order. That last one, Five Years After Christmas was blog-posted at the time and is still there. Towards the end of writing it I became extremely disenchanted with it, although there were a few clever bits here and there.

So, there's the past. The future? Not sure. I don't expect to be posting here more than weekly, if that, although it will depend on what particular projects I take up or progress on.
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