(1) CLARIFICATION. In my report about Sunil Patel the other day I conflated two separate social media comments that were each about two different newly-published Patel stories that came out very recently.
Just before Twitter started circulating angry anti-Diabolical Plots tweets (because of the story published there), there had been a complaint about Patel’s story “The Tragedy of the Dead Is They Cannot Cry” in Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, view-able from the front page.
@AnaMardoll @sarahhollowell He has a (really horribly bad) story in a weepy-puppies-adjacent mag today.
— Tristina Wright (@TristinaWright) March 17, 2017
Whether or not Galaxy’s Edge can accurately be called “sad-puppy-adjacent,” it makes more sense that somebody might apply the label there than to David Steffen, who published the Long List anthologies as a very deliberate middle finger to the Puppies.
(2) MORE THAN HEY YOU. Steven Brust on “Fantasy Writing and Titles of Nobility”.
For Americans there is an element of the romantic and the exotic about titles of nobility, about Baron Soandso, or Count Thisandsuch, that I suspect is missing, or at any rate different, for who were raised in places where a feudal aristocracy was part of history.. In reality, the feudal landlords were vicious bloodsuckers—when not for personal reasons, than simply because of the nature of the property relations that ultimately defined everyone’s life. What I am not about to do is suggest is that American fantasy writers ignore the exotic and romantic elements—your readers have them in their heads, and unless you see your job is primarily pedagogical (which I do not), what is in the reader’s head is key: it is easier to play with the reader’s head if you work with what you know is rattling around in there.
(3) RACISM TAKES EXTRA WORK. Justina Ireland offers one more reason why “Writing is Hard: Racism in a Fantasy Landscape”. The excerpt covers the first of her four points.
I touched on the idea of dismantling racism within a fantasy setting on twitter earlier this week. Authors, especially white authors, like to tackle ideas of racism within fantasy settings by creating fake races for the point of view characters to be racist against. This seems like a good idea in theory, but it is actually harder than just writing fantasy cultures that have a correlation to real world cultures and deconstructing real world racism within a fantasy setting.
- You have to teach a reader about the power structures in your fantasy world. And then deconstruct them. Part of writing fantasy is about teaching a reader how to read your book. This involves setting up scenes that illustrate the possible outcomes that can exist in your fantasy world. Can your characters use magic? Great, now you have to show the reader the price of that magic, or the societal ramifications of that magic. But you also will have to do that for the racism against the made up races within your book. So creating a made up race creates more work to be done on the page.
(4) A BETTER TANGLED WEB. Aidan Doyle begins his explanation of the Twine program in “Writer’s Guide to Twine” at the SFWA Blog.
Twine was created by Chris Klimas in 2009 and is “an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.” Simply put, it’s a program that makes it easier for writers to make their own “Choose Your Own Adventure” style fiction. There are a number of tools for writing interactive fiction, but Twine is one of the simplest and most popular.
Interactive Fiction (IF) comes in many forms, including text-based parser games such as Zork where the player types in commands (Go north. Eat chocolate. Talk to green wizard). If you want to make this style of game, then Inform is probably your best option. Ken Liu’s Clockwork Soldier is an example of a traditional story which has IF-like commands embedded within it.
In contrast, stories written in Twine generally present the reader with choices in the form of hypertext links. Although there are many systems available for writing IF, Twine in particular has been celebrated for its ease of use. Twine is more focused on stories as opposed to games and produces HTML files, allowing anyone with a modern browser to read your story.
(5) BERRY OBIT. Rock’n roll legend Chuck Berry passed away today.
Chuck Berry died. This breaks my heart, but 90 years old ain't bad for rock and roll. Johnny B. Goode forever.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 18, 2017
(6) THE FORCE IN ARIZONA. Phoenix public radio station KJZZ had a six-minute piece about Jedi-ism’s rise. (Listen at the link.)
The Star Wars universe has been a vital part of popular culture for more than 40 years, and that passion was renewed by the box-office smash “The Force Awakens.”
And thousands of people have decided that they want the force to be with them, even when they’re not watching one of the films.
They have decided to practice Jedi-ism. And here with me to explain its tenets and more is Jodie Vann, an instructor in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.
(7) MONOPOLY BROKEN. Or improved. It alll depends on how you feel about the change.
The boot has been booted, the wheelbarrow has been wheeled out, and the thimble got the thumbs down in the latest version of the board game Monopoly. In their place will be a Tyrannosaurus rex, a penguin and a rubber ducky.
More than 4.3 million voters from 146 countries weighed in on which tokens they wanted to see in future versions of the property-acquisition game, which is based on the real-life streets of Atlantic City. Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Hasbro announced the winners Friday morning.
(8) QUANTUM OF STROLLERS. Bruce Arthurs came across some of these “quantum physics for babies” books by Chris Ferrie listed on Goodreads Giveaways and thought they might be quirky enough for a Pixel Scroll mention: Books.
Quantum Physics for Babies is a colorfully simple introduction to the principle which gives quantum physics its name. Baby will find out that energy is “quantized” and the weird world of atoms never comes to a stand still. It is never too early to become a quantum physicist!
The author, Chris Ferrie, is an actual quantum theorist who self-published the original Quantum Physics For Babies; surprise, it took off well enough Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (childrens books division of Sourcebooks) will be coming out with an entire series starting in May.
Ferrie’s recently-started blog is fun too. Here’s an excerpt from “Milking a new theory of physics”:
For the first time, physicists have found a new fundamental state of cow, challenging the current standard model. Coined the cubic cow, the ground-breaking new discovery is already re-writing the rules of physics.
A team of physicists at Stanford and Harvard University have nothing to do with this but you are probably already impressed by the name drop. Dr. Chris Ferrie, who is currently between jobs, together with a team of his own children stumbled upon the discovery, which was recently published in Nature Communications*.
The spherical theory of cow had stood unchallenged for over 50 years—and even longer if a Russian physicist is reading this. The spherical cow theory led to many discoveries also based on O(3) symmetries. However, spherical cows have not proven practically useful from a technological perspective. “Spherical cows are prone to natural environmental errors, whereas our discovery digitizes the symmetry of cow,” Ferrie said.
(9) MORE MARS BUZZ. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, has launched a virtual reality movie detailing his plan to get humans to Mars. The BBC has the video — Buzz Aldrin takes you to Mars in VR.
The film – Cycling Pathways to Mars – lasts just under 10 minutes and features the astronaut as a hologram narrating the experience.
Mr Aldrin’s plan involves using the moons of Earth and Mars essentially as pitstops for people travelling to and from the Red Planet – a trip that will take about six months each way.
(10) FOR THE ROUND FILE. Chip Hitchcock says, “If you thought the jet-boarder wasn’t extreme enough, somebody pushing circular runways. He says it’s to prevent crosswind landings — but airports that could afford such a mishegoss can certainly afford enough runways to avoid this hazard, and as a former lightplane pilot (who had to learn about heavy ops to get an instrument rating) I see so many things wrong with this idea.”
(11) IN A COMMA. The BBC notices the Oxford-comma case, and provides several other examples of expensive errors in comma use.
(12) FROM BBC TO BB-8. “Droids Interrupt Darth Vader Interview” is a parody of the “Children Interrupt BBC Interview” viral video.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Bruce Arthurs, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]
I was given Organ Attack! The Family-Friendly Game of Organ Harvesting by a friend who backed the successful Kickstarter. It’s a fun little game that goes quickly. It’s the sort of thing you can play a few rounds of before moving on to more substantial games. Recommended.
Oh and if you want to see a pretty set of mansions in the US, many of which are Queen Anne or adjacent styles, Summit Avenue in St. Paul has a bunch of them in a variety of styles.
Here, some photos I took last year:
It’s as if a “Queen Victoria” is a technological achievement; first Robot Empress or something.
Surely you meant first Old One Empress:
A Study in Emerald
@Meredith: there’s always been a strain of connection-to-/obsession-with royalty; when Back Bay (a part of Boston west of the original downtown) was filled in (middle 1800s), the person doing layout named the cross streets after English duchies. (This according to local story; I see Wikipedia doesn’t affirm or deny it. Amusing note: for 12 years I worked on the edge of the area the fill had come from, and went directly to the middle of the filled area on Monday nights for chorus rehearsal.) I suspect “Victorian” is used at least partly for convenience; it spans a number of smaller, less-memorable periods in the US (the “Era of Good Feelings”?).
I think royalty safely on the other side of the ocean seems colorful, romantic, and charming. We get to enjoy Britain’s royalty as an idea without having to really care about it.
To be fair, that’s how a lot of Brits see it too!
Is this the real life?
Or gaslight fantasy?
Just met some Jägers
No escape from reality
(7) Monopoly Broken
In the last week I’ve seen a news story (possibly on the BBC website’s ‘Hampshire & the Isle of Wight’ page) to the effect that a Jane Austen edition is about to be released.
The streets will be based on Winchester (Hampshire’s county town) where Austen (a Hampshire woman) died and is buried in the Cathedral.
As I’ve lived for about 20% of my life in Winchester, and for the last 43% about nine miles away from it, I’ll be interested to see what sort of job they make. Unfortunately my family and social circles don’t include any plausible opponents with which to play it.
Mm, aside from the obsessives and the anti-monarchists*, the monarchy is basically an attractive ceremonial thing brought out for special occasions and then put back in a box the rest of the time. Interesting to know that there are similar dynamics (up to and including the obsessives) across the pond.
As far as real history goes, the Victorian era (in the UK, specifically) is my preferred reading material. I find the extreme and rapid social and technological changes fascinating.
*I’m a half-arsed anti-monarchist. I wouldn’t mind if they were dissolved, but I don’t feel any particular need to do anything about it. There are more important things to worry about.
I confess my aim when playing the game is less to win and more to get all the camels mine all mine.
@Meredith: LOL! This is making me think of making personal goals like that for when I don’t really want to play game X, but others do. It could make games I’m not into, or not into right then much more fun! (It could drive my game-mates up a wall, depending on my goal.) 🙂 Muhahahaha.
Even camels aside, personal challenges often make games more fun. Gives them a fresh coat of paint, so to speak. Plus, sometimes a bit of mild trolling of friends is a thoroughly good time. 😉
@Soon Lee: “Organ Attack!” looks like a fun game for between longer ones, or to warm up, or as a cool-down end-of-night game. I sent a link to my better half. Thanks!
@Paul Weimer: Cool pix!
@Jack Lint: Dot’s a goot hat you haf!
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