Saturday, March 8, 2014

On The 25th Anniversary Of 'Geek Love'


'Geek Love' by Katherine Dunn, is one of my favourite novels.  At times, not an easy read, often a darkly funny read, always a very moving and compassionate read.  And this year marks the 25th anniversary of its publication. Over at Wired, Caitlin Roper writes with wit and insight about this very odd book:
Geek Love knocked me out, too. Reading it for the first time at 16, I couldn’t shake it from my brain—I didn’t want to—even as I tore through other novels. It was that glorious age when reading isn’t an escape, it’s your actual life; when everything outside of books becomes suffused with the stories you’re soaking in. I recognized something in Geek Love that I’d always loved in comic books, the idea of a character’s strangeness as the source of her strength. Like the members of the Justice League, or the Fantastic Four, the Fabulon freaks are all misfits, each with a singular skill. As a kid, I wanted to have some special power—invisibility, especially; I wanted to be like everyone else, but also, somehow, secretly special and indomitable. In Dungeon Master, an early role-playing videogame I’d played on the Atari computers in middle school, you began the game by choosing your characters and their special talents. I loved the idea of selecting magical powers, of building a unique persona from a menu of skills and capabilities. The Binewskis, these incredible freaks, and their demented familial struggles helped me feel better about my own family problems, my own powerlessness. The book inverted the cold adolescent truth that what makes you different curses you.
Full Story: HERE

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Female Representation In Desktop Dungeons


Some interesting and thoughtful stuff from QCF Design, the makers of Desktop Dungeons:
Quite frankly, we wanted the women in DD’s universe to be adventurers first and runway models second. This adjustment turned out to be startlingly non-trivial – you’d think that a bunch of supposedly conscious, mindful individuals would instantly be able to nail a “good female look” (bonus points for having a woman on our crew, right?), but huge swathes of our artistic language tended to be informed by sexist and one-dimensional portrayals. We regularly surprised ourselves with how much we took for granted.
It's very nice to see game developers engaging with this issue and interrogating their own experience. The whole piece is worth a read, right HERE.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Joe Abercrombie: Progress Report

Extra-ordinary Joe must have a serious work ethic. Or maybe he's possessed by a writing demon? Or possibly he just loves what he does and wants to do it all the time? Whatever it is that drives him it's good news for fans of his novels because according to a progress report he just posted, he intends to deliver all three books in his new trilogy within 12 months.
Better yet, the second book in this trilogy, Half the World, is done too! Well, I say done, the finished second draft has gone off to my early readers for a first opinion, which I shall attend to and absorb along with some thoughts of mine during March to produce a totally done 3rd draft. Which will then go to editors for further changes. Some more detail on exactly how those processes go down in due course.  There’s a fair bit of work still to do on the book, that’s sure, but I think one would have to say that Half the World is looking very good for its provisional publication date of Feb 2015, a mere seven months after Half a King drops.
Full Story: HERE

Half A King - the first book in the new trilogy - releases July 2014.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Magic Hat

Over at Fantasy Book Critic, Karina Sumner-Smith writes about creating a magic system:
At its best, a magic system should be an integral part of the overall worldbuilding – and, ideally, the character story. For some writers, this means that the magic system grows out of what they know about a world: the cultures, the land, the politics, even the weather. For others, the workings of the world’s magic – or the life of a character who uses that magic – is the source from which all other aspects of the world are created.
Full Story: HERE

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thief

...yet as disease and suffering spread, so too does a fierce anger...


The Thief series is my favourite game of all time. I continued to play it for a decade after it launched, only giving it up when we no longer had a Windows machine in the house.

Ubisoft has been working on a reboot for maybe four years and the first reports about development were not very confidence inspiring.  One of the lead developers left, it had Quick Time Events, and some kind of RPG experience system.  Thankfully, they dumped all that and this latest primer makes it look really good. I'll miss Stephen Russel, the voice actor from the original games, but I'm really looking forward to creeping around this rainy, gloomy-looking world.

Thief launches February 25 2014

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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Second Draft

Joe Abercrombie writes here at length about his process for tackling a second draft.
The first chunk of serious revision, going from a first draft to a second, has really become the key phase in the way I’m working these days.  The first draft will probably have some dead ends, some wasted time, some plot holes, some blurry, indistinct characterisation, especially at the start.  The second draft may still be a little bland (further phases of revision will work on the detail of the primary and secondary characters, the backdrop and the language) but it should be coherent and consistent, with meaningful arcs and believable characters, with plotting that makes sense and is properly developed from start to finish, with no significant dead weight.  That’s the hope.  There may be some significant scenes to add, some others to take away (though it’s pretty rare for me to cut whole scenes).  There’ll generally be an emphasis on cutting – it’s amazing the improvement just cutting out sentences and paragraphs that no longer seem to help can make.  There’ll also be some general rewriting and sharpening of language wherever something seems particularly ropey or better ideas occur.
Full Story: HERE

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Background Noise

Fantasy Faction has a few pieces up related to the crafting of your fantasy world.

How To Create A Civilization
What resources are available is also important, whole wars have been fought over an area of rich land in our own history, and what materials are abundant can shape the economy of a nation. A civilisation of coastal cities would be likely become a mercantile trading empire with great wealth, as with the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. To ensure the civilisation fits with your world, consider how their surroundings would have affected its development – your whole plot may even be about a resource an empire possess or a place of sacred importance.
Worldbuilding: It's More Than A Pretty Map
I know authors (and readers!) who hate fantasy worldbuilding. They hate it with a fiery passion. They even go so far as to hand wave whole settings, writing books that feel more like a screenplay – all dialogue and fight scenes – and less like fantasy novels. I’d argue that secondary world fantasy writers in particular sacrifice a lot of tension and richness by doing this, but I understand their motives. If somebody said I had to write a story in a contemporary setting, I’d flee for the hills. We all have different definitions of fun. We’re all in this for different things.
If you're starting to draft your own world, there's some thought-provoking data there.

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