News and updates about Alis’ books, Alis’ site, and Alis herself.
What’s this? A mascot for a (semi) secret new project? Ooh…
Also: yes! I actually inked something! And then cell-shaded it! I, like, never do either of those things but… this turned out okay? There are a few spots I’m not happy with and might revisit eventually before [SPOILERS REDACTED] but, other than that… whee! Crab-robot person! Their name is Ai! Because lawlz obvious jokes.
Update Ye Firste: Print books
Because I finally got around to it, print versions of Liesmith and Stormbringer are now available for direct-from-me ordering, for those of who who don’t want to/can’t/whatever buy the Amazon versions.
Update Ye Seconde: Continuum
Apparently Continuum is, like, next week? Yikes.
As per usual, I will, indeed, be there. I’m currently scheduled on between zero and two panels:
Superhero Burnout, Friday 9:30pm.
- Post-Capitalist Societies, Sunday1 5pm.
I say “between zero and two” because there’s currently contentious around both of them for various reasons, but failing massive… failing, that’s where I’ll be, if anyone feels like listening to me blather in public.
Okay, not so much with the superheroes. The tl;dr is the panel was split between people who agreed with the premise (i.e. yours truly) and those that didn’t. I was interested in the panel in the context of it being a place to gripe about the genre in general, and the hyper-commodification of it in e.g. the MCU in particular, but in the end that wasn’t where things were going, and it felt like keeping things as they were was just going to get… emotionally fraught for all involved. So that’s a peace out from me on that one.
So, true story: Once upon a time I wrote a short little MMO tie-in ARG. Like, not officially. Just for fun. The game was the then-Secret World, currently Secret World Legends, and I posted the initial link to the forums and it was… received pretty well? I think. Anyway, people definitely had a go at it, and they definitely thought they finished it.
Here’s the thing: no-one ever finished it. I know, because the last step sends me an email when someone completes it. I have never gotten an email.1
The other day, after a long, long hiatus, I picked up SWL again and… discovered I didn’t hate it as much as I’d initially thought? Which made me kinda nostalgic for my old ARG. And, well. Made me figure it’s probably about time I wrote a walkthrough. So here we go!
- I mean, that wasn’t from me. So I know the thing works. [↩]
From Aunt Addi, Eli learns the sheriff had found Jake’s grandmother. Dead in her trailer, hidden in the bedroom loft. By the timeline, she’d probably been Jake’s first victim. Eli tries not to think of a fading blue eye, watching him from beneath the water as its owner slowly drowned.
No one (else) dies from the incident at the rec centre, although Lance and a few others get treated for burns. They’d tried to subdue Jake after Eli had saved Arthur, and Jake had unleashed balefire on them to escape. The whole thing gets written up as just another attempted mass shooting—just another day in America, nothing to see here—this one averted by the bravery and quick thinking of a room full of teens.
“It was cool, what you did with the lacrosse stick.” Two days later. Eli’s at Zoe’s. They’re both sitting in the big couch-sized swing in her front yard, carefully supervised by Mr. Chung from the bay window in the den. Giving them space, but . . . watching. All the adults are on edge right now. Eli supposes he can’t blame them. He thinks his ribs are still bruised form Aunt Addi’s crushing hugs.
“Was it?” Zoe says. She isn’t in cosplay today, just nebula-patterned leggings and a big chunky black sweater. Eli thinks she looks really nice. Zoe always looks really nice, but today it’s . . . even more. “It felt kinda . . . shitty,” Zoe continues. “Like . . . like, I dunno. Un-feminist? Sending a Man”—she pronounces the capital letter, voice pitching low portentously—“to fight when I should’ve been able to do it myself.”
So I did a clean-up of my bookshelves yesterday, mostly chucking out the books I’d DNF’d but needed to put somewhere, plus a few ancient outliers that no longer, as they say, “sparked joy.” Also, by “chucking out” I mean “sent to the local book charity”; it’s a crisis hotline that runs a book fair every year to raise money.
Point being, I have space on my shelves again, which means… time to buy more books!
- One Thousand and One Ghosts, Alexandre Dumas. I’ve historically had an aversion to “The Classics,” probably because I got burned at a young age trying to read The Lord of the Rings, which I found turgid and tedious.1 After that, I just kind of… assumed all works written prior to like the 1980s were in the same style and avoided them en masse2 which… now that I’m thinking about it as an adult, is kinda a laughable assumption. Also, I’ve already gotten through both Frankenstein and Capital vol. 1, so… this thin little tome is not intimidating in comparison.
- Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. Well… I enjoyed 1984 way more than I thought I would,3 so we’ll try this one on as well.
- Metro 2033, Dmitry Glukhovsky. I watched a Let’s Play of one of the games, and it’s way easier to find in stores than Roadside Picnic and The Master and Margarita, which are the Russian-spec-fic-in-translation books I’m actually looking for, and will probably have to special order.
- Injection, vol. 3, Warren Ellis. Why did I buy this but not volume two? Er… oops.
- After years of on-again-off-again reading, I got halfway through the second book, and was up to… some bit where Gollum is crawling across a mountain range? Or something? Anyway, I realized that, a) I didn’t care about anything that was going on, and b) there was nothing actually forcing me to keep reading and I could stop at any time. So I did, and never went back, and never regretted it. [↩]
- With the exception of my Poe and Lovecraft phases. [↩]
- Which is to say: I thought I would tolerate it as A Classic and kinda skim the boring/sexist bits, but… actually ended up legitimately loving it and devoured the whole thing. [↩]
“You said you’d killed one before.”
“You don’t look so good. Are you . . . are you okay?”
Thursday morning, and Eli feels like his head is ready to burst and his eyelids have rusted shut. He is one-hundred percent not ready, in other words, to deal with Morgan Lacroix.
“Yeah,” he says. “Just . . . rough night, y’know?”
Morgan nods. She’s still in all-black but it’s not quite the lace-and-lamentation of yesterday. “I’m sorry,” she says and, near as Eli can tell, sounds sincere. “If you need anything . . .” She trails off, biting her lip and looking away, almost as if she knows how futile the offer is.
“‘m okay,” Eli lies. “Just . . . need time, y’know?”
Morgan has cornered him just outside the school, and there’s an awkward moment where neither of them seem to know what to say. Eli’s trying to figure out an excuse to leave when Morgan’s eyes suddenly dart between him and their surroundings, and she leans forward to hiss:
“I got it.”
“Huh?” says Eli, eloquent as always.
“The . . . the files,” Morgan clarifies, or tries to. “About the murders.”
“Oh,” says Eli. Then, when the memory clicks in place: “Oh!”
“From Mom’s laptop. I took photos. I don’t— I need your number. I’ll text them. Then I have to delete them”—said with great urgency—“Mom can never know I took these. You understand, right?”
“Yeah,” says Eli, who does. “Of course.”
He exchanges numbers with Morgan and, a moment later, a series of photos ping into his messaging app. They’re grainy and low-res, obviously taken of the screen of another computer, but they’re readable enough.
“Is that . . . is that what you needed?” Morgan asks.
“Ugh! I don’t believe you, Drake!”
“I want you to call,” she says, hands on his shoulders, eyes staring earnestly into his. “Every hour, okay? If you don’t call, I’m going to, to—” Her voice chokes.
“It’s okay, Aunt Addi,” Eli says. “I’ll call.”
“No texting,” Addi adds. “I want to hear your voice.” Eli nods, so she adds: “And I’ve got an appointment for you with Doctor Mallory, tomorrow at 3pm. It’s . . . it’s the earliest I could get. I’m sorry. Do you need me to come home and take you?”
“No, it’s okay. I’ll be fine, Aunt Addi. I promise.”
Addi stares at him a moment longer, searching for some sign of . . . something. Eli isn’t sure. He doesn’t even know if she’s found it or not when, a moment later, she pulls him tight against her. “Oh, sweetheart,” she says. “I’m sorry. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not here. Not in Rosemont.”
“It’s okay,” Eli says, because he isn’t sure how else to respond. “I’ll be okay.”
Eli thinks about whether that’s a lie or not as he listens to Aunt Addi leave for work. His fingers dance idly across his Launchpad, beats and samples of something not-yet-formed falling against each other in a jagged, unharmonious throb.
Mo “Sir Percival” Dhillon is dead. Eli didn’t even know the guy’s full name until he heard it yesterday at the station, yet the guy died because of Eli. Maybe not directly, but . . .
“I could’ve saved him,” Eli tells his laptop. If he hadn’t been so afraid of transforming in front of Arthur.
It doesn’t last long. Zoe is good at many things, but running isn’t one of them. Eli pulls her along but eventually she topples to her knees in the dirt, leant forward and gasping. “I— I can’t—” she keeps starting, but she’s breathing too hard to finish. Eli just helps her to sit down on a nearby rock and strains his ears to listen for pursuit. Either there isn’t any, or Brooklyn and Fargo are much stealthier than they look. Eli’s betting it’s the former.
“It’s okay,” he says. “We’re okay. We can stop here.”
It takes Zoe a really long time to start breathing normally again. Eli thinks she might actually be having some sort of attack, her breath is coming so hard and raspy, her skin like dragonfire beneath his hands. He has nothing to help her through it, so instead he just sits, and tries to say soothing things. If anyone comes across them, Eli will just yell at them until they go get medical help. He figures no ones going to be too suspicious of a girl who’s struggling for air.
It takes a long time, but eventually Zoe’s breath returns to something like normal. Which is about when she starts sobbing in huge, big, noisy gulps. Eli lets her cry it out against his chest, his arms around her shoulders while her little feather earring tickles his throat. He feels strangely numb, considering everything that’s just happened. Like he’s accidentally poured all his panic and fear into Zoe, maybe, and now she’s experiencing it for the both of them.