from a while back on narrative dealbreakers—specifically, the generally rarer/less-universally-condemned ones—got me thinking about what my own list would be…
Greatest Hits from Random Things That Bug Me In Fic:
- Fics set in New York where people constantly brush up against each other.
- Pinching. Of any kind.
- That’s not how encryption works!
- That’s not how RFID works!
- That’s not how the government works!
- That’s not how the military works!
- That’s not how computers work!
- That’s not how the Vikings worked!
- That’s not how skyscrapers work!
- That’s not how the publishing industry works!
- That’s not how Michelin-star restaurants work!
- That’s not how Australia works!
- That’s not even Russian, bro.
- THAT’S NOT EVEN COFFEE BRO!!!!!
And how could I forget my All-Time Ultimate Nitpick OTP:
- That’s not how pronoun-antecedent agreement works!
The dragon on her hoard. The horror in its void. The word-spanning AI. The demon reaping souls. Too often fiction portrays the non-human as Other; as a threat to be destroyed, to be conquered… or to be “saved”, assimilated back into the teeming throngs of humanity.
Not this time. This time, it’s the non-humans’ turn. What is life like, to be imperfect. To observe humanity from without? What does it mean to be seen as horrific, to be rejected… and to overcome that? Or embrace it? To embrace it or reject it? And what does our love of these stories tell us can we, as human readers, learn from that about ourselves?
Unnatural Order is an anthology for strange days and grotesque beauty, as the monstrous seeps out from the dark, and makes the light its own.
Sounds awesome? OF COURSE IT DOES! Monsters, man! Monsters! I can’t believe someone gave me and Lyss the opportunity to make an entire goddamn short story anthology of monsters.
Oh, and did I mention we’re looking to launch this at next year’s WorldCon? Because we totally are.
Because that’s a super-tight timeframe, submissions are open, like. Now. Until October. Next month we’ll also be launching a Kickstarter, managed by Rivqa, who you may remember from the totally awesome, multi-award-winning Mother of Invention anthology. The base project is funding (i.e. there’ll be something at the end), but the Kickstarter is for things like paying authors more, commissioning interior art,2 and actually paying the people we’ve currently got volunteering on services like copyediting and layout. For you guys, however, the Kickstarter is a way to, a) pre-order copies of the final anthology, including an exclusive hardback edition, and b) get sweet, sweet monster-related merch. So… definitely keep an eyestalk out.
And, finally, to celebrate: Liesmith will be free on Amazon for the next week. So… monsters! Eee!
The reason that letting the audience choose its own story keeps failing when the entertainment industry tries it is that it’s a bad idea. It’s the author’s job to write the story. They can then choose a way to convey that story that gives the reader freedom in how they experience it. But if the story itself is merely a loose collection of different options, each in a different genre and with a completely different tone, then what they’ve created isn’t a coherent work, but a self-indulgent mess.
Abigail Nussbaum on story.
This is from a really, really good comparative look between Black Mirror‘s “Bandersnatch” and the “walking simulator” video game genre which, among other things, really nails why I can’t fucking stand Black Mirror‘s smug, lukewarm, late-to-the-fucking-party takes on things. Also Firewatch was a fantastic game, so was Gone Home, and while I didn’t love Night in the Woods I can see why people do.
Also related thought: the tension in tabletop RPGs between “the GM designs the game and the players experience it” versus “the players make-up the game and the GM facilitates” it. I’ve mentioned before I am… not particularly a fan of the latter approach and, again, I think this article well-articulates why.
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.
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. [↩]
RFID tags are not GPS devices. Most of them (passive RFID, i.e. the sort in your credit cards and pets) don’t “broadcast” per se and require a nearby reader to operate.
Powered RFIDs require a separate battery and antennae, generally have a fairly short range (few hundred meters, max), and are orders of magnitude larger than passive devices.
There’s no such thing as “military-grade encryption.” There are military standards for encryption (most notably FIPS 140), but they generally just specify algorithms and configurations. In this the Year Of Our Annuit Cœptis 2019, most modern consumer-grade technology comes with FIPS-compliant crypto configurations by default (e.g. Windows Bitlocker, macOS FileVault, iOS, etc.). It’s very difficult to “hack” but if you put a shit password in front of it, you’re still boned.
Incidentally, the “military-grade cryptography” thing is (asides from being a marketing buzzword) a hold-over from the pre-2000s era, when the US government did have export restrictions on certain cryptographic algorithms, effectively to deny anyone who wasn’t the US access to crypto the US could not hack.
These restrictions (mostly) ended when tech activists started getting tattoos depicting restricted crypto code, usually RSA implementations, effectively turning themselves into “restricted munitions” and tl;dr the laws got challenged and rendered unenforcable. Also, the internet happened.
Nowadays, some restrictions do still exist, but they’re fairly specific and almost never what anyone who uses terms like “military-grade encryption” is actually talking about.