Lot of stuff going on in my personal life right now (all my friends who read this blog: don’t worry, it has nothing to do with any of you) and I would just really like to have one less thing to do. I will be back next week.
I think I’ve mentioned before that my favorite book, out of all of the books, is “Going Postal” by Terry Pratchett. It’s the first book featuring Moist von Lipwig, a con artist turned government employee. There’s a second Lipwig book, too, “Making Money,” in which he’s put in charge of a bank.
And, now, there’s a third. From Boing Boing:
Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam is the 40th (!) novel in the Discworld series. It’s just come out in the UK (the US edition comes out in March) and it’s a tremendous synthesis of everything that makes Pratchett one of the world’s most delightful writers. It’s a curious thing: a fantasy novel about modernity and reactionaries, a synthesis of technological optimism and a curious sort of romantic mysticism.
I’ve never actually ordered something from the UK before, I think. Unfortunately, my Amazon Prime trial didn’t get me free shipping from overseas, but it still only cost about $26.
What, like I was supposed to wait until March?
I just saw the new Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. It is now very late at night, and I can’t really consciously unpack all my thoughts. So I’m just going to throw this out there:
I hope — I really, really hope — that the way the people involved in the creation of this film act after the final film has gone out into theaters reflects the way the characters in Catching Fire behave at the very end of the movie.
So, obviously, spoilers.
The way Catching Fire goes down, at the end, is the gamemaker of the 75th annual Hunger Games turns out to be working with the rebellion to use the games to undermine the government and spike up anti-Capitol fervor. So, it’s one-or-several industry insiders using an incredibly popular form of entertainment to sneak in subversive, anti-establishment narratives in an effort to deconstruct an extremely problematic status quo.
The Hunger Games marketing team hooked up with, Covergirl, I think? To put out a line of makeup based on all the districts, which is just incredibly fucked up for reasons that are pretty obvious if you read the books and understand the themes, or even if you’ve just seen the movies. I’m hoping that it’s the setup for a planned double-cross. I’m hoping that Suzanne Collins and Jennifer Lawrence and everyone else involved just start doing interviews all over the place unpacking all the parallels between the Hunger Games films and the problematic nature of entertainment in the US.
That is all.
Not much of a blog post today because I fell behind on NaNoWriMo this weekend. It turns out the ice wastes weren’t as interesting as I had hoped, and I think I treated the ice giants a lot more problematically than I needed to. Those chapters are going to be a major location for rearranging later — I think I need to rebuild the motivation of my ice giant character, Visyth, entirely.
For another detail that’s going to have to wait for the second draft for full-scale implementation, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what more established races to make my two thus-far unassigned groups, the islandfolk and the spirefolk.
I don’t want to call the islandfolk mermaids, because I think their living on boats and islands, rather than in the water, is too big a departure from the mythology of mermaids — who are literally biologically structured to live in the water. (Though, there are also several examples of monstrous versions of races, and mermaids might make a good counterpart for islandfolk in that regard. –I don’t mean that there are races that are inherently monstrous, but that there are particular ways in which individual groups push magic too far. For example, vampires are elves that have pursued immortality beyond the threshold of moral decency, and use magics that steal life from others to keep themselves functioning.)
On the other hand, water spirits seem like a good source. The examples I like most are Nixie and Selkies, both of which are pretty damn close to mermaids. Transformation magic may have to figure into the islandfolk to bring them closer to a reasonably fantastical form, and avoid them just being ‘human.’ (I really want to avoid making anyone just the normal humans, against whom the other races would thereafter automatically seem to be deviations.)
For spirefolk, there are lots of examples of winged or birdlike mythological creatures. Alkonost look good, based on their Wikipedia page they seem like the lore would fit into spirefolk culture. I also like the idea of the spirefolk being compared to or called angels — being flying humanoid mythological creatures, it would fit really well if so many people on earth didn’t think they were real. I may also borrow Valkyrie for some small group of spirefolk.
I will definitely need to research more about all of these groups before committing to any of them, as it’s important to me that I’m not blatantly stomping all over a mythological tradition I don’t understand or appreciate. (I’m trying to stay mostly away from non-european mythology for that reason, since at least I come from a cultural line of descent from Europe.)
I had a casual debate today with my friend at Bean’ Alive, who I’ve mentioned before, about language usage, and especially whether there is, or should be, an absolute ‘correct’ version of English. Subsequently, she posted this post, Prescriptivism v. Descriptivism: repressive grammar is a thing. It’s a pretty cool post. (I think it’s particularly relevant that she mentions she’s a Francophile, as France actually has an official organization that acts as a governing body for the language, the Académie française.)
So here’s my picture of the chain store of the future. You go in, go to the scanning booth, and do the airport-equivalent thing in a variety of positions—stretch and bend as well as hands-up. You then look at the styles on display on the shop floor, pick out what you like, and see it as it will appear on your own body on an avatar on a computer screen. You buy it, and a machine in the back of the store (or an out-of-town lights out 24×7 robotic garment factory) begins to print it. Some time later—maybe minutes, maybe hours or a day or two—the outfit you ordered comes to you. And it fits perfectly, every time. Some items are probably still off-the-shelf (socks, hosiery, maybe even those cheap tee shirts), but anything major is printed, unless you can afford to go to the really high end and pay a human being to make it for you out of natural fibres. Oh, and the printed stuff doesn’t have seams in places that chafe or bind.
Now, here’s the down-side.
The fabrics on offer to start with will be fugly. Maybe not as bad as the bri-nylon shirts and terylene and other crappy synthetics of yesteryear, but it’s still going to be fairly obvious (at first) what you’re wearing. [...]
He’s building off technology that actually exists now, and some of the great points include the end (or at least significant reduction) of clothing sweatshops and the existence of hyper-fast fashion changing cycles, which could be a lot of fun to watch.
This article is a great example of one of the many ways that the horrific problems created by industrialization and technology, as well as global capitalism, can theoretically be mitigated or solved — without giving up the benefits they confer — by sufficient application of more technology.
Remember last Friday, when I wrote about the two people who got fired from Guns & Ammo for being remotely associated with the idea of gun control? The people who got labeled as “Enemies of the people of the gun” by one particularly terrifyingly nuts responder?
That’s an example of a fanbase failing to mitigate its extremists. Gamespot, on the other hand, has just provided an example of success.
In this video, vlogger(?) Johnny Chiodini highlights some of the response to Gamespot’s review of Grand Theft Auto V, which they gave a 9 out of 10.
Many fans were furious about this score — not because they thought it was unreasonable to give it such a high score, though. They were angry because it wasn’t a 10 out of 10. There was some serious rage in the comments that professional video game journalists could conceivably find any fault at all in this game.
Mainly, it seemed, their problem was with the first of all two items in “The Bad,” as opposed to the five in “The Good,” which read: “Politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic,” a theme she expanded on in the article, which, Chidoni says in his video,
[... triggered] personal attacks on Carolyn in the comments, and even a petition to get her fired for disrespecting Grand Theft Auto V.
Yeah, that sounds familiar. But where Guns & Ammo panicked when the most monstrous elements of their fanbase started flipping out, apparently Gamespot stood by its reviewers and its ideas. Chidoni in particular laid out his condemnation of Gamespot’s asshats in the end of his video, to the point of apparently considering ending his show rather than risk contributing to the hate:
looking at the amount of vitriol our community spilled this week, the fact I’ve spent more than a year of my life making this show suddenly makes me feel distinctly uneasy — because what if I’ve been directly contributing to this mess the whole time? What if the very user input I hate to see on this site has actually increased as a result of my work?
You know what? I don’t really want to see it happen anymore. I don’t want to sweep hate speech under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen, any more than I want to give it a platform from which it can be repeated.
I’ll see you next week, I suppose.
[editorial note: I don't follow Gamespot, so I don't know to what degree their content usually is or isn't deeply problematic. I was impressed by this video, as a response to some of the worst elements of the gamer community, but I want to be clear that I'm viewing it in isolation.]