Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Burning Anticipation

When I was a kid, I read Dragon Magazine.

I read it a lot.

One of my favorite parts of Dragon Magazine was the fiction. For years - and possibly up until the magazine finally bit the bucket, and was resurrected, and bit the bucket again (I think?) - Dragon featured Dungeons & Dragons-esque short stories. Some of them were explicitly set in D&D universes, others were set in universes that could be D&D, but weren't. Some of them were stand-alones, some of them were parts of serialized epics.

My favorites were a series by Greg Keyes. Fool Wolf was a thief, a liar, and a ne'er-do-well saddled with a dangerous spirit bound into his ribcage by is irresponsible, drunken father. Cast out from his people for crimes committed by the spirit, Fool Wolf wanders a Sword & Sorcery world, looking for adventure, women, money, and the opportunity to rid himself of his unwelcome guest.

For a long time, the tales of Fool Wolf lived in the basement of my brain, occasionally twitching, winking, and throwing iterations up into my higher brain. Certain phrases - "tattoos of singular blackness," "mansion of bone" - stuck in my head.

Then I discovered the collection: Hounds of Ash and Other Tales of Fool Wolf. Time passed, and eventually I made it mine.

I can't wait to read this book. I'll definitely post a review when I have.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Burning Myths, Flying Knives

Check it out: Escape Pod's blog has just published a post exploding the myth of the deadly flying knife.

I'll admit it - I don't know enough about physics to judge this particular post on the merits of its accuracy. However, I do know enough about the modern fantastic cannon to recall Vlad Taltos's entertaining description of thrown knives as a diversionary tactic; they flinch at the flying bit of pointy steel and miss the larger and more dangerous piece of not-so-flying steel headed for their guts. Or, more frequently, the fact that Vlad is headed for the hills.

Now, I'm much more of a creator of fantasies than speculation, even when I write in a science fictional mode, so I'm quite likely to give my heroes an explicitly magical "get out of physics free" card (I'm looking at you Exalted). I'm about as likely to set up my setting with an alternate physics - Heroic Physics, let's call it - in which throwing knives, swinging off chandeliers, or, say, running on the tops of trees are all possible for anyone.

That said, I like to be specific about where and when I depart from reality. I'd rather sit down to write a story thinking "this story will be set in a setting with general background of Heroic Physics, in which this, that, and the other thing are possible, and characters possessed of certain abilities will depart further in these specific ways" than just make mistakes. In that way, articles like this one are very useful.

However, I also have no problems with departing from reality in this way, when it's done clearly, consistently, and carefully. This is a sentiment it doesn't seem like the author of this article shares with me - she calls throwing knives in general "silly" and "cliched." Different strokes and all that. I can bring my throwing knives along when we visit a world that features Heroic Physics and leave them at home when we visit a world with Conventional Physics. It's all good.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I don't really want to dwell on it, but I didn't win NaNo this year. Rat and Starling made it to about 36k, and that's where I died.

Did I say died? I meant came down with the first (and therefore, by definition, worst) sinus infection of my entire pitiful life. I'm still blowing horrifying crap out of my nose once in a while. But I certainly wished I was dead, for a while there.

In the end, despite being very nearly out of commission for a week, I might have been able to finish NaNo. Unfortunately, for the last three days, there has been time to do any three of the following things: go to work, finish my grading - which I didn't get to while I was dying of General NIoD (Nose Infection of Doom) - sleep, and NaNo. Sleep has to happen - whenever I don't sleep the Abigail gets really weird and for some reason and we fight all the time - as does going to work and finishing my grading if I want to stay employed. Something had to give, and what gave was NaNo.

I still didn't get more than three hours of sleep last night. Fucking grading.

Anyway, as I wrote above, I don't want to dwell on the negatives. There's always next year, after all. For now, I will content myself with another year of effort and the fact that there are now thirty-six thousand more words in the world, written by me, that I may someday come back to and make less sucky.

And that, 50k or no 50k, is still an achievement.