Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won't do…

August 20, 2016

Back to the Island 3.9 – Stranger in a Strange Land

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — lexifab @ 11:50 pm

Quote: “You see who people are? Who am I?” – Jack Shepherd
“You are a leader. A great man. And this makes you lonely, and frightened, and angry.” – Achara

Summary: While Sawyer and Kate escape back to the Island, Jack is bull-headed for forty minutes and then decides to save Ben from surgical complications and Juliette from execution.

The Best Bit: Uhhh, give me a minute. Oh, no okay, I got it: when Jack snarks that he’d be a lot more impressed with “you people” (meaning the Others) if they had a decent surgeon, Ben snarks back “We had an excellent surgeon, Jack. His name was Ethan.” Ooooh, snap! Ben’s deadpan snark is literally the only worthwhile thing in this episode.

The Worst Bit: The entire flashback story, in which Jack travelled to Thailand to find himself and gets mixed up with a psychic tattoo artist, exists solely to explain how Jack got Matthew Fox’s tattoos. The plot openly implies their mysterious significance and power. They are never mentioned again. GDI Lost, do you want plummeting ratings? Because this is how you get plummeting ratings!

The Mythology: “What do you do with the kids you took?” asks Kate, to which Karl replies “We give them a better life. Better than yours.” We get a few more glimpses into the lives of the Others, including the introduction of Isabel (their “Sheriff”). She might well have added an interesting new dynamic to the Others, if she had ever appeared again. She won’t though.

More interestingly, we see the return of Cindy, the stewardess – please, Lost, it’s 2004; they’re called flight attendants now, okay? – who slipped Jack some extra booze before the crash. It’s great seeing Kimberley Joseph again, but more to the point it’s clear from the clean clothes and healthy complexions that the Others have not been mistreating all the people, including kids, they kidnapped from the tail section.

Which raises the question – if they could have kept everyone in relative comfort, why did they only kidnap *some* of the crash victims and consign the rest to months of shouty jungle drama? (There is an answer, of course, but don’t hold your breath for it).

The Literature: The episode is named after either a quote from Exodus or, more likely, Robert Heinlein’s famous science fiction novel about a Martian-born man adapting to human culture and eventually transforming it. Which could be a significant bit of foreshadowing, except that so little of what happens in this episode matters that I wouldn’t bet on anything being intentional.

The Episode: Up to date followers of this review series might assume the reason for the more than six week gap between episodes is my usual procrastination, but for once it’s not that: it’s this. This episode. It’s fair to say I’ve not been looking forward to it. The rewatch hasn’t given me cause for reconsideration.

The political machinations of the Others, with Jack’s obstinacy pouring fuel on the fire, are at least marginally interesting, but it’s hard to get invested in it. Juliette is going to be executed for shooting Danny after a fair trial, but Jack decides to help and gets Ben to stop it. That’s it.

The Thailand flashback slathers on yet another mysterious person with purported ill-defined precognitive abilities, but takes that plot nowhere. Sawyer and Kate bicker as a screen for unresolved tensions after they slept together. Alex and Karl pine for each other at length. And Jack yells at a nice stewardess and scares some kids because he’s just that much of an egomaniacal rageaholic.

None of it hangs together. Apart from Juliette not being executed the status remains unchanged. New plot threads and characters are introduced only to be completely abandoned. The whole thing is a transparent exercise in treading water. There are worse episodes in the series, but none of them are more skippable than “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

I’d be tempted to give it five, for Jack’s “5” tattoo, but it’s really not worth more than a four.

June 1, 2016

Back to the Island 3.8 – Flashes before Your Eyes

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — Tags: — lexifab @ 10:37 pm

“How did you know she was drowning?” – Charlie Pace
“I’ll tell you how he knew. That guy sees the future, dude.” – Hurley Reyes

Summary: Desmond declines to tell anyone what happened to him after the Dharma Swan Station blew up, probably because it involves weird consciousness-shifting time travel. He does, however, predict Charlie’s impending death.

The Best Bit: Charlie’s middle name is Hieronymous. Charlie Hieronymous Fucking Pace. No wonder he was so screwed up.

The Real Best Bit: Well, well. So Lost is a time travel show, is it? That was a bit unexpected. Desmond’s adventure in his own past is a disorienting flashback-within-a-flashback, but inceptionized time travel aside, the *really real* best bit is Fionnula Flanagan’s terrific guest appearance as Eloise Hawking. Eloise is a pawn broker who not only knows an unsettling amount about Desmond’s past, present and future, but is also perfectly aware that he is currently time travelling and is only there to make sure he does everything he’s supposed to. “And if you don’t do those things, Desmond David Hume, then every single one of us is dead. So give me that sodding ring!”

Eloise is great, is what I’m saying.

In a series that does its best to throw absolutely mystifying curveballs at its characters every so often, this is the mid-series pivot on a par with replacing the entire cast with animated cats.

The Worst Bit: I felt bad for Desmond Hume. Alan Dale’s guest appearance as Des’ prospective father-in-law Charles Whidmore is an almost comically villainous turn, as he conspicuously declines to pour Des a glass of stupidly expensive Scotch, and instead serves him some brutal classist shade. Whidmore is a huge jerk.

The Real Worst Bit: Look, the framing scene with Charlie and Hurley deciding to get Desmond drunk so he’ll reveal his ESP secrets is necessary, but that doesn’t make it good. Though I’ll grant that Des’ final declaration is a pretty (and upsetting) great character moment: “I wasn’t saving Claire, Charlie. I was saving you. You dove in after her. You tried to save her. You drowned. When I saw the lightning hit the roof, you were electrocuted. I tried twice to save you but the universe has a way of course correcting and I can’t stop it forever. No matter what I try to do, you’re gonna die, Charlie.”

The Mythology: “Flashes before Your Eyes” is an unsettling glimpse at the middle of some other story (one that won’t be cleared up for a while yet) and throws the whole Island mystery firmly back into the foreground. What *is* this place? Who are these people who seem to be able to go anywhere and do whatever they like with a clear picture of what should and/or will happen. Why is *everything* connected? Example: Whidmore’s office has a painting with a polar bear and the word “Namaste” written on it that I guarantee you won’t spot without freezing the image.

And when Desmond arrives back in the past, the Numbers show up again. Here they seem like spontaneous harbingers of Island weirdness – a side-effect rather than significant in themselves. The difference here is that Desmond, who spent three years typing the Numbers into a computer, recognises their presence and is suitably wigged out by them.

The Episode: I remember being riveted by “Flashes before Your Eyes” when I first saw it. It changes the tenor of the show in ways that both heighten the wonder and – I don’t doubt – deepen the frustration for any viewer who just wants everything to make sense. It doesn’t yet, and instead “Flashes” doubles down on the bewildering mystery. As a first time viewer, I was absolutely on board for Lost expanding its weirdness borders into time travel territory.

In retrospect though, this episode is all setup for stuff that won’t pay off for ages. It advances the plot a half-step at most, from “he sees the future” to “he sees Charlie die in the future”. Bad news for Charlie, but the episode is 100% leaning on Henry Ian Cusick’s befuddled charm to carry the audience through what is, when seen in isolation, a nonsense plot. He’s up for it – as of this episode he became one of my favourite actors on the show – but it’s a risky balancing act.

It’s an interesting artefact of the show in retrospect – an absolute lynchpin in terms of orienting the series towards its ending – but it doesn’t move the story forward in any meaningful sense. It’s almost pure infrastructure, wrapped in a charming Scots accent.

Call it six Mancunian buskers belting out Oasis covers out of ten.

May 2, 2016

Review – Misfortune by A C Fellows

Filed under: books of 2016,reviewage — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 11:42 am

Doctor Clam, I believe I owed you a review!

Misfortune (The Rainier Fields Series Book 1) follows the adventures of the itinerant fantasist Rainier Fields, who first appears as a homeless tinkerer making small robots from scrap to get by. An unfortunate run-in with the local authorities leads to Fields making the acquaintance of an emphatically young woman named Mercery Pockles. Fields discovers, by way of never-fully-explained precognitive abilities, that Mercery has a mysterious and potent destiny, and determines to ensure that it will come out in her favour.

Told in episodic flashbacks, sometimes in interviews with other characters in the narrative and some from the perspective of many years after the events of the story, Misfortune is an unusual story. Fields is a self-admitted cypher, a fantasist running away from both a miserable childhood and a self-sabotaging personality, both in the literal sense of being a wanderer and by creating a personal backstory of heroic adventures and noble deeds off in space.

The reality he is escaping is rather more grubby and sad, and yet Fields is for the most part an optimist whose determination to live up to his own fantasy is somewhat admirable. He decides that his alter ego would do everything in his power to rescue Mercery from her plight, and so he goes to extraordinary lengths to do so. And yet he’s a rather uncomfortable character to live with; a middle aged man, his relationship with Mercery is barely platonic and borderline obsessive. When Mercery’s wellbeing is not at stake, he is often passive and uninquisitive, and there are parts of the story that plumb the depths of his psychology at the cost of forward momentum.

The story itself is a series of increasingly unfortunate events that bounce Fields, Mercery and a cast of supporting characters up against weird aliens, sinister conspiracies and cruel experiments. The main characters suffer through a cycle of escapes, separations, captures, torture of one sort or another and fresh escapes, all revealing more about their dark pasts, their strange sort-of-magic-sort-of-psychic powers and their odd relationships as they draw closer to Mercery’s great and terrible destiny.

Misfortune has the feel of a small, human struggle told against the backdrop of an epic adventure that could emerge at any moment. The stakes never move far beyond the personal fortunes of Fields and Mercery – Fields frequently displays a lack of interest in the wider universe in his narrative – and yet the sense that great events are in motion is constant. I certainly look forward to the further adventures of Rainier Fields, in the hopes that future stories might pull the camera back and show us more of the strange setting.

April 25, 2016

Prince and the Canberra Heater Rule

Filed under: news of the day — Tags: , , , , , — lexifab @ 9:58 am

Canberra has a bizarre cultural tradition you might have heard about. This is it: you invite social censure if you switch on your household heating before Anzac Day. Ask anyone who lives here for more than a year or two – if they don’t say it themselves, they will still be well aware of having heard it.

The specific consequences of infringing this oft-recounted social directive are never made clear. After a bit over seventeen years living here, I’m not yet sufficiently local to speak with any authority. But I infer that breakers of the Anzac Day rule are considered to be a bit on the soft side. They lack, I understand, the intestinal fire that will see them through the bitter winter.

Me, I’m just cheap. The longer we can put off cranking up the ducted heating the better. Our September gas bill is a shocker.

Still the “rule” has undeniable power. No matter how cold it gets in early April, you can’t help but hesitate before throwing the switch. Eleven on days when there’s frost outside and the car windscreens are all iced over.

You question yourself. “Do I really need to warm up?”

You ask yourself, “Couldn’t I just put on a jumper?”

You find yourself actively considering whether to just tough out the cold when the switch for the heater is right in front of you.

It’s astonishing how small, seemingly insignificant social pressures can influence our behaviour.

A few days ago as I write this, Prince died in what are still mysterious circumstances. Despite being in the right age group – my teen years were in the eighties – I never really got into Prince. I liked all the same songs that everyone else liked, but I never dug any deeper than listening to ‘Purple Rain’ a few times and digging about half of the Batman ‘89 soundtrack.

But this week’s massive outpouring of shock and grief at the untimely death of a celebrity – a state that 2016 appears to be conditioning us to never leave – has got me reconsidering my mildly indifferent stance. For one thing, it’s pretty obvious when you actually pay attention that Prince was a prodigious talent – singing, dancing, playing All the Instruments and etc.

More to the point, the sheer abundance of opinion on social media (and in traditional media, for that matter) exerts a quiet strength. I don’t think I even registered the moment this week where I went from being somewhat indifferent to strongly pro-Prince. It definitely happened. Unless something terrible comes out in the wake of investigations into his passing, that’s probably going to be my opinion for good.

It was a seismic shift affecting one small corner of my mind, but it happened without my even noticing it until after the fact.

(There’s probably some kind of book marketing lesson to be learned in that, but who cares?)

Instead I’m going to link to my favourite Prince moment from a few years ago, at a memorial concert for George Harrison. He’s not playing one of his own songs, but he plays with such effortless virtuosity that it might as well be his.

Listen to the whole thing (or start at 3:25 to skip listening to Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty singing, if you must). If you didn’t have an opinion about Prince before, this might change your mind.


April 18, 2016

Back to the Island 3.7 – Not in Portland

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — Tags: , — lexifab @ 10:58 pm

Quote: “You haven’t thought this through, Jack. Your plan’s not going to work.” – Juliet Burke

Summary: Everyone argues about the dangling plot threads from the previous episode: Will Jack let Ben die in surgery (and will it be deliberate or another screw-up)? Will Kate and Sawyer escape and or will Danny finally get to kill someone in revenge for Sun shooting Colleen? Drama!

The Best Bit: The reckless desperation of Kate and Sawyer’s escape is exciting and features a very unexpected diversion down one of the series’ weirder rabbit holes. But nothing quite tops the fact that Ben wakes up during his own surgery and successfully negotiates for his own life despite the fact that virtually everyone involved would be happier with him dead.

The Worst Bit: Jack does a lot of treading water in this episode, loudly and angrily restating his previous positions while other things happen. He manages to outdo himself in the final scene by arrogantly browbeating Juliet into telling him what Ben said to convince her to save him. It’s aggressive and arguably bullying, though Juliet’s weary but calculated response – “I’ve been on this Island for three years, Jack. Three years, two months and twenty-eight days. He said that if I let him live and helped you that he would finally let me go home” – is delivered with real emotional punch.

The Literature: There’s no time for anyone to pick up a book in this classic run-through-the-jungle shoutfest. The closest thing to a literary allusion is the A Clockwork Orange scene, about which more in a moment.

The Mythology: Well. Doesn’t “Not in Portland” open up a can of worms? First of all, in the Juliet flashback we get our first introduction to Richard Alpert, played with slightly-goofy-terribly-sinister charm by the wonderful Nestor Carbonell. He’s pretending to be a recruiter for a Portland biotech startup, but he’s really one of the Others and also a bus murderer. It’s not everyone who gets to write that on their resume. Oh, and Ethan’s there too, but more or less only so that we know straight away that Alpert’s up to no good.

The other key new element is Room 23, where Alex’s boyfriend whatsisnamewhocares (aka Karl) is being torture-programmed by weird visual images and a genuinely unendurable industrial metal soundtrack. This is apparently where recruits go to get indoctrinated into the gun-toting jungle fetishist cult of the Others. The blipverts on Carl’s giant TV screen announce “God loves you as he loved Jacob”. They also make pronouncements like “Everything changes!” and “We are the causes of our own suffering”, which sounds like the take-home messages from a particularly vacuous TED talk.

The Episode: So. This is the first episode of Lost after a long hiatus caused by the infamous 2007 Hollywood writers’ strike. During their down-tools, the senior writer-producers of the show are alleged to have got together to map out the rest of the series. Everything after this point, we are told, is driving the series towards its climactic episode. I’ll have stuff to say about that when we get to Season Six, but for the moment it’s fair enough to take it at face value.

In terms of moving forward, they come off the blocks pretty hard with “Not in Portland”, laying plenty of pipe for the rest of the series in between the gun fights, tense negotiations and sudden betrayals. Juliette’s back story is sad – Elizabeth Mitchell performs crushing, unbearable sadness as well as anyone in the business – but feels artificially manipulative to me. It’s mainly constructed to make the Others looks ruthless (we knew that) and to establish that she has good reason to hate Ben.

It’s good, but except for the bit where Juliet’s ex is bus-murdered, it’s not that memorable. Call it seven botched spinal surgeries out of ten.

April 15, 2016

Zine crazy

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 3:17 pm

I sent a newsletter out last night, to my teeming list of six (count ’em all!) mailing list subscribers. It was a surprisingly nerve-wracking experience, which lines up with my general experience of self-promotion. In other news, I sometimes vomit before or after interviews.

The point of doing the newsletter, even though I don’t really have a lot of writing career to promote at the moment, is to get some practise at the marketing side of the business. It’s an interesting aspect of a professional writing career that I’ve never given any real consideration, for the very sensible reason that why would I? But on the off chance I ever stumble into some modicum of success as a writer, I’d rather have built up some of the basic non-writing skills that prop up the career.

Having a well-maintained mailing list is one of the things every discussion of book marketing mentions sooner or later, whether the author in question is traditional or self-published. Members of a mailing list are self-selecting volunteers who want to be there (if they didn’t, they’d unsubscribe), which makes them more likely to be receptive to your personal news than all your cousins on Facebook or all the random fashion bots that follow you on Twitter.

Besides which, I’ve missed writing wacky amateurish ‘zines, which I’ve hardly done at all since high school.

Another reason included the first episode of what I currently plan to be long-running serial adventure. I figure if I’m going to have a mailing list, I want to make it worth clicking on. It doesn’t hurt that having an outside obligation means I’m much more likely to finish a piece of work than if I leave it to my own devices.

The big reason to put out a newsletter, if I’m being much too blunt for my own comfort [1], is that I crave an audience. I want people to hear what I have to say. Or no, not even that, because the existence of blogs and social media more than adequately provides a soapbox sounding off about whatever. What I really hope for is confirmation, however transitory and slight, that I possess the minor super-power of being entertaining or at least amusing through the medium of storytelling.

I’m like that kid (i.e. me) who ties the towel around his neck, climbs up on the shed and jumps off in the hope that this time he’ll fly. And then does it again, and again, and again. [2]

That sounds self-deprecating and defeatist, but it’s not intended that way. It’s painfully apparent to me, from observation of my own habits as a consumer of art, that it’s very difficult for writers, musicians and artists of every other stripe [2] to capture the attention of an audience, or to hold it for more than a moment. The world is too busy, too loud, too crowded with distractions. It’s hard to stand out. And like all things that are hard, it takes time and work (and probably a lot of mistakes) before you can get better at it.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely subscribe to the notion that creating art is a worthwhile pursuit in its own right. But that doesn’t mean I want to or should have to create in a vacuum. Art is much more interesting and compelling to me as a conversation between unique voices than as the isolated mutterings of a lonely madman. Even if the conversation is barely about a murmur at the moment, I’d still prefer to be having it with other people.

Anyway, if you’re reading this and you missed out, you can still go over to my author website and subscribe. I’ll resend the April newsletter in a week or two to any late signups, so you won’t miss out on the first part of Orphans’ Moon.


[1] As I typed this I was very, very uncomfortable and maybe a little bit nauseated

[2] And each time, assuming this isn’t the time he breaks his damn fool leg or worse, he gets a little bit better at tucking and rolling on impact.

[3] Poets are especially fucked. I’m glad I’m not trying to be a poet.

March 30, 2016

Home again

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,news of the day — lexifab @ 8:33 pm

We’re back home after four days’ break in the Hunter Valley. The highlights were probably spending an hour have a leisurely wine tasting while the kids played with Leo the resident winery dog at Pokolbin Estate and taking a camel ride across the dunes in Anna Bay on our way home this morning (was a bit out of our way, but worth the detour).

It was very pleasant to have a solid few days of real break time. We had next to no internet or mobile coverage (thanks Vodafone) so about the most wired thing I managed to do was play a few rounds of Words with Friends. Other than that, it was all about chilling with the kids playing tennis or splashing about in the pool, drinking wine and reading.

I did mean to write. Honestly I did. I took my notebook and everything. But in the end I decided I was better off just trying to get some distance from my creeping anxiety about procrastination and just relax. It seems to have worked (a few choice bottles of plonk may not have hurt either). I’m back in a much more positive frame of mind. There’s still an enormous amount of stuff to do, but it feels less unmanageable than it did last week.

Right. Things to do. Let’s get to it.

March 22, 2016

That did not work

Filed under: administraviata,geekery,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 8:42 pm

Boring technical note. I just tried to export this entire blog across to its own page at davidversace.com. It didn’t work.

Or rather, it did work, perfectly – but it merged with the blog that was already there, creating what we might technically refer to as a bit of a dog’s breakfast. I surmise at this point that my best bet is to create a separate website to host this blog, but that will probably take some concerted effort that won’t happen before I head away north for the Easter weekend.

Had another disappointment today, about which I’ll say nothing here, except to note that it means going back to the drawing board for a New Plan.

I now propose to turn my back on the disappointments and go proofread my story in preparation for its publication in At the Edge (details on the Other Site). And then watch an unhealthy amount of Daredevil.

March 17, 2016

Back to the Island 3.6 – I Do

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — Tags: — lexifab @ 10:06 pm

Quote: “Tell you what. If you can really stay put, really settle down, then I’ll stop chasing you. But you and I both know that’s not going to happen.” – Agent Edward Mars

Summary: After initially telling Ben he’s going to let his spinal tumour kill him, Jack finally agrees to perform the surgery when he discovers that Kate and Sawyer have slept together (and if there was ever any doubt that, at its heart, Lost is a soap opera, then I trust that sentence killed it off).

The Best Bit: The final scene cuts between the surgical ward where Jack and Juliette are operating to remove Ben’s tumour and the polar bear cages where Sawyer and Kate profess their kind-of-mutual love before Danny arrives to kill Sawyer. It’s one of the most effective dramatic scenes in the entire series to date. Everything works – the direction, the editing, the score and the performances all crank the tension up until it’s basically impossible to watch the scene without being 100% convinced that Sawyer is going to get shot in the head and dumped in the mud at Kate’s feet. And *then* Jack pulls his own murderous power-move and turns the whole scene around. Everything feels completely earned and completely convincing. It’s a great piece of television drama.

The Worst Bit: It’s just a shame that the rest of the episode is pretty dull. The flashback scene shows us a snippet of Kate’s life from when she was briefly married to the nicest cop ever portrayed on television (played by effortlessly charming goofball Nathan Fillion, he’s conscientious, doting, and he even does all his paperwork!) Naturally Kate sabotages everything by drugging him and fleeing as soon as he suggests she gets a passport, which to be fair would be quite tricky for a federal fugitive. There’s nothing really wrong with the plot – and it does afford another chance to see the ill-fated Agents Mars, who’s great – but it doesn’t add anything new to what we already knew about Kate, which is that she runs instead of solving problems. The back story exists for no other reason but to lend ironic weight to Jack’s bellowed command in the final scene: “Kate, damn it, run!”

The Literature: The Bible gets a brief look-in, during Eko’s funeral scene. Locke, using a rock to hammer Eko’s walking stick into the grave, pauses significantly at the words carved into it: “Let up your eyes and look north.” It’s a paraphrase of Genesis 13:14 “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward” (I just picked the King James version by the way. None of the various texts agree on the wording, so I can forgive the fake-preacher Eko for getting the quote a bit wrong). There’s also a reference to John 3.5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (King James again. I have no idea what denomination Eko was supposed to be). Anyway, all very significant, I’m sure.

The Mythology: Angsty teenager Alex reappears, searching for her missing boyfriend, and we learn that she is not only one of the Others but also has some connection to Ben that makes her influential (albeit rather patronised by the older Others like Juliette and Danny). To be fair, Alex appears naive and has poor planning skills, so it’s not really surprising the ultra-serious grownup Others look down on her.

Rather more mysteriously, when Danny’s murderous blood-vengeance is finally let off its leash and he storms off to execute Sawyer, he cryptically remarks that “Shepherd wasn’t even on Jacob’s list.”  This may not quite be the first direct reference to someone called Jacob; it’s certainly the first mention of his list. (Spoiler: it’s going to come up again).

The Episode: Despite my very great fondness for performances by Nathan Fillion, “I Do” is an episode that I rewatched expecting to be mostly bored. For about the first thirty-eight minutes, that’s not an unfair expectation- the scenes between Ben, Jack and Juliette are more of the same tense posturing from previous episodes, the culmination of Kate and Sawyer’s caged-heat tension is perfectly watchable but not all that thrilling, and the flashback is a collection of nice moments with no surprises.

But that last scene elevates the episode in every way, and finishes on as solid a dramatic moment as any cliffhanger in the series to date. Not enough to win me over completely, but enough to rate seven charming goofball guest stars.

March 15, 2016

Sunday Monday Tuesday Reset

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 9:30 pm

I originally thought that I would run a weekly “keep myself honest” column over at PretentiousAuthor.com. In retrospect I think it would clutter the site up for no particular value for the readers.

It has some value for me, though, so I’m going to do it here instead. I’ll try to keep it short.

What I worked on: I revised the ending of ‘Silver the Moon in Ascension’ (aka ‘Magic robots vs Werewolves: Dawn of Justice’), I hand-wrote a few pages of my story about a monster hunting magistrate, I began researching my story idea for an ecopunk anthology, I wrote a drabble and I sent out my first pretentious-author newsletter to a whopping four subscribers!

I’ve been experimenting in the last few months with doing longhand first drafts. I used to do it, once upon a very long time ago, but I lost the habit somewhere. Early results seem to indicate that I write fast with longhand (not as fast as I type, but also with far fewer pauses for thought), that my writing sprints tend to last no more than about forty minutes at the most, and that I can generally crank out about 300 words (or two-ish pages of my notebook) in ten minutes or so. The prose tends to be a bit overwritten, but not much more than my regular prose. I expect the process of transcription will help me cut the text back to a lean flow. We’ll see.

What I’ve added to my work plan: More longhand drafting on the magistrate story, a knuckle-down redraft of Silver the Moon, writing a short-short submission for a CSFG horror flash fiction contest, more research for the ecopunk story, and outlining my serial fiction project that I plan to start soon.

For reference, the anthology I am aiming at is Ticonderoga’s Ecopunk – speculative tales of radical futures.  I’m inspired to have a go for a few reasons – one, because getting a story accepted into a Ticonderoga anthology has evolved from mere writing goal to authorial white whale; two, because I don’t write enough science fiction and I consider it a real gap in my repertoire; and three, because as I admitted on Leife Shallcross’ blog a few weeks ago, I am a lazy-arsed researcher, which borders on the disgraceful.

(So far the hard part has not been developing a workable SF concept. It’s finding the right story to attach to it).

Taking my shot at a scientifically-plausible short fiction piece is a real personal challenge. Honestly, it’s not a target I expect to hit, knowing the standard that the editors are expecting. But I won’t shore up my weaknesses by avoiding them.



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