Open Thread: In The Middle Of The Week?!

Because we needed a completely open one.

depizan, all the prayers and happy thoughts sent your way as you deal with the fire in your city. I am so worried about you. Please take care.

Anything and everything below.


Ana Mardoll said...

Also, chris I thought of you the other day because we rented "The Immortals" -- which was awful and not like "300" at all, which at least understood what I was there for and the RiffTrax for 300 is AWESOME by the way for people who buy RiffTrax -- and Greek Perseus (who was Charles Brandon in The Tudors, so that was all I could see him as) kept WEARING PANTS, and I kept trying to remember whether or not you said the Greeks thought pants were barbaric or if that was the Romans. Or someone else.

Susan Beckhardt said...

So here's a hypothetical-question-slash-thought-experiment:

Imagine you are suddenly transported to an alternate dimension in which society on Earth is very much like our own, with one significant difference: everyone has no eyes. (Let's assume that you have eyes and no extreme visual impairment.) Obviously some aspects of society would be very different if all human societies had evolved without the use of vision, but lets suppose that the society is as much like our own as possible--the same level of technological achievement, scientific thought, and so on.

Now you have found yourself in this society, with an extra sense that no one on the planet has ever heard of or can even imagine how it works. How would you go about convincing people that you do have this ability to see?

Will Wildman said...

I would probably start with something like "I can tell you how many fingers you're holding up from across the room". They wouldn't recognise colour as a thing, presumably, so there would be a whole lot of 'I can tell you exactly where things are and what shape they are from a long way away' types of tests.

chris the cynic said...


Both the Greeks and the Romans thought pants were the mark of a barbarian. Unless he was undercover as a barbarian, he has some serious explaining to do.

chris the cynic said...

The less jerky version of Rayford Steele doing it to Krystall in one of the later Left Behind books.

Started with how many fingers are you holding up, gestures, postures, objects, that sort of thing.

Also if you could find something that's soundproof and clear (which you probably can't because why would they make clear things?)

You could pretty effectively pull off, "I'm cut off from all senses you know of, yet I can tell you what is going on."

Ana Mardoll said...

He was NOT undercover as a barbarian (although he WAS bullied for being an illegitimate child). And it was especially egregious because lots of the other men were wearing their Historically Appropriate skirts and dresses. So it seemed like a very blatant Hero Must Be As American-Like As Possible example.

Which was also weird because if there was one thing I thought the makers of "300" understood -- and judging from the previews, "The Immortals" *wanted* to draw in that audience -- was that a LARGE portion of the audience was there for Gerard Butler's thighs...

Will Wildman said...

Relatedly, 'Undercover Barbarian' is totally the name of my upcoming sword-and-sandal noir mystery novel. The minute she walked into my former temple of the bat god, with shoulders that could lift any man's spirits as well as his ox, and legs that just wouldn't quit crushing the enemies of her clan into a crunchy paste, I knew this would end badly. "I hear you're good at finding missing people," she said, with a purr that could drop a direwolf. "That's what it says on the sign outside this ransacked temple," I agreed. On the plus side, she looked like she could pay up front, and I was in the market for a new caribou.

Susan Beckhardt said...


Ana Mardoll said...

SERIOUSLY SECONDING SUSAN. Or at least a short story. I have plans for a D&D themed anthology anyway...... ;)

chris the cynic said...

One of my professors, whom I love and respect, has repeatedly had cause to bring up the movie 300 (she teaches classics, when trying to teach it to non-classics people, as in a class half full of art students, you reach for what you can get.) Every mention is accompanied by two things. One is a note that while it may be a good illustration of topic of the moment it is not at all historically accurate. The other is praise of the abs displayed in the movie.

chris the cynic said...

I still say we need to do Will's idea:
a modern-day-fantasy story about a world where political campaigns are also epic cross-country quests, and so your campaign staff is also your adventuring party*, and the news is not only filled with the speeches and debates you've held, but journalists also question your decision to get that wyvern to give up its shard of the Chalice of Nalani using intimidation instead of charm, and the liberal-conservative spectrum is replaced with the alignment grid**, and and and - well, there goes my ability to concentrate for the rest of the day.

And I stand by my thought that there should/could be two very different settings in story-Canada the process should function as it ideally would while in story-USA the process has been corrupted by high powered (in at least two ways) lobbyists and corporate influence and general corruption.

BaseDeltaZero said...

Also if you could find something that's soundproof and clear (which you probably can't because why would they make clear things?)

Why wouldn't they make clear things? After all, they don't know if it's clear or not.

Do these people understand the concept of *light*? If so, they must have an idea of a light-sensitive mechanism...

Brin Bellway said...

I actually have that thread in the Things Worth Re-Reading section of my bookmarks, labelled "Neutral Good: For the Canada You've Always Wanted". It was just that awesome.

Ana Mardoll said...

I completely agree. I have it listed -- and the linked thread -- under Anthologies I'd Like To Publish. Just need momentum.....!

Will Wildman said...

I agree that we would need to do multiple variants on the setting. (Plus, just for Dav's excellent bit about the interns powerlevelling on fetch quests, we would need some that were set in worlds that literally run on D&D rules and everyone knows what levelling up means.)

I note, in that thread, that we were never really able to resolve who would oversee the entire process to make sure that the Neutral Evil party didn't just lie in wait to ambush the other parties at the airport. It has since occurred to me that the ideal officials for this kind of job would be literally omniscient and hypothetically above it all, thus: gods. Or maybe I'm just delighted by the idea of the deity of Justice swearing the oath to become an electoral invigilator, including paragraphs about not basing decisions on sectarian grounds or interfering with anyone's religious freedom.

Will Wildman said...

I had entirely forgotten about that - aiming for 10,000 words per entry? At NaNo pace, I could cobble one of those together in a week (though it'd of course take more planning in advance, and polishing after). Hmm. Something to consider during the July interNaNo period.

chris the cynic said...

I just like the idea of having boarding countries represent the straightforward idea and the dark seedy hideously broken versions, so it's like two different worlds, but in fact they're in the same world and share a border.

Of course if the US is the model for one of them it needs two parties only. Maybe Lawful-Evil vs. Lawful with mild good tendencies.


And there should be massive internecine conflicts between true neutral parties.

You've got the people who think it means go with the flow, and the ones who think it means I do whatever I want and people who think it means BALANCE! to the point they're keeping a spreadsheet to make sure every bit of chaos they do is offset by an equal amount of order, and every bit of good is offset by an equal amount of evil because the meaning of neutral is that all of your actions average out to nothing.

Meanwhile others are saying, "Yes, it means balance, but not personal balance, cosmic balance. When things are heading toward evil we must be good, when they tend toward order we must be anarchists, when they head toward good we must be evil, when they head toward chaos we must fight tooth and nail to enforce order. We must oppose the direction of events, whatever that direction is, and get things back to the center."

chris the cynic said...

At NaNo pace, I could cobble one of those together in a week (though it'd of course take more planning in advance, and polishing after).

But would it be a story? A real story with a beginning a middle and an end?

If so, tell me how you accomplish this feat.

Ana Mardoll said...

I'd be thoroughly impressed as well. I struggle with outlining short stories. (Longer stories, less so.)

Am now going to go sit very quietly and think what my D&D contribution to the hypothetical anthology would be about/over.

Will Wildman said...

I am kind of delighted by the idea of a country where the only mainstream parties are all True Neutral, but have radically different ideas of how it's defined, just as you describe. (Actually, there are times when it feels like that's what we've got in Canada.)

But would it be a story? A real story with a beginning a middle and an end?

If so, tell me how you accomplish this feat.

I know I've done it in the past, though I don't know if my plot-arcing skills are still up to the task; I may need to take a few swings at it again. It may also be worth noting that my idea of 'an end' sometimes does not mesh well with others', because I'm always aware that there are still things that happen on the page-that-doesn't-exist-because-it-comes-after-the-final-page. I was kind of amused when I put up a three-part short story on, with what felt to me like quite a clearly defined (borderline soppy) ending, and at least one commenter said 'Looking forward to the next chapter!' So apparently opinions vary.

chris the cynic said...

To go with the list of slogans:

True Neutral: We'll leave the country exactly how we found it.
True Neutral: Fighting against the tide, whichever way it goes.
True Neutral: For every atrocity, an act of benevolence, for every order a disorder.
True Neutral: Whatever.
True Neutral: Going where the flow might take us.
True Neutral: What we want, when we want.
True Neutral: We'll pet every dog we kick.

Yeah, I ran out of ideas a few slogans ago.

True Neutral: Not any better, not any worse.
True Neutral: Government that accomplishes nothing on purpose.

JonathanPelikan said...

All the best to depizan.

Finished chapter eight of my current project in days, bringing the total word count on that project over 60,000. I started said project last December, though, so it's not exactly NaNoWriMo speed, but I'm still really happy with it so far. Especially since it's fanfic for a very obscure/niche game, and yet it's getting a really decent amount of attention. (Mmmmh. Attention. Reviews. Hits. Validation. Yummy.)

I kind of sort of wrote the chapters out of chronological order, though. There's five generations to the story and I'm hopping from Gen 1 and Gen 2 and started on Gen 2 and... I include a little guide on the chronology in my profile and whatnot, but it's still doubtlessly a bit confusing. The whole project proceeds or stops on a 'how am I feeling today and what do I want to write?' motif.

As in, 7 took over a month to develop. Partially due to length, over 10,000 words by the end of it, and partially because it was a new thing I was trying out. 8? Like five days. I'm sure my readers all hate me.

(The story ideas about politics: Especially if it's going to involve America, you have to include the big mass of people in the media and in the center who just want to find a reasonable commonsense freedom serious solution to these big national issues we got here; for instance, the Good party says we should save burning kittens from trees as a matter of course, but Evil claims that, well, the kittens are already burning, they're probably going to die; why waste the resources of taxpayers and job creators on mooching animals? They instead suggest handing out marshmallows to passers-by. "At least we can benefit from this horrible tragedy!" Who's right and who's wrong in this debate? That would be taking sides, and partisan, and terribly shrill, and unserious, and Us vs. Them, to put forth any judgement. Oh, and hippies are stinky and shifty and dubious. #Both Sides.)

chris the cynic said...

I wonder if I could write some of the primary debates in such a setting. Ones that focus on pure ideology, i.e. what it means to be Neutral.

I'm also picturing Neutral-Good vs. Lawful-Good for the good coalition's nomination. And an internal what it means to be Good debate. You know, "I'll do whatever it takes for the greater good," vs. "Whatever it takes is antithetical to the idea of good and there is no greater good, just a bunch of lesser goods along the way."

Who is better to lead the Neural-Good party, someone who is Neutral-Good in their actions, or someone who is Neutral-Good in their goals? Could an evil person get the nomination if he promises to put the evil to work in service of Neutral-Good policies. Depending on his style of evil, he might be trustworthy when he makes that promise.

Will Wildman said...

Short stories are in many ways much easier for me, because they're approached with the understanding that you're not going to get to understand everything - there may be backstory events that get referenced and never explained, not every character can or should be developed, and the arcs are more like curved line segments.

Whereas if I set out to tell a longer story, I feel like I need to establish so much more and explain so much more and have scenes that are laying groundwork for future scenes (while hopefully still being interesting on their own) and it all just sprawls out of control. Around the 17K mark in my current nano, I was thinking I would get to the major middle events around 25K, but then things kept happening and now I'm maybe going to start it around 45K. And I still don't feel like I've fit in all the things that were supposed to come first. Now, this NaNovel was not thoroughly-schemed in advance, and there are scenes that I don't feel are entertaining enough (why do these secondary characters even exist) but I can't cut them outright because they're load-bearing scenes and if I removed them to do more background for the hero's girlfriend then I would be losing important stuff about the hero's new job.

NaNoWriMo has an advantage in that it doesn't care about these things and is utterly unsympathetic to 'but I don't feel like writing another thousand words tonight', but it also means that I often feel like the core of the story is being dragged down by mandated scenes. And short stories are so delightfully freeing because there cannot be mandated scenes; economy of verbiage is prized. Following Vonnegut's Rules is so much easier.

depizan said...

I'm still safe, though the firefighting efforts do not appear to be going well. I'm some distance from the edge of town that's evacuated/on fire. I'm tired, worried, and having to drive to work as the smoke is pretty bad (I normall walk). Two branches of the library are closed due to being in evacuation zones so far. An indeterminate number of fellow employees live in evacuation areas.

I'm at work right now, but will undoubtedly distract myself with interesting stuff here when I get home.

Thanks for all the good thoughts.

Ana Mardoll said...

JonathanPelikan, 60k words by CHAPTER EIGHT? I think Pulchritude (minus commentary and me faffing about with character biographies) is about that size. Color me impressed.

Chris, I can *absolutely* see a short story by you as just a big ol' True Neutral party debate being both awesome and entertaining. Why not? -- you make the terrible filler conversations in Twilight side-splittingly amusing.

I am GOING to stat this all out (nod to the topic at hand) in a blog post soon-and-very-soon, I swear, but for those who haven't memorized everything I've ever said, the idea behind these anthologies that I keep bringing up is:

1. To get new/amateur/wanna-be/indie authors writing towards something that is *actually* published in Kindle/Nookbook/Print-on-Demand CreateSpace form. This can be a real boost to new authors' self-esteem.

2. To let them see a bit of the ins and outs of the self-publishing process without being thrown in the "okay, now you do it all on your own" deep end.

3. To get their name out there -- each short story would be followed by an Author Bio page that would basically be a short description with Author Name, Author Blog (Facebook page, Twitter account, whatever), Author Contact information. Point being, if someone likes the story, they'd ideally get to the end of it and go "now I know where to go to get me more of that".

4. To experience the above in a low-risk, low-pain, low-expectation environment. Perfection would not be expected -- although I'd send the final version through my editor to triple-check for errors -- and everyone knows that anthologies are by their very nature hits-and-misses. Authors would keep full rights to their stories, so they can re-publish or sell the stories again -- this isn't about locking anyone down. And the books would be "sold" for free to avoid the problems of having to split a $2.99 eBook thirteen different ways.

5. And since someone may reasonably ask why I would be willing to self-publish as "Editor" (or whatever the anthology people go by these days) a free anthology that I paid money to be proofread for errors and also bought an ISBN for and WHAT I AM GETTING OUT OF THIS ANYWAY, I get quite a lot: if I can get 5 titles under the Acacia Moon Publishing label, I can join NetGalley and distribute unlimited ARCs to reviewers for free. (As opposed to Book Rooster, which distributes indie ARCs for a cost of, I think, $60 per book, with a limited run.) Also around the 5-15 title mark (they won't disclose the magic number, but I have good reasons to believe 15 is an upper limit, I can get the AMP titles into OverDrive, which offers titles to libraries. OMG OMG OMG WANT.

So it's something I'm interested in, for the 83% of the people on the board who answered the self=publishing? poll "yes" and might be interested in dipping their feet in.

Ana Mardoll said...

Also, I wrote down my Freytag thoughts as much as I could before Primary Cat sat on my notebook and said "Nap. Now." and got this far:

Girl Mage unhappy with her job.
Picked mage profession for family tradition and money, but now realizes she wants to be bard.
Frustrated at being a low level (think Morrowind rules, where only advancing job-related skills results in leveling)
Looks into changing her job, but runs into pressures: economy and family.
Then is kicked out of the Mage's Tower for failure to advance at a sufficient pace.
Is gathering up her things when a monster attacks the city.
She saes the day -- unexpectedly -- when she combines music and spellcasting to defeat the monster.
New cross-class is named for the girl: the SInging Spellcasters.

Now I just have to figure out what kind of monster would only be killed with SONG spells????? Hurdle.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you for letting us know. I know we're all worried about you. :(

chris the cynic said...

Does it have to be killed? Various monsters were sung to sleep (Cerberus, for example.)

I remember on reading Harry Potter 4 that I thought it would have been cool if one of the contestants had just sung their dragon to sleep. None of this antagonizing the poor beast stuff, just an impressive performance.

Will Wildman said...

I am going to go and pretend that you are eagerly awaiting all of my thoughts on what you should do with your own story. Feel free to skip or ignore whatever parts (or whole) you wish.

Now I just have to figure out what kind of monster would only be killed with SONG spells?????

There are a lot of directions this could go. On the purely physical, it could be some kind of crystalline creature that's too hard to crack and too tough to melt, etc, but proves to have a critical vulnerability to resonant frequencies. Operatic break-the-glass-with-your-voice kaboom.

Or there's the slightly more romantical option where it's vulnerable to some kind of emotional force, and the songs are used to protect/weaponise the population (i.e., it inflicts and then feeds on fear, and the protagonist develops a song that anyone can repeat in their head to imbue themselves with magical courage).

Or there's the radically more romantical option where some kind of Pegasus-class rule is in play (Pegasus could only be ridden by a True Warrior or a True Poet), and her ability to merge magic with art automatically makes her the only one able to defeat it. This could get recursive - she's able to sing a song that contains a spell that rewrites the monsters' mythic rules so that the song becomes the monster's weakness. I don't know if you've read Diana Wynne Jones' The Spellcoats, but it uses something like this idea rather well. (I can expand if you're interested.)

My picky side's first thought is "Wait, no one ever thought of musical magic/magical music before, ever, in her entire world?" One option that occurs to me is that magic-music is totally a thing, but she's actually got a rubbish singing voice, which is part of why she never went in the direction of barddom before. Her awesome invention in this scenario would not be singing spells, but inventing a system of magical musical notation that would allow her to cast spells wordlessly, via purely instrumental arrangements. (Which might also be a huge deal for lots of other people because it presents a vastly more transferrable form of spellcasting, in that your flute doesn't care whether you speak English or Thai or Russian, C# is still C#.)

But none of these might be anything like what you're going for. I'm just inventing wildly here.

Will Wildman said...

I've got that lined up for the climactic moment in another story (whose setting keeps changing drastically). Among the various threats, the Incoming Entity of Doom is neutralised when one of the heroes works out that said entity doesn't actually understand what harm it's causing, and is just looking for something that it will recognise as a fellow life-form. Due to its weird nature (as godly incarnation of sounds), nothing can achieve this except music.

Ana Mardoll said...

Your pretense was rooted strongly in reality, because I was wanting thoughts from people badly.

(Chris, I'm so tempted to go non-destruction based on what you said, but I think I cannot because of something I've already written so far about sexism and the Destruction Mage girls always being shoved towards the Evocation and Illusion disciplines. Maybe I can do a second story!)

Will, your ideas are so lovely that I'm now DEEPLY torn between the operatic damage which, as a soprano I could write but would then have to explain why Bard is merely a support class in my world, and your notation idea, which would be a richer story in at least three distinct ways but harder for me to write because I only sight read music.

Maybe wikipedia would be enough to get me there. Nonetheless, you are a genius and I want to treat you to an evil pizza of your choice in gratitude.

chris the cynic said...

Also, music of the spheres, all the world's made out of songs, vaguely Pythagorean cultist leanings, the culture's strict separation of music into one field and magic into another had handicapped the magical professions immensely, (like if scientists weren't allowed to use mathematics because: TRADITION) and her breaking down of this barrier not only shattered a [large number] years of oppressive tradition opening up new vistas of possibility, it also allowed her to quickly find intuitive results that eluded all others because they were only intuitive if you were looking at it with the right mental tools which had been segregated into the classes of mage and bard such that never the twain shall meet.

Her bravely transgressing these lines not only saves the day but allows an entire class of people who have been pondering this combination to publicly say, "I think this is a good idea," without being set on fire because now they can say it as, "I think what the undeniable hero just did to save us all is a good idea," which lends some cover that wasn't there before.

Or something like that.

Will Wildman said...

Given that you're keeping it to 10K, I think you can easily get away with not describing much of anything around how the magical notation actually works - reference octaves and chants and maybe throw in some thaumobabble if you want, but I suspect it'd mostly come down to convincingly describing instrumental music with words, which sounds to me like a task and a half.

(It occurs to me that I wouldn't have thought offhand of ladymages being pushed into non-destructive schools, but that's probably a stereotype I've subconsciously dodged due to my choices in games and novels. If someone says 'girl mage' I default to Nino or Jenna burning down All The Things.)

chris the cynic said...

Or maybe applying some musical concept of magic, or magical concept to music, solves everything. Like the spells everyone was attempting to use were all in a major key when the monster was clearly vulnerable to spells in F sharp minor.

"You just invented 16 new spells in two minutes! How did you do it?"
"They're the same spells, they're just in a different key."

That's shaky at best though.

Ana Mardoll said...

(It occurs to me that I wouldn't have thought offhand of ladymages being pushed into non-destructive schools, but that's probably a stereotype I've subconsciously dodged due to my choices in games and novels. If someone says 'girl mage' I default to Nino or Jenna burning down All The Things.)

It probably isn't a Thing in existing media -- not enough to make a trope for it -- but I can totally see it happening in Real Life D&D settings. Mind you, I basically started with my job/life and then tried to see if I could map something interesting onto a D&D setting; I'm a software engineer which screamed Mage, and Destruction was precisely the correct school of magic, and I can absolutely see the Girlz being ushered over into Evocation or Illusion or something while the Men do the manly Blowing Up Of The Things.

My only other short story in the works right now -- for the Ghost anthology -- is also taken from a piece of my life and expanded into something else entirely. I'm not sure if that's a good thing (write what you know) or a bad thing. Hmm.

Chris, loving the idea about breaking down social inhibitions against mixing the two...

BaseDeltaZero said...

Evocation or Illusion or something while the Men do the manly Blowing Up Of The Things.

Evocation *is* blowing things up. At least in 3.5

Ana Mardoll said...

Hmm. There's an E-something in Morrowind. Thought it was evocation. I'll have to look this all up, obviously. :)

Rikalous said...

Enchantment might be what you were thinking of? I know it's a 3.5 school.
re: Singing Spellcasters monster: Something like a Siren that makes heavy use of sonic abilities seems like it would be vulnerable to the manipulation of same. If your protagonist's magic music can block its mind controlling cry or send its supersonic scream attack in a harmless direction, its lost its main advantage.
re: D&D political system: The Green Party equivalent would probably be yet another form of True Neutral. It's the traditional alignment of druids, after all.

There might also be a small wizard-in-a-tower type party, that's mainly concerned with funding for education and research.

Rikalous said...

Ack, forgot to mention the good wishes I'm sending to depizan's burning town.

Loquat said...

Enchantment? I think that one covers "girly" things like clouding the minds of one's enemies and strengthening one's allies.

depizan said...

I think things are a bit better this evening. But it's very difficult to tell from the news.


This is going to be one loooooong week.

BaseDeltaZero said...

That sounds about right... I was also thinking about Conjuration, which includes healing after all. Abjuration is also a candidate

None of the spell schools in D&D are really *weak*, though... but I can see how some might be seen as more 'feminine' than others.

For my part, though, my go-to image of 'Female Mage' (or for that matter 'Mage') is Nanoha Takamachi, so...

Silver Adept said...

Dropping in to give good wishes to depizan, and our hope that the due spreads no further.

Also, to mention a series of books by L.E. Modesitt, Jr, called the Spellsinger cycle, in which a classically trained opera soprano wishes herself into a fantasy world and finds out that the magic requires singing properly to be effective, and that a spell singer backed by an orchestra can do big, big, things, wherever the music can be heard.

Anna kicks ass, shall we say, in her heavily Patriarchy-infused fantasy world.

Also, the creature affected by song? Turns out that it has very sensitive ears and the singer being dismissed can't keep a pitch, unlike all the other wizards, who can. It basically is in agony, and this can be subdued, while the rejected wizard sings of her troubles from the resonant public speaking spot.

I very much like the idea of the politics-by-DND stories of the campaign trail and conventions.

Ursula L said...

For those who are fans of Bujold, and in particular her Vorkosigan series, good news!

Baen has put up the first six chapters of her Next Book, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance as a free preview according to their drug-dealing business model of story-selling. (First taste is free, and then you're addicted...) Also the eARC is available to buy, if you don't want to wait for the official release and don't mind a less than fully edited version.

I've read the free sample, but not bought the eARC. Although, from the sample I'm tempted by the eARC, because I don't want to wait until November!

It's Ivan, the adult Ivan of Memory and A Civil Campaign, being very, very Ivanish, the reluctant hero who wants to have a quiet, safe life, but can't keep himself from doing what needs to be done.


Based on the first six chapters, I'd say that if you're familiar with the Vorkosigan saga, go for it, but if you aren't, then you'd do well to read her earlier works in the series, particularly Cetagandia, Mirror Dance, Memory and A Civil Campaign, which feature Ivan, because a lot of what makes the story so far adorable is knowing Ivan, and where he is coming from, and how, despite his protests, you know that he just won't be able to resist the temptation of helping when he is needed.

Gray Woodland said...

True Neutral: It's out of whack, we'll put it back! (Luddite/ hardcore Green/ populist/ reactionary.)
True Neutral: Fighting for the moderate majority. (Whatever the Serious People are saying today.)
True Neutral: Let's not get carried away with ourselves. (True conservative.)
True Neutral: We're all right, Dzh'ack! (Vulgar conservative.)
True Neutral: Strive zealously for progress in accord with the emergent dooms of dialectical magianism! (Covenist - Merlinist-Bigbyist.)
True Neutral: Nature is the best government, and we need no other! (Anarchist.)
True Neutral: Sir Galahaut Bugbearbotherer's party just donated 1 Mgp and a Spear +3 to my Dungeon Action Committee, hint hint. (Heroes of Representative Democracy.)

Gray Woodland said...

Best wishes for you and your city - now, and in the weeks to come.

redcrow said...

Best wishes to depizan and co-citizens.

Amaryllis said...

I remember those! Yeah, Anna is awesome.

But I always thought it must be rather dreary to live in a world where music is magic, literally. When all songs are spells, there are no just-songs, apparently. No love songs or work songs or protest songs or nonsense songs or lullabies, because you can't have random magic floating around. IIRC, unauthorized singing was severely discouraged.

Also, as tends to happen with a Modesitt protagonist, there's a lot of "I have to destroy you/your city/ your entire country to keep my own people safe." Nothing less than total annihilation ever seems to be effective in his books.

Ursula L said...

Convincing a blind civilization that you could see?

I remember a story in Analog magazine about this, years ago. (1980s, I think.) The protagonist somehow found himself in a small town where everyone was blind. Knowing the saying "in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" he initially thought he'd essentially be a superhero or demigod, with a unique and valuable power.

But instead, the people weren't impressed. He didn't know how to function in their society. For example, the community was laid out with carefully marked paths, and had strong customs about how you follow the paths so that people could get where they needed to go safely. The protagonist blundered about, just going where he wanted according to how he saw the best route. He was a menace, like someone who deliberately drives on the wrong side of the road and cuts across parking lots and lawns, only even more so.

Things like "I can tell you how many fingers you're holding up" were seen as odd tricks. Not useful in a place where custom was all about everyone cooperating to move through the world without sight. Knowing where things were and what shape they were was problematic, because he'd also move things without thinking rather than according to the customs that let people know how to find things.

The people decided his "sight" was a dangerous delusion. And they thought the odd movements of the part of his face that is "eyes" must be a physical manifestation of his mental problems, and eventually gave him an ultimatum - either we cut out your strangely moving "eyes" so that you're "normal" or you leave.

Ana Mardoll said...

Ah, man, I liked all the story until the last paragraph when they became horrible. Eek.

Everything before that was AWESOME.

Ursula L said...

The ending worked because it really wasn't about the people being horrible, but it was about them genuinely caring and wanting to help. There was a woman in the community the protagonist fell in love with and wanted to marry, and she loved him back. But she and her family were deeply concerned by his delusions, and were struggling to find a way to cure him of his deep psychological problems. They thought he had a strange inflammation and spasticity in his face that was affecting his brain, and wanted to treat the problem in the least intrusive way they could manage.

Although I didn't see it at the time, the story challenged abelism from two directions. The more obvious was the sighted person assuming he'd be superior in an entirely blind community. But it also challenged those without mental health issues who assume that the experiences of those we consider mentally ill are necessarily not real.

chris the cynic said...

The ending worked because it really wasn't about the people being horrible, but it was about them genuinely caring and wanting to help.

That makes it even more horrible to me. If they were just horrible people then that's easier to deal with then nice people doing, or threatening to do, evil things because they think it's helping.

"I was only trying to help," is far more emotionally devastating to me than, "My evil plan has succeeded."

Ana Mardoll said...

Well... Yes. But (iiuc) you also have a community of blind people who insist someone is mentally ill when zie is not. I believe I recently wrote a post on how incredibly harmful that experience is. :(

And then zie has to both agree zie is mentally ill and submit to mutilation to stay in the community. I consider that pretty horrible.

And I loved the story prior to that point. Alas.

Brin Bellway said...

The people decided his "sight" was a dangerous delusion. And they thought the odd movements of the part of his face that is "eyes" must be a physical manifestation of his mental problems, and eventually gave him an ultimatum - either we cut out your strangely moving "eyes" so that you're "normal" or you leave.

That was the part I didn't get. Whether delusional or not, lumps on his face or not, the fact remains that he's ignorant of and unaccustomed to their way of life. That's the bit that's actually interfering with his life, and it can't be treated surgically.

(I know I read this story on the Internet somewhere, but I have no idea where.)

Ursula L said...

If it helps, this was not merely a community of blind people.

It was a community which had never encountered anyone who could see. Everyone was born blind, and they had no contact with the outside world. They had no concept of "sight."

He was someone who insisted he could safely do things that were, in everyone's experience, actively dangerous, such as someone in our world insisting they can walk safely in the middle of a busy expressway. And he wanted not only to walk through the expressway traffic himself, he thought he had the power to guide others through the traffic safely. And he insisted that he ought to be allowed to guide others through the highway. To carry small children into the middle of the road. The behavior that came from him having the ability to see meant that he met in their world, what we would consider a legal definition of insanity, "dangerous to himself and others."

My choice of analogy is deliberate. Walking in the middle of a busy expressway was what got my aunt, who is bipolar, involuntarily committed for the first time. She was completely certain she could do this safely. But we, as a society, don't give her the benefit of the doubt when she said that she could do this safely. We treat her according to our experience of reality, which says that this is incredibly dangerous. And she was kept protected and provided with medical and psychological treatment, not only for her sake, but for the sake of everyone who drove the expressway who would be traumatized if they were the ones who hit her, not expecting pedestrians in the middle of an interstate.

What the sighted man was saying he experienced was objectively impossible according to how they experienced the world. Impossible according to how everyone experienced the world.

Ana Mardoll said...

Precisely. So instead of teaching or explaining to him why the things he is doing are dangerous (though he can't see the danger for himself? he can't literally see people walking into him, for example?), they decide to start cutting off body parts. Horrible.

An analogy for how we disregard mentally ill peoples' experiences, maybe, but that makes it no less horrible (indeed, the horribleness becomes the point!), and reinforces the ableist mentally that blind people are stupid (blind faith, blind reckoning, blind leading the blind).

Sci fi writers need to understand that you can't demonstrate prejudice by just flipping things around (what if black people owned white people as slaves??) and calling it a day. It's more complicated than that. :(

Ursula L said...

They did try to teach him what he was doing wrong. The story took place over a considerable amount of time. And they kept working on trying to help him function safely in their society.

But he still remained completely trapped, from their perspective, in the delusion that he had the impossible superpower he called "sight", that he didn't have to conform his behavior to the most basic customs that kept their society working safely. And he kept coming up with new an even stranger and more dangerous things that he thought he could do.

My aunt, happily, responded well to available medication, and is doing better now. But how could she function safely in the world if she didn't? And she spent a considerable amount of time in a supervised medication program, to make sure she kept taking her meds until she reached the point where she recognized, on her own, that she had to keep taking them. With a few frightening episodes when they tried letting her taker her meds, unsupervised, and she didn't. My cousin, her daughter, was a preschooler and elementary-school aged during this time, and spent a lot of time going back and forth from living with her mother and living in various foster homes.

By the end of the story, they had reached the end of their options. He remained 100% convinced that he had this impossible sense of "sight", that he had the power and right to move through the world in a way that was unsafe to others, and, from their perspective, to himself. (Because, of course, there is no such thing as "sight" and he was delusional.)

Ana Mardoll said...

I *understand*. I still find their behavior ethically horrible. My opinion. :)

I liked the story until that point. That's all I wanted to say. :)

Ursula L said...

Oh, I quite agree.

But the problems with cutting eyes out come, in a large part, from knowing what eyes do.

We don't see anything particularly horrible in cutting off the first joint of the little finger of someone's non-dominant hand, if it has a severe infection that is life-threatening if it spreads. We'd rather that it wasn't necessary. But, like abortion, amputation is good when needed, while horribly wrong when not needed.

And if you zero out all the benefits of "seeing", then cutting out someone's eyes when they're causing a life-threatening delusional state isn't different from cutting off the tip of a finger when it has a life-threatening infection.

It's an interesting mental experiment, to see how deeply you can move your mind into an utterly alien point of view. One where one is not only blind, but where there is no such thing as sight.

Brin Bellway said...

For anyone who's interested, I found the actual story. It's not from the 1980's (though it may have been reprinted in Analog, I don't know). It's by H.G. Wells, so old it's in the public domain.

chris the cynic said...

Trigger warning for real life medical procedures analogous to what was proposed in the story Ursula brought up.

I honestly wish I never heard about the story because it seems the stuff of nightmares, but given that it apparently tries to address mental health as a concern it makes a certain amount of sense for it to go to body mutilation. I don't think that, historically, we've done a lot of ripping out pieces of peoples brains, but slicing them up was considered legitimate at one point (otomy= slice, ectomy= remove*, lobotomy= cutting with respect to the lobes of the brain) and that was definitely done to people for their own good by people genuinely caring and wanting to help.

And, of course, if we go further back the mutilating treatments by genuinely caring people tend to move away from the brain. Just as the people in the story looked for something on the body they could blame, people in history did the same. Consider, for example, the clitoridectomies preformed in Victorian mental institutions.

The idea that people would go, "We don't like how you're acting, we must mutilate your body until you act the way we want you to, for your own good and safety," is, unfortunately, quite realistic. That it's considered a last resort but an acceptable resort none the less is probably likewise realistic, but I don't know exactly what the sequence of events that would lead to the real life treatments would be.

End trigger warning

I am interested in how this society could be set up such that it is unable to cope with a person with sight, and also if they've any concept of light.

On the second point, if they don't have a concept of light then that means that they've got no idea how anything works unless their civilization is built around something resembling a deep ocean vent (where life is not dependent on light) and so having these supremely ignorant people eventually resort to a choice between shunning and brutal violence would seem like a portrayal of savages being, in the end, savage. That would seem to have problems no matter how long deferred the end may be.

If they do have an understanding of the concept of light then I'm wondering how the character was unable to prove that he could perceive light, thus showing them that sight was more than a delusion.


* more specifically "tom" means "cut" and "ec" means "out", thus "ectom" means "cut out". Lobectomy is a thing, but it's not done for psychiatric reasons. It's more on the serious injury/illness treatment side of things.

chris the cynic said...

Trigger warning for the same procedures as last time

If it's H.G. Wells then it makes sense that the response to perceived mental illness would be brutal and mutilating. About half of his life was during the Victorian Era, and lobotomies were still well in fashion at the time of his death.

The response to mental illness he would be familiar with would be quite evil. The kind of evil that arises from ignorance, but evil none the less.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yes, I agree that if the point is to point at how we used to treat mental illnesses, body mutilation is spot on.

And horribleness becomes the point. :(

Which is a shame because otherwise it could have been a good story about how sightedness isn't necessarily the best thing ever. I would have liked that better, as far as stories go.

chris the cynic said...

By the way, am I the only one who is perpetually weirded out at how recent the Victorian Era is*? Monet also gets me, and Picasso too to a lesser extent. I feel as though these people and things should be further in the past than they actually are.


*was? Tense is messing me up here. Recentness is both a function of past and present and the distance between the two. I think I'm siding toward is because while it is currently recent it will not always be so in the future. Thus while it is in the past its recentness seems to be largely tied up in the present.


And... triple post.

chris the cynic said...

I definitely see what you mean. As is I have no interest in the story at all*, but if it were just about learning that being able to see isn't the bestest thing eva then I probably would be interested.


*Seriously. Consider it added to my "things to avoid" list.

Brin Bellway said...

By the way, am I the only one who is perpetually weirded out at how recent the Victorian Era is*?

Hmm...somewhat. It's not that recent.

It's the Soviet Union that gets me. It seems so distant, but a fairly large percentage of people remember it. Its nonexistence is older than me, but only by a couple years.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, I'm in the "wish I'd not known" camp (nightmares tonight!) but I agree it's a very different reaction now that I know the author and his presumed intent.

But, dammit, can't we have a blind community that ISN'T primitive or evil or Victorian? Because, like you, I can't see a way around him not being able to explain sight or adapt appropriately.

And I get the Aesop, but it's blind people being portrayed as awful and stupid. Again. The only other blind people in fiction are superheroes with super hearing or prophets. Can't they ever just be normal?

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, ditto, as far as things to avoid.

Brin, ditto. When they were bringing up Russia in the last election I was all, buh? People still care about the Cold War? I'm young, I guess.

chris the cynic said...

I have no memory of the USSR itself, but I remember that one of my teachers had on her desk a globe in a clear cube paperweight that had the USSR clearly marked on it. The memory is vague enough that I'm not completely sure, but I'm almost entirely sure that the USSR didn't exist anymore at that point in time.

In fact, I might have thought that it meant that the globe in cube was really old, when in fact it would have been a few years old at most.

Loquat said...

On the second point, if they don't have a concept of light then that means that they've got no idea how anything works

What exactly would they need a concept of light for? I've read the story myself - IIRC we're talking about an isolated farming village, surrounded on all sides by mountains, so over the course of generations they've built up a whole map of what's where, which would include what areas tend to be good for growing which crops. Barring some catastrophe in the mountains, the amount of light each field gets isn't likely to change.

They might very well have a concept that plants shouldn't be kept under a roof, but to expand that to the concept of energy rays that can be perceived by creatures with the right specialized organs? I wouldn't expect that without way more science than they're portrayed as having.

Anonymous liked the story said...

I loved that story. The end was sad -- I want to read the version where he marries the woman he likes and they live happily ever after and nobody loses any body parts.

It might make it better to know the ending spoilers, but no squick: He runs away and escapes the valley and never goes back.

Ana Mardoll said...


Re: Dungeons & Demographics: D&D-esque stories with political and/or bureaucratic themes.

Husband says license owner is lawsuit-happy and that “D&D” is not a good title because of that.

So I need to think of something else. I am trying to think of, like, Wizards, Warriors, and …

Is there a W-word that fits with politics and bureaucrats?

Spells & Spindoctors?
Mages & Ministers?
Barbarians & Barristers?

Dang it. Alliteration gods are failing me.

Ana Mardoll said...

It does, thank youl

Anonymous said...

I've always thought of Ana as being slightly older than me (but not much), but now I'm not so sure. Maybe we're the same age? Or Ana's a little younger than me? Or a little older but like most people doesn't remember political happenings from early elementary school? My first political memory is the fall of the berlin wall, and I remember Reagan's presidency (though at the time I thought he was a good president, but I can be excused for this misconception given that I was learning to tie my shoes towards the end of his presidency). But the Cold War and the Soviet Union are things I think about frequently and things that weren't that long ago, things that still have a palpable effect on the world we live in.

Newton and Gauss seem "genuinely long ago" to me. World War 2 is "seventy years already? Really?" World war 1 = "all right, guys, it's been nearly a century. time to get over world war i, and accept that the treaties signed are unlikely to be repealed at this point." I guess world war 1 is my "it seems so long ago why is everyone still upset about it" thing.

Ana Mardoll said...

I also feel like I need to put a modified yin-yang on the site (except, you know, cultural appropriation) with the words "everything worthwhile contains problems, everything problematic contains worth".

Maybe I can have TWO taglines.........?

Anonymous said...

Also also, there was a siege in a city that is no longer a part of the country that I lived in, but was at the time. The siege took place in the 15th century and ended in victory. My country has started celebrating this siege recently with a national day of commemoration.

The fifteenth century was a long time ago and most of us don't know the names of our ancestors who were fighting in it because it was that long ago. I am perpetually weirded out by people who think this siege was a recent enough occurrence to start celebrating it now.

depizan said...

I was going to say I had doubts about the second half of that, but, when one takes into account the vast diversity of people, it's got to be true.

Have all the taglines you wish. :)

Brin Bellway said...

I've always thought of Ana as being slightly older than me (but not much), but now I'm not so sure.

It did occur to me that I really have very little idea of Ana's age. (Obviously you don't have to tell us if you don't want to, Ana.)

I seem to recall Chris talking...maybe a year ago, about recently getting personal experience into exactly how screwed twenty-six-year-old Americans are because of how the rules of adult health insurance are set up.

Anonymous said...

Good :) My goal wasn't to try to convince you to read it, just to take away some of the squick. This one time, my friend and I were watching the telly and it was late at night and some movie (no idea what it was called) came on, and then suddenly there were murderous lesbian blood baths in graphic detail and the worst of it was we had to watch the entire thing to get some sort of closure or we would never have been able to sleep again. So, I know what it's like.

Anonymous said...

I remember when I first learned Chris' age (or age-group), I had previously assume him to be somewhat older (because he's wise for his years -- which I feel kind of awkward saying because it's not like I'm much older than him. a little, but not much.) You, I don't think I had a chance to be surprised about because you mentioned either your exact age fairly early or one of the first posts of yours I saw mentioned living with parents and being homeschooled by them, which put your age at "old enough to engage in a thoughtful manner, serious manner on adult topics and hold your own on the internet, and not old enough yet for college". But if I hadn't known, I would've probably guessed older because you're mature and well spoken.

The main reason I think Ana's probably my age or slightly older is because of the way the disney movies line up. The ones she speaks about most are probably the ones that affected her the most, and my experience is that the ones you remember with the most nostalgia -- barring personal experiences that cause you to identify with a character or a plotline or some such -- are the ones you experienced when you were right at the target age group for the film. The ones you haven't seen or that made a smaller impression came out when you were right at the "I'm half grown and too big for disney movies stage." Or at least, that's how it worked for me. Disney movies stopped being exciting after Pocahontas, which says more about how old I was the year after Pocahontas came out than about whatever Disney movie came out that year.

Loquat said...

Wonks and Wizardry? (or its inverse, Wizards and Wonkery)

That's the only W-word I can think of that has to do with politics, at the moment.

Ana Mardoll said...

I've always thought of Ana as being slightly older than me (but not much), but now I'm not so sure.

LOL. It's something I'm deliberately vague about. Though I don't have a real reason to other than to maintain SOME air of mystery in a world where I broadcast my every thought and my personal medical history online at the slightest provocation.

That, and if there's an Otherkin/Trans* version of age (i.e., I've never *felt* the age I am), I am that thing.

One of these days I want to write a semi-true (i.e., true for me, but the other people involved may see it differently) biography, and that may end up tying me down to some tangibles at that point. For right now, though, I remain post-puberty, pre-menopause, college-educated, and gainfully employed. For whatever that is worth. ;)

Anonymous said...

That fits the demographics of the age group I had assumed you to be in, and I don't want you to share any more details with your readership than you are comfortable with sharing. You give us so much of yourself already. (And I'm a different age than I am too so I get that. I end up feeling like I'm lying if I say I'm the age I physically am and feeling like I'm lying if I say the age I *really* am because that doesn't match what's on my ID card. Though I recently read a post about how that (and a few other things) are appropriation. (link: content warning: cluelessness about otherkin, biid, demisexuals, trans-aged, trans-ethnic) But, okay, i'm not claiming to be oppressed i'm just talking about my lived experience.)

chris the cynic said...

so over the course of generations they've built up a whole map of what's where, which would include what areas tend to be good for growing which crops. Barring some catastrophe in the mountains, the amount of light each field gets isn't likely to change.

Which would put them on a level notably less advanced than believing in spontaneous generation*. So it still sounds a lot like primitive people are barbaric.

I mean, heat and cold are real things that my skin can sense, but I can't use that sense on its own to cross the street safely.

No, but if someone did claim that they could safely cross a street using their sense of heat you:
1) Wouldn't think that the ability to sense heat was a delusion.
2) Could set up non-dangerous tests to determine if their abilities were really as impressive as they claimed.

Which is more or less what I was getting at.


You didn't answer though, and for the good of my mental health I'm not going to read so I can't find out myself, are they aware of light, or are they not?


* Which is not to say that there's anything particularly wrong with the fourth century BC. I mean there are problems, sanitation, medical car, Alexander the Great burning down your city, that sort of stuff, but the point is that I'm not here saying, "Aristotle," while pointing and laughing.

chris the cynic said...

It is helpful to not have it be Schrodinger's atrocity, so thanks for that.

Also, how have you been? I haven't been keeping up with people as much as I ought to. Not asking for anything that would compromise anonymity, just, you know, are you doing well?

Will Wildman said...

On the recentness of things: Picasso definitely feels like he should be further in the past, but most other things feel like they're about right. I was aware of the end of the Cold War simply because I noticed the change on Captain Planet when Linka's homeland was rephrased from "the USSR" to "Eastern Europe".

(Picasso was around for the entire original run of Star Trek. I remember a Monty Python episode in which there was a joke about Picasso trying to become the first person to paint a masterpiece while riding a bike, and thinking "Wait, what? Have they got a time machine?")

On the community that doesn't believe in sight: my thoughts are exactly those of chris, i.e., while we might not believe someone who simply declared they have some sense that we can't perceive (I mean, we have plenty of self-professed psychics in the world) I tend to think that we would pay attention if one of them were actually able to perform, every time, all of the sensory feats they claim to be capable of. I think I get what the analogy is going for, but it doesn't work for me on a this-is-how-people-act level.

On the politicodungeonpunk anthology: I like Mages & Ministries, but that wouldn't translate well to US terminology. Barbarians & Bureaucrats is a bit of a mouthful, and lacks the magical aspect, though it's great in other ways. Civics & Sorcery has the alliterative sound, but not the spelling - not sure if that'll do. Pundits & Prophets? Oh - Sorcerers & Secretaries has the advantage of vagueness, since 'secretary' could refer either to a high-ranking government official or a bureaucratic assistant, which would help broaden our scope a little bit.

Ana Mardoll said...

Er, yeah, I have many issues with that article. I'm very sensitive to oppression olympics; I'm sure otherkin aren't violently murdered in the same numbers as different marginalized groups, but I've never seen them claim that they are. Saying "I have a body issue, and it's kind of like X" is not, in my opinion, meeting the bar for appropriation. You're still in the realm of analogy.

Some of the logic in oppression olympics is iffy. I could argue - but never would because it would be WRONG - that the transperson who appears cismale and wants to attend a womens Wiccan ritual is slumming for oppression because obviously women are oppressed and people who appear cismale aren't as long as they don't openly announce their trans status.

(Which is another point: are otherkin "only" bullied on the internet, citation needed, because they know not to identify in public? Saying no one has been killed for being otherkin doesn't mean there aren't people who wouldn't do so given the chance.)

Anyway, those are my thoughts this morning. I want to remind everyone that my opinions are subjective, that I have buckets of privilege, that I'm not criticizing the article or anyone who agrees with it, and that disagreement with anything I said should take the form of a polite rebuttal and not a personal attack, if only because I'm in crisis mode because kitty is limping, I've been throwing up since 6 am, and if I'm sick (and not pill-nauseous) then I've lost my only helper because Mom can't be around sick people since Dad's cancer treatments have wrecked his immune system. So yeah.

chris the cynic said...

Reading that has my mind going in so many directions.

On the one hand, isn't appropriation the charge that was and continues to be thrown at transwomen?

And then there's a question about how you judge if a group is oppressed. When people stay in the closet there's not much in the way of visible oppression. It's only when they come out that outsiders can see the oppression. Stay in line is just a lot less visible than, "Get back in line."

Likewise visibility matters.

If otherkin people were walking around with inhuman appendages so that they were a visible I have a feeling we'd see a lot more evilness directed at them.

And then there's this, the goal, the ultimate goal, is for being trans* to have absolutely nothing to do with oppression, so why should something have to be about oppression to use that Latin prefix?


I do think that there's reason to question, "Is someone really X," sometimes. But that doesn't mean that everyone who says, "I'm X," is lying.

Anonymous said...

Doing okay. A bit sore, three days later still sore, from carrying two cats to the vet (they're too heavy to walk a kilometre with, but they needed some shots and one of them needed antibiotics. They're okay, though). I'm rediscovering cornbread as something cheap and easy to make. I got a kilo of cornflour for less than a dollar and a small thing of yoghurt for 30 cents to use in place of buttermilk and the other ingredients (salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, eggs, oil - which don't need refrigeration contrary to popular belief) I had already. The oil I made it with was rancid, but I compensated with adding more sugar. That helped somewhat, and I could taste that it would taste good if I used non rancid oil. So next time, I'll do that.

I haven't been posting much, so when you do get around to catching up it won't take all that long. Was a time when I posted daily -- I did for years, but either my life has grown less interesting in the 12 years I've been blogging or I've just been feeling quiet.

chris the cynic said...

I like Spells & Spindoctors

Wonks & Wizardry is good as well

Dav said...

Just dropping by: I have no time! NO TIME!

Polls and Poleaxes?
Bills and Basilisks?
Veto and Vanquish?
Fiends and Fillibusters?
Taxes and Trolls?
Swords and Senators?
Wizards and Watergates?
Votes and . . . Vorpals? (Yeah, I got nothing.)
Wyverns and Wingnuts?
Slash and Pass? (That sounds like a sports themed erotica collection to me, and I will be sad if it's not already the name of some domain somewhere.)
Rules of Order?

Anonymous said...

More discussion of the story that nobody likes, with quotes of particularly interesting passages. Any parts that commenters have found squicky are glossed over rapidly in this comment with no squicky details mentioned or lingered upon

I'm sorry to keep bringing up the story that I'm the only one who likes it, but I've just reread it so it would be fresh in my mind, and I think the main point of the story, as written is the phrase "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." This is what the protagonist repeats to himself when he discovers that everyone is blind and he arrives expecting them to be awed by him and to bow down at his feet because he has this thing called "sight". But they are mostly underwhelmed by his sight, because sight is superfluous in their world. They've been blind for 14 generations and isolated too, and the words of sight have fallen out of use in their language and been long forgotten, and they have their own philosophy of how the world was formed and what it is made of. They don't have a concept for light and dark, but their days are divided into warmth and cool and they sleep during the warmth and are active during the cool.

Slowly Nunez realised this; that his expectation of wonder and reverence at his origin and his gifts was not to be borne out; and after his poor attempt to explain sight to them had been set aside as the confused version of a new-made being describing the marvels of his incoherent sensations, he subsided, a little dashed, into listening to their instruction. And the eldest of the blind men explained to him life and philosophy and religion, how that the world (meaning their valley) had been first an empty hollow in the rocks, and then had come, first, inanimate things without the gift of touch, and llamas and a few other creatures that had little sense, and then men, and at last angels, whom one could hear singing and making fluttering sounds, but whom no one could touch at all, which puzzled Nunez greatly until he thought of the birds.

This isn't his real change of heart, just his first inkling that they won't immediately recognise him as king. The protagonist tries every way he can think of to prove to them the value of sight, even resolving to use force, but it doesn't work out well for him -- his sight really is of very little advantage in their society.

“You’ll learn,” the blind man answered. “There is much to learn in the world.”

“Has no one told you, ‘In the Country of the Blind the One-eyed Man is King’?”

“What is blind?” asked the blind man carelessly over his shoulder.

Four days passed, and the fifth found the King of the Blind still incognito, as a clumsy and useless stranger among his subjects.

It was, he found, much more difficult to proclaim himself than he had supposed, and in the meantime, while he meditated his coup d’├ętat, he did what he was told and learnt the manners and customs of the Country of the Blind. He found working and going about at night a particularly irksome thing, and he decided that that should be the first thing he would change.

He is frustrated and angry that they don't recognise him as superior to them, and never really gets it, though he pretends for a while and falls in love and then they propose the cure and he initially assents because he loves the woman and he has come to find a happiness there but in the end he rebels and leaves.

It's in public domain, so it shouldn't be too hard to rewrite that bit at the end, so that the cure is never brought up and he stops seeing himself as superior to them and becomes a model citizen and they get married and live happily ever after.

kitryan said...

John Varley's The Persistence of Vision is, in my opinion, one of the best short stories/novelas ever and is basically the same plot (with some differences) done 'right'.
I would say that there's possible triggery or upsetting bits in it for
Breaking down of society, thoughtlessness, injury, some mild sex, and being/becoming blind and deaf, but it's wrillen wonderfully and is not gross and does pretty much what people were saying the other story should be.

Brin Bellway said...

From the appropriation post: These fake trans people have even come up with a term for the rest of us who don't have their so-called problems - singlets.


(A singlet, for anyone who doesn't know, is someone who isn't in a plural system. There is no mention of plurality in the entire post.)

chris the cynic said...

My original suggestion, in the other thread when we were talking about what that world's version of D&D would be called was Politics and Pegasai

Here's a partial alphabet that I think incorporates all suggestions so far, as well as a few I added (most of my additions are bad):

Appropval ratings & ... need a good ap-
Angels & Angles [probably best reserved for a more religous themed thing]
Barbarians & Barristers
Bills and Basilisks
Canditates & Cockatrice
Campagins & Centaurs
[Dungeons & Demographics]
Elections and Elves
Fiends and Fillibusters
Fairies & 527s
Giants & Gerrymandering
Gaffes & Ghouls
Hippogyphs & House districts
Imps & Impeachment
Jingoism and Jinn
Legislation & Leviathans
Mages & Ministers
News Cycles & Necromancy
Nationalism & Nymphs
Orcs & the Overton Window
Politics & Pegasi
Pundits & Prophets
Polls and Poleaxes
Quorum & ??????? [myan winged snake god?]
Recalls & Revenants
Spells & Spindoctors
Sorcerers & Secretaries
Swords and Senators
Stump Speeches & .... um... sitgmata? What's a good magical st-?
Taxes and Trolls
Unicorns & unicameral
Veto and Vanquish
Votes and . . . Vorpals
Vampires & Voters
Wonks and Wizardry
Wizards and Watergates
Wyverns and Wingnuts

Civics & Sorcery
Slash and Pass
Rules of Order
Elections & Illusions

Ana Mardoll said...

Picasso was around for the entire original run of Star Trek


I had not realized that.

I like all those alternative names. Am now wondering if we should have a vote or just an executive decision. I have to say, though, if we kept Barbarians & Bureaucrats (which I love, and "B&B" SOUNDS similar to D&D) we might persuade you to contribute the Undercover Barbarian story, LOL.

Sorcerers & Secretaries, though, as you point out, has the dual advantage of applying to both fields. That may be the best way to go, so people don't get too trapped in the "but I can't think of a POLITICAL story" creativity sink.

Ana Mardoll said...

On the one hand, isn't appropriation the charge that was and continues to be thrown at transwomen?

That was my first thought as well.

Ana Mardoll said...

Hugs, directed to both you and the cats.

chris the cynic said...

How will we pick?? I'm serious, ya'll. HOW.

Well first one would want to determine the scope of the project.

Fairies & 527s suggests something very much about outside groups wielding undue influence over politics. Where Fiends and Fillibusters suggests something that's much more interested in the inner workings of the legislature after it's elected.

Spells & Spindoctors seems to focus on the information side of the politics and the echo chamber. Gaffes & Ghouls and News Cycles & Necromancy do the same.

Campagins & Centaurs would be more a general campaign thing.

Politics & Pegasi, Pundits & Prophets, Swords and Senators, Wonks and Wizardry, are all even more general, potentially covering the whole of politics.

So on.

Though, actually, Pundits & Prophets might be something that really suggests more of a focus on the institution of the Media and puts it in sort of the same class as Spells and Spindoctors but from the media side rather than the political side.

Ana Mardoll said...

Good points.

Thoughts out loud:

It's an anthology for new authors and I'd rather have more authors and a loose correlation to the subject than fewer authors and a tighter correlation. My overall theme going in was to really just try to mix magical D&D settings with mundane daily problems for hilarious effect -- there'd be political stories because that's what spawned this, but also things like my Mage who is dissatisfied with her job/class and can't easily change it (because in Real Life, job changes are hard and drama and pain, not just a simple outfit change and away-we-go like in Job Systems) and ends up unexpectedly cross-classing in a new and valuable way.

So I think you're talking me into Sorcerers & Secretaries because that conveys "magic and mundane" without pining people down to anything specific. Because an anthology is usually about 10-15 authors and I don't think we can get 15 separate stories just on politics and echo chambers as viewed through D&D terms.

I mean, I think there are 15 stories that could be written on that subject, but I'm going to have trouble scraping up 15 willing authors PERIOD, so loose guidelines on acceptable stories for the anthology collection seems like a feature rather than a bug in this case. Because if I'm lucky enough to get that many submissions, they'll probably be very varied from such a direct subject matter.

(Has anyone actually volunteered for this yet or have I just been aggressively telling people that they are awesome and totally SHOULD do? If I start getting too aggressive, I may need to be gently warned to Back Off with my effusive and fulsome praise. I've been told I, uh, do that by accident.)

I need to just write a formal blog post about it instead of forcing everyone to chat about it across 3-4 different threads. I'll try to get that done after my afternoon nap.

Will Wildman said...

I think I've pretty much volunteered the first electoral adventure campaign notion, in addition to being voluntold that I'm doing Undercover Barbarian. I've also started introducing the idea to some other writer friends, though I don't know how many if any I will be able to lure in.

chris the cynic said...

I think I'm in a more, "I'll see what I can do," position than a "I volunteer" position.

I don't want to volunteer and then not actually produce anything.

chris the cynic said...

Right now I'm considering a silly "What does True Neutral mean to you," debate, and a traditional male hero saves female victim from a dragon story, except he's a candidate and it ends with her saying (massive paraphrase) "Thanks, but your tax plan sucks so I'm still not going to vote for you." And I'm now seriously considering the possibility that someone picked up her saying that on cellphone video and maybe it goes viral, and maybe she gets hired as a consultant by a news organization as a result.

Except the original plan was for the story to end with her explaining that his tax code and economic policies would prevent him from getting her vote.

Ana Mardoll said...

So many {{hugs}} and thank you for this.

(Kitty is still limping, but less so. Remaining concerned but will see vet Monday if no improvement.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Ha, thank you and sorry and thank you. In that order, I believe.

I don't want to volunteer and then not actually produce anything.

I understand. That's the hardest part about these things -- everyone is sort of tentatively afraid that either they can't produce or won't in time. There's no really hard-and-fast deadline on this and it's 100% to be interested, Involved, Etc. and still not end up in the final piece. The whole idea here is to make things easy and painless, not hard and stressful. (Because I hate that!)

Rikalous said...

I recognize that the project probably doesn't need any new names, but because I'm something of a completionist:

Approval ratings & Apparitions

Quorums & Quests

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