OK, so this question from @braxifen actually touches on some of the stuff I discussed with @TimClarePoet, and it's a problem that's really familiar to me - how to go from a cool setting idea to a story people might want to read. Here's a hamfisted guide to solving it:
For years I was convinced I had no hope of writing a compelling story, because my primary interest was in describing settings I had in my head. I thought of characters as a necessary evil - an excuse to describe places - and felt worried that I had things that way round.
I suspect this is an anxiety particularly common to genre writers; I at least had a fear that 'proper' literature should involve endless, nuanced description of dysfunctional families, interspersed with extended contemplation of the theory of colour or the history of flutes etc
My threads where I got really needlessly angry about burgers are doing the rounds again today, so it's probably time to ascend the burger pulpit one last time, to slap a bun on this whole thing and round out the trilogy.
If you really want to catch up on all my thoughts about burgers, you can find the first thread here, which links to the second one at its conclusion:
I'm going to start this with a bit of contrition. Because although I'm known for getting cross before about teetering, fifteen quid slush piles masquerading as burgers, today I want to stress how pointless it is telling people they're wrong about food.
So as announced last week, I'm about to have my first work published by Games Workshop, and I'm really happy about it. Warhammer 40k began as part of the same wave of subversive, black SF humour exemplified by @2000AD, and it's something I want to keep strong in my contributions.
If you've got even a passing familiarity with 40k, you might be interested to hear my personal theory about the setting, which I kind of allude to in my story about a sadsack, narcissist general who makes an alliance of desperation with a (supposedly) foolish ork brute.
In my head, the tabletop miniature wargame 'Warhammer 40k' is actually a mass-produced game in-setting. It's designed to be played by cadets in the gigantic academies where they churn out new officers to go off and get slaughtered in the space wars, & it's not entirely accurate.
Aaaaaah just three days until the new season of Snake School drops on Netflix, and I couldn't be more pumped on the basis of that final trailer. Is it me or did they look like they were teasing the return of Big Hiss??? That was his logo right?
My top 10 predictions for S7 of Snake School: A Thread
(*caution - contains major spoilers for season 6)
(*NB: I am considering the Peter Python movie to be canon for the purposes of some of my fan theories; fuck you if you didn't like it)
1) Big Hiss is definitely back. They've teased it before but this time it's legit - April's ARG clearly displayed BH's portrait when you followed that link hidden in that pizza menu that got posted on reddit, and we know for a fact the snake that plays BH was on set for the shoot
I already think it's silly that superheroes are all ludicrously ripped by default, but you know where I draw the line? Aquaman. Come on: the guy's an aquatic mammal, for pete's sake. He should be a fucking cylinder and loving it. If it's good enough for dolphins, why not Aquaman?
Like, I'm cool with Aquaman being sturdy as shit because he's got a lot of work to do. But the sea's cold man. A 28 inch waist or whatever is gonna give him a shite surface area/volume ratio. If I was designing Aquaman, he would be one plush motherfucker and he would *own* it.
I quit smoking 13 days ago, the morning my daughter was born, and while I really miss it in the early mornings when I'm trying to concentrate, the sheer *relief* of not smoking any more is incredible - it's like I've been in debt to a terrifying gangster who's suddenly died.
I gave up last year, but when mum died - and I had to lose a shitload of weight at the same time - I decided to start again, with the agreement that I'd pack it in the day the baby came. And once you've made a deal like that with yourself, it's hard to go back on it.
I'm never *ever* going to be pious towards smokers, largely because smoking is, unfortunately, _fucking lovely_ for many of us. I'll also probably be that one arsehole who begs a smoke after five pints. Nevertheless, if you wish you could give up, I am absolutely there for you.
So @Glitter_brawl and I didn't want to become parenting bores or get savaged for talking about having a kid, so we made a dedicated account for cute baby photos & stuff at @glitter_frog. I did manage to get it slammed straight into Twitter Jail yesterday, but now it's back!
For the most part, I will be keeping baby-related chat to that account (unless something legit hilarious happens), and keeping this account for interesting chats and doing bits and all that good old stuff you know me for xx
(For those wondering, the account got suspended because when it asked for a birthday, I put in Tallie's, and therefore got binned since it thought a one week old baby was trying to go on Twitter)
Thalassa has decided she is a person, not a number, and is repeatedly wrenching off her hospital security tag, triggering an alarm. Since it's heat-activated, I'm storing it in my armpit while we work out a way to keep it in place without incurring her charming wrath.
I'm really hoping we get to go home tonight - been living in hospital nearly a week now! Apart from anything else, I fully need to video the epoch-defining moment when Turkey Boy encounters Tallie for the first time and has his mind obliterated.
(Also, damn, @Glitter_brawl and I are absolutely *mungled* by the sheer goodwill we've had off everyone. We're only managing to chat with people in little bits here and there, but we are grateful for every single message we've had. Feel very loved x)
After a 72hr induction which at times had the character of a siege, @Glitter_brawl today gave birth to our daughter Thalassa. Named after the primordial titaness of the ocean, mother of all sea creatures, she seems calm, undaunted, and hungry. I love her and her mother very much.
(Interestingly, it seems my whale tweets are doing the rounds again. We found out about Tallie just after those were posted, and so a little too late for mum to have known about her, but there's a lovely symettry to it all)
(Fun fact: 'Thalassa' was also the cry of elation from the 10,000 Greeks as they finally caught sight of the sea in Xenophon's Anabasis. An Anabasis is the opposite of a Katabasis, which is what I was chatting about with the whale stuff. Man I am too tired for this)
So, @Glitter_brawl & I are experiencing a LONG hospital wait (but let's pls not talk about that until there is actual news), and we've been entertaining ourselves by making a tarot deck, without knowing *anything* about tarot. Instructions follow on how to get your fortune told!
1) Explain in detail the situation you want insight into; if you're lucky, @Glitter_brawl will draw your cards & I'll read them 2) We'll be choosing at random, and WILL NOT get round to most people 3) We know piss all about tarot 4) We might suddenly piss off for obvious reasons
(Final disclaimers before we start: we're in hospital as Ashleigh is being induced, but we *really* can't handle a congrats/good luck dogpile, and fear not we are not taking this seriously: it is a game with silly cards and not actual magic)
Hey @IKEAUK, big fan but what were you thinking with the ALEX draw set? The draws are *precisely* 1mm narrower than the length of an A4 sheet, so paper has to go in lengthways leaving loads of dead space. It's like something a sinister carpenter would design to drive someone mad.
So @IKEAUK, I offer you this dilemma: either sort out my fiendishly inefficient cabinet, or delegate someone to discuss the movie KRULL with me, and I will be placated. Choose wisely: I'm about to start watching KRULL.
KRULL begins with a sort of bladed frisbee whirling through space, heralded by a triumphant fanfare. Then, merry bucolic strings accompany the arrival of what appears to be a vast tree trunk around a twin-sunned world. Off to a good start.
I'm currently writing something that involves a fair quantity of barbarians, and so last night I decided to watch the original Conan with a notebook at hand as part of my research. I'd not actually seen it before, and let me tell you: Conan is a fucking *weird* movie.
So let's get this on the table first of all: Conan is riven through with indefensible sexual politics, which I won't celebrate. It was bloody uncomfortable viewing. But the intensely unpleasant moral landscape they contribute to is part of what makes Conan so fascinatingly odd.
To explain what I found so weird about Conan, I'm gonna take a big swerve and talk about Thylacines for a minute (stick with me). So here's a Thylacine. It was an Australian apex predator also called a marsupial wolf, and it's in black and white because they all died ages ago.
Every time my cat sits in my office chair I mercilessly roast him about how he's running a failed, late 90s e-commerce venture from my laptop. And yet still he sits there doing his e-commerce. Mate, you missed the dot com boom; you're making a fool of yourself.
If you've met my cat you'll know he looks like just the kind of guy who'd set up a failed e-commerce venture. He's this giant plush beast who you'd think would have a tiger's effortless dignity - but he has none. He shits in a tray & screams at moths, and is terrified of the sky.
When I used to work at a public aquarium, I was supervising the big shallow ray tank when a teenager made a brazen attempt to wrestle a dogfish out of the water and confidently walk away with it. He seemed so aggrieved that I objected to this, I almost let him.
Alright lads, just my periodic reminder that I've not binned twitter or anything, just still hammering away at a keyboard round the clock and not really got much brain left around the edges. Hope you all have a good week xx
When I return I am going to have a flowing white beard and Gimli is going to totally lose his shit
Also if anyone has suggestions for how to maintain concentration that don't involve military grade amphetamines I'm here for it. Bloody love what I'm working on, but I've been burning hard for a couple of months and the fuselage is starting to rattle
#DarkBargain Gain the power to leap up to 100 metres safely BUT every time you do so, there's a 1/3 chance that your memory of one of your relatives will be replaced entirely with memories of Gollum off of Lord of the Rings
"How the hell did you get to the other side of that chasm?"
"Ah, I used the old 'Gollum's hop', mate."
"Ah ok phew. Btw how's your uncle Jeff doing?"
"Oh you mean the thin grey monkey guy, with the spindly hands and the haunted ring? Yeah really good cheers why do u ask?"
I mean, think how bad it would be to have the memory of a relative replaced with that of gollum. You wouldn't even know it had happened so you could be like "oh no I got gollumed, wonder who I lost?" They'd just be gollum in all your memories now, and it would seem normal to you.
OK sod it, I may as well just do a thread of greatest hits from the last couple of years. Here's one from springtime where I got stuck in a weird series of instant coffee reviews that became a metafiction about the labours of hercules:
Quite often I start drafting a tweet about how much I loathe reaction gifs and pun replies, before remembering all the times my mates have done really good ones & worrying that they won't realise they're the exceptions. THERE, I'VE SAID IT. IN THE MOST COWARDLY WAY POSSIBLE.
(That tweet was the Twitter equivalent of the fool hobbit knocking the cobwebbed helmet down the well; jester's rattles echo in the deep as the horde awakes from slumber and fires up the GIF button)
The only universally acceptable reaction gif is the one where it looks like a whole chicken is sliding out of shakira's bum
Annihilated my dad's brand new hifi system at age 3 by using the turntable as a merry go round for toy dinosaurs, because that's what I thought it was; he was alerted to the scene by the gruesome scratch as I swung the stylus arm to knock off 'naughty' dinosaurs.
Begged my aunt to build a bridge across the ceiling with wooden blocks. Became increasingly distraught at her protests that it was impossible, and every time she asked how it was meant to be achieved, I flailed my arms and hissed 'you just do it like this' with weary resignation.
Came in to the living room at age 4 to find my dad watching the football:
ME: Daddy, what are those men trying to do?
DAD: They're trying to get the ball into the net
<five minutes of solemn contemplation>
ME: (worried) But however shall they get it out again?
For the record, if anyone's been hit by a diabetes diagnosis & is freaking out about dietary change, I'm here to offer my large adult love. 6 months ago I was a mess of collapsing organs & eating disorders, and there's been a lot of madness since then, but it gets so much better.
(That's not me being some smug fitness cultist either. I have had an incredibly toxic lifelong relationship with my physical health, and it took the whisper of the reaper's scythe for me to find ways to work around it - but I did, and it feels sustainable.)
But yeah, when I was panicking about it all last December, some great people offered me reassurance that my life wasn't about to become a joyless trudge w/r/t food, so it seems reasonable to pay that on.
Hi folks I'm here to change your life: a tablespoon of raisins soaked for a day in a double shot of Diplomatico rum, and then mixed with a tablespoon of clotted cream, produces the best dessert known to man or beast. I'm not kidding, that was life-changing.
It's also not a complete shit show healthwise. After six months of eating next to no sugar, I can't really stomach desserts any more, but this creates a concoction roughly the size of an egg, which is pretty much perfect
If you want to go full Tropical Mike, I reckon you could stir in a teaspoon of crushed coconut too. I'm going to perfect this monstrosity; it shall be my beautiful frankenstein.
As I get older I'm increasingly obsessed with just sitting in warm water. Honestly if I had a ton of money I'd just commission someone to build a really swanky tropical house, like where crocodiles live at the zoo, and then I'd just live in it instead of any crocodiles.
Or I'd just have a bungalow or whatever, but every room would be connected with waist-deep channels of warm water so I could just move everywhere with my smug little face just protruding from the water. I'd have a laptop in a plastic bag so I could work and all, it'd be great.
By the time I'm an old man I want to be like that geezer off of Dune, living in a big glass tank and getting wheeled around by space monks
Ah come on what the fuck westworld, just tell me a bloody story already
Westworld S1 was a great adventure with a fun amount of weirdness. S2 was a weak, convoluted mess with its interesting bits drowned under lashings of tepid, needless mystery. (Apart from the strange standalone episode 8, which was somehow a heartcrunchingly beautiful story.)
I hate criticising things that have been clearly involved vast amounts of talented human effort, but I just don't think westworld needed a season 2. I really *wanted* one, but then I'd also quite like to spend all my money on oil paintings of my cat; doesn't mean it should happen