The Pillow Box: Collected Slave-verse Tumblr Fics (17200 words):
Chapter 5: Comfort (3502 words)
Not written to any specific prompts, just a hurt/comfort followup to #4. Happy 100th Birthday, Bucky!
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America (Movies), and Iron Man (Movies)
Warnings: Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes & Tony Stark
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Tony Stark, Jarvis (Iron Man movies), Stark Robots (Marvel), Sam Wilson (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Slavery, Alternate Universe - Dystopia, Master/Slave, Hurt/Comfort, Kneeling, Cuddling & Snuggling, Rewards, Bananas, Robots, Weight Issues, Food Issues, Bathing/Washing, POV Outsider, Eating Disorders, Vomiting
Series: Part 3 of All These Burning Hearts in Hell
Collected ficlets from the All These Burning Hearts in Hell 'verse, starring Tony and Threetoo with Threetoo's pillow nest in a supporting role. Prompts for each ficlet in the chapter's summary.
The Strangler Vine – M.J. Carter
Because The Devil's Feast was officially released in the US today. Where is my package, Amazon?
Also, GUYS, THERE IS A BLAKE & AVERY TAG IN NIGHT ON FIC MOUNTAIN.
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones – Paul Reps & Nyogen Senzaki
I'm glad I read this, but it is a bit dated and I don't know that I'll ever return to it again.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer
I deeply enjoy Schumer's comedy and social commentary; she's right up there with Caitlin Moran. It takes a few pages for Schumer to translate her style into this medium, but once she gets going, it's amazingly good.
Until the second half of the book, where she states the following: “Definitely end it with [a] guy if he and his mother have one of those dynamics where you can tell the mom always kind of thought she would end up with her own son.” Not bad advice, except it becomes increasingly clear that Schumer always kind of thought she would end up with her own father, in ways that frequently undercut her pointed cultural observations. It's a blind spot big enough to sink the Titanic in, and an unfortunate drag on an otherwise excellent book.
What I Am Currently Reading
The Original Dream – Nukila Amal
The stream-of-consciousness narrative continues in the second chapter, which centers on a disorienting but well-written dream sequence. More intriguing yet, it morphs halfway through into a deconstruction of the “Original Face” koan. I'm intrigued to see if this is intentional on Amal's part, or if she's figured it out on her own.
Japan and Korea – Frank Carpenter
In which we discuss how policemen are woefully underpaid but compensated in respect, Imperial succession politics (which are no closer to being solved today), the “soshi” gangs-for-hire (precursors to today's yakuza), and are treated to this jaw-dropping insight: “The way in which the Japanese have sat for generations has had a great deal to do with making them such a short-legged people.”
Trump's America – Scott Dikkers
Subtitled Buy This Book and Mexico Will Pay for It, it is, like the object of its satire, best digested in small doses.
The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
WE HAVE WOMAN IN REFRIGERATOR SIGN! Three whole female characters have appeared in the first 44 percent of the novel; one of them is now dead so that the male characters can Feel Things about it and be Motivated.
In larger developments, our titular character is currently being menaced by the Gray King—a thief with more resources and superior bastardry than Locke. I get the sense Lynch wants me to hate this guy, but I'm rooting for him hardcore. After all, if Locke's willingness to lie, cheat, and fuck people over is what I'm supposed to like about him (and “Lamora” is an anagram of “amoral,” so come on), why would I not like the “villain” who's beating Locke at his own game?
I hope this is setting up some major soul-searching, but: “I wonder, I really wonder. Is this what other people feel like when we're through with them?” Lamora asks after he finds himself in the Gray King's sights, only to be told by his best friend, “I thought we'd agreed long ago that they get what they deserve, Locke.” Which makes me fearful that it isn't, and that Lynch just wants me to ignore the hypocrisy behind the curtain. But we shall see.
The Iron Flute – Nyogen Senzaki
Steve Hagen's introduction is the single most cogent presentation of Zen I have ever encountered. It alone justifies the cover price.
The Light and Shadow Tarot – Brian Williams & Michael Goepferd
Kinda crapped out on this one this week; have made it partway through the aces.
What I'm Reading Next
The Devil's Feast, Bezos willing. Otherwise, my goal is to get through my heaping pile of Wired back issues.
Fandom: Agent Carter (TV)
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Edwin Jarvis/Howard Stark
Characters: Edwin Jarvis, Howard Stark, background Ana Jarvis/Edwin Jarvis
Additional Tags: Drunk Sex, Drinking, Oral Sex, Anal Fingering, Light Dom/sub, Top Howard, Sub Jarvis, Mildly Dubious Consent, Under-negotiated Kink, Orgasm Delay, the playing fields of Eton, Hair-pulling
Howard was familiar with this kind of gesture, how it went further than a touch on the arm or even the wrist but stopped short of tracing lips or cupping someone's face. It was an invitation that asked for further intimacies while granting them in return. Howard had seen this bold-and-hesitant move many times, in pubs, in dives, in darkened movie theatres, in quite a lot of hotel rooms, but not on this side of the Atlantic from a British soldier. Jarvis increased the pressure of his hold, not quite tugging but pulling Howard in, slowly, slowly, and if Howard had been less drunk, he would've probably said they should go to sleep, and if he'd been more drunk, he might have been asleep already, but he'd hit the golden sweet spot where all inhibitions dropped away and he was still in enough control of his body to fully enjoy that. The place where every Why turned effortlessly into Why not?
//slinks off to hide (it should be drawerfic. But "Post it!" they said. "It'll be fun!" they said)
When I took the last couple of books back to the library I picked up Gilded Cage by Vic James - an alternate modern UK where there are lots of aristocrats with magic (Equals) and everybody else has none (Skilless), and at the end of the Civil War they all signed a treaty saying that every member of the Skilless, forever after, would become slaves for ten years of their lives, some working as house servants and most in brutal factories, all considered property. It's a decent premise, but I have kind of a hard time buying it - harder than buying the Games in THG - because it seems like it would fall apart in a generation or so. Loads of people would defer as long as possible and then commit suicide, or whole families would die together to prevent their children from becoming property, and I can't see how the Skilless could win (or draw in) a war against the Equals but not rebel successfully later, or at least successfully enough to make the whole thing not worthwhile. Even if it did work, there would be no middle class at all (which is what the main characters are), because everyone Skilless would be screwed, career-wise, by having to lose ten years somewhere in it. THAT SAID, I'm enjoying it when I don't think about all that, and I'm only a couple chapters in so maybe it'll be addressed.
I should be cutting out a dress (I washed and iron 15yds of cotton on Monday, burned my pinkie on the iron) but am I ever sleepy this evening. I did get to bed a bit late last night but it seems excessive.
I want to write a review of Heart of Haute for my blog, but am stymied by the need for good photos of myself in my two dresses. :/ I do have a tripod now, at least, but there's nowhere in my apartment to take pictures and I'm not posing for myself outside.
I'm struggling. I have for the entire month, and all the more because there's really nobody to talk Steve/Maria with anymore, and nobody who wants to. (It's never going to get anything more in canon, and I don't have anyone to bounce off regarding her character, which is most of what I want.)
I'm two days away from going into Camp NaNo, with the goal of writing 50K to Shadowkin: Seabirthed. Carlos is part-Hispanic, Australian, half-Shadowkin, and struggling with the changes to his life - his mother dead, his father remarried, his stepmother expecting, his grandparents hostile. He's solitary and bullied at school, and it's only when he stands up for someone else, and she reaches back out to him that things start getting better. (No, she's not the romantic interest; for starters, they're about 12 years old, and she's the protag of the next book.)
I've started his story at least five times, maybe as many as ten times.
But I feel like I have nothing to tell, that nobody would be interested in my stories, that even if I managed to finish a manuscript, I could never find anyone to buy any story I'd want to tell in any case.
I was unable to even access my password screen. After hours of fruitless frantic rebooting and phone-searching for a solution (it's no use telling me how to solve the issue from the troubleshoot menu if I can't access the troubleshoot menu) I gave up and went to bed past my bedtime. Then I woke up before my alarm (bleh) spent some more time fruitlessly trying to fix it to no avail. Then I took a shower and ate breakfast and when I tried again I could suddenly access the troubleshoot menu! So I fixed my computer, copied some important files I hadn't backed up yet and checked if it booted properly now. It did.
I don't even know. But hey! I have my computer back!
Exchange news: Self, you need to stop claiming pinch-hits and being an idiot. You're not even in that exchange! WHY
Other Exchange news: Night on Fic Mountain progressing as it should. Worldbuilding exchange fast approaching (eep!).
And now I'm going to go read about the time when the Seine rose 8m62 (23'3") and Paris flooded. AND THEN IT FROZE OVER. Good times.
What I'm currently reading: I'm still trying to convince myself to keep reading Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey. It's not that it's bad, it's just that I always find I have other things to do.
What I'm reading next: As I mentioned last week, I have The Marches by Rory Stewart, about walking the border between Scotland and England, sitting on my desk waiting to be opened. For audiobook, I am on the waiting list for something through Overdrive, but I don't remember what it is, and I can't log in because "the library authentication server is overwhelmed due to high volume." So it's likely to be a pleasant surprise when it shows up, which is not uncommon as I usually forget what I've wait-listed on Overdrive or from my library, or requested through ILL, until I get the email that it's available!
In other news, we have finished S1 of The Expanse and are making ready to catch up on Black Sails.
Speaking of, there is a Black Sails Exchange happening! blacksailsexchange and yes, that looks like Black Sail Sex Change to me, too. Nominations are now through April 5th, then signups through the 16th. I may or may not participate, haven't decided yet. It might be too much because...
...I am putting together nominations for nightonficmountain and hoping to participate (for the first time). [And aie, I see AO3 is going down for a 30-minute code update in about 45 minutes!]
Speaking of exchanges, sutcliff_swap is not running this year, as my co-mod riventhorn has Things Happening this summer, and so do I, though with fewer capital letters. (So if you'd like to write or draw for (or receive art or fic for) a Sutcliff book, why not nominate it for nightonficmountain?)
In gaming news, I'm still really enjoying the Witcher 3 Blood & Wine expansion. There seem to be a lot of easter eggs and a lot of humor in this one; while walking through the main city I overheard a man singing "I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me..." and the quest I'm on now involves a note by "Smegole Serkis" about his "precious" gold spoon and has sent me off to find treasure in the kitchen of the legendary elven cook "Ra'mses Gor-Thon", who must be the chef Gordon Ramsay.
As I said I liked it, and I found the ideas of people living underground interesting. At first I thought the mention of an underground cinema underneath Paris was just made-up for the book, but apparently it is true. And I also like the gallery of characters; Nelson’s wife Michelle, the police officers Judy and Clough, Ruth’s druid friend Cathbad and her daughter Kate. Their relationships grow and evolve throughout the books, and it is a little like seeing old friends when a new book comes.
Other than that, I did bunch of writing - on the underworld wiki thing, and also on my Space Swap, which I have now started. And I made some NPCs for thirteen (we were each supposed to make an NPC for each other character... I am not holding my breath that everyone will do it, but I put some down, and it was fun).
Tomorrow is a museum day. I'm going to work on a short article for a museum web publication on the VR stuff... And then on the survey stuff. Probably.
All we have left of S2 Rebels is the season finale eps. *Braces self* I mean I know how things turn out but still...
If I were to do a mini-gamebook (~100 sections) just for fun as a side project, it should be about:
a sequel to Winterstrike (StoryNexus game)
non-hexarchate space opera
something else that I will explain in comments
ticky the talky tea tocky!
For reference: Winterstrike is now completely free to play (all the previously Nex-locked options are now free options, which should make it play faster!).
Choose a fic and 1 (or more) question(s) from the list below:
1: What inspired you to write the fic this way?
2: What scene did you first put down?
3: What’s your favorite line of narration?
4: What’s your favorite line of dialogue?
5: What part was hardest to write?
6: What makes this fic special or different from all your other fics?
7: Where did the title come from?
8: Did any real people or events inspire any part of it?
9: Were there any alternate versions of this fic?
10: Why did you choose this pairing for this particular story?
11: What do you like best about this fic?
12: What do you like least about this fic?
13: What music did you listen to, if any, to get in the mood for writing this story? Or if you didn’t listen to anything, what do you think readers should listen to to accompany us while reading?
14: Is there anything you wanted readers to learn from reading this fic?
15: What did you learn from writing this fic?
My fanfic (from Yuletides past, mainly) can be found here at Ao3. Or here at Teaspoon, where I last added anything from Doctor Who seven years ago.
Or you can peer into the depths of a tag called ‘fanfic I’ve written.’ There’s one Firefly fanfic down there somewhere, and quite a few drabbles for that and Buffy from back when I was starting to dabble in fanfic for the first time.
I don't believe that anymore.
I came to this thought by way of games. For the longest time--an embarrassingly long time--I tried to learn chess the wrong way. The pageantry and imagery of chess, the fluff if you will, fascinated me: queens and knights and kings, rooks that looked like castles. I was very young when I had my first encounter with chess, and I developed this conviction that because the imagery of chess was based on medieval warfare, understanding medieval warfare would help me understand how to win chess.
(Those of you who do play chess are laughing. Hell, those of you who don't play chess are laughing. I know, I know!)
There are all sorts of things that an interest in medieval warfare will get you, but playing better chess is not one of them. I presume medieval knights did not get around the battlefield by jumping in L-shapes. On the other hand, chess knights never have to worry about broken lances or drowning in their own blood if their helmets get smashed in. (I read about that somewhere--whether it actually happened, I don't know. I don't remember the source.)
One thing is clear, though. The "failure" of chess to simulate medieval warfare in a mimetic sense has nothing to do with how successful, or immersive, it is as a game.
Video games are another example. These days a lot--not all, but a lot--of games sport beautifully rendered graphics that make my aging computer cry. The vocabulary of game graphics became so embedded in my thought processes that I have on multiple occasions had beautifully rendered dreams where I thought, Wow, that's some amazing polygon count there. (I have lucid dreams sometimes.)
Yet I remember being addicted to games with crude pixellated graphics back when I was in high school. I will own that one of those games was the Gold Box game Azure Bonds, which we picked up a bootleg of from an entrepreneurial fellow student when I was in Korea. (Something like two decades later, I caved and bought a legitimate copy from Good Old Games.) There was something jinxed about the bootleg's graphics, and it wasn't just the pixellation, which was how the game was supposed to come. No; something about the bootleg caused all the colors to load up in shades of sky blue, aquamarine, and lavender. (Given the title of the game, perhaps not entirely unfitting!) Nevertheless, the crudeness of the graphics and the eye-searing colors didn't destroy my enjoyment of the game. We never beat it (even today I haven't beat it!), but we spent hours killing trolls for bounty, trying to figure out how to outwit a black dragon, and prowling through the labyrinthine halls of Zhentil Keep. It's been rare that a more modern computer roleplaying game, despite the high-powered graphics, has been able to keep my attention in the same way.
The more books I read, to say nothing of book reviews, the more I become convinced that immersion in sf/f, as in games, is not a function of "realism" or even, necessarily, of meticulous worldbuilding. What a given reader will find acceptable--"plausible"--seems to be a function of familiarity or preexisting prejudice. We have hordes of hard sf books where faster-than-light drives are casually referenced; Jack Campbell's (excellent) military sf adventures have ships maneuvering at significant percentages of the speed of light yet the Lorentzian contraction factor never comes into play. The message I take from this is to choose what matters to you, and don't worry about the rest, because there is no such thing as perfect worldbuilding. I am not even convinced that perfect worldbuilding of the intensely time-consuming Tolkienian type is always desirable. Certainly it is sometimes desirable (it is difficult to argue with Tolkien's success!). But that doesn't mean it is the only storytelling mode that can work.
We accept all kinds of compromises with reality as part of the "speculative" part of speculative fiction. If you're telling a branching-lives story about how a woman's life might have played out if she had come to different decisions about how to handle her best friend's illness, is it all that realistic from a quantum mechanical "many-worlds" hypothesis standpoint that all the branches being explored have to do with her emotional crisis? When I'm reading a Warhammer 40,000 adventure in the grimdark future, does it really matter that the Latin is distorted in odd ways? If I had to read every line of dialogue in footnotes in a work that sought to represent pervasive multilingualism, would it really enhance my pleasure in the story, as opposed to concessions to the author and reader's actual shared language(s) and the occasional too-good-to-resist pun that exists in English but probably not as well in the constructed language of your choice?
Different readers care about different worldbuilding details; different writers care about different worldbuilding details, and both groups have differing areas of expertise. What's more, a given story may not rely in the slightest on a realistic depiction of its setting. I can watch Suits and enjoy the banter and office politics because I don't have the faintest clue how a law firm runs, but some of my friends are lawyers and they have all told me that they can't stand that show. Suits might perhaps best be considered a fantasy (in the loose sense of the term) only vaguely using the furniture of a law firm as a backdrop for its exchanges and power plays. If Suits had been written--worldbuilt--with greater attention to how law firms and legal negotiations actually work, it wouldn't do thing one to enhance my enjoyment of the show. That level of mimesis in that particular area is simply not relevant.
In its way, a story can be likened to a model. And no model can perfectly replicate the original, or it wouldn't be a model anymore. As an author, I want to carefully choose where I expend my effort building a world. If the story is mostly concerned about gardening, there might be much discussion of mulch, weather patterns, and slugs, but less care taken with the provenance of the yarn that shows up in a one-line throwaway. Not every aspect of a story can be rendered with equal depth, nor should it be. When I spend a lot of time on that mulch, and very little on the yarn, I am signaling to the reader what is important in this particular story. (And also saving myself time researching fancy yarns. As an ex-knitter, I have been that route!)
It is not that worldbuilding is bad. It is that worldbuilding is a tool, like any other--to be used judiciously.
(yes I know I'm a massive hypocrite)