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Sunday, 29 December 2019

It Means Workhorse

So I really enjoyed The Mandalorian, but it isn't my favourite scifi TV series of the past few years.

I mean in terms of actual sheer quality, the best TV show I can remember is actually Chernobyl. It was mindblowing. I will also never let go of the candles I hold for Firefly and MST3K.

The best series I watched this year, though?

Well, that would be The Expanse.

Based on a series of books by James S. A. Corey - 8 books out so far with various supplemental novellas and shorts, the 9th and final book coming out TBA 2020 - the TV series was always going to have a hard time actually capturing the characters that the books so masterfully brought into existence.

It isn't just the characters, of course. The actual scifi elements of it - the ship design, the way the physics works, the way society and politics have arranged themselves in this future that Corey has imagined - masterful. Everything from the cultural boundaries between the Earth folks, the Martians and the Belters, even down to their language and accents and their attitude to life in general. How conflict in space is handled, in the most reasonable and common-sense way I can imagine - almost always conducted at long range with torpedoes and point-defence countermeasures, with occasional need for railguns.

It's the characters I come back for, though.

Like this guy. Jim Holden.

Yes, I know he looks a bit like Jon Snow, and yes, I know a random white guy with facial hair is a boring main character, but hear me out:

Jim Holden is fantastic.

In a show about all of the choices having potential costs and consequences and the politics of situations making no-win scenarios increasingly likely, the best arc you can see is a man who is determined to do the right thing, or the best thing, or - hopefully - both.

In a world full of grit and shades-of-grey and meaningful sideways looks, to have a protagonist that you can trust to just do the right thing and tilt at the windmills that need tilting at, even if he thinks he will lose... that's valuable.

(That's why the ship is named the Rocinante, by the way. Well, that and because Amos liked it because he knew someone called that once. It means workhorse.)

But of course a man needs a crew, and that crew needs a technician, and thus you have Naomi Nagata.

Now Jim is from Earth, the son of a collective family of seven parents; Naomi is from the Belt. She spent her entire life in the void, and doesn't trust planets. "Nothing to hold the sky in, it's weird," she says at least once.

Naomi is brilliant. Literally a genius. Fearless, too, but rarely will she conflate that lack of fear with foolishness. She is Jim's externalised common sense. She knows the systems of the Roci like she knows the back of her hand, better probably, and she's never afraid to put her foot down if necessary.

And boy does she love Jim. And he loves her. And when you watch the series, it will make sense as to why. Suffice to say there's some actual development rather than "because the scriptwriters said so".

Every good crew needs a pilot. You could do a lot worse than Alex Kamal.

Martian by birth, Alex speaks with an affected Texan drawl, because everyone from that bit of Mars tends to. Yes, it's odd, but it's also now an indelible part of their culture - as is the pride of adapting and overcoming a hostile environment. He's ex-military (so is Jim), and that shows, at times.

He's a lovable guy. Like, you can't help but like Alex. He's a great dude. He's made his mistakes, of course, and he'll be the first to admit it - part of his draw. He's under precious little illusions as to how life works and his place in it. When it comes down to it, though, he's reliable and trustworthy, and the Rocinante couldn't ask for a better pilot.

And then there's this guy.

Amos Burton, who puts bits of the ship back together that break, and breaks people that need breaking.

He's a lot of people's favourite. He's from a difficult and somewhat shrouded past, which has left him with an abiding need to protect and look after kids, an amiable smile that sits on his face almost all the time, and a hair-trigger willingness to kill you with his bare hands if you need killed.

His favourite technique appears to be to snap you in half backwards over a table.

Seriously though - Amos is immune to bullshit, incapable of lying, and as long as you're doing the right or the smart thing, you want this man at your back. He's the most dependable man in the galaxy.

He'd so easily be my favourite, were it not for the existence of...

Gunnery Sergeant Bobbie Draper.

Power armoured Martian marine badass. There is nothing not to love. Her approach to problems is direct but she is far from stupid. She takes pride in who she is and what she does, and she does it better than anyone else. I love Bobbie.

Like yeah, the show has a lot of asses that need kicked, and Bobbie is capable of doling out most of those. Her and Amos together are a fearsome combination.

And that's just... like, five of the characters. Perhaps the main five.

I haven't even talked about Miller, the detective who looks how I feel, who wears a hat in an orbital habitat to "keep the rain off". Chrisjen Avasarala, the politician, who is definitely not a protagonist but you definitely kind of want her to win anyway. Camina Drummer and Klaes Ashford. Shed. Murtry. Praxideke Meng. The Mao family. Elvi Okoye. There's just so much good character here that you love seeing them being on the screen, let alone reading them on the page.

I am evangelical about this show. Perhaps that is why I like it more. Like, The Mandalorian is good, but it doesn't need me to talk about it. It doesn't have hidden depths, it is what you think it is. The Expanse has so much more to it than any trailer can prepare you for.

Watch it.

Make it your 2020 New Year Resolution.

Watch it, read it, catch the last book.

You will thank me later.

Might do a blog on New Year's Eve, might not. If not - happy new year.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Whamhalla Awaits

Can you hear this picture?


Now as it is a certain time of year I bet a fair few of you have heard this song. Recently even. I bet that at least one of you have heard it today, even.

There is a certain amount of creep, when it comes to Christmas. It somewhat feels like the Christmas-branded guff comes out earlier and earlier every year, and the eagerness for people to start being their happy little elf-selves is palpable by the beginning of October. I've personally always held to the Halloween rule - after that, do what you want, the big holiday of the year is already over.

There is also a common link between how early Christmas decorations start being put up and generalised depression within a community, but yanno.

Perhaps a more visceral indication of the oncoming festivities is when the music starts playing on the radio and such - the first creeping out of your Wizzards and your Pogues and your Slades and such. Then you have your songs that have the word "Christmas" in them so they are automatically Christmassy, and songs that have bells in them so they are also Christmassy for no apperent reason, like East 17.

And then you have this little yuletide ditty, too - this little tune by pop lads Wham, from back in 1984. Last Christmas. A song and a video in combination that tell us of a man who is terrified of being alone but also can't let go of the girl that apparently randomly seduced him the Christmas before and then dumped him immediately.

The video doesn't seem to convey this angle. It more seems to be that the band and their friends all hang out in a ski lodge over Christmas, and that Andrew Ridgeley is now going out with George Michael's ex, but they still all hang out together anyway, a situation I would literally shoot myself in the foot to not have to deal with.

How do you deal with the unavoidable, inexorable Christmas creep? (No, not that guy in the office that you really should report to HR.)

You turn it into a game, of course.

Whamageddon. It's been running for years, now - the rules have been formalised. It begins at midnight, at the very beginning of December, and the goal is to make it to midnight Christmas Eve without hearing Last Christmas by Wham. If you hear it, and you recognise it, you have to declare it. You're out of the game, and consigned to Whamhalla. If you make it? You have achieved glory - feel free to blast the tune first thing on Christmas morning to celebrate (and wake up your neighbours).

Covers are okay. Remixes are okay. They aren't the original song, so by definition, they don't count. A lot of folks who like this song but play Whamageddon anyhow stave off  "Wham Cravings" by this method. It isn't illegal to sabotage your friends - adding it to a community playlist, sneaking it into the youtube queue at a party, literally walking up to people while playing it on your phone - but it is considered a serious breach of etiquette and a total dick move.

I lost Whamageddon this year at the work Christmas party, which is probably true for most people. I was out early. I don't know if anyone else that I know is still in, at this point. Maybe. We live in hope.

It's this kind of little game - this constant social game that other people know about and participate in - that can make life a little better. Like injokes with your friends (37!), or like The Game (which you just lost), or THIS nonsense, before insecure racists turned it into their little feel-better symbol (assholes).

I hope you have your own little games to play this Christmas - your own little things to do, ways to stay sane.

Look after yourselves.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Putting Down A Marker

This will, in all likelihood, be the last post I make about British politics for a long time, if only because I simply don't have the heart for it any more.

So rather than look back at the events of 12th December 2019, I will instead present predictions for us as a nation moving forward.

Things will begin to get worse for, well, normal people. People like you and me. People that need prescription medication. People that use public transport. People that rent places to live.

It won't become a lot worse, all at once; but over the next few years, prices will increase with no commensurate increase in pay. Likewise, services will degrade, with no commensurate decrease in cost.

Taxes for the wealthy will be reduced. Taxes for corporations will be reduced. The savings will not be passed down to their employees.

Homelessness statistics will increase. If enough people notice and object, perhaps the definition will be changed, showing a sudden dramatic decrease in those that tick the "Homeless" box on a spreadsheet. Likewise, poverty - more people will slip below the poverty line until the line is redrawn.

Support will be cut for the vulnerable, resulting in an increased mortality in those specific sectors.

Another tower block may burn down due to having cheaper cladding, deaths perhaps reaching triple figures. Parallels will be drawn. Nothing will come of it.

There will not be fifty thousand more nurses. There will not be twenty thousand more police officers.

Hate crimes will increase. There will be less recourse for those who are victims of aforementioned crimes.

The economy will suffer. The stock market will not. Our national debt will continue increasing, despite the cuts in public spending.

There will be talk of a skills gap. News reports about a lack of people being trained to cover shortfalls in necessary services. This will be waved away as scaremongering, before the service is handed off to a private contractor.

Throughout all of this, there will be precious little protest. There will be no general strike. There may be an attempt but it will come to nothing. If a protest does happen, it will be heavily covered by half of the media outlets in this country and denigrated by the rest, and then forgotten about a week later.

There will be calls for us to put our differences aside and help people, because that is what will be needed, now. Not recriminations - support.

There will be those who are confused as to why others they know are willing to part from friends over their voting choices. There will be those who respond with vitriol because those voting choices have negatively impacted their lives.

There will be calls to change the system of voting. They will gain little traction, simply due to apathy. Statistics won't make much of a dent in this apathy.

Then Brexit will happen, and that is where my speculation will come to an end.

I hope - I truly hope - that I am wrong.

I hope that none of this comes to pass. I hope that everything is just fine, and that the hits to the country that we've suffered since 2010 are as bad as it gets. I hope that everything from here on in is up-and-up.

In a long while, I will look back, and I will see if any of this turned out to be true.

For now, though, I'm taking a big step back from following politics.

I just don't have it in me.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Where I Stand, And Why

I doubt you have failed to notice, if you are one of my UK readers, that there is an election around the corner.

In fact I dare say some of you are sick of it already.

Those of you who follow this blog might notice that I have leaned away from the politics more recently - because it has become increasingly hard to present a point that I haven't already addressed, and to not succumb to rage or despair. That is very easy - rage or despair, that is. Having seen some of the ways in which those in established power have utilised that power.

I'm not going to give in to that.

Most of you reading this have already decided who you are voting for - or if you are voting at all. I'm not going to exhort you. I make no demands.

I'm just going to get back to basics here, and tell you the decision-making process for why I vote the way I vote.

The French Revolution, 1789. During the meetings of the French National Assembly, to determine the extent of the powers King Louis XVI should have, there was a division in the assembly hall - a literal physical one. To surround themselves with those who would agree with them, those who wanted the supreme executive power of the entire nation to rest in the hands of one man - the King - sat to the right of the assembly hall. Those who wanted the executive power to be divided among the people sat to the left.

The press caught on rather quickly, and political groups themselves adopted the phrasing for rapid shorthand of where they stood - power in the hands of the few, or power in the hands of the many. A stratified, vertical society, or a wide, horizontal society.

I am part of the lower rungs of society. I am not one of the lucky few that a right-wing attitude is meant to help. Don't get me wrong - I acknowledge that I am privileged in several distinct areas, and that I have it better off than many - I just also have to acknowledge that my income alone puts me below the line of interest to the right.

That means that if it helps out the stock exchange and not the people that have to clean it after it closes, I'm not interested.

There are lots of arguments as to magic money trees and where the money is going to come from. These discussions always seem to come up when talking about paying for something that someone doesn't want to see paid for - and always seem to ignore the fact that there is seemingly endless money to pay for other things.

The fact is, governments don't spend money like people do. They don't work like a kid's piggy bank, and anyone that tries to convince you that they do is not fully informed on the process. It is not as simple as having a pound in your pocket and knowing how many apples you can buy with it. I will concede, however, it is good to have a large amount of income into the treasury - because then the treasury can be used to help those that need it, and can't be opposed with the argument of a lack of the aforementioned magic money tree.

Once upon a time, a significant proportion of this country's industries were national. They were run by the government, and any profits they made were put into the public purse. If they didn't make a profit, that was a thing that was easy to absorb - because their running was tied to the national finances, not their own bank account.

Then they were sold - and significantly undervalued - to private investment. Companies that answered to shareholders and upper management. The argument was that doing so would mean the companies would have to compete and that would keep prices low - this has been proven objectively false, as anyone who buys rail tickets will tell you.

The list includes BP (70s-80s), Rolls Royce (1987), British Gas (1986), British Airways (1987), British Rail (1995-1996), local bus companies (1988 onward), National Express (1988), the local water companies (1989), British Shipbuilders (1985-1989), all the regional electrical companies (1990), Royal Mail (2013) - all of these utilities and industries that you will no doubt have noticed have increased vastly in cost since their privatisation, while not necessarily increasing commensurately in terms of service provided.

Which means the money flows up, and not back down. Meaning that while wages slowly increase the cost of living increases a lot faster, meaning less money in the pockets of normal people, and less money in the government budget.

If political decisions empower shareholders over people using services, I'm not interested.

And speaking of increasing costs and support.

Homelessness and poverty are both on the increase, currently. There are ways to prevent both. This requires actual work, actual spending, and actual attention. It cannot be waved off as a non-issue. People, human beings, are made to suffer because of policy for a variety of reasons and excuses. This can't be allowed to continue.

Perhaps I am naive. Perhaps I am a sap, because I would be willing to put help in the hands of people who "don't deserve it" rather than prevent it being delivered to those who "do deserve it" - and you will find that what people mean when they use specific terms will vary.

If fiscal burdens are eased, people spend more money. If people spend more money, companies do better as a whole, rather than just the companies who have positioned themselves to force you to partake in their services - see above about privatising gas, water and electricity. If people and companies do better they spend more tax. Which means the country does better.

If fiscal burdens are made heavier, people spend less money. If people spend less money, companies do less well as a whole. This means less taxes. This means less for everyone.

Either way, those who can ensure their income is maintained, will do so. You will often find people in that position are more the kind of people that sit on the right hand side of the chamber.

If political decisions impoverish people rather than supporting them, I'm not interested.

There's more but I don't think I need to necessarily go into any further detail.

I won't get into debates as to which leader I believe is the nicest person. I won't get into Brexit - that horse is already dead, and I won't beat it any further. I won't get into voter suppression and the outdated first-past-the-post system. I won't get into the treatment of minority groups, not because they aren't worthy but because that is two or three blogs in and of itself, and all of it pretty damned partisan, which I am trying to avoid here.

It's just that simple. I can't support a government that will sell off our country's goods for a quick profit and leverage the subsequent losses on the people. I can't support a government that has overseen a hundred thousand children in poverty just before Christmas despite us being one of the six richest nations on earth.

You make your choice.

Just ask yourself if you can look your fellow human being in the eye after you put that X in the box.

If you are concerned about whose party best suits your political beliefs, I have shared this website before. It is called Vote For Policies. It goes off what the parties have said they will do. If you wish to see whether or not the party actually stands by what it says, you can use TheyWorkForYou to check the representatives voting records; no matter what a politician says, it is their vote in Parliament that counts.

See you down the pub on Friday, yeah?

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

December Again

So November draws to an end for another year, and with it, National Novel Writing Month 2019.

There's a feeling I talk about, which is that hollowness when you finish reading a really good book. It's this slight ache, a moment wherein you feel two things very keenly.

The first is: This came to an end, and the rest of the world just moved on, how can that be?

The second is: The space that this occupied was so great, and so full; how can I possibly fill it again?

It's not just reading a book that leaves you like this, though.

For a month, half a million of us - or pretty close, anyway, I don't have the official stats for this year yet - lived in the worlds we'd made.

It occupied space in our brains. We were distracted, not quite fully with it, because our thoughts kept drifting back to that thing that we were creating. Characters and scenes and dialogue and themes and literary tricks and a thousand other little aspects of the work we were undertaking, constantly ticking over - for some of us set solid in stone, for others, roiling like a cloud of plasma. Either way - always present, always taking up space.

I can tell you how my characters smile.

Like, I can see it in my head. I can put each of them right in front of me, bid them smile - even imagine the thing that makes them smile - and see how they do it.

I can tell you the thing that each of them is worried about. I can tell you the person they are thinking about, right now, and in what context. I can describe to you how they would deal with a hundred different problems and situations...

...and then I stopped typing, and put the novel down, and there it is.

Sure, it can do with a second draft. That's the work of it. Taking the first draft and sweeping it into something better; but the skeleton is there, the shape, the clay of the object. It exists, and it was brought into existence out of my brain.

Now my brain sits there with a hole in it that is novel-shaped.

You may wonder why I am telling you all this.

I am telling you because, despite how generally draining it can all be - how disheartening it is to not make word count for a day, or to realise that you may not make it to 50,000 by the end of the month, or how frustrating it is to encounter writer's block...

Each ache, each moment's lost sleep, each frustration, is a piece of stone that you chip away. And you chip all of those away, until you are left with sculpture. With art. Beautiful, and yours.

Every hour you spend typing (punching the keys, for those that recognised the first image) is an hour's worth of work that you have put into something that is yours. A thing you created. A story. A novel. And it probably isn't the best thing ever written, because very few things are - but you made it. You made a thing, that you probably didn't think you'd ever make.

Sure, you told yourself you would, one day. After this. After that. One day. When you had that idea. One day. But until then it is time to obsess over detail, over whether or not you are a good enough writer to carry it off, if you have time, if you are creative enough, and so, and so, and so, until we manage to mentally talk ourselves out of it - again.

So why do I talk about it so much? Why do I post about it on my social media, blog about it, tell other people about it?

Because, folks, I want to share this with you.

I want you to join in, to feel the way I feel, to write the story that you have in your skull. I want you to get to the end of December and have stories you can tell people about that novel you just wrote. I want you to be able to talk to other writers and understand how it feels to make a thing and let it stand. To be able to read your own work, and even if you spend 99% of the time finding flaws in it, seeing at least one or two lines that you think..., that's actually really good.

And then thinking:

I wrote that.

It's a good kind of mental tired.

My NaNoWriMo project this year was called Phase Shift, also styalised as [PHaSe/SHiFT] because I am that kind of dickhead. It's a transhuman scifi coming of age slash thriller. It's set in the Eclipse Phase RPG setting because I love it.

I set myself the challenge of having every chapter title be a song lyric, and have it be relevant to that chapter. Here's a playlist of all those songs in order - it's not a bad list if I do say so myself.

If you want to read it, just get in touch. I even made two cuts - one of them with all the smut cut out, in case it isn't your thing.

And when it comes around to the end of next year? Will you maybe consider joining me on this most novel of months?

I hope so.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Thoughts - I'm The Bad Guy, Duh


Now I bet we have some villain fans in here, right? I know we do. The kind of people that want a plush Scar, or who argue that the Empire did nothing wrong (which I used to do a lot), or who just really, really like Loki.

Now I have talked about villains before, in this blog post over here. In which I talk about my seven favourite villains, actually. Today though, I'm going to talk about the kind that actually features in my NaNoWriMo novel - and some other kinds.

We all want to make the villain memorable, right?

Like who could forget this guy? Who... is ultimately only in this movie like THIS for five minutes and then becomes a big glowing orange eye on top of a tower?

The thing is - you take one look at this dude and you know what he's about. He's just evil. He's a big old nasty bastard and he likes to stab people and hurt people and his goal is to rule everything and so on and so on. And in the books, that gets achieved by a lot of exposition, but you get the impression that he's just absolutely malevolent.

And wants to control everything, because, you know. That's the story Tolkien is telling you. When Aragorn is made king again (spoilers) that's fine, because he kind of didn't want to for most of the story, but now he is king, and everyone is just cool with him being king because he probably won't chop down millions of trees and hyper-industrialise his medieval fantasy realm.

He's fallible, too. Sauron screws up on many occasions. Like he literally gets his ass merked because he didn't think a couple steps ahead and was, basically, arrogant. Of course nothing can escape his sight - his direct-line sight - across a broken and buckled volcanic landscape filled with faults and rocks and basically god's gift to stealth-game mechanics.

Arrogance is key.

You know who else is arrogant as all hell?

That's right, King Grape over here.

He was an asshole but I loved seeing him on screen. Walking around and doing shit and just being fucking evil. I loved watching him fight. I liked hearing him talk. Because he was unequivocally wrong but wouldn't back down on that fact in any way. Even when he gets himself killed - both times - neither time is he sat there going, oh shit, I did the wrong thing. Nah. He just knows his work is over, and he hates it.

He has that fantastic monologue at the beginning of the movie where he talks about failure - where he talks about the moment wherein you know you aren't going to succeed - and then never addresses the possibility ever again. Because he can't conceive of failure. Which in the end proves to be his undoing, because he bum-rushes into a situation that he thinks he can totally dominate and at no point considers retreat, even while doubling down on his absolutely lunatic plan of blapping half the universe (by threatening to blap the entire universe).

Memorable, right? You know what he wants. He establishes himself early. He's relevant to now because there's actual people espousing genocidal views gently while saying that it is logically speaking the best thing to do. Just like how in Tolkien's day there were plenty of men swaggering about demanding total control over everything, regardless of who it might benefit.

Who is this?

You would be forgiven for not knowing. She is from Bright. Her name is Leilah. She wants... uh...

...yeah I can't remember. I think she does magic or something. But if you didn't know I could make up any number of stories about how she's from the Blade TV series, or that she's a character from True Blood, or something.

The thing is, she's also a part of the story that Bright was trying to tell. I hated it, but it had a story, and it kinda told it. And she was part of it - and she was (as I recall) part of the Elves Are Actually Evil sub-genre, which is one of my favourites.

My NaNo story, the one I am writing, is about three things primarily.

  1. Working out who you really are is important, and sometimes requires changes in your life.
  2. Sometimes people will try and control you. Don't let them.
  3. Capitalism ruins everything cool and empowers monsters.

That requires another, quite specific kind of villain.


Or at least... he is similar to my antagonist in several ways. Specifically, with the arrogance - knowing full well that he won't get caught, even up to the point that he does get caught. Even when he has a gun stuck in his face, and is being told that he's going to be executed, he's unapologetic - he's just spinning words to get people to not shoot him. Because he can still get away with this. He can still have traded all 157 of those colonists away for a huge, huge profit, and handing the biggest bioweapon ever over to Weyland-Yutani.

Because in a system wherein acquisition of power is directly connected to acquisition of wealth, and in a culture wherein possession of power is as much a part of ensuring that others don't have power over you as it is about having power over others - shit is encouraged.

If Burke had more influence, more power, then he would probably have gotten away with it. He'd have had more resources brought to bear, could move more subtly. Would have more pawns to sacrifice.

He's established from the very beginning, is present throughout. That's important, too. He becomes a presence. Even if he's only in the background, he's there, and he is inherently connected to events.

The antagonist in my book is a lot like Burke, in a few ways; but there's some ways in which he differs. The primary one is power. Another - Burke can come across as kind of likeable if you've never seen the movie before, but there's no way you like my antagonist. There's just... not much you can do about it, because he doesn't have to justify his actions to anyone. He just does what he wants and nobody can really tell him no.

That's where the arrogance comes from.

Nobody's ever told him he is wrong. What he says, goes - and he has a literal fortune and an entire market to back him up on it. So of course, his opinions are cast iron facts, and not opinions. Which can be kind of dangerous, when those opinions are things like:

"People don't change. They think they do. They want to believe they do. They do not. They remain who they are, be that for good or ill. That is who they are. That is who all of us are…"

And especially when your fortune comes from a company whose job it is to prevent poor people from living in a post-scarcity society.


(Also if this guy had an actor I think it would be a great role for Jeff Bridges.)

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Thoughts - Defined

A surprisingly layered question:

Who Am I?

What's meant by this isn't the amnesiac question - no, we don't assume that the person we are asking this of has forgotten their actual identity. Not like John Murdoch here, from Dark City - a vastly underrated movie, and one that provides a surprisingly textured answer to that specific question.

Nor are we - necessarily - asking this in the rhetorical sense to imply that someone has done something that is usually quite out of character for them. Something Sam might ask Frodo when he clearly starts going off the rails in the Two Towers, trusting "definitely not gonna choke you in your sleep" Gollum rather than "actually the hero of this book" Sam.

For the context of this - how I am using it in my NaNo this year - this is all about the main character looking into himself to find out what makes him who he is. To try and work out what traits in there are his own, what has been put in by someone else - to ascertain his own character, after having been given enough breathing room to do so.

The difficulty he finds is that it is hard to just stand there, or sit, or whatever, and look at yourself, and go: huh, this is me. Yeah, okay. Cool.

You only tend to find that sort of thing out through exposure to stimulus, through being tested - stress tested perhaps. You don't know the strength of the steel until you find out how much force bends it, so on, so forth. All those old adages that bolt onto the notion of suffering building character.

It's a good way to show your readers what kind of a person the character is, though. I mean...

None of us can claim to not know who Steve Rogers is at heart. After all - he can do this all day.

People want to be able to define themselves. They want to be able to gesture at a part of their lives and say, unequivocally and without reservation: this is who I am. They want the security of that, to know that whatever else they can't control, this is an aspect of them that is true.

(I know, talking about insecurity again, one might think I have a complex.)

A trap that a lot of stories can fall into is that the Who is shown, not by what the character does, but by what is done TO the character. A lack of agency. Being swept along by whatever is actually happening, until arriving at a point dictated by the narrative. Young Adult fiction has a mostly undeserved reputation for doing this - quite a vilified bracket of books there, given that I've seen more literary worth in those pages than I have in any book by Ian McEwan I've ever read.

So the individual - the character - feeling that they lack something... feeling that they have for too long been in an environment where they can't be themselves, but not necessarily knowing who they themselves ARE because of that... should probably try and find that aspect of themselves. And perhaps they will stumble upon it by accident - and sometimes they will think they know, and be proven wrong.

But for all those people who can't just... act, can't just define who they are by their actions... surely our characters can. Surely they can take that step, out of the shadow they were living under, and into a better world in which they are solidly defined.

That can look different for different people, obviously.

My main character is starting to recognise just how cloying and smothering his past life was - living in the shadow of an egocentric narcissist of a father - and is currently struggling to work out the kind of person he is. He'll find out though. Sooner rather than later.

(If you want an insight into the world I am writing in, my friends are playing part of an RPG campaign that I am running. I'm typing up each session for the enjoyment of the outside world. You can find it here. Eclipse Phase - Before The Devil Knows You're Dead.)

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Never Did Me Any Harm

Hands up if you know someone that doesn't believe in climate change.

There's permutations, obviously. There's plenty of people who believe it exists but aren't sure if it is as bad as everyone says it is. There's plenty of people who don't know specifically what they can do about it. There's plenty of people who will somewhat happily dismiss it as being a bit much for them to understand.

But there's people who genuinely believe that it isn't happening, that it is some kind of conspiracy to... achieve... something that is hard to actually define, and that images like this:

...are faked by whatever agency is pushing this agenda.


Today, folks, we're visiting an old friend. I've blogged about insecurity several times before now, and about how it can pertain to some of the views I'm going to talk about right here. I continue to believe that it is responsible for a significant proportion of the thought processes that cause humanity the most problems.

More and more, in this day and age, we find evidence that we live in a post-fact, post-truth society.

I mean. Yeah. People have often flat-out ignored actual evidence and done whatever they wanted or thought whatever they wanted anyway. That's not new. It is just very, very obvious now - especially in an age wherein learning the facts on a topic can be done on the move and in mere moments, should the whim take you.

This is where the insecurity comes in.

Beating your kids is a bad idea.

No, really. There's been countless scientific studies on the topic. Here's a Psychology Today article on the topic from last year. Here's another one from six years ago. Here's a New York Times article on it. They all agree. Smacking your kids won't actually help them behaviourally.

For purpose of research I googled the opposite - pro-spanking studies - and found a lot of opinions, and the odd link to those same articles featuring studies stating it is a bad idea.

However, I guarantee you that you can hear it now - you can hear people saying how it's ridiculous, about how children these days are too privileged because they haven't been spanked, how THEY were spanked and how it never did THEM any harm.

Well yeah. You can have that opinion. Science indicates you are wrong. Maybe the harm done was the willingness to believe that hurting a kid deliberately will have no long-term ill effects. That's called conditioning. You may believe it brings you closer to your child, too. That's called trauma bonding. The SS used it to train their soldiers to work as a unit.

But we hate... HATE... to think we are wrong.

Nobody likes being corrected. I say this with a degree of personal honesty. I hate being wrong. I beat myself up over it. I try and work out why I was wrong, try and justify my wrongness, but in the end - unless I want to live in a fantasy land, I have to admit I was wrong, and grow as a person.

Things I have been wrong about in my life include sexism - for a long time I simply refused to believe it existed, and if it did, then surely it made men's lives worse than women's. It took work for me to pull my head out of my ass. It was uncomfortable to admit that I was wrong - but once you get over that hurdle, once you address your insecurity and fix it, you can be proud. You learned. You are literally a better person for it.

One of the things that I think a lot of people are insecure about - and thus refuse to actually examine in themselves - is the narrative of suffering. Or, specifically:

I suffered. Why shouldn't they?

I hope Bill Watterson would forgive me for the usage of this Calvin & Hobbes strip, but it's relevant.

Suffering Builds Character. We've all heard it.

Whenever it comes around to minimum wage jobs, or provision of social services. Whenever it comes around to people that some other people don't believe should be entitled to the same help or assistance as everyone else. Prisoners and pensioners.

Well. Yeah. It might "build character". It builds the character that makes people want to hurt other people. It makes us form shaky relationships with others. It lets us believe that suffering is inherent to the human condition. It builds into us the notion that nobody is entitled to anything better than what we have. It blinds us to realities such as the, you know, actual harmful effects of the things that we're doing, as scientifically proven time and again.

Because we don't want to be proven wrong. Because we're insecure about being wrong. Because that would mean admitting that it did us harm in the first place.

But that leads us into a society built on ignoring facts that don't gel with our worldview. It means that, rather than try and face something down that would prove us wrong, rather than confront it and then adjust our behaviour and outlook to fit the reality of the situation - we double down. We throw our hands up, declare that we don't care what so-called experts say.

Then we make decisions on what confirms our own internal monologue, what conforms to our worldview, rather than letting our worldview be shaped by facts.

That's why there's so many people that believe that vaccinations are bad. Disregarding any and all advice by experts, they seek out the thing that empowers their own opinion, because they're too insecure to do otherwise. It doesn't matter that the one study that proved them right was rubbished by its own creator. It's easier to ignore the facts that challenge you - until one of your kids gets something awful because you didn't vaccinate them, but there's a whole subgenre of tragedy there.

That's why there's so many people that believe the earth is flat. Because if one relinquishes the notion that people can be scientifically right about a thing, if one dismisses the people that actually speak with a degree of knowledge and authority because they don't say the words you agree with, then you're left with a world looking however you want it to.

That's why there's so many people that don't believe in climate change. They don't want to stop using CFCs. They don't want to stop throwing their rubbish in whatever bin they like. They don't want to have to think about the environment, and about how their actions may have made it worse, even if objectively far more damage has been done to the environment by like four dozen corporate entities than the rest of the human race combined. So they dismiss it, and dismiss experts, and dismiss everyone that agrees with experts.

And that's why you can have TV personalities worth literally millions who make their money from confirming your internal biases, speaking to the truths that all the experts decry, telling you that you're right to think it never did you any harm, telling you that it's all the people who claim otherwise who are the problem, claiming that they aren't like those snowflakes who find everything offensive - who will have a screaming fit over a vegan sausage roll.

Society could be so much better. Our world could be so much better. Only it isn't going to be, because we'd far rather tell ourselves that we haven't been harmed, than actually treat the wounds. We'd far rather let awful things happen and ignore them, because those awful things happening either fit in with our view of how the world works, or they're happening to someone else.

It's the same drive to just shrug and carry on, to take the lashings of the men with the whips, without ever wondering why you don't take the whip and break it. Because it's more comfortable to not wonder. Because it's easier, and doesn't challenge our worldview. Because we're here, and because the people holding the whips have told us this is where we should be.

We're frogs in pots, and we're comfortable in the water. You're just imagining it - it's definitely not getting any hotter.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

NaNoWriMo Thoughts - Held Hands, Dense Forests

I was watching The Girl With All The Gifts on Halloween with my gaming group, in the mid-section of an all-day RPG session I was running.

I hadn't seen it before, which is kind of criminal, because I knew it was a great movie; just because of the kind of people I knew who had said so, the critical reception it got. the general buzz surrounding it. I knew a little of the plot, but not very much, so went into it pretty blind.

It got me into thinking, a thought that has persisted as I have laid out the first 10% of this year's National Novel Writing Month project.

I like movies and stories that don't need to hold your hand.

It has to be a careful balance, though. You have to give the viewer or the reader just enough information to keep them invested, just a little more than that so they aren't totally confused, but not so much that you are explaining the entire plot wholesale.

This is just one axis, though. The other is the story's complexity - the more complex, the more hand-holding is needed to keep the viewer on track, or you run the risk of the viewer just being hopelessly lost.

I mean, you know what I am talking about if you've seen Mulholland Drive.

This can cause problems in adaptations, certainly. You are trying to convey a lot more information in a lot shorter time than a book can, and sometimes that book was a little light on necessary hand-holding in the first place. If it's the kind of tome that just lobs you into a complex fantasy world with its own glossary of terms and never works to lighten the load of trying to work out what they all mean while still keeping up with the narrative, then the film-maker is going to want to try and soften that blow.

Hands up if you have read the first Dune book and seen the original Dune movie?

Yeah, those bits of voice-over that basically explain half the plot? They weren't going to be in it originally, but had to be added afterwards because focus audiences that hadn't read the book had no clue what was happening.

I mean, even if you have read the book, you will be forgiven for being a little clueless. It's not a forgiving or easily-accessible story by many measures.

In order to highlight the difference between the two approaches, think back - when you first watched Blade Runner, did it have the Harrison Ford voice-over explaining the plot every ten minutes, or was it without?

First time for me had the voice-over. Which as I was a kid was kind of useful, but by the time I'd reached any kind of adulthood, was basically unnecessary. A significant part of the plot is you doing the legwork inside your head, and also the moralistic legwork. You shouldn't need to be told what to feel or what to think.

Something about show, don't tell?

I try and apply that to my writing - and then it becomes clear just how hard it can be to walk that line.

When I write science fiction I like dropping in terms that aren't overtly explained, and trying to convey what they mean by narrative context. The problem is that I know what they mean already. I know the context. It can be difficult to actually step outside of that knowledge and impartially look at the words you have put down, and ascertain what they are actually saying rather than what you think they are saying.

This is a greater problem, of course - it isn't limited to science fiction or fantasy writing, nor is it limited to writing at all. People do this a lot; they say words, construct a sentence and think that it has conveyed what they assumed it would convey in their heads. Then they end up all sorts of confused when the person they are talking to has apparently not quite got the message.

It's why I am often keen to have people read the work. Someone not in my brain can more easily tell me if I've gone down an assumption-hole.

I don't want to have to release a director's cut later that fixes the narrative issues.

5,807 words so far. Got the rest of today, and if I''m not past 7k by this evening, I'm gonna be upset at myself. Let's get this bread.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Eye Contact

Halloween is almost here, one of my favourite times of year, and that means horror movies. So there's a lot of horror tropes which have been done so much that they just aren't scary any more. Right?

One of the examples that comes up a lot is "It's Behind You". Now the moment that you are presented with a panning shot or a shot of someone or something blocking out a chunk of the background, you are almost certain there's gonna be something icky back there.

It's such a common trope that Scream troped it while troping it.

Then there's the "Medicine Cabinet" shot. A combination of the "It's In The Mirror" shot and the "Check The Door" shot. You know full well in a movie like this that if you have a close shot of someone opening a medicine cabinet, when it closes, there's gonna be the beastie or whatever stood there in the reflection.

Another trope is the "It's Right There" trope, which I think Alien and Aliens uses real well - wherein the monster is placed in the shot in such a way that you don't quite understand what it is until it moves.

Like here.

"Maybe they don't show up on infrared at all." Yeah, maybe.

You know the one trope that stuck with me, though? The one trope that I have never, ever managed to shake as something that genuinely kind of freaks me out?

The beastie looking at the camera.

And this is mostly because of the Amityville Horror.

This is one of the horror movies that I watched when I was a kid. I doubt my parents knew about it at the time. I know I know, badness. But hey, it didn't do ME any - wait what am I talking about, of course it did me harm, I'm talking about the harm it did me.


There's this one scene wherein the kid is talking to their imaginary friend, Jody. They're playing int he kid's room. And the mom is like - oh, what're you talking to Jody about? And the kid is talking about how Jody just fled from the room because the mom scared her. Mom's like, oh well, okay, guess I will just close this window -

Looks out and sees THIS.

The whole scene is here.

That. FUCKED. Me. UP.

I don't even know why. It's just two lights. Just two lights out of a window. Except that is all you see, and yet you know that thing was looking inside, at you. You were observed. You are not safe.

That's always stuck with me, it's always a thing I like to see in a horror movie because even if it is a trope that has been done a lot, it breaks the barrier of the screen and the worlds on either side. Literally, the beast is looking out of your movie and into your soul.

Like this motherfucker here.

Or in this short by Mike Diva, called Thresher.

Anyway. Just my thoughts on something horrible.

Sweet dreams.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 20 October 2019


This is gonna be a short one, but bear with me.

So on her birthday, the girlfriend and myself were playing Monopoly - it was a computerised version, so we had a couple of computer players to roll against. If you've ever tried to play two-player Monopoly, I am sure you will understand why.

She crushed me at it, but that's beside the point.

So the computer players were, as you might imagine, not ideal. They weren't great at playing the game in general. They were a touch too willing to accept offers for properties. One of them went bankrupt real early on, not so much through fault of their own, just the way the dice rolled.

The other computer player, though - they consistently have a significant lump of cash in their wallet but... not a lot of properties. Like four at most at any point during the game. Part of that was probably bad luck but another part was bad decision-making on the CPU's part. I ended up glomping a few territories from him, and so did the girlfriend, and he didn't seem to mind much.

So it comes to the stage that he's got literally two properties. Both on the same block.

So I put in an offer for one of them, to see if it will take.

It does.

Well now.

I put in an offer for the next one the next turn. By this point I am pretty convinced that the computer has no idea precisely how badly this will screw it over. Still I am a little surprised that this one gets accepted too.

So there he is. More money than both the GF and I put together but no properties, and only like... two on the board that haven't been bought already.

We keep playing, and that's when the epiphany rolls in.

He's beaten already. He's done. This dude is out of the game. All he is doing is orbiting, pouring money into either my pocket or hers, until eventually he runs out. All we have to do, is not sell him anything. Not let him in on the position of making that money. Keep him out of that loop, because everyone has to PAY - just not everyone gets to PROFIT.

And I am claiming that, my sadness over how stark this poor computer player's situation was - how much it runs over into the real world, and the gulf between classes that exist - is why the GF pummelled me so badly at the game.

Definitely not cos she's better at it than me.


(She's definitely better at it than me.)

Full length next time folks. Stay tuned.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Nice Language, Shame About The Plot

(The following is a work of parody. Why you have to be mad? Is only blog.)

Hi JR,

You asked for us to email you thoughts about the epic D&D campaign you just finished, and here I am, doing just that.

Warning: this email might get a bit long.

I'm going to start with what I liked about it, and the big thing, the REALLY big thing, was all the work you did in establishing how different your world was from the standard fantasy snoozefest. Like, who constructs languages for each of their races? I can't imagine how much effort that took, even if it was mostly done for the campaign you ran before this one. I just appreciate the effort - a game involving a dozen Dwarves, one Hobbit and one Human, and you still write an entire booklet about Elvish.

Also the music you picked was great. Just, really really great. Very fitting all the way throughout. Plus, you put some really solid work into the accents and voice work for all the bad guys (especially that creepy envoy dude just outside Mordor, he was ace). So hats off to you for all that.

But you wanted honest feedback - so here it is.

I know the point of the campaign was meant to be about the bravery of the "little people" and stuff. Like, showing that no matter how OP the actual front-liners, that it's the actions of those who have the most to lose that really makes a difference.

But dude - the level system exists for a reason.

So you start me, Jerry, Steve and Roy off at level one, okay. Fine. We're just farm folk. A bit tricksy, and I know Jerry was leaning more toward fighter than anything else, but - fine. Okay. So you kind of railroad us out of our lovely home and off on an adventure with that NPC from your last campaign that is friends with Roy's character (who was related to his OLD character, I mean okay, that seems a bit hand-me-down but whatever). We dodge some peril - I know that you had something planned involving a river god or something but I am glad we skipped that - and then we run into Eric's dude.

And Eric's dude is at least level four.

Like he has this whole background, this huge story, and he's also an heir to a throne or something? And he has a magic sword but he can't have it until you say so? But that all seems a little overpowered, a bit unbalanced. Like, I know we're the little people, but does some other guy at the table have to be one of the big people?

Not to mention he's an absolute badass with a NORMAL sword?

So we make it to that elf home place, sure. At this point I know Roy's nervous because Frodo's got this creeping death thing going on (I can't believe he called it creeping death, I haven't listened to Metallica in years) and he doesn't want to lose his guy. After all he spent so much time emoting him, kind of put the rest of us to shame...

Then Suzie and Anna and Carl show up, and they all have characters too, and surprise surprise, their characters all out-level ours, too.

I mean what the hell?

It became obvious at this point that we weren't meant to be playing at the same level, here.

Like it was only reinforced when we got into the first dungeon and basically all we were good for was standing around and looking a bit gormless - even if Steve and I managed to do like three damage to that cave troll - I know that was a tough fight, it was meant to be, but if we were the same level as everyone else I think it would have been... more fun?

And I'm not surprised that Suzie got the killing blow on the thing because, here's the thing, only Roy and I know this, but I know full well that Suzie was in your last campaign too - WITH THE SAME CHARACTER.

I mean come on! Everyone else might have missed it, but I saw how she was absolutely slaughtering people left right and centre, how she could shoot for five miles or something and still have enough kinetic energy in the arrow to kill her target, and I know for a fact that Elves can't walk on snow until AT LEAST level six, and don't get two weapon fighting until level seven - so explain that bit where we were walking over the mountains?

Yeah. That bit. I just get the impression that you were kind of mocking us at this point.

So the scene wherein Gandalf or whatever your NPC was gets killed, in the dungeon, fighting that balrog. I loved that. I loved that! Because all of a sudden we didn't know where to go - we'd have to use our own map, we couldn't just be told where to go next, and I've always hated railroading, you know that - all of a sudden, we're actually adventuring.

But then the elves show up and tell us where to go, and you're making people take Willpower checks to not steal the Maguffin Ring off of Roy, and then when Carl's character fails you kill him off with a rampaging horde of super-orcs?

Not sure how fair that is, even if Carl was kind of okay with a heroic death. Must have been nice to have the stats to achieve a heroic anything whatsoever.

Now, I'll come back to the bullshit Willpower tests in a minute.

Were you really surprised when we split up? I mean, not that myself and Steve got a chance, we got fucking abducted by the super-orcs. So while Carl is writing up his new character, Roy and Suzie have this big argument, they go their separate ways in character, and you solve this by bringing the dead wizard back to life with added powers?

I've never liked railroading. You know that. You know that, and have known that since Carl ran that game set in the Napoleonic wars and we all had to be NPCs in his regiment. But you spend the next... how many sessions was it? It felt like a LOT - having me and Steve get dragged hither and yon by trees, and we made ONE Diplomacy roll to try and get back into the plot, and you managed to make that happen AFTER the epic battle that Eric apparently wins single fucking handed because he's gonna be king or whatever, and AFTER Carl's new character sort-of abducts Roy and Jerry and then ANOTHER NPC comes along to tell them how to get the Maguffin ring into the big volcano?

At this point I knew that we were just a joke to you.

Me more than anyone.

See, I saw what you fucking did, JR. When I mentioned to you, just as we were going down into the dungeon, that Suzie's character - who I had sussed out was from your old campaign - would know the Dwarves that died in here, that made you look a bit silly, didn't it? A bit like you'd forgotten that particular detail. I know Suzie had. So rather than just deal with that fact, you decide to make me take a Reflex save to not accidentally lob an entire suit of armour down the Well Of Certain Army-Summoning Echoing Doom.

How did I fail that test, JR? One of the only cool things about the race that YOU had us four play in the first place is that we have a real high Dexterity bonus and a luck modifier on all our saves, and I still, somehow, managed to dunk the Drum-Kit Armour Of Big-Bang into the Goblin-Summoning Ogre Pit. Because then everyone could have a laugh at how stupid you made me look, right? And it was funny. It was really funny. Hah.

Not content with this shower of bullshit, the NEXT time I bring up an obvious error in your calculations - which is that maybe the people of Rohan might have noticed that their king was all weirdly rotten and pale after his clearly evil adviser showed up from who-the-fuck-knows-where - that was when you decided I needed to make a Willpower test to not play with the fucking magical Skype Orb that you found that we clearly weren't meant to play with.

You kept making me make those tests until I failed. Why me? Why not any of us? Why not your NPC, who was actually handling the thing? No, just me. Because I'm the comic relief, right? I'm the one who fucks stuff up so everyone else has to roll their eyes, and you set that up. You set that up because I keep pointing out the holes in your lovingly-crafted narrative, a narrative that doesn't really make room for people actually making any decisions. JR - you didn't write an RPG campaign, you wrote a novel.

And for my punishment I get to go sing to a lunatic while he eats - a lunatic that it turns out was the dad of BOTH of Carl's characters, who just sentenced one of them to death in battle if you don't mind - and don't join the rest of the party until the... really... really long finale. Oh, thank you so very much for your NPC allowing me to go and light a beacon, that was very kind of you! Glad I could do my part to get all the actual combatants onto the field of battle again, while I watch trolls massacre innocent people and can do literally nothing.

And then Suzie and Anna's character go off and live together because dude, how could you not know they were basically getting together right there at your gaming table, and Eric's character gets his magic sword and his kingdom and his Elf-wife, and Roy gets to met his old character and they both go off to live in Elf-Heaven together because they were both "Ring-Bearers", and then you remember while we are packing up that Jeff's character carried the ring about as well so he gets to go off to Elf-Heaven too, and...that's it?

Me and Steve just sit there with our thumbs up our arses? Carl gets to be Roy's servant or something?

I just... don't know. Like, if anyone deserves the MVP from this entire campaign, it's Jeff.

Roy - Roy just got railroaded the entire time. He was so busy roleplaying how hard it was to carry around this ridiculous Maguffin you saddled him with that he barely demonstrated any agency whatsoever, just went along with whatever was happening. Jeff? Jeff threw himself at every challenge. He actually improvised all those speeches. Jeff was an absolute hero. I don't want to live in the world you made us live in, I want to live in the world Jeff spearheaded. He was a LEGEND.

So... I don't know. This is all going to come across as very harsh. Just please take it in the constructive light it is meant to be in - aside from the bits wherein you made me look like an idiot in front of everyone else because your ego got bruised, for that, you can go suck a minge.

Besides, we all know you ripped the story off from the first world war anyway.

Yours, Lewis.

P.S. To prove there's no hard feelings, you're invited to my next game - it's going to be initially set in postwar England, but there will be some Isekai-style other-world things going on.

P.P.S. Are Turkish Delights still your favourite snack?

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.