Good Monday, everyone! This week we have some writer-y stuff and some video game-y stuff, with some random neat/geeky stuff thrown in for flavor. Let’s get started!
My favorite short story of the past week: “David to Goliath” by Matthew C. Funk. Funk is the most published writer on Shotgun Honey, with fifteen stories to his credit. That’s massive when you consider that they’ve only been publishing for about a year. And don’t think for a minute they’re doing it as a favor, or to pay off some weird kind of writer blackmail – Funk deserves it. His stories are tight yet evocative; his characters stay with you long after you’ve clicked away.
There is a universal truth among writers: we all seek advice about our craft, we all give advice about our craft, and we all insist that it must be done “in your own way”. There are volumes and volumes of writing advice printed, parsed, and passed around each year. Some people swear by Strunk & White; some by Stephen King (who swears by Strunk & White), some by Bradbury. We each have our go-to tome of writerly wisdom. Every field has its share of instruction manuals, but none are so hotly debated as writing tips and tricks.
That’s why I love Kurt Vonnegut’s eight tips on how to write a good short story. Simple, concise, and logical, these eight tips work across all genres and media. Plus, you can be reasonably sure that Vonnegut knew what he was talking about.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) came out last Tuesday. You should buy a copy or five. Her book tour comes back to Texas today with a stop in San Antonio and stops in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Angelo in the next few days. If you get a chance, go see her. You won’t regret it.
This picture of John Green in an abandoned hospital is hauntingly beautiful. There is a story there. I dare you to write it. I dare myself to write it. (More info on his tumblr.)
I don’t change my desktop wallpaper very much. Mostly because I hardly ever look at my desktop. But I do appreciate beautiful and creative design, which is why I fell in love with Inkdryer Creative. Inkdryer offers a new wallpaper every weekday, totally for free. Some are inspirational, some are quirky, but all of them are amazing. Be sure to take a scan through the archive to see all the past designs. (Thanks to Lifehacker for the link.)
My favorite new tumblr – The Dalek Factor. David C. Simon has created a collection of Daleks drawn in non-canon styles. These things are beautiful. My favorite Dalek so far – Aperture Daleks. “We EXTERMINATE because we can.”
Seriously, if these things had been in Portal, I wouldn’t have been able to finish the game. I still have nightmares about those damn Turrets.
Are you still there?
(Thanks to io9 for the link.)
Last Thursday when I talked about emulators and ROMs – software that lets you play old console video games on your PC or Mac – I mentioned a few influences (Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Zac Gorman) and a new favorite game, EarthBound.
Felicia Day mentioned Zac Gorman in the second episode of The Flog. His comics and “video game art panels” have just enough .gif animation to enhance the piece. Even without the animation, his artwork is amazing. But…
His pieces are all video game related, and I don’t recognize half of the games he references. His EarthBound panels (here, here, and especially here) are so beautiful, though, I just had to see what game could inspire such emotion. I’m kind of mystified that I discovered a video game because of someone’s online comic. I love living in the future.
The weird, wonderful thing about these panels is… I thought they were awesome before I even played the game. After I played it through the first time, I went back and really looked at them. The emotion I felt was so different, so strong… It’s hard to describe. I was sad and hopeful and connected to the characters in a whole new way. Playing through the second time, with these panels in mind, I find myself imagining little scenes and dialogues between Ness, Paula, Jeff, and Poo. Every time Ness opened a present and offered the contents to one of his companions, I could see the action in my mind, not just on the screen. It gave me a new level of gameplay I never expected. If you’ve played the game, you’ll understand. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. And I highly recommend subscribing to Gorman’s website, Magical Game Time.
Something I never thought I would say about a video game: Yes, I will probably write fanfiction. If I do, I’ll share it here.
If you’re interested in emulators and ROMs, or just want more info, a great place to start is this article from Lifehacker: How to Turn Your Computer into a Retro Game Arcade. I get all my downloads from CoolROM, but Emuparadise is a great resource as well. Between the two you will find every game you could possibly want.
The condensed version is: Author John Beiswenger is suing Ubisoft for copyright infringement, claiming that the idea of the Animus – a fictional device that reads “ancestral memory” that is used in the game-maker’s popular Assassin’s Creed series – originally appeared in his book Link.
I honestly don’t know what to make of this. From a writer’s perspective, I can understand the author wanting to protect his creation. It takes hard work, time, and energy to create something and you want credit for that creation. But I also understand that once an idea is out in the world, the world can and will do anything it wants with it. There are no new ideas, just new ways of presenting them. Unless Ubisoft used elements specific to the book, I don’t see that he has a case.
From a gamer’s perspective, I shrug my shoulders in dismissal. The Animus is the most annoying, most useless part of the games in my opinion. The pseudo-science of DNA memory takes away from what makes the game fun in the first place – running around assassinating people. I want to sprint across rooftops and swan dive into haystacks and kill people with my cool hidden blades – not listen to the ancillary characters go on and on about how the machine works.
That’s not to say that irritating ideas aren’t worth protecting, because they are. Credit where it’s due, and all that. If I’m cynical, I say that this is an author using the release of Assassin’s Creed III to get a little attention and sell a few books. I have nothing against selling books. I have a huge problem with doing it with this kind of stunt. If he’s right, if Ubisoft really did steal the idea, why didn’t he file against them back in 2007 when the first game was released? Why wait until five years and five games later?
Finally, I leave you today with one of the coolest infographics I’ve seen: Sci-Fi vs. Real Life Space Ships. Thanks to Veronica Belmont for posting the link on Twitter. (You should follow her, if you’re not already. She’s all kinds of awesome.)