CategoryConspirators

Technoir

Matthew is running a cyberpunk story game called Technoir for Harry, Alex and myself. It’s very good, and I’m not just saying that because it cites Brick in its inspirations. Here’s part of the mechanic for healing damage: when your character has been tagged with something that describes permanent physical, emotional or social harm to them, you have to get surgery to implant a piece of cybertech that “replaces what has been lost.”

Left implied is that of course it fucking doesn’t, nothing does, that’s not how loss works. But it is how cyberpunk works, in one elegant sentence that happens to be a functional rule. That is brilliant game design. Well done, Jeremy Keller.

Regarding the previous post

Stephen responds.

Been meaning to write this for three months

A while back Stephen was telling me about those Patrick Rothfuss books for which all nerds have hard dicks. “What’s the best part?” I asked.

“This guy Kvothe gets up on stage and plays his lute, and it’s really moving,” said Stephen. “But not gay, because he has magic powers that make every woman want to bone him.”

“Uh huh,” I said.

“Fine,” he said, “what are YOU reading about?”

Gun-toting bug-eating Muslim lesbians in space,” I said.

Okay, that isn’t strictly accurate. The primary protagonist is agnostic and the secondary one is a dude. But there are lots of guns, lots of bugs, lots of brutality (eg women throwing punches), lots of Koran-analogs, and lots of great characters who aren’t white even on the cover. It is not gentle in introducing its weird setting, and is very mean to everyone you like, and there is torture in it! So avoid it if that’s going to bother you. But while everyone’s sputtering over how many darlings die in George R. R. Martin, I’m going to be over here trying to wave you toward God’s War, easily my favorite book this year.

While I’m talking about people who were already throwing off sparks like seven years ago when I started following them

Leigh Stein is very, very good at what she does:

ADDENDUM TO THE PREVIOUS DISPATCH

I just remembered every single thing I’ve ever done
and now I’m embarrassed. I want my afterlife

guaranteed, so I have ordered a tomb built at Giza

for my remains. They are as follows: all my clothes,
my harmonica, my body, letters to my enemies.

The dictionary says you can refer to everyone

who will be alive in the future as prosperity so
Dear Prosperity, I used to live in the future,

too, but I fear the past is a brushfire

and I am a prairie. Now that I have what I asked for
I see I should have been more specific.

How hot is that? Brushfire hot. It appears in the new book of hers I just got, The Future Comes to Those Who Wait, and you should get it too; it’s worth it for the poem on page 18 alone.

(Hillary Eason, can you read this in Mongolia? I hope you can, and are.)

“Nobody expects to be punched in the face by a man’s beard.”

This is linked on his guest post but it needs additional emphasis! After years of my pestering him about it, Bill O’Neil has FUCKING FINALLY gotten around to setting up a dedicated story blog. Bill/William/whoever was making me want to shred everything I ever wrote and set it on fire in a toilet while he was still in high school, so I’m (mostly) glad to finally be able to slot him into Google Reader. If you don’t do the same then you’ll just have to accept that you and I have different tastes!

The thematic similarities worry me

Longtime ommatidiadvocate Tikitu de Jager wrote a great signoff story that you should go read right now! And then there’s this metatextual gem, from Rachel Spitler:

I once had a dream about catching up on Anacrusis.

In the first story, some curiously dorky heroes went on safari. In the second, they all got captured by the black-skinned “King of the Amazon.”

The third was from the viewpoint of someone’s stripped and bare bones, watching the king lounge in his giant throne and gnaw thoughtfully on a comrade’s femur.

It was awesome, but I also remember going, geez, isn’t this a little racist? Random tribal cannibalism? You really went there?

Then I woke up and realized it was me all along, and thought these words: WHOA, TWIST ENDING.

The Great Brendan Hunt

Link to the big picture of my route.

So, when I got the aforementioned iPad at a delicious Moroccan dinner with Kara’s family, I thought I had had a lovely thirtieth birthday and now all that nonsense was over with. She and I had planned to go get lunch and see Meek’s Cutoff with our friend Arlie yesterday, and I thought that would be a neat Saturday. When we parked near the theater downtown, though, she kept insisting we had to go meet Arlie at Pioneer Square a few blocks away. Okay, I thought, whatever.

Except when we got there, I saw someone else I recognized. Hey neat, I thought, Kellie’s here too! And so are a lot of our other friends! Wow, this is a weird coincidence. Why are they holding signs and shouting at me?

Kara had been planning a giant pervasive game involving everyone we know–even utilizing international design services–for a month behind my back. I was completely unaware of this until well after she started explaining the rules. It was basically a version of Journey to the End of the Night, except during the day, and also the only person being chased was me. I had to run around, getting the signatures of people stationed at five different checkpoints on the “happy” side of my birthday card. Each checkpoint had a small safe zone around it, but outside those, everyone else would be chasing me down; if they tagged me they got to sign the “unhappy” side of the card, and the person who did so most often got a prize. (Spoilers: no he didn’t.)

Herein follows the narrative of my desperate attempt to evade my relentless, sadistic friends. You can follow along on the big map I drew. It’s color-coded by time: my route to the first checkpoint is in blue, then red, then green, then orange.

We started in Pioneer Square, where I took off in an attempt to get a head start before I had completely finished reading the handout. THIS WOULD BE IMPORTANT LATER. I circled around down off the bottom border of the map and made my way up along Naito Parkway to the first checkpoint, the fountain at Saturday Market. I got into the safe zone just ahead of Kellie, in plenty of time to get my card signed by Tony and Mandy, then successfully lost any pursuers in the crowd.

Unfortunately, in doing so, I also dropped the card and couldn’t find it even after repeatedly retracing my steps. I ended up paying three bucks at the Market for a little card with an engraving of a cat holding a fish on it just so I could continue the game. I headed up to a good place to take the measure of the second checkpoint, the Chinese Gardens, and even from blocks away I could see a cluster of chasers just waiting for me.

“Aha!” I thought, as the stealthy Matthew Schuler walked right up and tagged me from behind. “I have clearly tricked these poor saps into thinking I will hit each checkpoint in order, which is not required by these rules that I have not read all the way through! I’ll just skip up to checkpoint 4 now and double back after they get bored and wander off. Good thing I have limitless endurance and it is not hailing!”

I was wrong about many of these things.

I actually used the hail as cover to get into the fourth checkpoint, the Blue Room at Powell’s Books, cleverly evading the nonexistent people I was convinced were waiting at THAT entrance. I then wandered around the Blue Room for ten minutes, wondering where the hell my signatory was, before Susan finally deigned to arrive and inform me that the window for her checkpoint had yet to open.

“Window?” I said.

“Did you read the rules?” she said.

I had already missed my chance to hit checkpoint 2, by dint of sheer idiocy, but I had maybe enough time to still make it to checkpoint 3 if I really hustled. This is why the red segment on the map is the longest one! I did hustle, and made it to the ticketing counter at Portland Union Station with a minute to spare, though my desperate, wheezing jog meant that I had no time for stealth and got ambushed by a whole group of fuckers in the driveway.

I threw off most of them by sneaking out a side entrance and hiding behind a bus, but just as I was thinking I’d sneak up the stairs to the Broadway Bridge and take that back down into the Pearl, I saw Matt Nolan tripping eagerly down them. I was still very annoyed at having my tag-count increased fivefold at the entrance, and I decided right there that Matt was NOT going to get me. No way! ALL I HAD TO DO WAS RUN INFINITELY FAR.

You will note that after the point labelled “MATT ATTACK” on the map, the green line travels around to the far side of the bridge entrance ramp, then up it, across traffic, to the top, back down, and into the Post Office. I only got that far because Matt was lugging a giant bag and a belly full of Indian food, and because I hid in the passport office with my gut sucked in and the lady at the postal counter heeded my desperate finger-to-lips silence gesture. I probably should have gotten arrested.

Anyway I left the post office, now running late for my RETURN VISIT to checkpoint 4, and immediately got tagged by Arlie, plus Matt finally caught up just outside the door to Powell’s. So much for all that. Despite my pulling moves which might humbly be described as “Bourneian” within the confines of Powell’s, I got tagged repeatedly in there too before I finally got Susan to sign my stupid card, and Grace (whom I hadn’t even met before!) pursued me doggedly through Whole Foods and in front of more speeding cars. It was only then that it occurred to me that Kara really should have gotten everyone to sign a waiver.

I limped up across the overpass, got ambushed, and lost the card AGAIN, though this time when I backtracked I actually did find it. That didn’t keep me from getting tagged like a brick wall on a street named after a civil rights activist, particularly by Jonathan (whom I’d faked out earlier) and Matt, who were out for blood. Not even sneaking through a parking garage under a building could throw them off. I finally staggered up to the fifth checkpoint outside the stadium with minutes to spare, and everybody got Oreo cupcakes and went back to a bar for beers and war stories.

I measured that route against the scale on Google Maps and, by that rough math, I ran about fifty-six thousand kilometers altogether. I was tired and the leg I pulled last week was throbbing. I had also lost the game by every measure possible. It was awesome! Thanks to Laura, Amy, Arlie, Jonathan, Matt, Matthew, Matthew, Harry, Harry, Grace, John, Casey, Kim, Greg, Susan, Marie, Mandy, Tony, Jeremy, Holly, Kevan, anybody else I forgot, and especially Kara for pulling off the most ridiculous tailored birthday stunt I can imagine.

“Some of you have worked well. And some of you have not.”

Hey, I’ve talked about her pseudonymously before, but Hillary Eason is an old friend (whom I haven’t actually seen in person since 2002) and one of my favorite writers and thinkers. Now that she’s operating under her own name, you should go see why she’s a perennial pick for my Internet All-Star team.

Pat is too verbose to be tweeted

“My all-time favorite though, was the apartment where they clearly ran out of ideas for what to do with all the space that they had, so they made a ‘sitting room.’ This was a 10’ by 10’ room with nothing in it but a chair in the center of the room. I hate everyone.

Gentle Reader

Hey, you guys know Andrew Cole is back in the saddle and knocking it out of the park over at The Fabian Society, right? I bet you thought I mixed that metaphor, but you’re wrong! The park is for polo.

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