baskerville: Chibi (manga) picture of Weft as a catboy, dressed in feminine colours and obviously very annoyed about the whole deal. (Weft not a kitty)

My Hobby: Wryly smirking at people's obsession with homoromantic subtext, while writing three major male characters who are exceptionally guilty of it.

(To be fair, one doesn't realise it and would be appalled if he did, one is above caring about such things, and the third describes himself as omnisexual but is really just foul. With him it's not so much subtext as nobody believing a dog is really chatting them up.)

Being as how my own orientation points strongly towards the siblinghood and bromance side of things, while I'm not above flirting with the idea (especially for laughs!), the relationships I really want to write about are complicated, banter-filled, occasionally fraught or downright confusing to both participants and onlookers, but never all-sex-all-the-time.

That being said, do note what I'm very carefully avoiding denying outright, and therefore please don't take this as a cue to stop speculating or indeed writing slash fic, because that would just be no fun at all.

That's not to say some of my characters don't enjoy happy, normal romantic-sexual relationships too. Suitov is seeing Jaina, and Paraskive is cougaring (she'd slap me for that, and quite right too) a delightful postman toy boy named Alisander. One of these relationships will end badly owing to Suitov being, well, honestly, pretty bloody idiotic for a supposed genius, and the other may be strained when their island is put under martial law, but we'll see. And among my backstory and minor characters, of course, there are plenty of successful hetero, homo and even xeno relationships. (Instarrian boys loooove them alien womens. Quite often for a price.)

There's the added complication of pairing roleplay characters up. If you pair yours off with someone else's, and they're infrequently around, it can cause frustration and slow down a plot. If you pair one of yours off with another of yours, it can become a bit like brainwanking, restricting the opportunities for other people's characters to engage with yours. I don't have an easy answer for this one. I sometimes write an NPC partner in for a character, or make it explicitly asexual or celibate, simply to avoid having to write too much about romance.

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baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

In which (three short updates) we see a little glimpse of Young Suitov's values. Wait, he has what now?

Suitov was currently standing at the top of the steps, in the early morning light, raking the gravel of the driveway. This was accomplished without touching it physically. When one is fifteen and a new mage, one tends to do things the flashy, inefficient way for the sake of it.

One Dog Night continues. (I really need to find a better name. They've been together for, what, a couple of days now, and the story's continuing for at least another couple.)

N.B. There is an overlap of a sentence at the end of some posts. That's just to do with where I break off writing. Will be fixed in a final edit.

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Jul. 30th, 2010 12:37 pm
baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

Via Article_Dan:
Get Lamp: a documentary about text adventure games (aka interactive fiction)

Looks cool. AND as part of that project they've made a video for MC Frontalot's nerdcore track, It Is Pitch Dark, which is all about Zork and similar Infocom zaniness.

Text games are so frotzing cool. I mean, I'm crap at ones you can't finish in a sitting, and do not mention that FRIGGING Babel Fish puzzle, but they're great. In the past I've even tried my hand at writing a few in Inform 6 (sadly these died in a hard drive crashycrash episode, except for a few copies of the compiled games that may still survive somewhere).

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baskerville: Suitov Iceheart's face in profile. He's a pale-skinned, dark-haired young adult male wearing black and gold. (Suitov)

"You look ill, Rige," Lottir understated.

"Really? Where does it show?" asked Lord Suitov of Applestone, who was sweating bucketfuls, trembling slightly, breathing so hard he was almost panting, and apparently undecided about whether or not to throw up.


Just about universally requested by my readers, when I asked what I should post more of, were fiction excerpts. That made me happy, so here you are.

In this one we get to see both more of Suitov as a young man, and more of the drawbacks of those atavistic Nordic genes of his.

It's not particularly hot here at present, but I've had the image of… well, what he does at the end… in my mind for a long time.

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baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

I sent my father some advice on introducing a dog to new cats with no bloodshed. This is actually quite straightforward to accomplish, and you can get the general gist from my abstract:

The cat's unshakeable belief in its own inherent superiority, and ability to convince the dog of the same in the face of overwhelming evidence, is one of the reasons it is such a successful parasitic lifeform. The cat seeks to displace the dog's benign mutualism for its own ends without the host's knowledge.

I recommend Hillaire Belloc's exhaustive treatment, a classic for anyone interested in the subject. Meanwhile, in the realm of speculative fiction, many of the terrifying parasitic alien lifeforms in Neal Asher's novels are rather reminiscent of the cat or its passenger-cum-co-conspirator, Toxoplasma gondii.

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baskerville: Chibi (manga) picture of Weft as a catboy, dressed in feminine colours and obviously very annoyed about the whole deal. (Weft not a kitty)

The prize for the answer is braggin' rights. Nowt else.


My mistress bids me wait in durance stern.
With ignorance she blocks my path to joy;
Unjust delays are wrought at every turn,
My every plea set back by falsehoods coy;
Or else she seems to wilt, or then relent,
Yet in the granting, buck my earnest wish
With pale commital, watered-down assent –
A day-old tin of bleak and joyless fish.
Such cheapest chicken wafted at my face
That any cat would balk to call a meal!
There's gravy when I wanted jellied plaice
Or tuna when I becked for curried veal!
That witch! that crone! a wight with no remorse!
I shan't be coming back for second course!


What colour is the cat who writes this complaint, AND WHY? No marks will be given for an incorrect reason. (Hint: You don't need any foreknowledge of my household to work this out.)

Comments will be screened for a couple of days to let everyone guess.

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baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of fiery red (Hellhound red)

Another blogger has reviewed The Barking Ghost [warning: complete spoilers], a Goosebumps book that I picked up a while ago from a used book stall.

It's the shortest and lamest member of my Black Dogs book collection. I'm currently trying to muster the energy to start The Kettle Chronicles: The Black Dog again; it's historical fiction about the Bungay Black Shuck incident, which ought to be epically fabulous, but it's written somewhat densely and the story is mostly about some human characters for whom I have little interest, so I only got partway through.

*skims the rest of the Wikipedia article* WAIT WHAT Shuckie is mentioned in Northern Lights? One of my favourite books of all time mentions one of my favourite historical persons of all time and I somehow have not NOTICED THIS?

Oh, since you're here, have some Black Dogs in popular culture.

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baskerville: The smiling face of a big grey dog resembling an Irish Wolfhound. (Great Grey Dog)

An important step in making sure you have a rounded character instead of a Mary Sue, or so I've read, is making sure your little puppet is not omniscient, isn't correct about everything and is sometimes pretty failtastic at telling important information from unimportant.

Recently, in the interest of characterisation and hopefully the occasional plot idea, I've been mentally listing ways in which my characters are wrong about other characters. I don't mean factual things here, but rather those impressions that you form of people for whatever trivial reason and, thanks to confirmation bias, are hard to dislodge.

Some of them are secret for the sake of spoilers (although, for the record, even Suitov thinks Weft is gay), but here are some examples.

Suitov is wrong about:

Malfina: "It's a pity her gameplan for her life could never involve me. I gave up asking her the question; I imagine she was bored of hearing it."

Jaina: "She is emotionally fragile and I have to protect her. She couldn't cope with knowing about everything in which I'm involved; I'm not sure I could rely on her understanding."

Basaltine: "He will come to regret giving up his lifespan to match mine."

Sebastian: "The man is a ridiculous fraud playing a game of his own devising and not caring a whit for those around him. Sounds like a lot of fun, actually."

Himself: "I am not 'evil'. I am not cold-hearted. I feel as deeply as others do. That nickname 'Iceheart' is just a silly reputation on which I capitalise. I do have principles, some of which I will not break for any reason."

(Suitov has quite a balanced personality overall, and is intelligent and well-informed, but that doesn't protect him from sometimes being plain wrong, sucka.)

Weft is wrong about:

Sebastian: "He can do anything! Everything he says is true. In fact, I'm not worthy to hang around with the servant of a goddess. I wouldn't be surprised if he despises me."

Nico: "She has an irrational grudge against my organisation. Either that or our enemies have been telling her lies. She thinks I'm weak and she probably despises me."

Jaina: "She luuuuuurves Suitov so much that she won't listen to anything against him. They could never be happy together. I try to warn her off and she despises me."

Himself: "I'm worthless. Anything I try to do on my own initiative will end disastrously. Everyone I ever love will die horribly and it's my fault. I ruin everything I touch and I deserve to be despised."

(Classic example of an attitude problem saying more about the perpetrator's attitude to himself.)

Basaltine is wrong about:

Sylvie: "She could be my girlfriend. It could so work! We'd be awesome!"

Ferrl: "And she could be my girlfriend too. I'm her type!"

Helmine: "She so wants me!"

(Basaltine has a definite advantage in nosing out lies and motives, but hey, even a doggy character needs silly self-deception. A good-natured and hopelessly optimistic doggy personality provides that in spades.)

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baskerville: Black dog head facing left on a background of ghostly blue and lilac (Hellhound blue)

I've been eager for more news about this proof-of-concept project, now called the Mythology Engine, because I'm enchanted by the idea behind it.

The Mythology Engine is envisioned as a guide to stories on the web: a database of characters, places and, crucially (the most unusual bit) events in fiction and drama.

Now, in its complete form this would be a paradise for pedants and canon geeks, but it can be a lot more than that. The ideas is that the site would let you (points quoted from the introductory blog post):

  • Catch up on stories you've missed
  • Explore stories and characters and help you understand plots and relationships
  • Find the stories you are looking for and share your favourite moments or characters

That's right. In addition to solving arguments, giving you ideas for what episodes to watch to see more of your favourite character or showing you what she meant by "This is exactly what you did last time!", this site could be the most advanced, most thorough spoiler experience ever created. (Naturally, however, the pages are in fact very polite in hiding spoilers.)

The proof-of-concept, unsurprisingly, uses Doctor Who. Not just because it's popular, but also because a show whose central theme is time travel ought to be an especial challenge to represent in a sensible form. See what they've come up with…

More about the Mythology Engine at BBC Blogs.

The bad news: as I've said, this is just a proof-of-concept and I don't know that there are any plans to make a full version.

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baskerville: Suitov Iceheart's face in profile. He's a pale-skinned, dark-haired young adult male wearing black and gold. (Suitov)

"Rigey, tell me a story!"

"What do we say when we ask for things?"


"Oh, all right then. One story."


Heheh. You like?

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