Unsounded: Way Better Than It Sounds

Unsounded_chapter_covers_by_ShardGlass

Ben, my housemate who hooks me up with many fine comics (along with the many other things they do), has pointed me towards Unsounded, a most excellent webcomic.  In addition to offering beautiful eye-candy (check out the designs for the covers of Chapters 2 [left] and 1 [right] above), this is a comic that already feels like a window onto a deeply thought out and well crafted world.  Maybe it’s only skin deep, but I doubt it.

Admittedly, I recommend this webcomic to you on the strengths of the printed collection of the first three chapters.  It’s remotely possible that there is some difference between the book and the webcomic version, perhaps simply in the act of holding the physical book in my hands, that changes how I feel about the comic.  Actually, if anything it would have to be the collected early sketches and two short stories added to the end of the book that would change my opinion.  But those only make me feel more certain that this is something deep and complex that I don’t yet know enough about to be able to appreciate fully… and I say that knowing that I already plan to read the rest of Unsounded’s archives.

So if you’re at all interested in reading about the stories of a young thief on a quest to prove herself to her crime lord father, and her magic-using zombie escort who’s been blackmailed into protecting her, then I suggest that you get reading.  Still not sold?  Let me put it this way: I have examined nearly every page I’ve read so far, looking at the little details, searching for another little hint, because I cannot kick the lurking feeling that I’m missing something that signals far more yet to come.  Ashley Cope has done a marvelous job so far of building a story world that all feels like it holds together, revealing new treats around every corner and hinting at far more yet to come, all without ever falling into the classic expository trap of telling instead of showing.  It’s worth reading just to see the quality of her craft.  Check it out.

p.s. I was planning to write up another flash fiction piece from the excess prompts that I generated before, but I haven’t gotten around to watching True Grit yet, and I really wanted to try combining The Matrix and True Grit.  Some other time.

Flash Fiction: Some Disassembly Required

Winchester_Model_1873_Short_Rifle_1495

Once again, I have flash fiction for you inspired by Chuck Wendig’s prompt for this week.  This time around I had to somehow include three randomly determined things in the course of a 1000 word story, and luck dealt me a journal, Survival, and a horse.  Yes, Survival was capitalized.  Maybe it’s the music I’ve been listening to, maybe I’m in a rut, but that combination just screamed “Old West” to me.  I did my best to make it interesting.  Have fun!

***

My brother had been gone for too long, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it.  He’d taken the horse into town seven days ago, and should have been back in three.  One day there, one for business, and one back.  But I was still waiting for him near our claim.  When I heard the horse coming up the trail, late that night, I jumped out of my bedroll in excitement. Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Trouble Close Behind

zoe_gun

Right, so, I’ve finally got Chuck Wendig’s “X meets Y” prompt finished.  I already told you the two prompts I discarded out of stubbornness (Fast and the Furious meets The Godfather, and The Matrix meets True Grit), but here’s the one I got first: Transformers meets Toy Story.  This, of course, is how I ended up with something that feels a bit like a sci-fi horror western with magical girl-esque figures, all in barely less than 2000 words.  It makes perfect sense*.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you do, I have more for you.

***

Lina stood at the edge of the bar’s porch, staring down the busy street as a familiar figure slowly rode closer.  Her hand rested lightly near her gun while her other picked at her chapped lips.  Mare was in town.  Trouble couldn’t be far behind. Continue reading

About that schedule change…

You know that scheduling shift I mentioned on Monday?  Looks like it’ll happen sooner than I’d realized.  I’m afraid my second “real post” of the week will come on Thursday from now on, or at least until that’s inconvenient and has to change too.  But there’s an excellent reason for this, and that reason is my class on Children’s Book Publishing, taught by Anita Silvey.  I’m very excited about it.

New Flash Fiction En Route!

Once again Chuck Wendig has provided me with a prompt to play with, and I intend to share the results here.  I won’t be sharing them with you today though, because I spent most of today in a car.  This time around, the prompt is “X meets Y,” a theme in keeping with nonsensical high-speed elevator pitches.  I ended up rolling a few times on the table Wendig provided because my first result seemed too surreal, but my natural stubbornness inclines me towards using the first result anyway.  I’ll tell you what that was later, and share the ones that I’m not writing instead: Fast and the Furious meets The Godfather, and The Matrix meets True Grit.  Maybe I’ll get around to writing those some other time.

I should also note that I’m now going to be in classes on Wednesdays.  My posting schedule may change some time in the near future, to avoid timing conflicts.  I’ll be sure to let you know if/when it does.

Concept: A Tintin Adventure Flowchart

tintinI think I’ve mentioned my love of Tintin previously.  But I’ve just had a fabulous idea, so you’re going to hear about it again.

Some necessary background: Charles Stross wrote an excellent book, The Jennifer Morgue (part of the Atrocity Archives series, very much worth reading).  He based the story (careful, spoilers) on a combination of real world events and James Bond clichés, and did it excellently.  He did this in part by analyzing the Bond oeuvre (I suppose I should say the Fleming oeuvre, but Fleming really didn’t have that much to do with most of the movies) and creating flowcharts of Bond film opening scenes and general plots.

Yes, you read that correctly.  He watched all the Bond films with a friend and wrote up flowcharts to describe what they saw going on.  Here’s the flowchart of a Bond movie opening scene, and here’s the flowchart of a Bond film writ large.

Now, I love Tintin very much, but there are some problems with the old comics.  Consider:

20140112153933!Tintin-mainCastI’m amazed that Castafiore is even included in the cast of characters.

Angry_King_in_Tintin

Yeah, that’s objectionable.

So I’ve been thinking that I should try writing new Tintin stories.  Well, not Tintin per se, but adventure stories like Tintin’s, without the same racist depictions and with better representation all around.  And Stross’ flowcharts have inspired me.  I plan to go through and re-read a number of old Tintin stories, and try to make a Tintin adventure flowchart that I can follow when the time comes.  It might turn out that this is impossible, and Hergé simply had too many different stories, but I suspect that I could pull something useful out of all this.  What do you think?  Are you interested?

Flash Fiction: Robin’s Songs

Turdus-migratorius-002

Chuck Wendig has a blog called terribleminds, and on the 9th he posted a Flash Fiction challenge.  The prompt: write a 1000 word story about a character created by this random D&D character generator.  My prompt turned out to be a “suspicious half-elf bard from a sheltered upbringing who is lactose intolerant.”  I really had no idea how to work in lactose intolerance, but I think I’ve succeeded.  Check it out below the break!

***

Robin looked up from her book, absentmindedly pushing a strand of hair behind her gently pointed ear.  The little cluster of red feathers that she kept tied at the end of her hair rustled against her shoulder.  She gave the innkeeper a second-degree smile, the one the Enlightened Brethren had taught her to use for disarming the suspicions of others.

Continue reading

Tombs=Raided, Hearts=Won; Tomb Raider Rocks

tomb-raider-5

I don’t usually wish that I paid more for a game.  But I liked Tomb Raider so much that I almost wish I hadn’t bought it on sale.  I want the people who made it to know how much I liked it, and I want them to put as much high-quality work into making the next one as they put into making this one.  Because there’s a next one.  I mean, even if I didn’t know that Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming, I wouldn’t have any real doubts (except, I suppose, if the studios involved fell apart or lost the rights, which would be terrible).  The end of Tomb Raider left it clear that Lara is nowhere near finished with being the awesome badass which she’s become, and that makes me very happy.  Watching the announcement trailer for the new game has reduced me to a quivering pile of enthusiasm.

Why am I so happy about all this?  Tomb Raider is a brilliant game, and does things with story-telling that remind me why games are such a fascinating medium in the first place.  It’s an adventure novel with audience participation, a new entry in a genre that I love, and it evades the problematic trappings that spoil so many other adventure stories for me.

Ok, spoil is a strong word.  I love adventure stories enough to enjoy them despite their frequent problems, but being able to enjoy one that isn’t so inherently problematic is a breath of fresh air.  It doesn’t hurt that this particular story is extremely well written, with characters who feel like real people, and who share history with each other that seems fitting and unforced.  It’s a little bit like someone crossed Tintin with Indiana Jones, turned the tone dial to ‘gritty and a bit bloodthirsty,’ and then put you through the Bildungsroman of Lara Croft as she goes from untested and unconfident archaeologist to self-assured and competent survivor and adventurer, hellbent on keeping herself and her friends alive.  Wait, no, that’s almost exactly what it’s like.  It’s glorious.

Look, you don’t have to take my word for it.  You can play the game yourself.  But if you want to read more of my thoughts on the topic, including the few reservations I have, please be my guest:  Continue reading

Godseat, a Wayfinder Adventure

logo

I should note, I have no idea whether or not this game will actually be chosen for use by Wayfinder.  In fact, I still have to finish writing it and submitting it.  I think it’s a pretty cool concept, and it experiments further with some of the player vs. player mechanics that I explored in the 2014 Staff game (along with my excellent co-writers, you rock).  In the interest of not spoiling you for anything, I’ll refrain from telling you too much about the flow of game.  Instead, this post will give you a brief overview of the setting and what the game is all about.

A Brief History

There are many gods and godlings, but there is only one Most-High.  The Most-High reigns over all from the Godseat, the Throne of Supremacy, the Seat of Knowledge, the Bringer of Good Tidings and Ill News.  Whichever being sits upon the Godseat is acknowledged as the ruler of all, but no one being can sit upon the Throne forever.  The prayers of faithful worshippers, and their propitiations, may sometimes elevate a new being to the Godseat, replacing the previous Most-High and beginning a new reign.  There are some times, perhaps once or twice a decade, when the cycles of the moon and the stars and the seasons coincide just so, when the prayers and rituals of worshippers take on special power in the area around the Godseat; these times are known as the Nights of Ascension.

Long ago, before the Years of Ruin, Continue reading