- Dec 5, 2017: Horror can stop working as horror if...
- Horror can stop working as horror if the reader has a sufficiently different cultural background from the author, because what horrified the author may be mundane to the reader. Alternatively, what the author accepts as good and right may horrify the reader in ways the author never intended. This can happen over time as well as across borders.
I recently read Arthur Machen's The White People. Not only couldn't I find any horror in it (beyond the mundane horror of how badly Machen treats female character in general), I had trouble finding any plot or even what the hell was going on. I can't say I agree with H.P. Lovecraft's analysis of "what was going on"--it's not really in the text and I think HPL pulled it out of his aft. Machen's idea of horror seems to be Women With Agency Doing Things, which really, really doesn't age well.
And then there's H.P. Lovecraft, who wanders freely between cosmic horror of "man was not the first, and won't be the last being to rule the Earth, and they will return when the stars are right", the existential horror of losing your identity to undeath, body-theft, gender-change, or species-change; and the racist's abject horror that Those People live in his neighborhood, possibly even right next door!. Guess which aspect of HPL's horror has not aged well?
Writers need to pay attention to the classic horror tropes they're using, or they might find themselves saying "Genocide is morally good" or "Slaves are by nature inferior beings whose lives and desires are worthless and meaningless" in the themes of their stories. (Looking at you, Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft). Or you, the writer, could think about those tropes and deconstruct them instead, giving us wonderful stories like Elizabeth Bear's "Shoggoths in Bloom".
- Nov 12, 2017: Minecraft modding and how to annoy modders, with some background.
- I maintain some Minecraft mods. One of the "joys" of Minecraft modding is that the APIs, the frameworks, have a nasty habit of changing in unexpected and poorly-documented ways from major version to major version. This is because Minecraft was not designed for modding by outsiders. Modding is permitted and tolerated and, PR-wise, encouraged. However, for a long time, the internal code was simply not designed to encourage it. However, since the original Minecraft was written in Java, it was easy to decompile and possible, thought not easy, to deobfuscate. People did that. People originally modded by writing replacement classes for Minecraft classes, and then inserting them into the Minecraft jar.
Modding this way was not easy, either for the programmer or for the end user, who had to master the art of unpacking jar files and inserting the provided modded jars.... not something that gamers are normally encouraged to learn or do.
Eventually, some bright lads came up with the idea of a standard mod loader, that would automatically load those modified classes as Minecraft launched, so that the end user didn't to do surgery on their game executable. They also decided to solve the other problem, that if two different mods modified the same base class, you'd have a mess.
They created an API for modding, so that mods would play nicely with each other, and have a standard interface with which to mod Minecraft. That combined mod loader and API is called Minecraft Forge. Originally, you had to do surgery on your Minecraft executable to install Forge, though it would then handle all the other mods, but the Forge guys got tired of explaining how to do that, so they wrote an installer to do it automatically, and the rest is history.
So, I write mods using the Forge API. At some point, Mojang (the developers of Minecraft, now owned by Microsoft), decided to start cleaning up the internals of the game to make it easier to write mods and other add-ons. This necessarily required large internal changes, which made modding across major versions... interesting. Players who don't write mods have little-to-no idea about this, and just want to know "have you ported your mod to 1.8 yet?"
Repeat ad nauseum for every single major version change from 1.6.4 => 1.7.10 => 1.8+ => 1.9.4/1.10.2 => 1.11.2 => 1.12.2
Not ONE modder I've ever heard tell about likes being nagged about porting code. Not one. Fortunately most forum moderators figured out a long time ago that "When are you going to port your mod?" is 99% of the time, a passive-aggressive way of demanding that you hurry up and port your mod, and so forbid the question. One, it is rude and entitled to demand that modders work for you for free, and two, annoyed modders have been known to quit modding. Or put explosive bees in their mods.
So don't do that.
- Nov 6, 2017: sort-of Monthly Cybertron Reboot
- Cybertron has been rebooted, post-DST change. Carry on.
- Nov 1, 2017: Started NaNoWriMo
- I'd forgotten how hard it is to actually get words out in quantity. Writing feels like it's flowing along, but then I do a word count check after a few hours and find out I have a whole 600-odd words.
Good thing I'm only aiming to complete a short story, not actually complete a 50,000 word light novel.
- Oct 12, 2017: Corporate meetings...
- So our company is getting bought up/merging yet AGAIN, and we had a phone-in meeting about it. (That's where we all sit around the speaker phone in the conference room and listen to the head honchos yammer somewhere at the other end of the country). It was a pretty dull meeting; I made notes in my notebook about it to keep from making snide comments out loud... very often. Here are my transcribed notes, with the names changed to protect the annoying.
* The Big Boss repeats the entire contents of the announcement letter we got yesterday. I am not excite.
* Describing Power Point presentations verbally is even more boring than watching slides.
* Buzzword bingo fest.
* Do I get a share of this $XX billion business? If not, why do I care?
* We are merging complementary businesses. That's nice, but I'm not the Board of Directors, nor the venture capitalist that actually own us. It's not like I'm deciding anything.
* I get the impression they don't want people panicking about their jobs and jumping ship. *a few minutes later* CALLED IT!
* I have spent 26 minutes listening to Big Boss pat himself on the back and re-state the announcement letter. Oh wait, he started up again. But we can download the Power Point slides. 29 minutes now.
* Q&A session: Big Boss starts up again on the first question, which I could not hear. He assures us he's really humble about being the Big Boss of the new company, too.
* we will have locations everywhere--might make it easier to move somewhere else.
- Aug 19, 2017: New Orleans Museums being cool (pun intended)
- Three New Orleans museums are admitting people free of charge to their air-conditioned buildings on days forecast to be 95°F or above. Details:
Bravo for Fine Arts and basic decency!