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Posts Tagged ‘linkage’

Kick their Starters (or Indie their GoGos)

<looks at subject line> Apparently I’m in a weird mood today. 😛

Found out recently that a friend of mine is running an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the post-production for a documentary on the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon. Why the post-production only? Because they ran a Kickstarter to raise the money for the whole project, but so many of their pledges defaulted that although they officially made their goal and then some, they didn’t actually collect all the money they needed to finish the task. They’ve been traveling the country to film and interview the various casts, and the result is likely to be awesome . . . but they do need the rest of their funding. Since it’s an IndieGoGo flexible funding campaign, every bit of money you pledge will help — it isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.

And while I’m at it, I should mention that both the Not Our Kind and Daughters of Mercury campaigns are still running, if you haven’t checked them out already.

Posner on Voter Fraud

I haven’t yet read the entirety of this dissent by Judge Richard Posner on the topic of voter ID laws in Wisconsin, but the words to describe the bits I have read are things like “searing” and “scathing.” This is a conservative judge who formerly supported laws requiring photo ID in order to vote, but his dissent is a 180% about-face that comprehensively calls out exactly what is wrong with such laws — ranging from the fact that they’re trying to solve a problem that basically doesn’t exist, to the fact that they don’t solve the problems that do exist, to the way they disenfranchise the “wrong kind” of voter.

Nor does he neglect the partisan component here: his dissent points out that all the states with strict photo ID laws and most of those with non-strict laws are politically conservative at the state level, while those which require no ID at all skew liberal. And the kinds of people who are disenfranchised by voting obstacles are also more likely to vote liberal. This is not a “both sides do it” kind of problem, where we can waggle our fingers and move on. Whether or not you agree that it is a concerted effort with the goal of stopping “those people” from voting Democratic, it is a concerted effort with that result.

Here’s a tidbit for you: the poll tax that was outlawed in 1964, adjusted for inflation, is substantially cheaper than the average cost for a low-income voter in satisfying a photo ID requirement. You may not be forking over the cash directly for the right to vote, but when you figure in documentation, travel, and time spent away from work jumping through the bureaucratic hoops, it ends up costing in the range of $75-$175. For people who are having trouble feeding their children, this is an inexcusable price.

I haven’t been following the judicial situation well enough to know what effect, if any, Posner’s dissent might have. The fact that it’s a dissent, i.e. a statement disagreeing with the ruling, suggests that it won’t be much. But I have some hope that seeing a conservative judge come out swinging on this topic might shift the winds a little. There are a number of really scummy things going on in American politics these days, but this is one of the worst: it strikes at the very heart of our ability to make things better.

two Kickstarters

These both came to my attention recently, and deserve a signal boost:

Daughters of Mercury — this is an art project, creating portraits of trans women “how they want to be represented, either complicating the conventional portraitist’s art of flattery with the dynamics of gender dysphoria, or celebrating features stigmatized as masculine as a woman’s features.” I know the woman behind the project, and I also know an increasing number of trans women (one of whom brought the campaign to my attention), so there’s a personal weight to this one: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender identity, passing or choosing not to pass, etc, and there aren’t any simple answers. But we can accept trans women for who and what they are, and I think projects like this one are part of how we can do that.

Not Our Kind — this is an anthology built around the theme of “outsiders.” Not only does a friend of mine (Marissa Lingen) have a story in it, along with several acquaintances of mine, but the topic sounds pretty dang appealing. I’m pretty sure I’m going to love the heck out of it . . . but first it needs to be funded, so.

Go forth! Support!

Stories, stories, everywhere

A number of these things have been piling up:

  • “Daughter of Necessity” is live at Tor.com today! Some of you heard me read this at FOGcon this past spring; well, now it’s out in the world. With fabulous art by Ashley MacKenzie — seriously, it is gorgeous and amazingly appropriate to the story and not a spoiler. Which is a remarkable balance to strike.
  • I just got my contributor copies for Zombies: More Recent Dead, which includes a reprint of “What Still Abides.” (Shhhh, don’t tell Paula Guran that I used to refer to that as my Anglo-Saxon vampire story. It’s as much a zombie story as it is a vampire story, which is to say it isn’t really either, but you can read it both ways depending on the angle you tilt your head at.)
  • The anthology made from the first four issues of Mythic Delirium‘s online reboot won’t be out until November, but it’s gotten a starred review from Publishers Weekly, with a specific shout-out to my story “The Wives of Paris.”

(Now I feel like there ought to be five things. But at the rate I do (or don’t do) short fiction-related stuff these days, that would mean delaying even longer, which is silly.)

HabitRPG: gamification works, yo

“Gamification” is a bit of a buzz-word these days: the idea that, hey, games are a really great psychological tool (challenge, risk, reward), so what if we harnessed their behavioral-modification powers for good?

HabitRPG is built around precisely that idea. And I’ll tell you up front: the rest of this post is me raving about how useful it’s been for me, so if you don’t want to read something that sounds like an enthusiastic infomercial, you can just skip this post. 🙂

The basic notion is that you can earn gold and XP and treasure by doing stuff in your daily life. The game divides these into habits (either positive or negative, i.e. things you want to encourage or discourage yourself from doing regularly), dailies (things you intend to do on a set schedule, either every day or on certain days of the week), and to-dos (one-off items). If you indulge in a bad habit or fail to complete a daily, you take damage to your Hit Points, but completing things lets you level up, which improves your stats, as does the gear you buy. It also gives you a chance to find eggs, hatching potions, or food; these are used to hatch pets, and feeding a pet can turn it into a mount for you to ride.

Your stats matter because you can form parties with other people on HabitRPG and go on quests; these take the form either of collection quests, where you have a chance of finding a specific object every time you complete a task, or boss fights, where you inflict damage by completing dailies and to-dos. The latter gives you more incentive to finish your tasks, because if you miss a daily, not only do you get hurt, but the rest of your party also takes damage from the boss. Add in a small chat-room function, and you’ve got the basics of social networking to help keep you engaged and playing.

I will not pretend this works for everybody. But for me? HECK YES. Oh my god. Early on, I would find myself doing things like taking out the recycling before the bag was overflowing, because if I was very productive today I might be able to buy an upgrade to my gear! These days I’ve bought all the gear for my character class (at higher levels you get to pick a class and obtain skills that can help you or your party), but I still motivate myself to complete all my dailies by remembering that if I miss one, I lose the buff to my stats that comes from getting everything done. I’ve made attempts in the past to keep a to-do list, but never managed it for longer than a short period of time; having it online (there’s a mobile app as well as the web interface) helps, but linking it to rewards helps even more. Recently I’ve found myself hunting for things I can easily complete because dang it, I am so close to getting the Beastmaster achievement (hatching all the basic pets), but I haven’t been getting enough zombie hatching potion drops.

Press bar, get pellet! Dance, little lab rat, dance!

The major flaw in it so far — apart from the mobile app, which is only slowly acquiring full functionality — is that once you’re a certain distance in, some of the motivating aspects lose force. I worked hard to earn enough gold for all my gear, but once I had that, gold became pretty useless. There’s a solution to that, which is that you can design your own custom rewards and set a price on them; the difficult part is figuring out what rewards will be effective for you. I don’t, for example, want to make “read for an hour” a reward, because it would be detrimental to my life and career if I positioned that as a special treat I have to earn, rather than a routine part of my existence. My best idea so far is actually “flake out”: I can, for fifty gold, buy the right to skip a daily without taking damage for having done so. Because sometimes you need a break, and this is one I earn by not skipping things all the time.

HabitRPG includes a subscriber option, where you can toss five bucks their way each month to help support the service. This gives you the ability to buy gems with your gold (though there’s a monthly cap on that), and the gems can purchase other things, like treasure or character customization. I think I’d been playing for less than a month when I subscribed. Am I getting five dollars a month’s worth of benefit from this?

Heck yes.

Modern Confederacy

Sometimes you read something that spins your understanding of a topic around like a whirligig and when it stops, you see things in an entirely new light.

Here’s what my teachers’ should have told me: “Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.”

Which is really just the lead-in for the part that has very direct relevance for today:

The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.

When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.

(See also “The New Racism: This Is How the Civil Rights Movement Ends.”)

The Cluster&#$@ of Xanth

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have described the Xanth series as somewhat puerile humorous fantasy that got kind of creepy about sexuality later on.

Now? I would describe it as somewhat puerile humorous fantasy that has had really awful attitudes about sexuality and gender baked into it from the start.

The change started with this post. If that isn’t enough, you can follow up with this tag, because she’s continued on into the later books (she’s partway through Castle Roogna now), giving me more than enough evidence to say this isn’t a fleeting problem. It’s pervasive. Xanth is horrible. In addition to the constant male gaze evaluating every female character (including human-animal hybrids) for their hotness or lack thereof, you have pretty women being stupid, ugly women being totally not worth anybody’s time, and the very few women who are both pretty and smart being untrustworthy schemers. You have women, countless women, who only exist to be used for men’s gratification. You have women’s protests against mistreatment being explicitly described as an act women practice to make themselves more attractive to men. You have marriage and raising a family being dreadful fates men are expected to run away from. You have men pretty much wanting to rape every woman they see, and being held up as wonderful paragons of morality when they refrain. You have a farce of a rape trial that is I guess supposed to be funny . . . somehow.

And that’s just Xanth. That isn’t even getting into his horror novel Firefly, which goes so far with the pedophilia that merely reading descriptions of the content (and the author’s justifications for same) has guaranteed I will never read anything written by Anthony ever again.

Sorry to rain on the parades of the people who remember the early Xanth books as being Not That Bad. They are. They really, really are. I mean, the original edition of A Spell for Chameleon contained the following passage (taken from that oh-so-funny mockery of a rape trial):

Bink felt sorry for his opposite. How could she avoid being seductive? She was a creature constructed for no other visible purpose than ra—than love.

Case closed.

Hear ye, hear ye! (Also see, maybe buy)

For the Driftwood fans out there (I know there are more than a few of you), Wilson Fowlie has read “The Ascent of Unreason” for Podcastle. If you missed it when BCS podcasted it, or when they published the text version, head on over and give it a listen!

Also, in the “good causes” category of links: Pat Rothfuss, the brain behind the Worldbuilders fundraising charity for Heifer International, has decided he isn’t pouring enough time and effort into benefiting the world, so he’s expanded his enterprise into selling signed first editions from authors who wish to donate a few. I think I sent in ten copies of The Tropic of Serpents; no idea how many are left, but (as of me posting this) there’s at least one. The money goes to charity, so if you want a book and the warm glow of knowing you’ve done something good, this is a splendid chance to get both at once.

(I don’t have five things to make a post, but I do have this: another shout-out for A Natural History of Dragons over on io9, this time in the context of “10 Great Novels That Will Make You More Passionate About Science.” It’s a list that makes for some pretty interesting reading, I must say.)

All Around the Internet

I’ve done a number of interviews and guest posts lately, so here’s a quick link dump:

Five Underused Mythological Creatures at Fantasy Cafe, in which I talk about weird things in bestiaries that show up all too rarely in novels.

Interview at Fantasy’s Ink; they ask me about my favorite characters and what I consider to be the most important element in a book.

Another interview, this one with Mike Underwood, who leverages the fact that we’ve known each other for more than ten years to ask me a lot of fabulous questions about gaming, Driftwood, and what martial arts master I would train with if I could.

“Time, Writing, and Tricks of the Trade”, a guest post at Bookworm Blues where I talk about the challenges of writing a sequel fifteen years after the first book.

“Kick(start)ing Myself into Scrivener”, a post at Book View Cafe on my first-ever attempt to write a novel in a program other than Wordperfect.

And finally, one that isn’t mine, but mentions me and makes for entertaining reading: Science in Fantasy Novels is More Accurate Than in Science Fiction.

Updates: Kickstarter, tour, sale, SF Novelists, WisCon

Five updates make a post . . . .

1) The Chains and Memory Kickstarter is a bit over halfway to the first stretch goal. The pace of progress has (unsurprisingly) slowed down; I welcome any signal boosting, and/or suggestions for other things I could do to spread the word.

2) While Mary and I were on tour earlier this month, Tor sent a camera crew to film our Portland event and interview us afterward. It was a fascinating experience; this wasn’t the “sit and have a conversation in front of the camera” kind of thing, but rather raw material for the following video:

If you’d like a sense of what our events were like, check it out!

3) Driftwood fans take note: I’ve sold the audio rights for “The Ascent of Unreason” to Podcastle.

4) My SF Novelists post for this month was “Pleaser Don’t Doed Thising”, in which I take aim at Bad Fantasy Latin, Bad Fantasy Japanese, and other such linguistic sins.

5) WisCon! I went. It was a thing.

Sorry, that’s just the tiredness talking. Going to WisCon was a good idea; going right after being on tour, less so. I feel like I didn’t take full advantage of the experience, partly because I was going easy on myself, partly because I’m new to the con’s culture and therefore didn’t know in advance about things like the Floomp. It was fun, though: lots of interesting people, some good panels (and some I really wish had dug further into their topics), some &@#$! awesome GoH speeches, etc. The good news is, now I know what to expect and can get more out of it in future years. Will I be back in 2015? Dunno; I’ll have to look at my schedule. But I do intend to be back eventually.