Reading The Warren by Marshall Miller (and a new World Playset: Deck 17-R01)

This post is a brief overview of an RPG I managed to read through, but not yet try out, called The Warren. It’s a story game about… you guessed it, intelligent rabbits, sort of a RPG adaptation of Watership Down and stories like it. (Did the cover art above give it away?)

This post includes short explanation of my (honestly sketchy) familiarity with the family of games it belongs to, an overview of what I found interesting in the game’s design, and a free (but not yet playtested) “World” playbook I designed for the setting, and a pretty wacky one at that. The fact I sat down and did one up should tell you at least a little about my response to the game, but if you’re interested in the fine details, read on.

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A**hole Island “Final” Edit/Rewrite Under Way

Well, I’m finally back at work on A**hole Island. It’s one of two novels I drafted between the fall of 2016 and the summer of 2018, at which point I toppled over from exhaustion. Working a day job, doing editing on the side, parenting, trying to sell the odd short story, plus writing at that pace is not sustainable all at once, especially since A**hole Island is the shorter of the two novels. (But also the one that feels most complete.)

I started working again on it today, taking some advice from a friend (thanks, Jeremy!) and hacking away at the beginning and end alike. It was 100,000 words, but after my work today, it’s down to about 80,000 words, with a revised opening full of enigmas and mysteries. 

I expect it’ll probably creep its way back to around 95,000–100,000 words in the end, since the ending needs some expanding, with things originally only handwaved and hinted at being made explicit. That said, I I am actually aiming for about 90,000 words, because I’ll be trimming as I go. 

A**hole Island is actually an expansion of a novella I wrote back in 2014, which I decided would work well as a novel. To my shock, I think it might actually be YA, or at least something that could be marketed as such. I never set out to write in that genre, but I am not horrified by it, either, at this point. That said, I originally conceived it as an straight SF novel that happened to feature teen characters, and it might sell as such, too. Either way, I’ll be happy. 

The net result of today’s work is about 5,000 words, which is less than I used to achieved in a normal writing day, but then normal writing days didn’t start with washing a child who’d peed himself and then fighting to get him to let me put skin lotion on him because he hates the stuff, so… I’m calling it a win. I need four more days like that to finish revising the opening, and to hammer the ending home. In the meantime, if I can revise a few sections on each of my slow work days—the two days a week that I’m not at school all day—I should be able to get this thing done within a couple of months, and start the process of trying to find an agent and sell it. 

(While, of course, returning to work on the other, longer project, Zyme!, which needs one major storyline rejiggered, and which I need to decide whether I’m going to try cut up into pieces, or to write all the way through and sell as a big fat novel on its own. I waver in which idea seems better, though given the flavor and style—it’s got way more early Georgian English in it than your average SF book—the big fat book approach might be the wiser, I dunno.)

Anyway, it feels like forward motion again on these projects, which is positive. Not that I didn’t get anything done during my break from them—editing, translation, and the everpresent attempt to be a decent parent and spouse, as well as some recharging of batteries—but I’m happy to have these juggernauts back in motion, however creaking it might be. 

Oh, and for those who recognize the header image: yes, A**hole Island is (in part) a reference to that island, but not in the context most people might imagine. Please don’t jump to any conclusions, okay? 

Recent Books (Recenter Books Edition)

Since the end of November last year, I’ve done three things relevant to my reading:

  1. … struggled to get over a bad cold.
  2. … cut back on using social network sites (and especially cut back on wading into arguments with idiots).
  3. … made an effort to spend more time reading books instead of internet glop.

The first was both involuntary and unpleasant, but has definitely helped with the latter two endeavours, which in contrast were a concerted effort (and were, obviously, quite linked to one another).

On the other hand, I also traveled, which usually takes a bite out of my reading time: not that one cannot read while traveling, but I tend to try make the most of time in a different place, and spend less time sitting with a book. 

Even so, the fruit of these efforts is, in part, that I have a few more books to discuss than usual. It’s worth noting, though, that some of the books I’ve read in the past few months aren’t in this post: I mentioned some already in a post about Icelandic books I’d read, and I’ve got maybe two dozen RPG book review posts sitting in the drafts folder, just waiting to be published, as well as a couple of posts about verse (one by troubadours, the other by moderns) waiting to be filled enough to bother making public, and a post about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Moon series that I only just put up online a little while ago. 

So anyway, this post, though, is a mix of general fiction and nonfiction that didn’t line up with anything else thematically, or whatever. 

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Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Moon Trilogy: The Moon Maid, The Moon Men, and The Red Hawk

Well, the next in the set of Edgar Rice Burroughs books I’ve tackled are his Moon stories. The series consists of one novel (The Moon Maid) and two sequel novellas (“The Moon Men” and “The Red Hawk”), the latter of which Ace published together under the title The Moon Men. I read the former in late 2018, and the latter just today, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the whole series: the lunar adventure and romance, the pulp war stories, and the inevitable weird racial fantasy of postapocalyptic cowboy-and-Indians-and-moon-men and all. Oh, and naked Japanese hill-pygmy warriors. 

Yeah, these books are kinda strange. 

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Reprint in Lightspeed!: “The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71″

UPDATE (23 Feb 2019): I’m a bit late on this, because I was traveling for a pair of events in Los Angeles and Riverside that I’ll blog about soon, but anyway, an update: this story reprint is now live for non-subscribers over on Lightspeed’s website

Original Post: I’m a bit late on this, thanks to the Lunar New Year holiday over here in Korea, but I’m very pleased to announce that my short story “The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71″ is appearing as a reprint in the February 2019 issue of Lightspeed, alongside a lineup of work by Matthew Baker, Elizabeth Bear, Carrie Vaughn, Crystal Koo, KT Bryski, Ashok K. Banker, and Dennis Danvers., plus some reviews and and interview with Lilliam Rivera.  

Stories become available at different points throughout the month—mine goes live on the 21st of February, and I’ll add a link here when it does—but as always, you can get access to them all now if you purchase an ebook version of the issue or get yourself a subscription… and that will include a reprint of Kat Howard’s novella “Hath No Fury”  as well as an excerpt from Micah Dean Hicks’ Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones, on top of the content that will become available on the website throughout the month.

“The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71” is basically my take on what’s actually wrongheaded about our popular conception of AIs and how the “Turing Test” as most of us understand it is self-congratulatory nonsense. It was written one afternoon in Saigon back in 2014, back when the world didn’t feel like it was collapsing at quite the same head-spinning pace that has since become almost normal to us, but when I had just read Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race and been thinking about how it related to work by people like Thomas Metzinger and Susan Blackmore (especially in this mode, though she’s been on my radar all the way back since The Meme Machine).

Those following the inside baseball will know already that this story originally appeared a few years ago at Big Echo. I’m so flattered that John Joseph Adams enjoyed it enough to want to reprint it.